Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Tuesday directed the government to release the Muslim League Chairman and member of Hurriyat Conference Masrat Alam Bhat forthwith from custody if he is not required in any other case.
A division bench of Justice Sanjeev Kumar and Justice Rajnesh Oswal issued the direction after noticing that the detention order against Alam has outlived its life.
While quashing the detention order, the court recorded that a person can be detained under PSA (Public Safety Act) for a maximum period of two years only and the detention of Alam has expired and become infructuous as the perusal of record reveals that no fresh detention is in force against him.
Alam was detained under PSA by District Magistrate Kupwara on 11th September 2019. It was the 38th PSA detention order slapped on him and it was challenged before a single bench of the High Court. The single bench upheld the detention order.
Today, the division bench quashed the order saying that it had long ago expired and a person cannot be detained under such circumstances as it would amount to “injustice”.
Alam, the 48-year-old politician, who has been accused in many FIRs has spent some 25 years in jail, most of them in preventive custody under PSA. The draconian Act is slapped on him every time his detention is quashed by a court.
He was arrested for the first time at the age of 19. Since then, he has spent most of his life in prison.
The exact nature of the potential crime that Alam’s continued detention is preventing is unclear, and occasionally contradictory: One of the reasons for his detention in 2003 was that he had “divided the Hurriyat Conference”; five years later, his 2008 detention order claimed he had “united the Hurriyat Conference.”
Over the years, when the police have run out of excuses to detain Alam, they have named him in 50 different crimes — ranging from inciting protests to waging war against the state — but are yet to obtain a single conviction.
When the Supreme Court facilitated his release in 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stood on the floor of the Indian Parliament and described Alam’s possible freedom as a “national outrage.”
Alam was arrested soon after for shouting pro-Pakistan slogans during a demonstration in which protesters were waving Pakistani flags, and thrown back into jail.
With inputs from The Huffington Post