Public Safety Act (PSA), 1978, of Jammu & Kashmir allows detention of any individual for up to 24 months months without a trial or charge.
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What is the J&K Public Safety Act (PSA)?
- The Public Safety Act (PSA), 1978, of Jammu & Kashmir is an administrative detention law that allows detention of any individual for up to two years without a trial or charge.
- It was introduced to prevent the smuggling of timber.
- However, in some cases, the Act makes provisions for the detained person to be informed about the reason of custody, and also gives them an opportunity to make a case against their detention to the government. However, the detaining authority is not required to reveal any facts.
The Act allows for detention of any person:
- up to two years in case of persons acting prejudicial to the security of the State and
- up to one year where any person is acting prejudicial to the maintenance of public order.
- Under the PSA, a person can be detained initially for 12 days. Any detention beyond three months is ratified by the PSA Advisory Board.
- Detention orders under PSA can be issued by Divisional Commissioners or District Magistrates.
Misuse of PSA
- The law was being misused widely and was repeatedly employed against political opponents by consecutive governments until 1990.
- After the emergence of militancy, the J&K government frequently invoked the PSA to detain separatists.
- In August 2018, the Act was amended to allow individuals to be detained under the PSA outside the state as well.
What constitutional safeguards are guaranteed to a person so detained?
- Article 22(a): No person who is arrested shall be detained in custody without being informed, as soon as may be, of the grounds for such arrest, nor shall he be denied the right to consult, and to be defended by, a legal practitioner of his choice.
- Article 22(b): Every person arrested and detained shall be produced before the nearest magistrate within a period of 24 hours.