A Supreme Court Bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice Dipankar Datta has criticized the pernicious trend prevalent in the state of Telangana of ignoring the fundamental rights of citizens and curbing their liberty while issuing preventive detention orders.

In that context, it was said that, "A pernicious trend prevalent in the state of Telangana has not escaped our attention. While the Nation celebrates Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav to commemorate 75 years of independence from foreign rule, some police officers of the said state who are enjoined with the duty to prevent crimes and are equally responsible for protecting the rights of citizens as well, seem to be oblivious of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution and are curbing the liberty and freedom of the people. The sooner this trend is put to an end, the better".

Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra appeared for the appellant, while Senior Advocate Siddhartha Dave appeared for the State.

In this case, the Court was hearing a plea against the order of the High Court refusing to set aside a preventive detention order against the husband of the appellant.

On an overall consideration of the circumstances, the Court observed that the order of detention was indefensible. In that context, it was said that, "We are also constrained to observe that preventive detention laws—an exceptional measure reserved for tackling emergent situations—ought not to have been invoked in this case as a tool for enforcement of “law and order”. This, for the reason that, the Commissioner despite being aware of the earlier judgment and order of the High Court dated 16th August, 2021 passed the Detention Order ostensibly to maintain “public order” without once more appreciating the difference between maintenance of “law and order” and maintenance of “public order”."

The Court also observed that although preventive detention was conceived as an extraordinary measure by the framers of the Constitution, it has been rendered ordinary with its reckless invocation over the years as if it were available for use even in the ordinary course of proceedings. In furtherance of the same, it was said that, "To unchain the shackles of preventive detention, it is important that the safeguards enshrined in our Constitution, particularly under the ‘golden triangle’ formed by Articles 14, 19 and 21, are diligently enforced."

It was stressed that since detention is a restriction on the invaluable right to personal liberty of an individual and if the same were to be continued for the maximum period, it would be eminently just and desirable that such restriction on personal liberty, in the least, reflects an approach that meets the test of Article 14.

In light of the same, the detention order and impugned judgment were quashed. The appeal was allowed without costs.

Cause Title: Ameena Begum v. The State of Telangana & Ors.

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