The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has quashed the detention of a 26-year-old man under the Public Safety Act, saying that India is not a police state.

Justice Rahul Bharti ordered the release of the man, Jaffar Ahmad Parray, in a judgement passed on March 22. The verdict was uploaded on the High Court website on Monday.

Parray had been lodged in the Baramulla jail since May on the order of the Shopian district magistrate. The district magistrate had ordered his preventive detention based on the recommendation of the Senior Superintendent of Police, Shopian.

The police dossier against Parray labelled him “a hardcore OGW [Over Ground Worker]” of terrorist groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen.

The High Court, however, said that the grounds of detention cited by the district magistrate were dominated by the verbatim reproduction of the police dossier.

“There is not even a single line reference about the petitioner being involved in a case registered under some FIR with any Police Station and that means there was no antecedent culpability attached to the acts and conduct on the part of the petitioner,” Justice Bharti said.

The court said that the police dossier and the grounds for detention cited by the district magistrate should have “put it on record as under which authority of law the petitioner came to be first picked up by whom and then by whom subjected to so-called interrogation”.

The judge said that India is governed by the rule of law, and citizens cannot be picked up for interrogation without a case having been filed against them. He said that to support the district magistrate’s reasoning “would be to concede [the] scenario that India is a police state which otherwise it is not by any stretch of imagination or claim”.

The High Court said that the very root of Parray’s preventive detention was “illegal and coercive” and ordered his immediate release.