J&K HC | HC does not sit in appeal over decision of detaining authority and cannot substitute its own opinion, when grounds of detention are precise & relevant

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: Tashi Rabstan J., in a matter relating to preventive detention declined to provide opinion over that of detaining authority and reiterated that the object of preventive detention is not to punish a man but to prevent from any further acts.

The present case relates to the detenu, Mian Abdul Qayoom who is a renowned Practising Senior Advocate in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court and is also the President of the High Court Bar Association. The detenu had been placed under preventive detention in the year 2010 and after several confinements in various Sub Jails of the state, the detention order was withdrawn. The detenu was said to have been arrested during August 2019 and has been lodged into police custody under preventive detention. Upon several enquires as to the grounds of detention the close relatives of the detenu received an order and it was reported that the detenu was suffering from various ailments.

Advocates, Z.A. Shah, with Manzoor A. Dar, representing the petitioner submitted that the impugned order of detention issued by the respondent had not been communicated nor provided to detenu, which deprived the petitioner of making an effective representation before detaining authority. It was also submitted that the grounds of detention were signed by the respondents without any application of mind and without going through the grounds of detention. It was pointed out that the respondents had relied upon the FIRs registered in the year 2008 and 2010 for detaining the detenu, for which the petitioner had already served the required detention.

Senior Additional Advocate General representing the state,  B. A. Dar contended that the detenu was detained legally under the J&K Public Safety Act, 1978 (“Act of 1978”) and all statutory requirements have complied. It was contended that the contents of detention order/warrant and grounds of detention are stated to have been read over and explained to detenu. Grounds of detention have been framed by detaining authority with a complete application of mind after carefully examining the material/record furnished to it by sponsoring agency and only after deriving subjective satisfaction

The Court upon perusal of the facts and circumstances of the case reiterated the purpose of the Act of 1978 that “the purpose of the J&K Public Safety Act, 1978, is to prevent the acts and activities prejudicial to security of the State or maintenance of public order. The acts, indulged in by persons, who act in concert with other persons and quite often such activity has national level consequences….it is not necessary that there should be multiplicity of grounds for making or sustaining an order of detention.” The Court on examining the records stated that the grounds for detention are definite, proximate and free from any ambiguity. The Court placed reliance on State of Gujarat v. Adam Kasam Bhaya, (1981) 4 SCC 216 and observed that it is a settled law that the High Court in the proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution has limited scope to scrutinizing whether detention order has been passed on the material placed before it, it cannot go further and examine sufficiency of material. It also relied on State of Punjab v. Sukhpal Singh, (1990) 1 SCC 35 and stated that the High Court does not sit in appeal over the decision of detaining authority and cannot substitute its own opinion over that of detaining authority when grounds of detention are precise, pertinent, proximate and relevant. Upon reliance to various Supreme Court decisions the Court concluded that the present matter lies within the competence of Advisory Board since preventive detention is not punitive but preventive and is resorted to with a view to prevent a person from committing activities regarded as prejudicial to certain objects that the law of preventive detention seeks to prescribe. [Mian Abdul Qayoom v. State of J&K, 2020 SCC OnLine J&K 96, decided on 07-02-2020]

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