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‘How can we tie down hands of authorities when properties are being burnt in the protests’: SC rejects plea seeking blanket ban on NSA

"These are law and order issues. How can we interfere? We cannot pass a general direction, a blanket order restraining govt from invoking the NSA," the court said.

On Friday, the Supreme Court of India rejected a plea filed by advocate ML Sharma seeking “blanket ban” against the imposition of the National Security Act (NSA), 1980 in Delhi and a few other States. The court said that these are law and order issues, and the court can’t restrict the government in taking action against violence.

NSA empowers the police to detain anyone without trial as long as 12 months. The plea came up before a bench headed by Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Arun Mishra.

Mr. Agarwal claimed that NSA would be used against people who are protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), NPR (National Population Register) and NRC (National Register of Citizens). The petitioner contended that the imposition of NSA was “unconstitutional” and violates Fundamental Rights guaranteed to an individual under the Indian Constitution.

Justice Arun Mishra said that the court can’t issue restrictive orders on the government when widescale violence is going in the name of protests. “How can we tie down hands of authorities when properties are being burnt in the ongoing protests,” he said, making it clear the court will not prevent the government from enforcing law and order and punishing those indulging in rioting.

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He sought a blanket ban on the implementation of the law, besides demanding compensation of ₹50 lacs for the detainees. The petition challenged the orders of Delhi’s Lt. Governor, Anil Bajpai, to impose NSA in the national capital for a period of 3 months, starting from the 19th of January.

Justice Arun Mishra was reported saying, “If you can show a specific case, tell us. Then we can look into it… We can’t issue a general order saying ‘follow the law’, can we?” The Bench refused to pass “general orders”, highlighting the damage to public property and law and order issues witnessed in the wake of anti-CAA protests. “You are telling us to issue a direction to the govt not to arrest anybody. How can we do that? Withdraw the petition, and we give you the liberty to approach the court citing individual cases of misuse of authority, but not like this,” the court directed the petitioner.

“These are law and order issues. How can we interfere? We cannot pass a general direction, a blanket order restraining govt from invoking the NSA, but we can definitely do something if individual cases of misuse of the NSA by authorities is brought to our attention,” the court told ML Sharma.

The plea was thus rejected by the apex Court. Justice Mishara however, added that the Bench is willing to hear any “specific case” where the said law was misused. This is not the first time that serial petitioner, ML Sharma’s plea was rejected by the apex court. He has been rebuked for filing frivolous petitions in the past as well, and was fined by the court several times.

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