News & Events
TNPSC GROUP 1 MAINS CHALLENGE-NATIONAL SECURITY ACT
NATIONAL SECURITY ACT
Why in news?
Recently, the Madhya Pradesh Government invoked the National Security Act
(NSA) against three men accused of killing a cow.
About National Security Act, 1980
• The National Security Act was promulgated on September 23, 1980, "to
provide for preventive detention in certain cases and for matters connected
• The grounds for preventive detention of a person include:
o Acting in any manner prejudicial to the defence of India, the relations of
India with foreign powers, or the security of India.
o Regulating the continued presence of any foreigner in India or with a view
to making arrangements for his expulsion from India
o Acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State or from acting
in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order or from acting in any
manner prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the
community it is necessary so to do.
• A detenu may be held for up to three months and in certain circumstances
six months, without any review.
• A three person Advisory Board made up of high court judges or persons
qualified to be high court judges determines the legitimacy of any order made for
longer than three months. If approved, a person may be held extra-judicially for
up to 12 months. The term can be extended if the government finds fresh
• The state government needs to be intimated that a person has been
detained under the NSA.
• It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
Reasons for failure of the Act:
• A striking feature of the Act is that the government can detain a
person for as long as it wishes to. This is made possible by the
powers of the government to continue to detain a person even
after the expiry or revocation of the original detention order on
the plea that fresh grounds of detention have arisen.
• First, there are the detentions that are based on political or
ideological differences. This goes against the basic spirit of the
Indian Constitution. Though the courts have generally overturned
such detentions but this was not before the political prisoner has
spent many months in prison.
• Second, there is the detention of suspected criminals for acts that
can properly be dealt with by the ordinary criminal law. Although
this type of abuse receives little or no publicity, it has been
widespread since the NSA was passed in 1980.
Given that India occasionally staggers through spasmodic bouts of
violence and disorder, it is possible that very narrowly tailored
preventive detention laws with stringent judicial controls could be
appropriate to counter such threats, at least in times of particular
Increasing the accountability of the governmental authorities,
Tailoring the law more narrowly to the truly serious threats to
India’s security, and
Refining the language of the NSA so as to make it less vague and,
therefore, less susceptible to abuses and creative interpretations
from executive authorities, are fundamental if abuses are to be
In the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the more stringent preventive
detention law, the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, which
was passed in 1978, covers while in North East India, the Armed
Forces Special Powers Act operates.
• Article 22 grants protection to persons who are arrested or detained
under a preventive detention law.
• This protection is available to both citizens as well as aliens and
includes the following:
o The detention of a person cannot exceed three months unless an
advisory board reports sufficient cause for extended detention. The
board is to consist of judges of a high court.
o The grounds of detention should be communicated to the detenu.
However, the facts considered to be against the public interest need not
o The detenu should be afforded an opportunity to make a
representation against the detention order.
• Article 22 also authorises the Parliament to prescribe
o the circumstances and the classes of cases in which a person can be
detained for more than three months under a preventive detention law
without obtaining the opinion of an advisory board;
o the maximum period for which a person can be detained in any
classes of cases under a preventive detention law; and
o the procedure to be followed by an advisory board in an inquiry.
The Parliament has exclusive authority to make a
law of preventive detention for reasons connected with defence, foreign affairs
and the security of India.
Both the Parliament as well as the state legislatures can concurrently make a law
of preventive detention for reasons connected with the security of a state, the
maintenance of public order and the maintenance of supplies and services
essential to the community.
• Pre-independence laws- Bengal Regulation III of 1818, Defence of India Act
1915, Rowlatt Acts of 1919
• Post-independence laws-
o Preventive Detention Act (1950-1969)
o Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (1967)
o Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) (1971- 1978)
o Conservation of Foreign exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities
• o National Security Act (1980)- amended in 1984, 1985 and 1988
• the Criminal Law Amendment Act,
• the Official Secrets Act, 1923,
• Chapters 6 and 7 of the Indian Penal Code etc.
• The only period in the Indian “republic without any preventive
detention law was the three year period, beginning with the repeal
of MISA in 1977 to the promulgation of the NSA in 1980.