From our readers: Letter on Preventive Detention


I am writing to express my thanks to you for carrying the article entitled `Preventive Detention — An Anti-Democratic feature of the Indian Constitution’ carried in the April 1-15, 2020 section of the web-edition of MEL.  This issue is at the heart of governance in India and is therefore worthy of the attention of the Working Class and of all Communists.

The article correctly spells out the fact that there must be cause to arrest a person, which has been violated repeatedly by the Indian State.  There are several central laws which enable the State to simply detain a person depending on which part of the country they are deployed.  The most notorious of these is the Armed Forces Special Powers Act which operates in certain regions, and other equally feared laws such as the National Security Act as well the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

In addition many states have enacted laws which are just as draconian. The Indian State has brainwashed the public for decades that the country faces a lot of internal threats from its own citizens, the chief threat being that some of the citizens may think for themselves!  The reaction of the State is to simply criminalize a whole host of thoughts and detain them, and take away rights that human beings have earned through generations of struggle.

The main issue at hand is the Indian Constitution itself which arms the State with draconian laws.  Rather than grant rights to citizens, the Constitution stipulates conditions under which such self-evident rights can simply be taken away.  The article demonstrates how Articles 21 and 22 of the Constitution and their clauses are full of contradictions, and in essence a person really has no guarantee against arbitrary detention provided Parliament passes enough laws and provides enough excuses to put a person away for any length of time.

In fact, the article very clearly points out that Clause 7 of Art. 22 essentially allows for arbitrary incarceration of any person provided there are laws allowing for it.  In the final analysis, the Indian State pays lip service to basic democratic principles and violates all the modern principles. The article points out with due references that the latter are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of the United Nations.

It is important that the Working Class and Communists are educated in all these important matters and I commend you on this worthy attempt in this direction.


A. Narayan, Bangalore

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