Why UP is invoking NSA in murder cases? Public order, threat of communal tension & ‘panic’, says cops
Agra: When a girl, 17, was raped and killed in Lakhimpur Kheri, the National Security Act (NSA) was invoked. Then, a Dalit man was killed in Malihabad outside Lucknow. NSA was brought in. A nine-year-old was kidnapped and killed in Agra. It was NSA again.
Designed as a law to act against security threats, NSA is being increasingly used in murder cases by the state. While police say it is meant to be a “pre-emptive” move, legal experts and politicians are baffled by the alacrity with which the stringent Act is being invoked for cases that do not have larger security implications.
NSA states that the Centre or the state may detain a person for “preventing him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the defence of India, the relations of India with foreign powers, or the security of India,” or a foreigner whose “continued presence in India” may need to be “regulated”.
So, how does a murder qualify as grounds for NSA? “The NSA can be imposed on the accused in cases that lead to disruption of public order,” said ADG (law and order) Prashant Kumar. Likewise, ADG (Agra zone) Ajay Anand said NSA can be used on the basis of the “nature of heinous crime, which has a potential to create tension between communities, leading to disruption of public order.” This relies on a broad interpretation of what “public order” is and what impact it has on national security.
In the Malihabad murder, five accused — Ghulam Ali, Mushtaqim, Mufeed, Shanu and Guddu — had allegedly attacked Dalit farmer Ram Vilas Rawat when he was irrigating his farm. IG (Lucknow range) Laxmi Singh said a protest had broken out and a road blocked after the murder. In case of the Lakhimpur Kheri rape and murder, she said there had been “panic”. Both, according to her, were sufficient grounds for NSA. The nine-year-old’s abduction and murder, Agra SSP Babloo Kumar told TOI, had “created fear” among people.
Legal experts contested the arguments. “What is the need for Section 302 (murder) then? Preventive detention is an exception. It cannot be used as a routine course of action. Applying such stringent laws to crime cases is diluting the law,” Supreme Court lawyer S Prasanna said. Human rights lawyer at Allahabad high court KK Roy said there are very specific circumstances in which NSA should be invoked. “It is imposed in cases where there is a threat of complete breakdown of public order … Disruption of public order is a situation when a community feels insecure, with so much panic because of one incident that people don’t move out of their houses.”
Congress legislature party leader Aradhana Mishra said the use of NSA is in response to the rise in crime. “Section 302 is very strong. Police can add charges according to the nature of the crime, but using NSA for every case is a sheer sign of panic.”
UP chief secretary Rajendra Tewari, without going into the specifics of each case, admitted that not every case warrants NSA. “But it can be used against those accused of murder, if required,” he added. Both ADG Kumar and IG Singh there are processes in place to ensure validity of use. “NSA is used with many checks and balances. There is an independent advisory board, headed by three judges, who give final approval. There is no bureaucratic meddling. There are no instructions from headquarters. Every case is decided on merit,” Kumar said.
The NSA allows three months’ detention at a time, which can be extended up to 12 months with approval from the NSA advisory board set up by the government. A detention order can be executed in the same manner that an arrest warrant is, but the grounds of detention can be provided 10 days later. Using this, UP detained 338 people over 2017 and 2018, Union minister of state for home G Kishan Reddy informed the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. Of them, 188 are still under detention.
Courtesy : TNN