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National Security Act 1980

  • Published
    22nd Mar, 2023

The National Security Act has been invoked in the case of self-styled Sikh preacher and on-the-run ‘Waris Punjab De’ chief Amritpal Singh.

  • Orders have been passed to detain Amritpal Singh by the District Magistrate Amritsar issued under section 3(2) of the National Security Act, 1980.

National Security Act, 1980:

  • It is a preventive detention law that empowers the state and central government to detain a person the authorities are satisfied that he/she is a threat to national security or India's relations with foreign countries.
  • It is invoked to maintain public law and order.
  • NSA “empowers the state to detain a person without a formal charge and without trial”.
  • The provisions in the Act are is re-notified every quarter.
  • It came into existence under the Prime Ministership of Indira Gandhi.
  • It also empowers the government to detain foreigners and regulate his/her presence or expel him/her from India.

Under National Security Act, Article 22 (1) of the Indian Constitution and Section 50 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CRPC) are not available to the person detained.

“Article 22 (1) of the Indian Constitution says an arrested person cannot be denied the right to consult, and to be defended by, a legal practitioner of his choice. “

“According to Section 50 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CRPC), any person arrested has to be informed of the grounds of arrest and has the right to bail.”

What are the grounds for detention?

  • NSA can be invoked to prevent a person from acting in any manner prejudicial to the defence of India, relations of India with foreign powers or the security of India.
  • Among others, it can also be applied to prevent a person from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community.
  • An individual can be detained without a charge for a maximum period of 12 months.
  • The detained person can be held for 10 to 12 days in special circumstances without being told the charges against them.

What is the protection available under the Act?

  • The NSA is granted under Article 22(5), where all the detained persons have the right to make an ‘effective representation’ before an independent advisory board, which consists of three members; and the board is chaired by a member who is, or has been, a judge of a high court.

The Supreme Court in earlier cases had held that to prevent “misuse of this potentially dangerous power, the law of preventive detention has to be strictly construed”, and “meticulous compliance with the procedural safeguards” has to be ensured.

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