The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court has said that the term “security of state” under the Public Safety Act is valid grounds to detain a person in the Union territory, Live Law reported on Tuesday.

A bench of Chief Justice N Kotiswar Singh and Justice Moksha Khajuria Kazmi made the observation on July 3 while setting aside an appeal challenging the preventive detention of a man named Yawar Ahmad Malik under the Act, Bar and Bench reported.

The Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978, is a preventive detention law under which persons can be taken into custody to prevent them from acting against “the security of the state or the maintenance of the public order” in the Union territory.

In its order on July 3, the court dismissed an argument made by the petitioner’s counsel that a person could no longer be held in preventive detention under the Act after Jammu and Kashmir became a Union territory in 2019.

In August 2019, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union territories.

“There is no doubt that the definition of state as contained in Section 3 (58) of General Clauses Act, 1898 includes Union territory,” the court said on July 3, according to Live Law.

“The term, ‘all local or other authorities within the territory of India or under the control of Government of India’ comprises state and Union territories,” the court added. “The term state includes the government of each state... It is pertinent to mention that it includes Union territories as well.”

In August 2023, another single-judge bench of the High Court had upheld a 2022 detention order under the Act against Malik, Bar and Bench reported.

Malik’s father, who had initially filed a writ petition challenging the order, told the single-judge bench that the grounds for the detention were vague and that his son had not been provided essential documents, including a first information report or witness statements, Live Law reported.

This infringed on his right to make an effective representation, he contended. The single-judge bench, however, dismissed the petition.

Malik’s father had then filed an appeal in the High Court itself, saying that the single-judge bench did not consider the grounds challenging the detention order’s validity, legality and constitutionality, Live Law reported.

The High Court then dismissed the appeal and upheld the ruling of the single-judge bench.