What is Preventive Detention?

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The Kerala High Court has underscored that the power of preventive detention can only be invoked in cases where an individual’s activities pose a threat to public order or are detrimental to society.

About 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 offence but to prevent them from committing an offence in the future.         
  • Preventive detention laws are enacted by governments to ensure public safety and maintain social order.
  • Constitutional Provisions and Safeguards:
    • Article 22 of the Indian Constitution grants protection to individuals who are arrested or detained.
    • It has two parts—the first part deals with cases of ordinary law, which includes situations where an individual is detained as part of a criminal investigation.
    • The second part deals with cases of preventive detention law, which pertains to the detention of individuals without a trial or conviction.
    • Article 22 (4) states that no law providing for preventive detention shall authorise the detention of a person for a longer period than three months unless an Advisory Board reports sufficient cause for extended detention.
    • The detainee is entitled to know the grounds of his detention. The state, however, may refuse to divulge the grounds of detention if it is in the public interest to do so. 
    • The detaining authorities must give the detainee earliest opportunities for making representation against the detention.
  • Who can make laws under Preventive Detention?
    • Parliament has the exclusive power to enact a law for preventive detention for the reasons connected with defence, foreign affairs, or security of India. 
    • Both Parliament and State Legislature have powers to enact a law for preventive detention for the reasons related to the maintenance of public order or the maintenance of supplies or services essential to the community.
  • Laws that provide for Preventive Detention:
    • In India, various laws provide for preventive detention, including the National Security Act (NSA) of 1980, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) of 1967, and state-specific laws like the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) and the Public Safety Acts (PSA) in certain states.
    • Under these laws, authorities can detain an individual for a specific period, typically up to 12 months, without presenting formal charges or conducting a trial.
    • The detention order is issued by a designated authority or government official and is subject to periodic review by an advisory board.


Q1) What is a trial by a court?

A trial by a court refers to a legal proceeding in which a dispute or case is presented, examined, and resolved by a judge or a panel of judges. Trials are a fundamental part of the judicial process and are used to determine the guilt or innocence of a defendant in criminal cases or to establish liability or remedy in civil cases. During a trial, evidence is presented, witnesses are examined and cross-examined, and legal arguments are made by the parties involved.

Source: Invoke pre-trial detention only to maintain public order: Kerala HC