The Allahabad High Court in an order dated 19 December, highlighted that the orders of preventive detention can only be passed in the cases of a public order problem and asserted that such measures cannot be reported for resolving ordinary ‘law and order’ problems.
The Bench of Justices Shabihul Hasnain and Rekha Dikshit quashed a preventive detention order under the National Security Act, 1980 and held that administrative authorities have, time and again, remained confused as to what would constitute a “law and order problem” and what constitutes a “public order problem.” The court further stated that preventive detention powers cannot be casually invoked since they entail a violation of personal liberty.
“The preventive detention is an encroachment upon the personal liberty of an individual and cannot be said to have encroached inadvertently as has been done in the instant case,” stated the bench.
Earlier this year, an FIR was registered against Prem Narayan, who was accused of having shot an MLA. He was booked under Sections 307, 504 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 7 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act. Subsequently, a preventive detention order was passed against him in July.
The detainee Prem Narayan argued that the detention order was passed on extraneous, absurd, false and motivated grounds, and also due to the political pressure by the MLA. Advocate Anuj Pandey who acting for Prem Narayan argued that the CCTV visuals prove the fact that the detainee Narayan was the one who was attacked and not the other way around. In May 2019, the High Court itself directed an inquiry into the claims made by Narayan, under Regulation 107 of the UP Police Regulations.
Notwithstanding this instruction, an order of preventive detention was passed against Narayan in July, prompting him to approach the High Court again by way of a Habeas Corpus plea. Later, the High Court observed that there was no “public order problem” warranting the issuance of a preventive detention order.
“The facts and circumstances of the present case, especially, the changed version of the detaining authorities falls to establish that the alleged act was one threatening public order,” held the bench and proceeded to release the detainee.
The bench also stated that the detaining authority appeared to have mechanically passed the order without applying an independent mind, and based on a flawed report by the Sponsoring Authority.