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Weekly Current Affairs: April week-2 - National Security Act

  • Category
    Security
  • Published
    15th Apr, 2020

Taking a tough stand in the wake of attack on officials amid the Coronavirus update, the Uttar Pradesh government has directed for strict action, including under the National Security Act.

Context

Taking a tough stand in the wake of attack on officials amid the Coronavirus update, the Uttar Pradesh government has directed for strict action, including under the National Security Act.

About

  • The National Security Act is a stringent law that allows preventive detention for months, if authorities are satisfied that a person is a threat to national security or law and order.
  • The person does not need to be charged during this period of detention. The goal is to prevent the individual from committing a crime.
  • Under the law, the maximum span for which a person can be detained is 12 months. However, the government can extend it, if it feels so.
  • As per the National Security Act, the grounds for preventive detention of a person include:
    • acting in any manner prejudicial to the defence of India, the relations of India with foreign powers, or the security of India.
    • regulating the continued presence of any foreigner in India or with a view to making arrangements for his expulsion from India.
    • preventing them from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State or from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order or from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community it is necessary so to do.

How is it Draconian?

  • Typically, if a person is arrested, then he/she enjoy certain rights bestowed by the Indian Constitution.
  • The person has to be informed of the reason for the arrest. Under Section 50 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), the person arrested has to be informed.
  • However, in the case of the NSA, the person can be held up to ten days without being informed of the reason.
  • Sections 56 and 76 of the same penal code guarantee the detained person to be produced before a court within 24 hours.
  • Apart from this, Article 22(1) of the Constitution allows the detainee to seek legal advice from a legal practitioner.
  • However, under the NSA, none of these above mentioned basic rights is permitted to the suspect.

Background:

  • Preventive detention laws in India date back to early days of the colonial era when the Bengal Regulation III of 1818 was enacted to empower the government to arrest anyone for defence or maintenance of public order without giving the person recourse to judicial proceedings.
  • A century later, the British government enacted the Rowlatt Acts of 1919 that allowed confinement of a suspect without trial.
  • Post-independence India got its first preventive detention rule when the government of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru enacted the Preventive Detention Act of 1950.
  • The NSA is a close iteration of the 1950 Act.
  • After the Preventive Detention Act expired on December 31, 1969, the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, brought in the controversial Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) in 1971 giving similar powers to the government.
  • Though the MISA was repealed in 1977 after the Janata Party came to power, the successive government, led by Mrs. Gandhi, brought in the NSA.

Why the Act is imposed in UP?

  • The state government's move to invoke the NSA comes in view of reports of several incidents of attack on policemen enforcing the lockdown.
  • The police is doing its duty by preventing people to come out during lockdown. There have been incidents in the state in which policemen were attacked by people.
  • To deter such persons, it has been decided to invoke NSA against such persons.

The move is aimed to deter those who are taking lockdown lightly and even attacking policemen when they are prevented.

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