Preventive detentions in 2021 saw a rise by over 23.7% compared with the year before, with over 1.1 lakh people being placed under preventive detention, according to statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).



  • Of these, 483 were detentions under the National Security Act, of which almost half (241) were either in custody or still detained as of 2021-end.
  • Over 24,500 people placed under preventive detention were either in custody or still detained as of 2021-end — the highest since 2017 when the NCRB started recording this data.
  • The number of persons placed under detention has been increasing since 2017 — to over 98,700 in 2018 and over 1.06 lakh in 2019 — before dipping to 89,405 in 2020.
  • According to Section 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the police are empowered to make preventive arrests if they believe they must do so to prevent the commission of “any cognisable offence”. This detention can be extended beyond 24 hours if required “under any other provisions of this Code or of any other law”.


What is ‘preventive detention’?

  • Preventive detention refers to taking into custody an individual who has not committed a crime yet but the authorities believe him to be a threat to law and order.
  • The Supreme Court in Alijav v. District Magistrate, Dhanbad, stated that while criminal proceedings relate to punishing of a person for an offence committed by him, preventive detention does not relate to an offence.
  • In Ankul Chandra Pradhan v. Union of India, the Court stated that the object of preventive detention is not to punish but prevent the detenue from doing anything that is prejudicial to the security of the state.
  • The power to make Preventive Detention laws in India comes from the Constitution itself which empowers the Parliament to make such laws for reasons connected with Defence, Foreign Affairs or the Security of India. Parliament has exclusive legislative powers.
  • The Union and the States have concurrent legislative powers for reasons connected with the security of a State, the maintenance of public order or the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community.
  • Such detention involves custody without any criminal trial, moreover these laws need not follow the procedural guarantees which are fundamental to the detention of an individual in the normal course.