Detained teenager challenges his third PSA

Srinagar, Dec 28: The High Court Wednesday issued notices to state authorities in a petition filed by Murtaza Manzoor challenging imposition of Public Safety Act (PSA) against him. He was recently booked under PSA for third time by authorities.
Murtaza (18) has been held under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act by the state police since 19 December, 2011.
He has already been detained twice for a total of four months earlier this year.
Subsequently, to challenge his detention under PSA, his parents approached the High Court with a habeas corpus petition through counsel Mir Shafqat Hussain. As the case came up before Justice Muzaffar Attar, counsel Shafqat drew the attention of the court towards the statement of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah while ranting general amnesty to the detenues on the eve of Eid-ul-Azha. He submitted that despite Chief Minister making statements that all youth under detention have been released, Murtaza was never set free by the police authorities.
“Infact, he has again been held, third time, under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act by the state police since 19 December”, the counsel submitted before the court while seeking quashment of Murtaza’s detention order.
Justice Attar, after hearing the submission and admitting the petition issued notices to the State respondents directing them to file counter within four weeks time. The Judge also directed that the case be listed for further hearing immediately after winter vacations in first week of February 2012.
As submitted, Murtaza was arrested by police on 2 October, 2011 in Srinagar for pelting stones, along with other youths, at the police. He was sent to Srinagar prison. In the first week of November, a local court ordered his release on bail.
However, the police did not release him, but moved him to a different local police station, re-arrested him for pelting stones at them on a different occasion and sent him to prison again. Subsequently, his parents were informed by the police in December that he has been booked under PSA and will now be moved to Kot Balwal prison in Jammu.
Demanding that the authorities immediately end the administrative detention of Murtaza Manzoor, Amnesty International last week issued an ‘urgent action’ statement asking for the release of youth unless he is to be held on charges of a recognizably criminal offence.
“During his earlier detentions, Murtaza Manzoor had been treated as an adult, as the juvenile justice laws of Jammu and Kashmir currently define boys above the age of 16 as adults, contravening Indian law and the CRC, which defines those above the age of 18 as adults. The state cabinet has reportedly approved the amendment of the laws in Jammu and Kashmir to comply with the CRC”, Amnesty said in its statement.

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