Kerala High Court Emphasizes Limited Use of Preventive Detention

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Published on: November 18, 2023 at 12:48 IST

The Kerala High Court underscored that the power to detain individuals should not be wielded as a punitive measure but rather to maintain public order in the broader interest of society.

In a Heabeas Corpus plea concerning a detenu involved in eight crimes, the Division Bench, comprising Justice A. Muhamed Mustaque and Justice Shoba Annamma Eapen, emphasized that detention orders significantly impact citizens’ liberty and must only be justified on valid grounds.

The Court, while reviewing the case, observed a lack of thoughtful consideration by the detaining authority in exercising its power.

It highlighted that the authority failed to analyze the detenu’s activities regarding public order for each offense mentioned in the detention order.

The Court emphasized the necessity of scrutinizing the detenu’s past offenses and evaluating the impact of each crime on public order to determine the potential threat to society.

Notably, the detenu had previously committed offenses related to private individuals, leading to acquittals based on compromise settlements.

The Court clarified that involvement in offenses affecting private individuals alone is insufficient grounds for detention under the Kerala Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 2007.

The authority, when issuing a detention order, must explicitly state how the detenu’s past conduct, concerning offenses, necessitates detention to safeguard public order. The Court declared any detention order lacking such reasons as illegal and legally unsustainable.

In this case, due to the evident lack of reasoning by the authority, the impugned detention order was set aside, and the detenu was ordered to be released.

Also Read: What is Preventive Detention?

Case Title: Sukumaran v. State of Kerala & Ors.

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