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What is National Security Act?

National Security Act invoked by the current government of Madhya Pradesh against three individuals alleged for the killing of cows earlier in February has brought the Act into the limelight. The arbitrary decision of the Madhya Pradesh government against the individuals has drawn sharp criticism from all corners of the country.

National Security Act was enacted by the government of India whose “to provide for preventive detention in certain cases and for matters connected therewith” on September 23rd 1980 under the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi.

Earlier, NSA had come into limelight after the arrest of Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad (he was detained for 15 months). More recently journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem from Manipur was detained for uploading videos criticising the BJP CM N Biren Singh.

The act extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

In simple words, the law allows an authority to keep an individual under detention for up to 12 months if they are convinced that he/she can be a possible threat to peace of the country. Under the act, it is not compulsory to put any charge against the person in detention.

According to National Security Act, a person can be put under custody based on the following grounds mentioned below:

  • Any act which can affect the defence or security of India, relation of India with any foreign nation.
  • regulating the presence of any foreigner in India or making arrangements towards the expulsion of any foreign national from India.
  • To prevent them from harming the security of any state or disturbing the smooth functioning of public orders or prejudicing the supplies and services necessary for any community.

The person taken into custody can be held up to a maximum of 10 days without telling him about the charges against him. The detainee is allowed to appeal against it in the high court however; they can-not ask for a lawyer during the trial process.

The NSA has been questioned by the critics from time to time. They have criticised the action of police under NSA. A report released by UP government in January 2018 said that it had booked 160 people under NSA in the year of 2017 under the Yogi Adityanath government.

As per a Law Commission report from 2001, 14,57,779 people were booked under preventive laws in India.

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