Can Goondas be detained under Preventive Detention indefinitely?

In various states in India there are a mumber of state acts to prevent the prejudicial activities of decoits and goondas and to curtail their anti-social activities.

The Acts will be such as:

“Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Dacoits, Drug Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders and Land Grabbers Acts”-

generally referred to as :

‘Goondas Prevention Act’.

The State authorities used to arrest dangerous goondas and remand them under police/ judicial custody to prevent such persons from indulging in further prejudicial activities, as the normal criminal/ legal procedures would take considerably long time to curtail the activities of such goondas.

There are possibilities of the above acts being misused to detain political leaders in certain cases.

Such custody of goondas is called “Preventive Detention” which enables the authorities to detain a person without trial in order to prevent him/her from committing certain types of offences.

However, such preventive detention cannot be made as substitute for the ordinary law and absolve the investigating authorities of their normal functions of investigating crime which the detenue may have committed.

Recently, a Supreme Court of India Bench comprising:

  • Justice Altamas Kabir and
  • Justice S S Nijjar

has ruled that:

A person cannot be detained under a preventive detention law so as to keep the detenue under perpetual custody, as authorities are bound to discharge their normal functions of investigating a crime and bring the accused to trial.

Preventive detention in most cases is for a year only and cannot be used as an instrument to keep a person in perpetual custody without trial.

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