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Preventive detention laws are colonial legacy, must be used only in rarest of rare cases: SC
A bench of Justices Krishna Murari and V Ramasubramanian made the observations while setting aside a detention order for a man accused in a gold smuggling case
Preventive detention laws in India are a colonial legacy with a great potential to be abused and must be used only in the rarest of rare cases, the Supreme Court said on Monday.
The top court said courts must analyse cases arising from such laws with extreme caution to ensure there are checks and balances on exercise of power of the government.
A bench of Justices Krishna Murari and V Ramasubramanian made the observations while setting aside a detention order for a man accused in a gold smuggling case.
"Preventive detention laws in India are a colonial legacy, and have a great potential to be abused and misused. Laws that have the ability to confer arbitrary powers to the state, must in all circumstances, be very critically examined, and must be used only in the rarest of rare cases.
"In cases of preventive detention, where the detenue is held in arrest not for a crime he has committed, but for a potential crime he may commit, the Courts must always give every benefit of the doubt in favour of the detenue, and even the slightest of errors in procedural compliances must result in favour of the detenue," the bench said.
The apex court said every procedural rigidity must be followed in entirety by the government in cases of preventive detention, and every lapse in procedure must give rise to a benefit to the case of the detenue.
"The Courts, in circumstances of preventive detention, are conferred with the duty that has been given the utmost importance by the Constitution, which is the protection of individual and civil liberties.
"This act of protecting civil liberties is not just the saving of rights of individuals in person and the society at large, but is also an act of preserving our Constitutional ethos, which is a product of a series of struggles against the arbitrary power of the British state," the bench said.
The top court's judgement came on an appeal filed by Pramod Singla challenging an order of the Delhi High Court which had rejected his plea to quash the detention order against him on the grounds of delay in considering his representation.
The apex court had on January 5 released the man from custody as interim relief due to the demise of his father, and later due to the expiry of the impugned detention order he was released from detention.