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Security Laws in India


At the end of day, the goals are simple: safety and security, well said
………Jodi Rell.

A secured country develops faster and ensures the safety of the people of the nation. This article basically deals with the Security laws which are enforced by the Parliament of India. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 was the first act which was enacted. This act was basically enforced to control the disruptive conditions of Nagaland from the separatist movement. After that many laws came into force such as the Preventive Detention Act, 1950, National Security Act, 1980. These laws were enacted to safeguard the administration from the illegal intervention and to maintain the peace and harmony of India.


The Preventive Detention Bill was passed in the Parliament on 26th February,1950 under the leadership of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. According to the Act, It became necessary to arrest a person under the ground of suspicion without being informed to protect the country and the administration and the person could not deny. The fundamental right of Article 21 to have a liberty and a dignified life and The Article 22 of the Indian Constitution safeguards a person against Preventive Detention as it states that, “No person can be arrested or detained without being informed”. Clause 2 of Article 22 reads that “Any Person who is detained must be present before the Magistrate under the 24 hours time limit” and the failure to do so would be illegal in the eyes of law. But Clause 3 of Article 22states that both the clause i.e. 1&2 would not be applicable on the person arrested under preventive detention. The bill was passed to provide internal security of the country and safeguards the rights of the person and stops the crimes before the commission. This act is also known as ‘Administration Act’. It is covered under Section 151 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1971.

The one must not get confused between ‘preventive detention’ and ‘punitive detention’. Both these terms are opposite. Preventive Detention simply means detention of a person before the commission of crime and its engagement to avoid any future harm. But on the other hand Punitive Detention refers to the detention of a person after the commission of a criminal offence or the attempt has been made to commit the crime.


The Prevention of Terrorism Act was passed in the Parliament of the country on 26th March 2002. The act was passed in the joint session because the bill was defeated in the Rajya Sabha but as Lok Sabha was in majority, it passed by 495 Ayes and 296 Nos. In the Indian political history 3rd time, any bill passed by a joint session of both Houses of the Parliament. It was Act no. 15 of 2002. The act was further amended in 2003 i.e. Act no. 4 of 2004. The act was enacted with the objective of moratorium on crimes and strengthening anti-terrorism activities.There were various reasons for the enactment of the act and of the major reason was the attack on the Indian Parliament that completely shook the citizens and called for the enactment of effective act to deal with these severe criminal offences.

Previously, the act replaced by the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (TADA) of 2001 and The Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act. (TODO) of (1985-1995). Under this law, A suspect could be detained up to the period of 180 days without the filing of the charge sheet in court but this law does not contain the concept of preventive detention. The POTA law was also provided with some safeguards i.e. any decision, verdict, petition of the special court formed under this law has the power to appeal in favour and against, and that appeal would be heard by a division bench of any high court. But thereafter POTA law was repealed on 21 September,2004, as it was misused by the political parties and by the citizens of the country.


National Security Act,1980 has its roots in the British Era. In that decade many acts were passed in order to detain a person without any prior information. In 1818, Bengal Resolution was enacted which empowered the government to detain a person without any judicial proceedings. Another act was Rowlatt Act,1919 which permitted the police officials to shoot a person without any confirmation and warning if they formed any group or were caught red handed. The major consequence of the Rowlatt Act was the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. The Government of India Act,1935 also provided certain powers to the State Government to arrest a person if he/ she has caught under the suspicion of criminal offences or hindered the security of the State or the matters connected with the maintenance of law, order and peace, external affairs, defence, or discharge of the functions of the related to the colonial government.

