Detention of 26 PSA detainees in J&K revoked; former CMs Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti yet to be released

There is no information when former Chief Ministers Farooq and Omar Abdullah, and Mehbooba Mufti will be released. 

Detention of 26 PSA detainees in J&K revoked; former CMs Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti yet to be released

Jammu: As part of measures to progressively release detainees in Jammu and Kashmir, the government on Friday revoked the detention warrants of 26 persons detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA).

The detainees were lodged in various jails in the newly-carved out Union Territory. These people were booked under the PSA after the Centre's decision on August 5 last year to revoke Article 370 and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.

The 26 persons whose detention has been revoked are mainstream political activists. They include Rouf Ahmad Dar, a resident of Pulwama district, Abdul Salam Rather of Baramulla, Mohammad Arif Lone, resident of Pahalgam and Javid Kalas, resident of Shopian district.

Meanwhile, there is no information when former Chief Ministers Farooq and Omar Abdullah, and Mehbooba Mufti will be released. Many policial leaders have criticised their detention and called it "unconstitutional". 

On December 30, the Jammu and Kashmir Administration had released five political leaders. The leaders belonged to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the National Conference and the Congress. The leaders included Ghulam Nabi Bhat and Ishfaq Jabbar of NC, Zahoor Mir and Yasir Reshi of PDP and Bashir Mir of Congress.

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The Centre's move to release the PSA detainees came on a day when the Supreme Court said that the right to access the internet is a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution while referring to internet curbs in J&K.

The apex court directed the Jammu & Kashmir Administration to immediately restore internet services connected with access to government websites, localised/limited e-banking facilities, hospital services and other essential services.

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice NV Ramana and also comprising Justices BR Gavai and R Subhash Reddy said, "Non-recognition of technology within the sphere of law is only a disservice to the inevitable. In this light, the importance of the internet cannot be underestimated, as from morning to night we are encapsulated within the cyberspace and our most basic activities are enabled by the use of the internet."

However, the judgement did not mention any timeframe to restore internet services to other sectors and for the people in the region. The apex court observed that it is essential to distinguish between the internet as a tool and the freedom of expression through the internet.

"There is no dispute that freedom of speech and expression includes the right to disseminate information to as wide a section of the population as possible. The wider range of circulation of information or its greater impact cannot restrict the content of the right nor can it justify its denial," said the court. 

The court identified the internet is also a very important tool for trade and commerce, and there is no doubt that there are certain trades which are completely dependent on the internet.

While passing its ruling, the top court also noted that the US has undergone a lot of changes concerning dissent during a war, and the position that emerges is that "any speech which incites imminent violence does not enjoy constitutional protection".