J&K Government May Not Oblige Governor NN Vohra On Public Safety Act28 December 2011
The Economic Times
Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir government is unlikely to oblige governor NN Vohra who has sought change in a 'blatantly discriminating' clause of the Public Safety Act (PSA). The state's law ministry is sending the same draft back to Cabinet without altering even an iota, sources in the government said. Sticking to its stand on PSA amendments, the state government has said the distinction in detention of youth below 18 years of age from Jammu and Kashmir and non-state subjects is 'reasonable classification' under the law of the land. The government had proposed that youth of the state below the age of 18 years shouldn't be detained under the PSA. However, the proposal said the youth, who were non-state subjects (i.e. not the residents of Jammu and Kashmir), can be detained under PSA even if they were below the 18 years of age. The Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (Amendment) Ordinance 2011 after being approved by the state Cabinet on October 28, was sent to the governor for approval and subsequent promulgation. The governor, however, had returned it while raising queries on the clause pertaining to detention of youth below 18 years of age. 'Before the law, all the citizens are equal,' an official in Raj Bhawan was quoted saying. After a series of meeting within the law ministry, officials decided against inserting the changes. 'The law provides reasonable classification and even PSA has many such clauses,' a senior law ministry official said. 'Under section10 of the PSA we can arrest and jail state subjects within the state, but in case of non-state subjects we are permitted to send them in outside jails.' Now, the law department is sending the file back to the Cabinet without any change. Any delay would lead to a new process in which the state government will have to abandon the ordinance and take the proposed changes as amendments to the state legislature that is expected to meet by middle of February. 'If the file goes back to Raj Bhawan unchanged, governor will have no option but to stamp the draft,' an officer said.