National Security Act,1980 was promulgated by the Parliament of India on 23September, 1980.The act is extended to the whole country and it contains 18 Sections. The major objective for the enactment of the Act was to provide preventive detention in some particular cases and to the matters connected with it. The act was passed under the leadership of Indira Gandhi. This act empowered the Central as well as State Government to detain a suspect if his actions contradicted the security policy of the country. Under this Act, a foreigner too can be arrested and could be expelled from the country. The maximum period for the detention of a person can be twelve months. The order can also be directly made by the District Magistrate or the Head of Police Department but the detainment of a person must be reported and approved by the State Government, mentioning the reasons of detention. Indira Gandhi introduced the Maintenance of Internal Security Act in 1971 which was similar to Rowlatt Act, the act was criticized at the higher level by the citizens as well as faced oppression of the political parties. So, it was repealed in 1977. The period between 1977-1980 established where the country had no law related to Preventive Detention. Later, the National Security Act was enacted in 1980 taking its need into consideration.


Maintenance of Internal Security Act,1971 is considered as one of the controversial laws ever passed by the Parliament of the Country. During the reign of Indian National Congress, headed by the Late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The law faced huge aggression and rejection from the people and was also criticized at the international level. Maintenance of Internal Security Act was passed on July 2nd,1971 and it substituted the previous Ordinance, Maintenance of Internal Security Ordinance propounded by the President of India on 7th May, 1971.

The powers of the ministers and of Indira Gandhi itself exceeded all the limits. People were arrested without being informed, search and seizure of the properties without any warrant, etc. In order to control the existing situations amendments were made several times and the situation got worse during the National Emergency (1975-1977). Thousands of people including journalists, political leaders, protesters, influencers, lawyers, teachers were arrested even without presenting before the magistrate in 24hours. The administration was not accountable to anyone and no one could question the authority and rules of the government. The legislation justified the act and the detainment of people. The famous personalities detained under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act were Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Chandra Shekhar, Lal Krishna Advani, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav and many more.

Maintenance of Internal Security Act was introduced in the 9thSchedule of the Constitution of India under 39th amendment. The very act contradicted the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. After the withdrawal of emergency on March 21, 1977, when the elections took place Janata Party won the elections by huge margins. When the Janata Party came into power, Maintenance of Internal Security Act was repealed and it was also removed from the Constitution under the 44th Amendment Act of 1978.


Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,1967 was enacted by the Parliament of India on 30 December, 1967. The act was applicable on the whole of India. The major objective for the introduction of the act was at the prevention of unlawful activities. The obligation was created to maintain the Sovereignty and Integrity of the country and powers were given to the officials if someone worked against it. The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act was amended several times. First the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 1969. Then 3 years later one more amendment took place as The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1972. And continuously these were amended three more times i.e. The Delegated Legislation Provisions Amendment Act, 1986, The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2004, The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2008 in order to ensure the prevention of unlawful activities and safeguard the country.

The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act was introduced after the Sixteenth Amendment Act, 1963. The Sixteenth Amendment Act has provisions to impose restrictions on the Freedom of Speech and Expressions, Right to Assemble Peacefully and without Arms, Right to Form Associations and Unions, if it hinders the interest of Sovereignty and Integrity of the Country. These were introduced by the National Integration and Regionalisation Committee which was earlier formed by the National Integration Council. The ruling party of the time, Bhartiya Janata Party wanted its provisions to be implemented in the country.

Section 3 of UAPA, 1967 defines the associations as any group of individuals which is formed unlawfully, illegal or mentioned in any government’s gazette. Section 13 of UAPA, states the punishments to the person associated with any unlawful activities and associations.
Many Notable personalities were arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967such as Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam, Akhil Gogoi, Vernon Gonsalves and many more.


This is quite clear from reading all these acts above that the government has tried to enact various laws to strengthen the administration of the country but sometimes where we lack is implementation. The proper balance should be made between the two things i.e. security and liberty. People of our country have rights to visit different places and have freedom of expression through different platforms but their liberty must not hinder the security of the country. Spreading of rumours which may encourage terrorism activities must be banned for the sake of our country. Securities laws of India also require some amendments for the better enforceability.


Author :

Roshni Agarwal, Amity Law School, Noida.