New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that a
person cannot be detained under the Preventive Detention Act
in a casual manner as it would violate his fundamental right
to personal liberty.
"Persons found guilty of economic offences have to be
dealt with a firm hand, but when it comes to fundamental
rights under the Constitution, this court, irrespective of
enormity and gravity of allegations made against the detainee,
has to intervene," a Bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and H
L Dattu observed in a judgement.
According to the apex court, the gravity of the
allegations resulting from such activities cannot be a
justification for invading the personal liberty of a citizen,
except in accordance with the procedure established by law.
Under preventive detention, a person can be kept in
custody without trial for even over a year on the ground that
if released he might resume his illegal activities again.
The Bench passed the judgement while upholding the appeal
filed by Gimik Piotr, a Polish national, challenging his
preventive detention by the Tamil Nadu government under the
Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling
Activities Act (COFEPOSA).
"In the instant case as the facts reveal, that, there was
no pressing need to curtail the liberty of a person by passing
a preventive detention order. Foreign currency cannot be
smuggled as the person cannot move out of the country on
account of his passport being impounded," the Bench observed.