HC quashes detention of Journalist Asif Sultan

Srinagar: The Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court on Monday quashed the preventive detention order of Kashmiri Journalist Asif Sultan under the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA).

The Court directed administration to release him from preventive detention unless he is required in any other case.

Aasif Sultan, 36, was associated with the now closed magazine “Kashmir Narrator” when he was arrested in 2018. Sultan was arrested after police alleged that he worked for a banned militant group and booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and various other sections of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) – now the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Last year, he was booked under PSA.

Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul in its order issued on December 7, said the procedural requirements have not been followed and compled by the respondents in letter and spirit and resultantly, the impugned detention needs to be quashed.

The Court order read that perusal of impugned detention order reveals that on the basis of dossier placed before detaining authority by Senior Superintendent of Police, Srinagar , the detaining authority was satisfied that there are sufficient grounds to prevent detenu from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of security of the State, it was necessary to detain him under necessary provisions of law.
So, it is on the basis of dossier and other connected material/documents that impugned detention order has been passed by detaining authority,” the order read.

The Court said the grounds of detention, when looked into, give reference to case FIR No. 173/2018 to have been registered against detenu at Police Station Batamaloo, Srinagar .

“Involvement of detenu in the aforesaid case appears to have weighed with detaining authority, while making detention order. The detention record does not indicate that copies of aforesaid First Information Reports, Statements recorded under Section 161 Cr. PC and other material collected in connection with investigation of aforesaid case was ever supplied to the detenu, on the basis whereof impugned detention order has been passed. The aforesaid material, thus, assumes importance in the facts and circumstances of the case,” the order said.

In this backdrop, the Court opined that Sultan could not have been expected to make meaningful exercise of his Constitutional and Statutory rights , unless and until the material on which detention order is based, is supplied to him.

“It is only after detenu has all the said material available that he can make an effort to convince detaining authority and thereafter the Government that their apprehensions vis-à-vis his activities are baseless and misplaced,” the Court observed.

“If detenu is not supplied the material, on which the detention order is based, he will not be in a position to make an effective representation against his detention order. The failure on the part of the detaining authority to supply the material, relied at the time of making the detention order to the detenu, renders the detention order illegal and unsustainable,” the order said.
The court quashed his detention order.

“As a corollary, respondents are directed to set the detenu at liberty forthwith provided he is not required in any other case,” the order read.


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