J&K’s Public Safety Act, 1978

public safety act

Why in news?

Recently, the former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah was detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA). According to this act, a person can be detained for two years without trial.

History of Public Safety Act

Public Safety Act came into being in 1978 to take stringent actions against the timber smugglers in the state. The Act was introduced by Sheikh Abdullah (Farooq Abdullah’s father). Later, the act was being used to control militancy related incidents. Under this act, any area could be declared as ‘protected’ by the government and entry into that area could lead to prosecution.

Public Safety Act, at present

The Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978, is a preventive detention law, according to which a person is taken into detention by the authorities to prevent him from acting in any manner that can prove to be a threat to the “security of the state or the maintenance of the public order”. It can be implemented by an order passed by the Divisional Commissioner or the District Magistrate.

Public Safety Act as a Draconian Law

If a person is in police custody, he has to be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours of detention. But in case of PSA, the person can be held without producing him in court. This can be imposed on a person already in police custody, or who has immediately been granted bail, or acquitted by the court. Detention can be up to two years. This can only be challenged by a habeas corpus petition filed by the relatives of the detained person. The detained person need not be informed of the reasons for the action if it goes against public interest.

After the PSA is imposed

Within four weeks of passing the detention order, the case has to be referred to the Advisory Board. Within eight weeks of passing the detention order, the board has to submit its report to the government, which will further decide if the detention is in the public interest. The report is binding on the government.

Related sources: Ramon Magsaysay Award, National Register of Citizens in Assam

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Dr. RS Aggarwal
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