After his arrest, Punjab police said Amritpal Singh will be taken to Assam’s Dibrugarh as he is a National Security Act (NSA) subject. The stringent NSA had earlier been invoked against Amritpal Singh, the Punjab government had told the high court.
Police in March had launched a major crackdown against Amritpal Singh and members of his outfit ‘Waris Punjab De.’ The elusive preacher himself had, however, gave the police a slip and escaped their dragnet when his cavalcade was intercepted in Jalandhar district.
But Why Exactly is Amritpal Singh Being Taken to Assam Jail?
News18 reported that Amritpal is being taken to Assam for security reasons. Punjab police fear keeping them in Punjab jail could escalate tension and there are also apprehensions of a repeat of the Ajnala incident when his supporters stormed the police station to press for release of his top aide, Lovepreet Singh.
Nine aides of Singh, members of the Waris Punjab De are also lodged at the 166-year-old Assam Jail.
And What is The National Security Act? News18 Explains:
The act, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs, allows for preventive detention of individuals. The National Security Act of 1980 empowers a state or central authority to detain a person if there is reason to suspect that he or she is committing an act endangering national security. The government may also use the NSA to prohibit someone from upsetting public order or interrupting crucial supply and services.
If a person poses a threat to India’s relations with other countries, he or she may be held, as per a report by Deccan Herald. The Act gives the government the authority to imprison foreigners, control their presence, or deport them from India.
The NSA allows for a 12-month period of preventive detention, which can be extended if the government acquires new evidence against the suspect. During this time, the detainee cannot be prosecuted. The detainee may appeal to a high court advisory panel, but he or she is not permitted to have a lawyer present during the trial.
Protection Available Under Act
Article 22 of the Indian Constitution provides for both preventive detention and the right to be free from arrest and custody in certain circumstances, according to the Indian Express. However, Article 22(3) states that the rights afforded to an arrested person do not apply in the situation of preventative detention, therefore an exemption is made.
Article 22(5) of the NSA grants all detained persons the right to make an effective representation before an independent advisory board, which consists of three members; and the board is chaired by a member who is, or has been, a judge of a high court, the report says.
The DM who issues the detention order is protected by the Act: no prosecution or legal action can be brought against the official who executes the directives, the report adds. As a result, the writ of habeas corpus is the only remedy available under the Constitution against the state’s power to detain anyone under the NSA. As a result, Imaan Singh Khara, the legal advisor for Waris Punjab De, has filed a habeas corpus petition in Singh’s case in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
History of the Act
The NSA 1980 started during the colonial era, Deccan Herald explains. Bengal Regulation III was enacted in 1818 to allow the British establishment to arrest anyone without providing legal aid in order to maintain public order. The Rowlatt Act was introduced in 1919, allowing detention without a trial, and the Jallianwala Bagh massacre was a direct result.
Following the Rowlatt Act, Indira Gandhi established the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) in 1971, which was ultimately repealed in 1977. In 1980, the National Security Act was enacted.
With inputs from Swati Bhan
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