SC finds illegal detention worse than death

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New Delhi, Nov 15 (UNI) In an important ruling with wide ramifications for individual liberty, the Supreme Court has held that personal liberty is the most important fundamental right of a citizen and illegal detention causes incalculable harm and humiliation to a person.

A bench comprising Justices Altamas Kabir and Markandey Katju while quashing the detention order passed by Mumbai Police against petitioner Deepak Bajaj under Section 3(1) of the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974 observed, ''if a person against whom a preventive detention order has been passed can show to the Court that the said detention order is clearly illegal, why should he be compelled to go to jail?'' The imperative necessity to protect those precious rights is a lesson taught by history and all human experience, the bench observed.

''Our founding fathers have lived through bitter years of the freedom struggle and seen an alien government trample upon the human rights of our citizens. It is for this reason that they have introduced Article 21 in the Constitution and provided for the writs of habeas corpus etc,'' they said.

Justice Katju, in the 28-page judgement, quoted from the Bhagavad Gita to drive home his point that this dishonour of being sent to jail without any justification is worse than death for a self-respecting man.

The apex court while making it clear that restrictions can be placed on these rights in the interest of public order, security of the state and the like, maintained that they are not to be lightly transgressed as individual liberty is an integral part of right to life.

UNI SC SLD BD1740

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