An RTI application has found that even after four decades, there are no rules or standard operating procedures (SOPs) for ordering preventive detentions under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978.
In a reply to an RTI application filed by members of the J&K RTI Movement, headed by Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, the Jammu & Kashmir Home Department has admitted that the state government has not made any rules or SOPs under the Act, 1978 during the four decades of its existence.
It, however, said: “However, every case is examined on its merit by the concerned Deputy Commissioner in the light of the dossier submitted by the concerned SSP/SP and in accordance with th provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978.”
The RTI reply also revealed that 1,003 persons had been detained across the state between March 2016 and August 2017 – a period which included several months of turmoil.
The Home Department refused to reveal the identities of the detenues, citing Section 8(1)(f) and 8(1)(g) of the J&K Right to Information Act, 2009 (J&K RTI Act).
The RTI application was originally sent to the office of Deputy Commissioner, Jammu and the the Public Information Officer (PIO) there transferred it to the Home Department.
Despite the J&K Home Department’s admission about the non-existence of rules and SOPs under the J&KPSA, the districts gave contradictory replies to similar queries.
The RTI reply from DC office, Anantnag said: “The J&KPSA is a rule book consisting upon 711 pages and is in binding shape. It is not possible to photostat the book. The Book is available at Govt. Press, Srinagar.”
It gave the same reply as regards the SOPs issued under J&KPSA.
The PIO of the DM’s office, Srinagar attached a copy of the complete text of the J&KPSA to his reply and advised the RTI applicants to approach the proper forum, namely the Home Department, while the PIO of the DM’s office, Kulgam attached a copy of Section 8 of the J&KPSA to his reply, indicating that these were all the rules and SOPs that were being followed while issuing detention orders in that district.
The PIO of the DM’s office at Kishtwar also attached the text of the J&KPSA and an amendment made to this law in 2012 (which prohibits the detention of persons below the age of 18 years) to his reply, stating that they are the rules as well.
The Budgam DM’s office did not bother to send any reply to the RTI applicants for 30 days. After they filed the first appeal, the RTI application was transferred to the Budgam police, without even informing the applicants about such transfer.
The PIO, who is of Deputy Superintendent of Police rank, replied: “The latest version of the rules framed under the J&K Public Safety Act, does not pertain to us. It can be had from concerned government department or agency.”
“The law in this regard is clear that subjective satisfaction of the District Magistrate is required on the dossier provided to him for making detention. The mention of SOP made by you is factually, as well as, legally misconceived,” it added.