Man's Continuing Detention Two Years After Quashed Order is 'Very Disturbing': J&K High Court

Justice Rahul Bharti of the high court ordered that both the man as well as the magistrate who ordered his detention be present before the court next week.

New Delhi: Muzamil Manzoor War’s detention order was quashed by the Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh high court in February last year. But 467 days later, he is still in jail.

“[A] very disturbing scenario has been presented before this Court which cannot be left to be dealt with in a routine manner,” Justice Rahul Bharti of the high court said while hearing a writ petition War filed through his father.

He ordered that the district magistrate who authorised War’s detention appear in court on May 29 and produce War before it, a LiveLaw report said.

War was detained under the controversial Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978 (PSA), a preventive detention law that allows people to be detained without trial for up to 2 years.

The PSA has a history of arbitrary use in Jammu and Kashmir since 1989, when armed conflict broke out in the region.

Although the government originally used the PSA against militants, stone-pelters and separatists, it has more recently invoked the law to detain mainstream politicians – including three chief ministers – as well as journalists ever since it abrogated Article 370 in 2019.

In April this year, the high court quashed the PSA detention order of journalist Fahad Shah, who was editor-in-chief of the Kashmir-based news website The Kashmir Walla, saying that the grounds of his detention were based on “vague and bald assertions”.

It also quashed the detention orders of three other men jailed under the PSA, noting that in one case the district administration had accused a detainee of pelting stones in 2020 even though he was in jail since 2017.