Tamil Nadu

Fallout of handling too many cases


Explaining why many preventive detention orders are fraught with errors, R. Alagumani, a lawyer who files numerous habeas corpus petitions in the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench), gives three reasons: too many orders passed in the State which accounts for 58 per cent of the all India total, lack of manpower to handle that many orders and the hurry in which the orders are passed.

According to him, the preventive detention law is invoked mostly to prevent under-trial prisoners from getting released on bail and acting in a manner prejudicial to public order. Though initially habitual offenders alone were detained under the law, now even those facing trial in a single case are detained since the State Government had amended what is popularly known as the Goondas Act.

As per the procedures, it is the investigating officer who initiates the process of preventive detention and makes a recommendation to the detaining authority (Collector for police stations located outside city limits and Police Commissioner for stations within city limits) along with relevant documents to prove that the release of the proposed detainee on bail might be prejudicial to maintenance of public order.

“The detaining authorities are expected to go through the voluminous documents before satisfying themselves with the respect to the need for invoking the preventive detention law. However, in reality, it becomes impossible for a Collector or Police Commissioner to peruse all the documents. Therefore, they issue the detention orders by relying upon their subordinates,” Mr. Alagumani points out.

Advocate K.P.S. Palanivel Rajan states that the subordinate officials tend to make errors such as using a plural noun in the place of a singular due to the urgency with which these detention orders and supporting documents have to be prepared before the proposed detainee could obtain bail in cases booked against him. “Otherwise, I don’t think that those errors are introduced intentionally,” he adds.

He suggests that exclusive legal cells must be established by the detaining authorities to vet the detention orders thoroughly in accordance with court rulings if they were really interested in making sure that the detention orders were upheld by the courts of law.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2020 5:31:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/fallout-of-handling-too-many-cases/article7905462.ece

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