LAW OF DETENTION IN INDIA
LAW OF DETENTION IN INDIA
Detention is defined as the act of reserving a person or property and, ‘illegal detention’ is the unsubstantiated imprisonment or unlawful deprivation of liberty of an individual by arresting for an illegitimate cause or suspicion, along with continuous restraint on one’s personal liberty by detaining such individual in custody.
A Police officer can detain an individual, if he has reasonable doubt or suspicion that a crime has been or will be committed, or if he reasonably believes that an individual may have information regarding the same, the Police officer may then have the liberty of detaining the individual for a short span of time, in order to investigate into the matter. If an individual is ever detained, the authorities are allowed to
- frisk the person for any weapons,
- seek information regarding the crime that is believed to occur.
If police officers have probable cause to believe a specific person has committed a crime, he can arrest that person. At that point, he can conduct a complete search for the person for weapons, evidence, and contraband as well as their vehicle if he is or has been near it recently. He can hold that person in jail for 24 hours or until he gets a warrant issued for the charges. If a person is unlawfully detained by the police, the Constitution allows redressal by the filing of a habeas corpus petition under Article 32 or 226. Traditionally, its sole purpose is to have any person under arrest brought to court. Now, if the person has been unlawfully detained, the court can order his release.
Safeguards under Constitution of India
Article 22 of Indian Constitution broadly deals with the rights of a person who has been arrested or detained. The first two clauses deal with the rights of a person who has been arrested for a crime he has already committed. Other clauses are related to the rights and the procedure for the arrest and detention of persons under preventive detention. Article 22 makes the minimum procedural requirements which must be included in any law enacted by legislature in accordance with which a person is deprived of his personal liberty and thus provides for the protection against illegal arrest and detention.
Clause 1 of Article 22 of Indian Constitution states that a person who has been arrested under normal circumstances (not under preventive detention), has the right to know the charges for which he has been arrested and can be detained further and he can’t be denied off an attorney or a lawyer’s service to represent him in court or to guide him and defend him in the court of law. The concerned authority, like the police or any other government authority, is compelled to tell him this information as soon as possible.
Clause 2 of Article 22 of Indian Constitution states that any person who has been arrested by an authority, must be presented before a magistrate within 24 hours of the arrest. This period of 24 hours doesn’t include the time taken to travel to the court of the magistrate. The person cannot be detained or held in custody for more than twenty four hours. After that, it is with the authority or permission of the magistrate that an agency or government body can extend the period of the detention.
Clause (3) of Article 22 however expressly takes away the safeguards of clauses (1) and (2) of Article 22. It states that:-
(a) This states that the rights mentioned in the first two clauses are not valid for a person who is an “enemy alien”.
(b) This sub-clause states that the rights mentioned in the first two clauses are not applicable to people who have been arrested or detained on the grounds of preventive detention.
Preventive detention means detention of a person without trial and conviction by a court, but merely on suspicion in the mind of an executive authority. Preventive detention is fundamentally different from imprisonment after trial and conviction in a criminal court. In conviction, an accused is sought to be punished for a past act. The offence has to be proved in the court beyond reasonable doubt. In preventive detention a person is detained without trial in the subjective satisfaction of the executive.
Clause 4 of Article 22 of Indian Constitution deals with the provisions related to safeguard the misuse of the preventive detention powers of the government agencies. According to this, a person who has been detained under preventive detention, cannot be held for more than 3 months without the recommendation of an advisory board. This advisory board will be formed containing at least three members who are either high court judges or have the qualification to be high court judges.
Clause 5 of Article 22 of Indian Constitution mentions that an individual detained under any order which refers to preventive detention, may be given the right to know the grounds of detention and allowed to make representation against the said detention, on a time that the government sees fit and must be considered as soon as possible.
Clause 6 of Article 22 of Indian Constitution states that while disclosing the grounds of detention to a person, under clause (5) of Article 22 of Indian Constitution, the government has a right to withhold the specifics or facts which it may consider will harm the public interest.
Clause 7 of Article 22 describe the powers of parliament that by passing law the parliament can
(a) Define the necessary situations in which a person or class can be detained for more than 3 months, without consulting with the Advisory Board. However, they will need to pass a law for this.
