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Preventive detention only to forestall public disorder: SC:


GS Paper  :  2

Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.



The Supreme Court has passed an order on the use and applicability of Prevention Detention in the Country.



The judgment came in an appeal filed by the wife of a man placed under preventive detention under the Telangana Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act shortly after he was granted bail in a cheating case.


Important observations made by the Court:

  1. Preventive detention could be used only to prevent public disorder.
  2. The State should not arbitrarily resort to “preventive detention” to deal with all and sundry “law and order” problems, which could be dealt with by the ordinary laws of the country.
  3. The court must ensure that the facts brought before it directly and inevitably lead to a harm, danger or alarm or feeling of insecurity among the general public or any section thereof at large.
  4. Preventive detention must fall within the four corners of Article 21 (due process of law) read with Article 22 (safeguards against arbitrary arrest and detention) and the statute in question.

What is Preventive Detention?

It 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 reports sufficient cause for extended detention.

  • The 44th Amendment Act of 1978 has reduced the period of detention without obtaining the opinion of an advisory board from three to two months. However, this provision has not yet been brought into force, hence, the original period of three months still continues.


Purpose of the Preventive detention:

  1. In the case of Mariappan v. The District Collector and Others, the Court held that the aim of detention and its laws is not to punish anyone but to stop certain crimes from being committed.
  2. In the case of Union of India v. Paul Nanickan and Anr, the Supreme Court said that the reasoning for such detention is based on suspicion or reasonable possibility and not a criminal conviction, which can be justified only by valid proof.


Insta Curious: 

Do you know what Adjective law is? Read Here



Prelims Link:

  1. What is Preventive Detention?
  2. Constitutional provisions in this regard.
  3. Laws providing for Preventive Detention.
  4. Overview of Article 22 and sub clauses under it.
  5.  44th Amendment Act of 1978- overview.

Mains Link:

Discuss the issues and concerns associated with the application of Preventive Detention law in the Country.

Sources: the Hindu.