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Detention without trial curtails liberty, rights, says apex court

A person taken to custody under preventive detention without trial cannot be kept in continuous confinement as it curtails his liberty and civil rights, the Supreme Court has said.

‘Normally, a person who is detained under the provisions of the Act is without facing trial which in other words amounts to curtailment of his liberties and denial of civil rights. In such cases, whether continuous detention of such person is necessary or not, is to be assessed and reviewed from time to time,’ a bench of justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and N V Ramana said.

Taking into consideration these factors, the Legislature has specifically provided the mechanism ‘Advisory Board’ to review the detention of a person. The court’s ruling came while setting aside the detention order of a person under the Andhra Pradesh Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Dacoits, Drug Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders and Land Grabbers Act, 1986.

The bench said passing a detention order for a period of 12 months at a stretch, without proper review, is deterrent to the rights of the detenu and that the order of Andhra Pradesh government directing detention for the maximum period of 12 months straightaway cannot be sustained in law.
The court passed the order allowing the appeal filed by the wife one Cherukuri Narendra Chowdari, who was detained on the preventive detention order of collector and district magistrate of East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh on 20 September, 2013.

Chowdari was detained on the ground that he has got all the attributes to be called as a ‘goonda’ as envisaged under the Act.

The order had mentioned that he was involved in several cases of theft of government and private properties as well as cases of destruction of public properties and his anti-social activities are harmful to the society and general public and referred 11 cases registered against him. His wife had approached the apex court challenging the Andhra Pradesh High Court order alleging that her husband has been unauthorisedly detained and the detention order passed was illegal and sought his release.

The bench directed that detenu Chowdari be released forthwith. ‘We accordingly allow the appeal quashing the detention order issued by the government of Andhra Pradesh and setting aside the impugned judgment of the high court. The detenu shall be set at liberty forthwith,’ the bench said. 

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