National Security Act (NSA):
The Supreme Court has directed the release of Manipur-based activist Erendra Leichongbom, detained under the National Security Act for his social media posts allegedly on the efficacy of cow dung and urine as cures for COVID-19 in the context of the death of a BJP leader.
- The court said his continued detention would be a violation of his fundamental right to life and the due process of law.
- The court also expressed concern because the government was using preventive detention in cases where even ordinary penal sections did not apply.
About the National Security Act (NSA):
- The NSA is a preventive detention law.
- Preventive Detention involves the detainment (containment) of a person in order to keep him/her from committing future crimes and/or from escaping future prosecution.
- Article 22 (3) (b) of the Constitution allows for preventive detention and restriction on personal liberty for reasons of state security and public order.
- Article 22(4)states that:
- No law providing for preventive detention shall authorise the detention of a person for a longer period than three months unless:
- An Advisory Board reports sufficient cause for extended detention.
- The 44th Amendment Act of 1978 has reduced the period of detention without obtaining the opinion of an advisory board from three to two months. However, this provision has not yet been brought into force, hence, the original period of three months still continues.
- The maximum period for which one may be detained is 12 months. But the term can be extended if the government finds fresh evidence.
- A person can be held for 10 days without being told the charges against them. The person can appeal before a high court advisory board but will not be allowed a lawyer during the trial.
- 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.
- However, under National Security Act, none of these rights are available to the person detained. The government holds the right to conceal information which it considers to be against public interest to disclose.