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HC summons District Magistrate Baramulla to explain ‘unlawful, indefinite imprisonment’ of detainee held under PSA

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Srinagar: In a case relating to “unlawful and indefinite imprisonment” of a boy under preventive detention law, the J&K High Court has sought personal appearance of the district magistrate Baramulla and directed him to produce the detenue before the court. 

Hearing the habeas corpus writ of one Muzamil Manzoor War of Baramulla, Justice Rahul Bharti ordered “the District Magistrate, Baramulla to produce the person of the petitioner before the court on the next date of hearing. On this date, 29 May, the District Magistrate, Baramulla, shall also remain present in person,” reads the order.  

Justice Bharti observed “through this writ petition, a very disturbing scenario has been presented before this court which cannot be left to be dealt with in a routine manner except at the cost of undermining the rule of law which is meant to govern and is governing this country irrespective of place or region.”

He said “the petitioner boy is aggrieved of the fact that notwithstanding quashment of his preventive detention in terms of an order dated 11.02.2022 passed by this court in WP (Crl) no.146/2020, the petitioner has not yet earned release of his person and restoration of his liberty from illegal confinement at the hands of the respondents.”

The order the judge said “reveals that the preventive detention order dated 17.08.2022 passed by the District Magistrate, Baramulla under Section 8(a) of the J&K Public Safety Act, 1978 with respect to the petitioner’s preventive detention came to be quashed by holding the very said order suffering from non-application of mind on the part of the District Magistrate, Baramulla.” 

“The quashment of the preventive detention order of the petitioner earned a consequent direction from this court unto the writ-respondents of WP(Crl) No. 146/2020 to release the petitioner forthwith if not required in any other case,” he noted.

The court found “in terms and furtherance of the detention order, the detention place of the petitioner was first in District Jail Jammu, and then to Central Jail, Agra, where he is reported to be still in detention notwithstanding the quashment of the detention order in terms of the said order of this court”.

Through this writ petition filed through his father, the petitioner begged for his release and also for compensation for his continuing “illegal custody” amounting to “wrongful confinement”.

The court found “a prima facie case is made out of serious violation of the fundamental right of the petitioner as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”

It issued notice to the respondent District Magistrate, Baramulla and Jehangir Dar, government advocate, accepted the notice on behalf of the respondent.

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