Preventive detention to be used only in exceptional circumstances, says Supreme Court

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It can not be employed to counter ordinary law and order problems, says top court

The Supreme Court has held in an order that preventive detention can not be accustomed counter ordinary law and order situations. it's an “exceptional power” of the State which affects the private liberty of the individual and needs to be used sparingly, the court said.

The powers to be exercised under the preventive detention law are exceptional powers which are given to the govt. for its exercise in an exceptional situation because it strikes hard on the liberty and liberty of a personal, and thus can not be exercised in a very routine manner, the court observed.

The Vacation Bench, led by Justice C.T. Ravikumar, was hearing an appeal filed by a chain-snatcher who was held under preventive detention on the grounds that he was a menace to “public order” as his crimes had caused fear and panic among women. There are over 30 cases of chain snatching against the person, but the police have acted on only four of them.

The court distinguished between law and order situations and public disorder. Preventive detention may apply within the latter but never for the previous situation, it said.

“Every breach of the peace doesn't result in public disorder. When two drunks quarrel and fight there's disorder but not public disorder. they'll be handled under the powers to take care of law and order but can't be detained on the grounds that they were disturbing public order. Suppose that the 2 fighters were of rival communities and one among them tried to lift communal passions. the matter remains one amongst law and order but it raises the apprehension of public disorder,” the court elaborated.

The Bench ordered the person to be released immediately.