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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.
Recently, many offenders are arrested under this law for attacking corona warriors i.e. Doctors, Nurses, housekeeping staff and security personals.
The National Security Act (NSA) came into existence on 23 September 1980 during Indira Gandhi’s government. During the Indira Gandhi government and its purpose is “to provide for preventive detention in certain cases and for matters connected therewith”. It applies to the entirety of India, except Jammu and Kashmir.
However, the law’s framework dates back to 1818, almost two-century ago. In 1818, Bengal Regulation III was enacted to empower the British government to arrest anyone for maintenance of public order without giving the person recourse to judicial proceedings.
A century later, in 1919, the British government enacted the Rowlett Acts of 1919 that authorised personnel to put a suspect in confinement without trial. After Independence, the first preventive detention rule, Preventive Detention Act, was brought under Prime Minister, Jawarharlal Nehru. The Act expired on December 31, 1969.
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.
The suspect can be kept in jail for 12 months without any charge under the NSA. This is the most vital and critical provision of this whole act.
If an officer arrests a suspect, he has to explain the reasons to the concerned state government. Until the state government approves this arrest, the maximum period of arrest cannot be more than twelve days.
Keep in mind that arrest orders can be issued by the District Magistrate or Commissioner of Police under their respective jurisdiction.
Provisions of the National Security Act, 1980 (NSA)
- If a person, does not believe in the rule of law, harms the Indian relations with other countries of the world, disrupt the maintenance or supply of public services, attack police personnel on duty and creates the threat to the national security; can be arrested by the concerned government under this act.
Recently, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have registered FIR under this act against some anti-social elements.
- Under NSA, the concerned officer has the power to keep the suspect in captivity for 5 days without assigning any reason while in special circumstances this period can be up to 10 to 12 days. After this, the officer needs the permission of the state government for further detention.
- The arrested person is not entitled to the aid of any legal practitioner in any matter connected with the proceedings before an advisory board. This panel is constituted by the government for dealing with NSA cases.
- This law empowers the central government to arrest or expel a foreigner to control his activity.
- Some people have been booked under Rasuka for misbehaving with doctors, for transferring their corona infection to other healthy people and attacking the police personals in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Delhi.
A person detained under the National Security Act can be held for 10 days without being told the charges against them. The detained person can appeal before a high court advisory board but they are not allowed a lawyer during the trial.
However, the Act does not apply in Jammu and Kashmir.
The National Security Act became a major talking point when Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad was detained under the NSA for 15 months as well as when a Manipur journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem, was booked under the NSA over videos criticising CM N Biren Singh.
The NSA has repeatedly come under criticism for the way it is used by the police. In January 2018, the Uttar Pradesh government released a report saying that it had detained 160 people under the National Security Act within a year of Yogi Adityanath becoming chief minister.
As per a Law Commission report from 2001, more than 14 lakh people (14,57,779) were held under preventive laws in India.
Key Points Under National Security Act Are:
- The act allows preventive detention for months
- States or Centre can detain a people from acting in manner prejudicial to India’s security
- A person can be detained if he/she is a threat to India’s relations with foreign countries
- The Act is invoked to maintain public law and order
- It empowers the government to detain foreigners and regulate his/her presence or expel him/her from India
- The provisions in the Act are is re-notified every quarter
Why Does NSA Act Matter?
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.
- The detained person is not entitled to any legal aid.
Moreover, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), which collects crime data in India, does not include cases under the NSA as no FIRs are registered.
Surprisingly, there is no data available for the number of people slapped with the NSA till this day. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) does not list the number of people booked under it.