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What is the National Security Act?

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

What is the National Security Act?

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of the act.

For Mains: Criticisms and concerns over it’s misuse, need for review.

Context: The NSA has repeatedly come under criticism for the way it is used by the police.

As per a Law Commission report from 2001, more than 14 lakh people (14,57,779) were held under preventive laws in India.

About National Security Act:

It is a stringent law that allows preventive detention for months, if authorities are satisfied that a person is a threat to national security or law and order. The person does not need to be charged during this period of detention. The goal is to prevent the individual from committing a crime. It was promulgated on September 23, 1980, during the Indira Gandhi government.

As per the National Security Act, the grounds for preventive detention of a person include:

  1. acting in any manner prejudicial to the defence of India, the relations of India with foreign powers, or the security of India.
  2. regulating the continued presence of any foreigner in India or with a view to making arrangements for his expulsion from India.
  3. preventing them from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State or from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order or from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community it is necessary so to do.


Under the National Security Act, an individual can be detained without a charge for up to 12 months; the state government needs to be intimated that a person has been detained under the NSA. A person detained under the National Security Act can be held for 10 days without being told the charges against them. Appeal: The detained person can appeal before a high court advisory board but they are not allowed a lawyer during the trial.

Sources: the Hindu.