The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition seeking blanket orders against the imposition of the National Security Act against those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act, PTI reported. The court, while agreeing that the law cannot be misused, said it cannot issue a blanket order as public properties were being burnt during the protests, and they may have been organised.
“We are of the opinion that general writ will not lie in this case,” a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee said while dismissing the plea filed by advocate ML Sharma. “We cannot invoke powers under Article 32 [of the Constitution]. We agree that the NSA should not be misused but there cannot be a general command. This will create chaos.”
Article 32 of the Constitution of India confers power on the Supreme Court to issue direction for the enforcement of rights provided to citizens under Part III of the Constitution.
Advocate Sharma argued that protests against the Act were being held peacefully at Shaheen Bagh and other places in Delhi. However, the court asked the petitioner to cite a specific instance where the National Security Act had been misused. “You don’t know what is going on in Kolkata, Tripura and Assam,” the court said. “Properties are being burnt and that may be organised. We don’t know the antecedents of people.”
The bench said that if a person is involved in a hundred criminal cases, the government has to act against him. The court asked Sharma to file an amended plea citing specific instances in which the National Security Act had been applied. The bench told Sharma that he can also file an intervention application in the pending cases challenging the validity of the Citizenship Amendment Act, and seek relief.
The court granted Sharma’s request to withdraw the petition and file an amended one citing specific instances in which the National Security Act was applied against protestors.
The National Security Act allows the police to detain a person for 12 months without trial. Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal had on January 10 extended detaining powers to the Delhi Police under the Act for a period of three months starting January 19. Police, however, said it was a routine order.
Sharma had made the Ministry of Home Affairs and the governments of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Manipur parties to the plea. Apart from seeking a top court order against the imposition of the National Security Act, the plea also asked the court to order the government to provide a compensation of Rs 50 lakh to each person who had been detained so far under the Act for “mental agony, defamation in society and loss of reputation”.
The Citizenship Amendment Act provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims. Twenty-six people died in last month’s protests against the law – all in the BJP-ruled states of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Assam.