Exceptional Laws of India : National Security laws


National Security laws

In India, our Parliament has enacted a series of laws comprising anti- terror laws and  the laws for national security. As far as these laws are meant for the security purpose, many of them failed on the grounds of safeguarding the individual’s right.

These NATIONAL SECURITY Laws are not limited to a number of laws, a series  of laws have been brought by our legislation and their main objective was to safeguard the national security, interest, and peace but a majority of these laws has been given unregulated and unchecked power which leads to negatively affecting the fundamental rights of citizens.

It is crystal clear that it is so much important for any country to protect the interest and safeguard the national security of a country that is the reason these laws are also called as ,“EXCEPTIONAL LAWS”.

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Objectives and needs of these laws and why they were introduced in our country

Just after our independence our constitutional committee was drafting our constitution to secure and protect the rights of citizens but at the same time they were drafting one law which was able to dispose of the fundamental rights of the citizens. Before independence English men were using the measures of preventive detention act to establish their strong control.

This act authorized the government to detain any individual for upto 1 year and the main objective of this act was to manage the disturbances which were being caused by the partition.  After independence India was facing large scale problems like communal violence because of partition and internal disturbance, to protect the rights of the citizens of India and to preserve the Indian constitution and territories of India, preventive detention laws were formulated.

Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel were introducing bill of this act in parliament and he said :- I have spent many sleepless nights thinking about this bill, so in this way   PREVENTIVE DETENTION ACT 1950  was brought into existence as soon as the constitution came into force and it remained into existence  till 1969. This act was a temporary law with a sunset clause in it.

So those laws which are made to solve any specific problems contain a sunset clause in it and when the objective is achieved or we can say when the problem is solved for which that law was introduced then that law gets lapsed. When parliament implemented this act they said they will renew this act in every 2 or 3 year.


Like people  says these laws are necessary evil, so in 1980 one new law got introduced, that was the  NATIONAL SECURITY ACT, and one more act which came into force after PDA and before MISA and still in force is ARMED FORCES SPECIAL POWERS ACT 1958, in 1958 in Nagaland because of separatist movement violence was increasing very rapidly and it was going out of the control from the hands of the state government. So to reduce the increasing violence in north eastern states this act was introduced which gives special powers to armed forces to maintain public order in disturbed areas.

It is different from other acts. As section 3 of this act gives powers to the government to declare any area of the country as a “disturbed area”. It allowed the government and the  armed forces to use their powers in those disturbed  areas to maintain public order. But what difference does all this make? Lets understand by an example, maintenance of public order in local areas is the police’s duty but when an area is  declared as disturbed area then police, as well as army functions together and armed forces, gets so much power in their hands like they can arrest anyone without any warrant or can search or can cease firearms .

Initially AFSPA was brought to solve the problems of Nagaland but in the coming years we realized that it was needed in other states too like Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir and other Northern states.

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It was enacted in 1980, which had reflection of PDA and MISA. A few months before in Indore (MP), 4 people got arrested under NSA charges, because they were throwing stones on the health worker. For understanding all this acts firstly we need to understand what means a preventive detention, it means to detain or contain any person in order to prevent future crimes. NATIONAL SECURITY ACT gives powers to the state  and the central government to arrest and detain any person in the matter of national security or public order.

Maximum period of confinement under the acis 12 months and if the government receives any document or evidence against that person then that period can be increased. If any person is detained under this act then many basic human rights are not available to him which may include RIGHT TO BE INFORMED,  means that he/she can be detained for 9 to 10 days without informing him/her the reason for  their arrest .

The second is legal aid which means if any person is confined under this act then no legal help is available to him. Biggest criticism of this act is that no data is available of how many number of persons till today have been arrested under this act.


Now I will talk about another law which was brought by our government or I can say old law in new form was introduced by parliament. In 1971 maintenance of internal security act 1971-1977 was passed by government of Indira Gandhi, to give power in hands of government this act was brought. Two things about this era were very famous one is this act and another is emergency. Interestingly it came just after 2 years of lapsing of PDA ,and majority draconian  powers of PDA was  taken in this act. Objective of this act was to impose more restrictions on the persons who are detained , in simple language this act has increased the detention powers of government.

A  19 month’s emergency was imposed in 1975 and many people were detained at that time for several months without any trial rights . MISA was highly misused by the government in power as whoever was going against them whether they were the people from the opposition or the social workers, they were wrongfully detained and were made the victims. With the ending of national emergency two more things were ended, firstly”, Indira Gandhi’s government lost election in general election and secondly MISA 1971”.

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TADA i.e. Terrorist and disruptive activities act 1985-95

it was formulated to control separatist activities and especially terrorist activities in Punjab. TADA contains so many powerful laws which were not heard or seen before and this act so strongly overrides the provisions of CRPC and CONSTITUTION like many new offences were made under this act, powers of police has been increased and rights and safeguards of arrested persons has been reduced. And due to this, many cases of misusing the provisions of the act and new number of cases of torture has been increased and as a result of this TADA has been lapsed in 1995 by using sunset clause of this act. During the period of 1985 to 1995 more than 70,000 were arrested.

After these 3 important events took place, one was on 24 dec. 1999 Kandahar hijack; secondly 9/11 in 2001 that is WTC attack and thirdly 13th dec. 2001Indian Parliament attack and in order to contain such events in the future , prevention of terrorism act in 2002 was formed. Under this act any suspect can be detained for 180 days or6 months. But the problem was that it had the same objective as TADA did and whatever problems and criticism TADA had POTA resembles the same and along with that some allegations said that it was misused by political parties for fulfilment of their agenda.  And at the end in 2004 it got repealed because of its extensive misuse  by using its sunset clause.


As time passed, the need for the national security laws was ever evolving but what was supposed to be a boon eventually became a bane on human rights. Indian Parliament has passed many laws related to national security but not a single law proved to be fully sufficient in controlling each and every crime and maintaining security without disturbing individual peace.

Many national security laws have been introduced by the legislation but not a single law gives a proper definition of terrorist and every law which has been passed by the government has some shortcomings and they failed to be fully effective in their purpose. they suspend fundamental rights of citizens and give full power in the hands of the government they failed to look after the welfare of citizens in the process of giving them peace. They actually established a kind of fear among individuals.



(Writer, The Legal State)

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