Ordering the release of Javed Siddiqui, who had been arrested on July 10 for allegedly participating in a mob attack on Dalits in UP’s Jaunpur, the court said, “Where the law confers extraordinary power on the executive to detain a person without recourse to the ordinary law of 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 verdict came in response to a habeas corpus writ petition filed by Siddiqui challenging his detention under the NSA.
“The history of personal liberty is largely the history of insistence on observation of procedural safeguards. The law of preventive detention is not punitive, but only preventive, (and) heavily affects the personal liberty of (an) individual, as enshrined in Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty) of the Constitution of India… Therefore, the authority concerned is under obligation to pass a detention order according to procedure established by law and ensure that constitutional safeguards have been followed,” the division bench of Justices Pritinker Diwaker and Pradeep Kumar Srivastava said.
The case against Siddiqui was registered on June 9, when a brawl involving children snowballed into a communal clash at Bhadethi village of Jaunpur. Over a dozen hutments belonging to Dalits were set ablaze by an 80-strong mob that police claim included Siddiqui. He was also accused of hurling casteist slurs.
Siddiqui’s arrest was on the basis of a detention order issued by the Jaunpur DM under Section 3(2) of the NSA.
The court criticised the administration for not arranging for statutory representation of the accused before the NSA advisory board in Lucknow within the stipulated time. “…There was complete inaction on their part… This inaction on the part of the authorities certainly resulted in deprivation of the right of the petitioner (to a hearing),” it said.