NATIONAL SECURITY ACT, 1986 by Rishabh Singh at LexCliq

 

“Thousands of Economically Weak Section (EWS) and Below Poverty Line (BPL) citizens are dying on the streets, in vehicles, in hospital compounds, and in their homes as a result of hospital bed hoarding, adulterated COVID medicines, black marketing of medical equipment such as oxygen cylinders, and massive profiteering in the sale of life-saving injections such as Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, and others.” These activities should be regarded seriously, and those responsible should be held accountable. A petition was recently filed in the Supreme Court to use the National Security Act (NSA) against the stockpiling, profiteering, adulteration, and black-marketing of COVID-19 necessities such as medications and equipment. Therefore, in this post, I will discuss the NSA briefly.

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 determines that there are adequate grounds for detention for a prolonged period of time. The 44th Amendment Act of 1978 lowered the length of imprisonment without seeking an advisory board’s opinion from three to two months. However, because this provision has not yet been implemented, the original three-month term remains in effect.

A person can be held for a maximum period of 12 months. However, the period can be extended if the government discovers new/fresh evidence. A person might be detained for ten days without being informed of the charges against them. The individual may appeal to a high court advisory board, but will not be permitted to have a lawyer present during the trial.

However, there are several concerns about the abuse of this law: According to Article 22 (1) of the Indian Constitution, an accused individual has the right to consult and be represented by a legal practitioner of his choice. Section 50 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CRPC) states that anybody detained must be notified of the reason for their arrest and has the right to bail. However, none of these rights are available to the individual arrested under the National Security Act. The government has the authority to keep a material secret if it believes that disclosing it would be detrimental to the public interest.

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