The preventive detention law is exceptional, it cannot be exercised in a routine manner as it strikes hard on the freedom and liberty of an individual, the Supreme Court said, PTI reported on Saturday.

Under the preventive detention law, detainees could be kept in custody without a trial under the apprehension of them being involved in any activity against public order and security.

The court made the observation on June 22 in a case related to two Telangana residents who were charged under the law on grounds that they were involved in gold chain snatching offences.

A vacation bench of Justices CT Ravikumar and Sudhanshu Dhulia noted that even though the two men were involved in more than 30 cases of chain snatching, only four instances were considered as a ground for detention by the commissioner of police, Rachakonda Commissionerate, according to PTI.

It further noted that both the accused men were granted bail by the magistrate in the four cases last year.

As it set aside the order of detention, the bench said that one of the reasons given by authorities to justify the invoking of the detention law was that the two were likely to indulge in a similar crime in future, Live Law reported.

“The reason why bail was granted in all four cases, however, has not been given,” the bench noted. “Bail was granted in all four cases due to the inability of the prosecution, which did not complete its investigation in time. The bail had to be given as the charge sheet was not filed by the police in all the cases within the stipulated period of 60 days. The fault thus lies with the prosecution.”

It also said that the facts and circumstances of the case as alleged in the detention order reflect a law and order situation, which could be dealt by the police.

“There was absolutely no occasion for invoking the extraordinary powers under the law of preventive detention,” the bench said. “...the prosecution should seek for the cancellation of his bail and/or move an appeal to the Higher Court.”