(b) It can decide the maximum period of detention
(c) It can modify or define the procedure which is to be followed by the advisory board.
D.K Basu V State of West Bengal-
In this case, D.K Basu, the Executive chairman of West Bengal Legal Aid Services wrote to the Chief Justice of India about the deaths occurring in police custody which was treated as a writ petition and thus the Supreme Court issued guidelines that are-
- Police personnel should wear accurate, visible and clear identification and name tags with their designations while carrying out interrogation and arrest.
- A memo of arrest shall be prepared by an arresting police officer and shall be attested by at least one witness and countersigned by the arrestee.
- One friend or relative of the arrestee shall be informed, as soon as practicable, of the arrest and detention at the place in question
- Where the next friend or relative of the arrestee lives outside the district then he or she must be notified by the police of the time, place of arrest and venue of custody within 8 to 12 hours of the arrest
- Arrestee must be informed of his right as soon as he or she is arrested or detained
- An entry must be made in the diary at the place of detention regarding all the particulars like arrest of the person, name of next friend who has been informed and the names of the police officers in whose custody the arrestee is detained.
- On request, the arrestee should be examined for injuries at the time of arrest and provided with a copy of the resulting report, signed by both the officer and arrestee.
- The arrestee should undergo a medical examination every 48 hours by a doctor from an approved panel
- Copies of all documents regarding the arrest are to be sent to the appropriate local Magistrate for his or her records
- The arrestee may be permitted to meet with his or her lawyer during interrogation , though not throughout the interrogation
- A police control room must be established at all district and State headquarters where information regarding arrest should be received within 12 hours of the arrest and displayed on a conspicuous notice board.
Bhim Singh v. State of Jammu and Kashmir-
In this case, a Member of Legislative Assembly (M.L.A.) of Jammu and Kashmir was detained by the police on the eve of the Assembly sessions. From the facts of the case the Supreme Court came to the conclusion that Bhim Singh was not produced either before the Magistrate on 11th or before the Sub Judge on 13th , though he was arrested in the early hours of 10th of September, 1985. According to Article 22(2) of the Constitution of India, persons arrested or detained “shall be produced before the nearest Magistrate within a period of twenty four hours.” On the given facts the Court found that the conduct of police officers was a gross violation of Bhim Singh’s constitutional rights under Article 21 and 22(2). The above discussion amply establishes the fact that persons who are unlawfully deprived of the personal liberty by the officials are legally entitled to claim compensation or damages from the State.
DETENTION UNDER AFSPA
According to section 4 of Armed forces special Power ACT Any Armed forces personnel can shoot to kill in case of the commission or suspicion of the commission of offences and arrest without a warrant.It is contrary to the Article 21 and Article 22 which talks about the Right to liberty and protect the people from unnecessary detention. AFSPA,violates human rights, There are so many examples when the oppressive powers given to the armed forces have been misused.
- In Naga’s People Movement, Of Human… vs Union of India, 1997, many writ petitions were filed which probed the authenticity of the Armed Forces (Special Provisions) Act, 1958 and the Assam Disturbed Areas Act,1955. The petitions were filed upon seeing the injustice faced by the people of the disturbed areas. Based on the report, the inquiry found that the complaints were filed whenever there is a misuse of power but on the other side, many complaints were found false. Thus, it was held that the armed forces must function according to the Do’s and Don’ts while using the special power under this Act.
- In People’s Union For Human Rights vs. Union of India And Ors, 1991, the question was raised that could armed forces arrest a person, male or female without the involvement of the Police Authority or not. It was held that any person whether male or female can be arrested without the consent of the Police Authority during the time and place of which the act being in force.
DETENTION UNDER UAPA
The section 43 D of the UAPA states that if it is not possible to complete the investigation within the said period of ninety days, the Court may if it is satisfied with the report of the Public Prosecutor indicating the progress of the investigation and the specific reasons for the detention of the accused beyond the said period of ninety days, extend the said period up to one hundred and eighty days:
The way the UAPA is being used by the current regime shows that we need to repeal the legislation instead of diluting it. In Bhima Koregaon cases in Maharashtra, everyone is being charged as a terrorist, irrespective of whether that person has anything to do with terrorism. In North-East Delhi cases, victims are charged under UAPA when they were raising their voice through peaceful protests in a non-violent manner.
