J&K High Court grants bail to journalist held for 21 months under PSA

Fahad Shah has been in jail for 21 months under Public Safety Action (PSA), after facing charges under the UAPA over reporting and articles published by his portal since 2011

November 18, 2023 03:40 am | Updated 12:07 pm IST - SRINAGAR

Fahad Shah. File

Fahad Shah. File

The J&K High Court on Friday granted bail to 35-year-old Fahad Shah, editor of the news portal The Kashmir Walla. The court quashed certain charges he was facing including: “abetting terrorism, waging war against the country and promoting enmity” under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). 

Mr. Shah has been in jail for 21 months under Public Safety Action (PSA), after being booked under sections of the UAPA over reporting and articles published by his portal since 2011. 

“The court granted Mr. Shah bail. We expect his release soon,” a member of his legal team told The Hindu.

Terror charges quashed

He said the Court also quashed charges levelled against Mr. Shah under Section 18 ( abetting the commission of, a terrorist act or any act preparatory to the commission of a terrorist act), Section 121 (waging war) and Section 153-B (promoting enmity between different groups) of the UAPA.

However, Mr. Shah will continue to face trial under Section 13 (incites unlawful activity) of the UAPA and 35, 39 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), which deals with receiving funds in violation of law.

The bail comes seven months after the J&K High Court quashed Mr. Shah’s detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA), saying “the apprehension of an adverse impact to public order is a mere surmise of the detaining authority”. 

Mr. Shah was arrested in February 2022 over a report carried on his portal about an encounter in Pulwama. The police accused him of “uploading anti-national content, including photographs, videos and posts with criminal intention to create fear among public”.

Mr. Shah was later booked under provisions of the UAPA. He has managed to secure bail in three cases so far. However the PSA allows preventive detention up to two years. Mr. Shah’s arrest was widely condemned by journalists’ bodies in and outside the country.

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