Preventive detention

Preventive detention means detention of a person without trial and conviction by a court, merely on suspicion in the mind of an executive authority. Preventive detention is fundamentally and qualitatively different from imprisonment after trial and conviction in a criminal court. Preventive detention and prosecution for an offence are not synonymous. Prevention detention is not to punish an individual for any wrong done by him, but at curtailing his liberty, with a view to preventing him from committing certain injurious activities in future.

Constitutional safeguards for a person under preventive detention

Clauses (4) to (7) of Article 22 lay down a few safeguards, and provide for minimum procedure, which must be observed in any case of preventive detention. If a law of preventive detention, or administrative action relating thereto, infringes any of these safeguards, then the law or the action would be invalid as infringing the Fundamental Right of the detainee. It is immaterial whether or not these constitutional safeguards are incorporated in the law authorizing preventive detention, because even if they are not, they would be deemed to be part of the law as a superimposition by the Constitution which is the supreme law of the land.

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