There is no review committee available under UAPA that would filter the cases and allow prosecuting someone. UAPA took the shape of anti-terrorism law without any sunset clause. In making a comparison between the aforementioned legislations, the UAPA is more oppressive compared to POTA and TADA. There are strict bail conditions in the UAPA and chances of bail are rare.
- In Angela Harish Sontakke v State of Maharashtra(2016), the Supreme Court granted bail to the accused, notwithstanding section 43-D(5) of UAPA. The Supreme Court followed this precedent in Sagar Tatyaram Gorkhe v State of Maharashtra (2017) wherein the accused had spent four years in jail, and there were over 147 witnesses still unexamined. “The present case is more egregious than those two above-cited instances,” the Justice Ramana-led bench observed on Monday.
DETENTION UNDER PASA
The Section 3 of the prevention of anti social activities act, 1985 states that,
(1) The State Government may if satisfied with respect to any person that with a view to preventing him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order, it is necessary to do so, make an order directing that such person be detained.
(2) If, having regard to the circumstances prevailing or likely to prevail in any area within the local limits of the jurisdiction of a District Magistrate or a Commissioner of Police, the State Government is satisfied that it is necessary so to do, it may, by order in writing, direct that the District Magistrate of the Commissioner of Police, may also, if satisfied as provided in sub-section (1), exercise the powers conferred by the said sub-section.
The act provides for preventive detention of habitual offenders Under the PASA Act, habitual offenders can be held in preventive detention on the orders of district magistrate for upto one year. After detaining a person, the authorities have to inform the PASA Advisory Board within three weeks, and the board, headed by a retired high court judge, has to inform the government if the detention is valid or not.
If the board opines that there are no sufficient grounds, the detention order is revoked.
Many times the preventive detention under PASA has been misused and abused by the executive authorities but the judiciary have given certain guidelines and judgement which protect the fundamental rights of the accused.
- Thakarsibhai v. State of Gujarat
The Court in lieu of the above judgment held that contention raised by the petitioner cannot sustain as only in the exceptional cases, pre detention matters were maintainable. The Court dismissed the petition considering the fact that only one FIR had been registered against the petitioner and the case of the petitioner is not such that it can be entertained under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and no other exceptional circumstance is carved out to intervene with the principles of the detention.
OTHER IMP CASE LAWS RELATED TO DETENTION
- The first Preventive Detention Act was passed after independence in 1950. But this act was questioned on its validity in the case of AK Gopalan v. The State of Madras where it was apparent that freedom of an individual does not qualify as provided under Article 21. The Supreme Court, having taken a limited view of Articles 21 and 22, refused to entertain whether there were any inadequacies in the procedure provided by law. It was of the faith that each constitutional article was autonomous of each other. When the petitioner questioned the validity of his detention on the grounds that it violated his rights pursuant to Articles 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution, the Supreme Court disregarded all the arguments that the detention could be justified merely on the ground that it was conducted in accordance with the ‘legally established procedure.’
- In the case of Maneka Gandhi v. Union Of India, the court considerably broadened the range of the expression ‘personal liberty’ and interpreted it in its broadest extent. The court noted that Article 21 does not exclude Article 19 and that any statute depriving a citizen of personal liberty will have to concurrently stand up to the scrutiny of Article 21 and Article 19.
- Justice Chandrachud in the case of Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Anr. v Union Of India And Ors. established threefold conditions in the case of an infringement of personal liberty of individuals: (i) validity, which presupposes the presence of law; (ii) need, identified as a valid purpose of the State; and (iii) proportionality, which guarantees a fair relationship between the objects and the ways pursued to attain them.
The intention of the preventive detention law is to prevent the anti-social elements from causing hindrances in the society which might lead to harmful effects on the lives of citizens, but these laws have to be applied with utmost care and precaution so as to avoid any controversy. These laws directly affect the fundamental rights and freedoms of people who are guaranteed by the primary source of law in India i.e. the Constitution of India and the complexities arising out of the irresponsible implementation of these laws can consume a lot of time of the judiciary and life of the person so detained.