The National Security Act of 1980

The National Security Act (NSA), which was passed on September 23, 1980, was overseen by the then prime minister, Indira Gandhi. In some special circumstances, the National Security Act gives state and federal authorities the right to arrest and detain suspects in order to prevent them from posing a threat to the country's welfare and security, interfering with India's diplomatic relations, or obstructing the provision of vital services to the general public. One of the most important provisions of the Act, NSA, is Section 13 that defines the maximum detention period. The maximum detention is 12 months.

What does National Security Act define?

In some situations, where there may be a threat to national security, the National Security Act of 1980 intends to establish preventative detention. This Act, which has 18 provisions, is applicable throughout the country India. The Central Government and State Governments are given the authority to detain a person in order to stop them from taking any actions that could endanger India's security. Its interactions with other nations, the upkeep of law and order, or the upkeep of supplies and services that are vital to the community The legislation also gives governments the authority to hold foreign nationals, control their presence there, or expel them.

Historical Background

Administrative custody laws in India date back to the colonial era and permit the state to imprison someone for the purpose of defending or upholding public order without following the proper legal channels. A defendant could be detained without a trial under the Rowlatt Acts of 1919, which were put into effect by the British government a century ago. The first law governing preventive detention in India after independence was the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which was approved by the Indian Parliament in 1958. The 1958 Act and the NSA are very similar.


Some of the significant provisions of the Act are −

  • According to this law, anyone who violates fundamental legal principles, endangers Indian relations with other countries, interferes with the maintenance or delivery of government services, assaults police officers while they are on duty, or endangers national security may be detained by the state authorities. Recent FIRs against anti−social organisations have been filed in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh under this statute.

  • The person in charge is allowed to keep the subject in custody under the NSA for up to five days without providing a reason; under unusual circumstances, this time limit may be extended to about ten to twelve days. Then, in order to maintain custody, the police will need permission from the respective authority.

  • In any scenario, the detained person is not allowed to have legal representation during the proceedings before such an advisory body. This organisation was created by the administration to address NSA claims.

  • Under this law, the government has the authority to detain or expel an immigrant in order to control their behaviour.

  • Numerous people have already been put on trial in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Delhi for assaulting police officials, interfering with medical personnel, spreading the COVID−19 virus to uninfected people, and interfering with medical personnel.

National Security Imprisonment Act of 1980

Authorities may detain a suspect for a full year without bringing charges under the National Security Act (NSA). But the sentence could be increased if the prosecution finds further proof against the defendant. An investigator is required to defend his actions in front of the state legislature whenever he makes an arrest. If the regional administration rejects the probe, the maximum detention sentence cannot exceed 12 days. Keep in mind that an arrest warrant may be issued by either the Superintendent of Police or the District Administration, depending on their level of jurisdiction.


The Act is legislated with noble purpose, but because of some occasional misuse, it is criticized; besides, because of the absence of the following points, it is criticized −

  • It is necessary to inform the person who has been arrested of the reason they are being held in custody.

  • An individual who has been arrested is entitled to the freedom to select and speak with the legal counsel of his choosing.

  • Any detained person must be presented in front of the closest public prosecutor within 24 hours.

All these defences are inaccessible if someone is being kept under NSA −

  • An individual may be forbidden from discussing the basis for his incarceration for up to 10 days.

  • Additionally, the imprisoned person is not provided with legal counsel regarding the proceedings before a government−appointed advisory body.

  • Because it allows for the detention of individuals by police without a charge being filed, the NSA has evolved into a valuable tool for the police and the government to sidestep the formalities of the Criminal Procedure Code and the court system.

  • The police use NSA whenever they are unable to put together a criminal case.

  • Instead of preventing future crimes, NSA is typically used as a response to specific laws or governmental issues. The NSA functions as a disciplinary mechanism in situations like this.

  • Because the government believes they pose a threat to international relations, public safety, civic security, or the delivery of essential goods and services, the NSA has been used to place individuals behind bars.


NSA arrest and detention statistics are currently unavailable. According to the 177th Report of the Law Commission, in 2001, 14,57,779 people were imprisoned in India as a result of preventative measures. Examining how the NSA is currently being used and closing the loopholes that allow law enforcement to breach fundamental rights and constitutional clauses are crucial. For regular criminal investigations, preventive custody should not be used. Despite, these facts, it also essential to take some strict action if it is the matter of national security.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. When was the National Security Act first passed in India?

It was passed in 1980 to create the National Security Act. By way of an ordinance, it had been implemented by the Indira Gandhi administration. The National Security Act (NSA) is a preventative detention statute, which implies that it is used by the government to imprison a person in order to stop him or her from committing a crime and/or avoiding further legal action.

Q. What are the criticisms of the National Security Act?

Its criticisms are −

  • A person who has been arrested must be informed of the reasons for their arrest and their right to bail, according to Section 50 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

  • Preventive detention is not covered by the protections provided by the criminal justice system under Article 22(3) of the Constitution.

  • A person must appear in court within 24 hours of being arrested, according to CrPC sections 56 and 76.

Q. What the most significant provisions of the National Security Act?

Some important provisions are −

  • Without being informed of the charges against him, the individual being arrested may be imprisoned for ten days.

  • A person may be detained for up to 12 months without being charged.

  • In order to prevent someone from acting in any way that would jeopardise national security, the NSA gives the centre or state governments the authority to hold them. During the detention time, the person does not need to be prosecuted.

Updated on: 19-Dec-2022


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