Other States

J&K will not consider PSA detainees, militancy-related convicts for parole

Jammu and Kashmir’s high-powered committee mandated to decongest jails in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak will not release those booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA), or militancy-related convicts, on any parole.

The committee — headed by Executive Chairman State Legal Services Authority Justice Rajesh Bindal, Principal Secretary-Home Shaleen Kabra and Director General of Prisons V.K. Singh — has directed that only those male convicts who have spent more than ten years in prison, and female convicts, who have spent at least eight years in prison, should be considered for eight weeks of parole.

However, what could leave out most of the convicts and detainees in J&K’s jails is the committee’s direction that no one involved in militancy-related cases, or convicted for “intermediate or large quantity recovery” under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, or convicted under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, or convicted for an offence against women, should be released.

The Committee, constituted by the J&K Home department on the Supreme Court’s directions to consider temporary release of prisoners, also ruled out considering detainees under the PSA.

“Matters pertaining to prisoners with advanced age, [or] suffering from any illness may be examined on case to case basis,” the panel suggested.

According to the Union Home Ministry’s figures, 389 people have been arrested under the PSA since August 5, 2019 and lodged in several jails across the country. In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, scores of families have petitioned the J&K administration to release such persons on parole.

However, around 31 persons booked under the PSA were released in a separate order issued on March 30 this year.

Sagar’s detention

Booked under the PSA, the family of National Conference (NC) general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar on Friday challenged his detention in the High Court.

“Mr. Sagar’s detention is undemocratic, illegal. The government has no right to deprive a citizen of his liberty for even one moment without the authority of law. When the world is going through the worst of public health nightmare, which requires social distancing and proper sanitation, his protracted incarceration has added to the concerns of his family and well-wishers,” said NC spokesperson Imran Nabi.

Mr. Nabi said his party had high hopes from the court “to provide succour to the family”. 

The High Court has issued a notice in this regard to the government. It has fixed the matter for considering the interim release of Mr. Sagar on April 16.

Mr. Sagar was detained on August 3, 2019 under Section 107 and was thereafter booked under the PSA on February 5, 2020. Besides him, Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti leader and her close aides Nayeem Akhtar, Sartaj Madani and Peer Mansoor, are also booked under the PSA, as is J&K Peoples Movement chief Shah Faesal.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 7:34:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/jk-will-not-consider-psa-detainees-militancy-related-convicts-for-parole/article31251516.ece

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