Kashmiri journalist Asif Sultan was released from Uttar Pradesh’s Ambedkar Nagar district jail on Tuesday, more than two months after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court quashed his detention citing procedural lapses, Maktoob Media reported.

Sultan was in prison for more than five years.

Despite the High Court’s ruling, Sultan had not been released as “clearance letters” from Kashmir’s home department and Srinagar district magistrate were awaited, according to Maktoob Media.

Sultan was detained under the preventive detention law in April 2022, days after a court granted him bail in another case in which he had been in jail under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act since August 2018, for allegedly harbouring militants.

On December 11, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court quashed the detention of Sultan under the Public Safety Act, saying that the authorities did not follow the procedural requirements in letter and spirit while detaining him.

The Public Safety Act allows the authorities to hold individuals in custody without trial for up to two years on grounds of national security and up to a year to maintain public order.

Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul had noted in the order passed in December that the authorities appeared to have taken the case against him under the anti-terror law into consideration while detaining him under the Public Safety Act.

However, the detention record did not show the authorities having supplied Sultan the copies of the first information report or the statements recorded under Section 161 of the criminal procedure, the court had said.

The court had said that these documents formed the basis of the detention of Sultan under the Public Safety Act. The lack of documents restricted Sultan from meaningfully exercising his right to representation against the detention order, the court had ruled.

Ordering his release from jail, the court held that the failure of the authorities to supply documents to Sultan made the detention order against him illegal and unsustainable.

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