As many as 2403 persons have been booked under Public Safety Act (PSA) in the State since 2007. This was revealed by Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti recently in her speech. The chief minister said of the 2403 PSA detentions during the past 10 years, the government had quashed 1392 detention orders due to a variety of reasons, including technical grounds for quashing of detention orders depending on the merits, facts and circumstances of each individual case as well as the relevant statutory provisions. Earlier this month, she said only 370 persons continued to be arrested under the PSA imposed after the killing of Hizbul Muhahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani in July last year. She said during the six months of 2016 uprising (from July to December), 35 cases had also been registered in Jammu Kashmir against people accused of involvement in offences against the State under Section 121 of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) to 130 RPC. Recently leading human rights groups including Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists and Human Rights Watch had asked the J&K government to stop using the PSA for detaining people without trial. Hundreds of youth have been held under the controversial law that allows detention without charge or trial for up to two years in some cases. It has been criticized for violating range of human rights and rights groups have been demanding its repeal. PSA has been increasingly used to crush the uprisings in Kashmir valley. In many instances, kids have been detained under PSA irrespective of the fact that the law could not be invoked against them because of age. Detaining children under PSA can have long-term repercussions. Detaining people indefinitely without charge will only compound the already charged situation in the valley. PSA contains vague and overbroad terms, such as ‘security of the state’ and ‘public order’ that are not precisely defined, and therefore, do not meet the requirement of legality under international law. The PSA does not provide for judicial review of detentions. It also protects officials from legal proceedings for anything ‘done or intended to be done in good faith’. This is inconsistent with the right to remedy for arbitrary detention or other human rights violations. Under international law, anyone under the age of 18 is a child, and should be tried in accordance with the internationally-accepted juvenile justice standards. Keeping these things in view, the government should ensure that detention must be carried out under procedures established by the law.
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