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National Security Laws in India - By Isha

 National Security Laws in India – By Isha


In India, the Parliament has time and again enacted a series of National and anti terror Laws such as: 

  • Preventive Detention Act

  • Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA)

  • Terrorism and Disruptive Activities Act ( TADA)

  • Prevention of Terrorism Act ( POTA)

  • National Security Act

  • National Investigation Agency Act

  • Armed forces ( special powers) Act ( AFSPA)

  • Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act , 2019 (UAPA)

These all are enacted to uphold the Sovereignty, Security and Integrity of the nation. These laws are also known as exceptional laws and necessary evils. 

  1. Preventive Detention Act (1950-1969)

This law was brought into existence soon after the constitution came into force. Under this law, the Government was authorised to detain individuals upto 1 year without charge. The main objective of this act was to resist the communal violence and displacement faced by the nation during partition. This was a temporary act which lapsed in the year 1969.

  1. Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 – till date

It was enacted to control the separatists movement in Nagaland. It gives special powers to the armed forces to maintain public order in a ‘disturbed area’. Under Section 3 of this act, the government has the power to declare an area as a ‘disturbed area’ and impose military rule. Under this act army has the authority to arrest any person without a warrant and also to prohibit a gathering of five or more persons in an area, can use force or even open fire after giving due warning if they feel a person is in contravention of the law.

  1. Maintenance of Internal Security Act ( 1971-77)

After two years of the removal of PDA Act came the MISA Act. It gave the same powers o to the government which were given under PDA but with a new name of MISA. The Act was majorly misused by Indira Gandhi Government to detain the political opponents, trade unions and civil societies that acted against the government.

Later with the fall of Indira Gandhi Government, MISA was repealed in 1977.

  1. National Security Act, 1980 – till date 

This Act is a mixture of PDA and MISA. Under this act, the government is authorised to detain or contain any person in order to prevent future crimes. The person can be confined for a period of 12 months which can also be extended if provided fresh evidence. The basic rights of legal aid and right to be informed are not  available to the person detained.

A recent incident in Indore where four persons were arrested on the instigation of local people for pelting stones on health workers were arrested under this Act. Therefore, in the present context, the usage of the act has widely increased beyond its applicability.

  1. Terrorism and Disruptive Activities Act ( 1987- 1995)

This act was enacted to control separatist activities and specially terrorist activities in Punjab.

This act overrides the provisions of CrPC and Constitution. It created new offences, increased the powers of police and reduced the safeguards of arrested person. It lapsed in the year 1995, due to a lot of misuse and drawbacks.

  1. Prevention of Terrorism Act ( 2002- 2004)

Soon after IC-814 (1999) Kandhar Hijack, terrorist attack on world trade centre in America on Sep 11 2001 and Parliament attack in 2001, due to these events there was an urgent need to strengthen the anti terror laws of India and so Prevention of Terrorism Act was passed in the year 2002. 

Under this act, a person can be detained for 180 days or 6 months. It has the same provisions as of TADA. Several allegations were made around that political parties were misusing the provisions of this Act for their political agenda.

Due to the extreme misuse of this Act, it was finally repealed in 2004.

  1. Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 – till date

Finally, the government gave the thought that only one Act should be strengthened than making any other law. When first enacted exclusively dealt with offences related to unlawful activities wherein government was empowered to declare certain associations as unlawful and certain activities as same which were disrupting the sovereignty of the nation and creating disaffection amongst the population.

The Act was amended several times like firstly in 2004, then in 2008, 2012, and the latest in 2019.

Latest Amendment for 2019: The Act altered Sec 35, 36, and provided power to the government to declare the individual as a terrorist under Schedule IV of the Act. It also provided power to DG of NIA for the seizure of property in sec 25 and investigation by the rank of an inspector under sec 43.

  1. National Investigation Agency Act (2008 & 2019 Amendment)

NIA bill was passed in 2008 soon after the Mumbai terror attack for creating a central agency probing into the matters of terror attack in the country.

A central agency created to prosecute offences disturbing the sovereignty, integrity and security of state also against atomic and nuclear facilities, then if found dealing in high-quality counterfeit Indian currency. It was created under National Investigation Agency Act, 2008. 

Jurisdiction of NIA: The officers of the central agency shall have the same power as that of police officers. The officers shall also have the power to investigate same offence even outside India in the same manner as that would have been done in India.  

 Recent Amendment: There has been addition of some offences into the schedule. Those are:-

  • Human trafficking

  • Offences related to counterfeit currency or banknotes

  • Manufacture or sale of prohibited arms

  • Cyber-terrorism, and

  • Offenses under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908


Lastly, after discussing all the security laws of India, much of the debate lies between striking a balance between state power to combat terrorism that is security and liberty. The lawyers, scholars, and judges should focus on having a balanced approach, but the task is difficult as the elements are civil liberties, human rights, and national security. And there lies no precise definition for each.



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