Spread of COVID-19 has forced many states across the nation to invoke the National Security Act of 1980 to punish persons accused of instigating residents of a locality to pelt stones and chase away health workers who were in the locality to trace the contact history of coronavirus patients.
National Security Act is a preventive detention law under which a person can be detained for a maximum period of 12 months but the term can be extended in order to keep him/her from committing future crimes.
Article 22(3) of the Indian Constitution allows for preventive detention and restriction on personal liability in order to maintain public law and order.
Further, Article 22(4) States that the detention period should not be more than three months unless an advisory board reports sufficient cause for extending the detention.
Rights of people detained under NSA can be restricted including:
- Right of the individual to be informed of the reason for the arrest.
- The arrested person under the act is not entitled to the aid of any legal practitioner in any matter connected with the proceedings before an advisory board, which is constituted by the government for dealing with NSA cases.
History of The Act
This act originated in 1818 when Bengal Regulation III was enacted by British government to arrest anyone for defence and maintenance of public order without giving the person recourse to judicial proceedings.
The British Government later enacted the Rowlatt Acts of 1910 which allowed detention of a suspect without trial.
After Independence, the Indian government under the leadership of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru enacted the Preventive Detention Act of 1950 which expired in 1969.
The National Security Act 1980 is a close iteration of the Preventive Detention Act of 1950.
Misuse of extra-judicial power by the government.
The NSA violates the constitutional rights of persons.
There are no records of people detained under the NSA as the National Crime Records Bureau(NCRB) which collects the crime data in the country does not include cases under NSA in its data as no FIRs are registered.