Journalist Fahad Shah
Journalist Fahad Shah

JAMMU — The High Court on Thursday quashed the detention of journalist Fahad Shah and directed the authorities to release him forthwith. Justice Wasim Sadiq Nargal has said that Fahad should be “set at liberty forthwith if not required in any other case.”

“In the present case, the procedural requirement has not been followed and complied with by respondents in letter and spirit and as a corollary thereof, the petition is required to be allowed and the detention order is liable to be quashed,” the court said, as per the news agency KNO.

The court also said no compelling reasons have been given or shown by the detaining authority while passing the detention order against Shah when he was already in custody and under an FIR in which no bail had been granted. “In the absence of any compelling reasons, the order of detention cannot sustain the test of law,” the court said.

On March 3, 2022, the District Magistrate Srinagar passed an order under section 8 of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978, placing Shah under preventive detention to “prevent him from indulging in the activities which are prejudicial to the maintenance of public order.”

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During arguments, counsel for Shah, N. A. Ronga, described the allegations against Shah as baseless, unfounded, vague and without any substance, saying there is not an iota of truth in the allegations.

Shah was arrested on February 2, 2022, by Jammu and Kashmir Police in Pulwama district and booked under Section 13 of ULA (P), section 124A and Section 505 IPC. Shah filed a bail application before a court in Pulwama and he was granted bail. However, when the order of the court was served upon the police concerned, they did not release him and shifted him to the Police Station Imam Sahib Shopian.

In Shopian, an FIR under sections 153 and 505 of the IPC was registered against him. In this case, he filed a bail application before the court and was granted bail. But he was not released by the police and was shifted to the Safakadal area of Srinagar. At Police Station Safakadal, another FIR was registered against him. While in custody at Safakadal, the district magistrate Srinagar passed a detention order against Shah.

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Ronga argued Shah was not provided with a copy of the dossier, material or other records including the copies of FIRs that have been referred to and relied upon by the detaining authority while framing grounds of detention and passing the detention order. “Thus, he was deprived of his constitutional and legal right of making a meaningful and effective representation against his detention.”

He also said since the bail was not granted in the FIR registered at Police Station Safakdal against Shah, there was no reason to detain him under J&K Public Safety Act.

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