Preventive Detention

Preventive Detention

News: Recently, The Supreme Court emphasized the need to prevent the arbitrary use of preventive detention powers, overturning a Telangana High Court decision.

What is Preventive Detention?
 Preventive detention means detention of a person by the state without trial and conviction by court, but merely on suspicion. The detention could be up to a year 
unless extended
 A pre-trial detention is not the same as preventive detention. While the former is an undertrial accused of a crime, a detainee can be taken into custody just as a preventive measure even if he has not committed a crime.
 Governments enact preventive detention laws to ensure public safety and maintain social order.
 In India, Article 22 of the Constitution provides safeguards for individuals detained under such laws. It limits the duration of preventive detention to three months unless an Advisory Board approves an extension.
 The detainee has the right to know the grounds of detention and make representations against it.
 Parliament has exclusive power to enact preventive detention laws for defence, foreign affairs, or national security reasons, while both Parliament and State Legislatures can enact laws for maintaining public order or essential services.
 Various laws in India, such as the National Security Act (NSA) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), allow for preventive detention for up to 12 months without formal charges, with periodic review by an advisory board.

 It is a colonial legacy and conferring arbitrary powers on the state is one more iteration of the perennial threat to personal liberty that such laws pose.
 There is failure to adhere to procedural safeguards while dealing with the rights of detainees. 
 Often, the quashing of detention orders comes several months after they are detained, and in some cases after the expiry of the full detention period. 
 Failure to provide proper grounds for detention, or delay in furnishing them, and sometimes giving illegible copies of documents are other reasons. 

Way Forward
 Preventive detention is allowed by the Constitution, but it does not relieve the government of the norm that curbingcrime needs efficient policing and speedy trials, and not unfettered power and discretion.
 The act of protecting civil liberties, is not just the saving of rights of individuals in person and the society at large, but is also an act of preserving our constitutional ethos.
 Preventive detention can be ordered only in case of public disorder and not for law and order problems. The Advisory Board must consider whether the detention is necessary not just in the eyes of the detaining authority, but also in the eyes of law

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