The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Friday denied interim protection from arrest to journalist Gowhar Geelani, who was booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for his social media posts earlier this week, The Indian Express reported. The High Court issued a notice to the Union Territory government and listed the case for May 20.
The Cyber Police Station in Srinagar had accused Geelani of “indulging in unlawful activities” through social media that are “prejudicial to the national integrity, sovereignty and security of India”. The police alleged that Geelani had been glorifying terrorism in the Kashmir Valley through his posts. They also said that many complaints had been received against Geelani for “threatening and intimidation”.
Justice Ali Mohammad Magray heard the case on Friday through videoconferencing as the country is in a lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In his petition, Geelani’s counsel Salih Peerzada challenged the jurisdiction of the Cyber Police Station in Srinagar to file a first information report against Geelani.
The counsel argued that the FIR was filed through a misuse of police powers, PTI reported. He sought quashing of the FIR and interim protection to Geelani from arrest.
“The respondent has no jurisdiction to investigate the offences beyond the purview of the Information Technology Act, 2000,” the petition argued. “There is no genesis or manner of the commissions of alleged offences mentioned in the FIR, as such, the initiation of persecution being in abuse of the process of law can’t be allowed to sustain.”
On April 18, the police had charged freelance photojournalist Masrat Zahra under the UAPA for allegedly uploading posts that glorify “anti-national activities” on social media. The police said that Zahra, who reports mostly about women and children in conflict, uploaded photographs that could “provoke the public to disturb law and order”.
The amended UAPA allows the government to proscribe individuals as terrorists and empowers more officers of the National Investigation Agency to probe cases. A person charged under the act can be jailed for up to seven years.