Security Issues

National Security Act of 1980

  • The Punjab Advocate General has verified that the National Security Act (NSA) has been invoked in Amritpal Singh’s case.
  • The National Security Act (NSA) was enacted by Parliament in 1980 and has been amended several times since then.
  • It allows the state to detain someone without an official charge or trial.
  • It is called when a person is taken into custody to prevent them from acting in any way prejudicial to “the security of the state” or for “maintenance of the public order”.
  • It is a judicial ruling issued by the Divisional Commissioner or the District Magistrate.

Detention grounds under the NSA

  • The NSA can be used to prevent a person from behaving in a way that is detrimental to India’s defense, relations with foreign powers, or security.
  • It can also be used to prevent a person from acting in any way that would jeopardize the community’s ability to maintain important supplies and services.
  • A person can be detained without charge for a limit of 12 months.
  • In exceptional circumstances, the detained individual may be held for 10 to 12 days without being informed of the charges against them.

Protection available under the Act

  • Article 22 of the NSA provides one critical administrative safeguard.(5).
  • All detainees have the opportunity to submit an effective case to an independent advisory board.
  • The board is headed by a member who is or has been a high court judge.
  • The DM who issues the detention order is protected by the Act, and no prosecution or judicial action can be brought against the official who executes the orders.

Misuse scenarios

  • The Supreme Court in previous cases had held that to avoid “misuse of this potentially dangerous power, the law of preventive detention has to be strictly construed”.
  • “Meticulous adherence to procedural safeguards” must be assured.

NSA criticism

  • Human rights organizations have previously claimed that the Act violates Article 22 of the Constitution and various provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code that protect an arrested person’s rights.
  • The arrested individual is required by the CrPC to appear before the nearest Magistrate within 24 hours, but the NSA makes an exception.
  • According to some human rights organizations, officials frequently use it to silence political opponents or critics of the government.
  • There have been calls to repeal or amend the Act in order to avoid its abuse.
  • However, there is an opposing viewpoint that the Act cannot be construed as a draconian legislation because it protects the larger interests of the state and thus is likely to remain in place.
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