‘No vakil, no daleel, no appeal’ for 12 months: Delhi Police empowered with NSA
Former Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police, Prakash Singh, told Asiaville that there is no need to worry about the NSA powers being given to the Delhi Police. “If Delhi Police says it is a matter of routine, there is no reason to disbelieve it,” Singh said.
Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal has given the special powers under the National Security Act (NSA) to the Delhi Police Commissioner. In a notification, the police has been empowered with preventative detention of any individual up to 12 months. The NSA enables the administration to carry out such detention even without a case.
According to the notification, LG Baijal has provided the NSA powers to the Delhi Police for the next three months, starting from January 19 to April 18. It further reads: “Delhi may also exercise the powers of detaining authority under the National Security Act (NSA), 1980.”
It is important to note that the notification has been issued at a time when the national capital is witnessing a series of protests and dharnas against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens.
The notification has triggered concerns. Asaduddin Owaisi, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief, said that Delhi has been now empowered to detain. In a tweet, Owaisi said: Delhi police has now “been empowered to detain under draconian NSA. It allows detention upto 1 year without Vakil, daleel, appeal and is popular with cops who want to go after anyone irrespective of their guilt or innocence”.
Delhi police has shown willingness to act in a way that pleases the Centre. Now it’s been empowered to detain under draconian NSA. It allows detention up to 1 yr without vakil, daleel, appeal & is popular with cops who want to go after anyone irrespective of their guilt/innocence https://t.co/hRbNEX5O8T— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) January 17, 2020
However, the Delhi Police has maintained that it is routine work and happens quarterly. As per the law, the NSA powers are vested with the Magistrate.
Former Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police, Prakash Singh, told Asiaville that there is no need to worry about the NSA powers being given to the Delhi Police. “If Delhi Police says it is a matter of routine, there is no reason to disbelieve it,” Singh said. “The NSA powers, in most of the districts in states, are exercised by the District Magistrates. In Delhi, the powers have been given to the Commissioner of Police who has the magisterial powers.”
The former UP DGP further said that these powers can be delegated to the Delhi CP and “there is nothing unusual about it”.
The NSA was brought by the Indira Gandhi government and was enacted in 1980. The law empowers the administration to arrest or detain an individual without a case if they feel he or she is a threat to the national security or the law and order situation. The notification issued by Delhi LG Baijal has empowered the Delhi Police Commissioner under subsection 3 of Section of the NSA along with clause of Section 2.
Under subsection 2 of section 3 of the NSA, now the Delhi Police Commissioner can make preventive detention for up to 12 months:
If satisfied with respect to any person that he or she is a threat to the security or the maintenance of public order or if a person is a threat to the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community.
These powers under the NSA enable the police and the administration to arrest and detain a person even without a case - the reason why the civil rights’ activists dub the NSA as a draconian law.
For instance, in November 2017, the Uttar Pradesh Police had pressed the NSA charges against Bhim Army chief Chandrashekar Azad Ravan. The charges were pressed against him a day after he had got bail from the Allahabad High Court in the Saharanpur Dalit-Thakur violence case. It was only after the passage of 11 months, the UP government had informed the Supreme Court that the NSA charges against Ravan were withdrawn.
Senior Supreme Court lawyer Rajeev Dhavan said: “Any form of preventive detention is unacceptable even in the form of a crisis. In the present situation in Delhi, to give this power to the Commissioner of Police is nothing more than an invasion of civil liberties.”
“This is like a semi-emergency being imposed on Delhi with no accountability whatsoever,” he added.