The Allahabad High Court has cautioned the Adityanath-led government in Uttar Pradesh to use the stringent National Security Act with “extreme care”, Live Law reported on Wednesday. The court made the observations while ordering the release of a person arrested under the NSA.

A division bench of Justices Pradeep Kumar Srivastava and Printinker Diwaker on Monday quashed the detention order of Javed Siddiqui, who was arrested along with others during a clash between Dalits and Muslims at Bhadethi village in Jaunpur in June.

The court, while hearing a habeas corpus petition, noted that the authorities did not present Siddiqui’s plea report before the advisory board on time. “Where the law confers extraordinary power on the executive to detain a person without recourse to the ordinary law of the land and to trial by courts, such a law has to be strictly construed and the executive must exercise the power with extreme care,” the judges said.

The court said that there was “no reasonable explanation” given by the state authority for the delay in forwarding Siddiqui’s representation and not placing it before the advisory board. It also said that there was “extraordinary haste” to take action against Siddiqui.

“Inaction on the part of the authorities certainly resulted in deprivation on the right of the petitioner of the fair opportunity of hearing and it also resulted in denial of the opportunity of fair hearing to the petitioner as provided under the law,” the order said. “This is not permissible and is in gross violation of established legal and procedural norms and legal and constitutional protection.”

According to Live Law, the district magistrate found that the petitioner was making all efforts to get bail, and will again start “similar kind of lawless activities” if he was given one. The magistrate felt that it was not possible to maintain law and order, communal harmony, and therefore action for preventive detention under Section 3(2) of the National Security Act was initiated.

The Allahabad High Court said the detention order against the petitioner was arbitrary and illegal, adding that it was liable to be quashed.

Critics have said that the NSA, which allows preventive detention, violates basic tenets of natural justice. It empowers the Centre and state governments to detain those “acting in a manner prejudicial to the defence of India” to threatening public order. Detained persons need not be told they have been held for up to 10 days. Those arrested under the law may be detained without a charge for up to a year.