ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Akhil Gogoi v the State of Assam

Preventive Detention under Judicial Scrutiny

The verdict of the Gauhati High Court in favour of political activist Akhil Gogoi reiterated the need to ascertain the constitutional validity for preventive detention, irrespective of the circumstances and pretexts of the detention. The judgment also called for an inquiry into the serious procedural shortcomings that led to the preventive detention order against Gogoi, as well as the “laxity and casualness” of the state in exercising power under the National Security Act, 1980.

The Gauhati High Court’s verdict on 21 December 2017 on the writ petition filed by Assamese political activist and farmers’ leader Akhil Gogoi1 has reaffirmed the primacy of the constitutional rights regarding preventive detention as ensured by Article 22(5) of the Constitution of India. The judgment has also exposed the laxity and casualness of the state authorities in exercising power under the National Security Act (NSA), 1980. The 76-page verdict extensively referred to a number of prior significant verdicts, pronounced both by the Supreme Court and the Gauhati High Court, which reiterated the need for constitutional validity in cases of preventive detention, irrespective of the circumstances and pretexts of the detention. The latest verdict ­assumes immense significance due to the fact that the grounds on which Gogoi was detained did not figure in the process of adjudication at all; the procedural lapses in the application of the NSA were enough to quash the detention order. The judgment, apart from disposing of the writ petition, directed the chief secretary of the Government of Assam to enquire and analyse the serious procedural shortcomings that led to the preventive detention order against Gogoi under the NSA, and to ensure that corrective measures are adopted to preclude such lapses and lacunae in future.

A Force of Resistance

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Updated On : 26th Mar, 2018
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