J&K HC quashes Aasif Sultan’s PSA detention, says order ‘illegal’

Aasif Sultan was booked under the PSA days after he was granted bail in a UAPA case last year.

WrittenBy:NL Team
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Srinagar-based journalist Aasif Sultan has been granted relief by the Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court, with his preventive detention order under the J&K Public Safety Act being quashed.

The high court said that Sultan’s arrest in another case appears to have influenced his preventive detention under the PSA, according to a report in Bar and Bench.

Sultan was first arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in 2018. Days after he was granted bail in the UAPA case by a Srinagar court last year, he was booked under the PSA. Sultan, who was awarded the John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award by the American National Press Club in 2019, used to work for a magazine.

Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul noted that the procedural requirements were not followed by authorities while detaining Sultan, according to Bar and Bench. The court noted that the detention record does not indicate that copies of the FIR or the statements recorded under Section 161 of Code of Criminal Procedure in the UAPA case were ever supplied to him. 

The court said that since the detention order was passed on the basis of these documents, Sultan could not have challenged his detention considering the lack of this material. It said the detaining authority’s failure to supply these documents renders the detention order illegal and unsustainable.

“As a corollary, respondents are directed to set the detenu at liberty forthwith provided he is not required in any other case,” the court said.

Sultan was first arrested on August 27, 2018, during a night raid by the police and paramilitary forces at his residence in Srinagar. He was booked under the UAPA and other sections of the Ranbir Penal Code.

The charges against Sultan, who worked as an assistant editor at a news magazine called the Kashmir Narrator, included criminal conspiracy, harbouring militants, aiding and participating in militancy. His colleagues, family and media rights bodies had denied these allegations.


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