Madras HC: Increase in Cases of Preventive Detention Law Misuse; Directs to Pay Monetary Relief Whenever Detention is Found to be Frivolous

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Savvy Thakur

Published on: 17 November 2022 at 20:34 IST

While managing two habeas corpus petitions, the Madras High Court as of late seen that the gross abuse of preventive detention laws in the State of Tamil Nadu has arrived at Orwellian extents.

The bench of Justices MS Ramesh and N Anand Venkatesh noted that, for the past ten years, Tamil Nadu has topped the list of states that hold the most people under their preventive laws in the nation.

The court noted, based on data from the Prison Statistics India Report and the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) website, that Tamil Nadu reported 1,775 detentions in 2021, which represented 51.2% of all preventive detention cases in the country.

“It appears that the numbers continue to rise with each passing year. Two possible conclusions can be drawn: either the State is creeping towards rebellion or that the locale of doubt has now turned into a helpful and strong weapon in the possession of the law implementing organizations to unpredictably confine individuals by a cognizant maltreatment of its legal powers,” the court said.

As a result, the court acted “as a sentinel on the qui vive guarding the citizen from the excesses of the executive” by warning the State government that it would levy costs on it for each wrongful detention case it encounters.

The court ruled that punitive damages would be awarded to the state when quashing preventive detention orders if it determined that the detention was completely frivolous or was based on nonexistent or irrelevant grounds.

Further, court alluded to the Tamil Nadu Avoidance of Hazardous Exercises of Peddlers, Medication Guilty parties, Goondas, Corrupt Traffic Wrongdoers, Sand Guilty parties, Ghetto Grabbers and Video Privateers Act, 1982 (Act) and said that given the huge swath of abilities under the demonstration, it has turned into the most loved hunting ground for the police to think about normal lawbreakers and different nuisances.

To put it another way, the court noted, “Preventive Detention has become an instrument of convenience whereby such elements are dealt with on the sure knowledge that once a detention order is passed, such persons are bound to be imprisoned for at least 3-6 months, pending reference to the Advisory Board or a challenge before this Court by way of a petition for habeas corpus.”

This is because the court has observed that preventive detention has become an instrument of convenience.

District authorities’ detention orders were challenged in the current habeas corpus petitions. One of the detainees had slapped a police officer, and the other had been booked under the Goondas Act for protesting the State’s acquisition of land.

The court determined that none of the occurrences had the potential to disrupt public order. Subsequently, Court put away the detainment arranges and coordinated that both detunes be set free from jail.

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