SC Guidelines – Preventive detention in custody

A Supreme Court bench of justices BS Chauhan and Dipak Misra passed the ruling upholding Manipur native Huidrom Konungjao Singh’s appeal against the state government’s decision to invoke the provisions of preventive detention under the National Security Act (NSA) against his son Huidrom Shantikumar, lodged in judicial custody in a murder case.

A person’s liberty is sacrosanct and cannot by taken away by the state without due process of law as it violates fundamental rights, the Supreme Court has ruled, laying down fresh guidelines on invoking provisions for preventive detention against a person already in jail.

“The personal liberty of a person is sacrosanct and state authority cannot be permitted to take it away without following the procedure prescribed by law, otherwise it would be violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed under articles 21 and 22 of the constitution,” the apex court said.

While Article 21 grants right to life and liberty subject to reasonable restrictions, Article 22 protects a person against arrest and detention in certain cases.

The bench said for invoking the provisions of preventive detention against a jailed person, the detaining authority has to satisfy the court if it was fully aware that the detune was actually in custody.

The detaining authority also has to satisfy that it had reliable material on the basis of which it had reasons to believe that there was real possibility of the arrested person’s getting bail and that after his release, he would indulge in activities, prejudicial to public order, the apex court said.

It added the authority has to justify its preventive order on these two counts.

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“In case either of these facts does not exist the detention order would stand vitiated,” said Justice Chauhan writing the judgement for the bench.

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