Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities (COFEPOSA) Act, 1974

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The Madras High Court recently quashed a detention order issued under the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (COFEPOSA) Act, 1974, against a practising lawyer, ordering for his release.


  • It was passed by the Parliament on 13th December 1974, to provide for preventive detention in certain cases for the purposes of conservation and augmentation of foreign exchange and prevention of smuggling activities and for matters connected therewith.
  • Power to make orders detaining certain persons: The Central Government or the State Government or any joint secretary of central government and secretary of state government can order the detention of a person (including a foreigner), in case of-
    • Smuggling;
    •  Abetting smuggling;
    • Transport, concealing, storing;
    • Harbouring persons involved in smuggling;
    • Dealing in smuggled goods;
  • Any order by the State government is to be forwarded to the Central government within 10 days.
  • Grounds for detention are to be communicated within 5 days to detenu. Delay of up to 15 days is allowed if the reason is given in writing.
  • The detaining authority requires to satisfy the courts and also the detenu that he has acted in accordance with the laws with due consideration.
  • High Courts can examine detention orders prior to execution. A detention order cannot be challenged at pre execution stage on the grounds of delay in execution.
  • The order can be executed anywhere in India, similar to arrest warrants under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
  • Advisory Boards:
    • Government should, within 5 weeks of the date of detention, make a reference to the Advisory Board.
    • Advisory Board to report within 11 weeks of the detention orderIf satisfied, the detention period can be extended to one year.
    • If, in the opinion of the advisory board, there is insufficient cause for detention, the order is revoked, and the person is released.


Other Preventive detention Laws in India:-

  • National Security Act (NSA), 1980
  • Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) of 1967
  • Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (PITNDPS) Act, 1988
  • Prevention of Black marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980
  • Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA)


Q1) What is Preventive Detention?

Preventive detention refers to the detention of an individual without a trial or conviction by a court.  The primary objective of preventive detention is not to punish an individual for a past offense but to prevent them from committing an offense in the future. Preventive detention laws are enacted by governments to ensure public safety and maintain social order.

Source: Madras HC quashes anti-smuggling Act case against practising lawyer, orders his release