‘Prejudicial To Security Of State’: PSA Detention Valid In UT, Says HC

Srinagar, July 10: The High Court of J&K and Ladakh has said that it does not subscribe to its single Bench’s observation that “State” does not include Union Territory even as it upheld detention under Public Safety Act, 1978 by “citing acts prejudicial to the security of the “State” of Jammu and Kashmir.  
“There is no doubt that the definition of State as contained in [Section 3 (58) of General Clauses Act, 1897] includes Union Territory. The term, “all local or other authorities within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India” comprises States and Union Territories,” a bench of Chief Justice N. Kotiswar Singh and Justice Moksha Khajuria Kazmi said.
“The term State includes the Government of each State that is the State Executive and legislature of each State that is the State legislatures. It is pertinent to mention that it includes Union Territories as well,” the Division Bench said, adding, “We do not subscribe to the view taken by the learned Single Bench in the case supra and we, accordingly, held that the Judgment rendered by the Single Bench is not applicable to the instant case.”  
The Single Bench of the court had held that person could no longer be put in preventive detention under the PSA by citing acts prejudicial to the security of the “State” of J&K as Jammu and Kashmir has been “Union Territory” since 2019.  
The Division Bench made the observation after counsel for a detainee, challenging dismissal of plea against PSA detention, cited court’s Single Bench judgment delivered in case titled Arif Aijaz Shahri
Vs. UT of J&K and Ors., saying that there has been “non- application of mind” on the part of the detaining authority insofar as the alleged activities of the detainee have been reflected to be prejudicial to the Security of the State and not the Union Territory of J&K. The counsel had submitted that after the application of J&K Re-Organization Act of 2019, the J&K no more remained a State but was converted into two Union Territories, therefore, the detaining authority ought to have applied its mind and detained the detainee for the acts “prejudicial to the Security of the Union Territory of J&K.”
Subsequently, the court dismissed the appeal and upheld its judgment by virtue of which challenge to PSA detention order passed by District Magistrate Kulgam 29-08-2023 was overturned.  
“From the above discussion coupled with the law as taken note of hereinbefore, this Court is of the view that the grounds of detention formulated by the detaining authority and the record supplied by the respondents (authorities) does not suffer from and legal infirmity,” the court said, adding, “The detention order appears to be on sound logic for the reason that the detaining authority, before passing the order, has applied its mind to draw subjective satisfaction to order preventive detention of the detenue by curtailing his liberty.”

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