Why is it in the news?
- The Telangana’s upcoming Assembly polls have brought its preventive detention law into focus.
- The Supreme Court has expressed concerns regarding Telangana’s use of the law in at least three instances.
More about the news
- It refers to the detention of a person by the state without trial, based solely on suspicion.
- This detention can last up to a year unless extended.
- It’s different from pre-trial detention: preventive detention is for someone who hasn’t necessarily committed a crime, while pre-trial detention involves an undertrial accused of a crime.
- Countries like Britain, US, and Canada generally employ preventive detention during wartime.
- In India, the Constitution itself provides for preventive detention. Part III of the Constitution, which addresses fundamental rights, also permits the suspension of these rights for preventive detention purposes.
- Central legislations such as the National Security Act and Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (COFEPOSA) enable preventive detention.
- 25 states, including Telangana, have their preventive detention laws.
- Telangana’s law is notably exhaustive, addressing a wide range of potential offenders, from bootleggers to cybercrime offenders.
State’s Powers in Preventive Detention
- Derived from Article 22 of the Constitution.
- The state, typically via the district magistrate, can issue a detention order to maintain “public order.”
- Detentions lasting more than three months require Advisory Board approval. These boards often consist of retired judges and officials.
- Detainees typically can’t have legal representation before the Board.
- If approved by the Board, the detention order can be challenged in court.
- The state must promptly inform the detainee of the detention grounds and allow them to challenge the order.
- However, the state can withhold certain information if it’s against the public interest.
Judicial Review of Detention Orders
- Grounds for judicial review are limited.
- The primary criterion for review is the state’s “subjective satisfaction” in ordering the detention, not the fundamental rights outlined in the Constitution.
- Courts usually evaluate if the Advisory Board was thorough in its assessment and if the state had any clear biases.
- Often, courts nullify detention orders based on procedural issues like delays or miscommunication of detention reasons.
- Telangana’s preventive detention law has garnered attention due to its potential misuse. The Supreme Court has raised concerns, underscoring the balance between state security and individual rights.