Using NSA against cattle smuggling is excessive and uncalled for | editorials | Hindustan Times
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Using NSA against cattle smuggling is excessive and uncalled for

The Uttar Pradesh government has decided to use the National Security Act (NSA) — a law primarily enacted to deal with the defence of the country, India’s relations with foreign powers, and the security of India — to deal with instances of cow slaughter and smuggling.

editorials Updated: Jun 11, 2017 21:38 IST
An Indian caretaker guides calves through the door at a cow shelter in New Delhi, April 25. The Uttar Pradesh government has decided to use the National Security Act (NSA) — a law primarily enacted to deal with the defence of the country, India’s relations with foreign powers, and the security of India — to deal with instances of cow slaughter and smuggling.
An Indian caretaker guides calves through the door at a cow shelter in New Delhi, April 25. The Uttar Pradesh government has decided to use the National Security Act (NSA) — a law primarily enacted to deal with the defence of the country, India’s relations with foreign powers, and the security of India — to deal with instances of cow slaughter and smuggling.(AFP)

The Uttar Pradesh government has decided to use the National Security Act (NSA) — a law primarily enacted to deal with the defence of the country, India’s relations with foreign powers, and the security of India — to deal with instances of cow slaughter and smuggling. Equating crimes like this as a threat to national security is really taking things too far. The Uttar Pradesh DGP has permitted preventive detention of a suspected person for three months without bail in matters of cow slaughter and smuggling. This despite the fact that the state already has a law that makes cow smuggling and slaughter offences punishable with seven years in jail and a fine of Rs 10,000.

This move by the Uttar Pradesh government is not only scary but also disproportionate. Enacted in 1980, the NSA has draconian provisions which permit the government to detain a citizen on presumption alone without any recourse to challenge the detention order. Preventive detention envisaged under the NSA is different from ordinary detention under normal laws, i.e. the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). Under the IPC and the CrPC, persons are arrested for having committed acts violative of the law. But under preventive detention, persons are arrested to prevent them from doing whatever the government does not wish them to do.

The use of the NSA in this context shows the lengths the UP police is willing to go to enforce cow smuggling laws. While the BJP has enacted cow protection laws in several states – Madhya Pradesh was the first state to use the stringent provisions of the NSA against its citizens. Last year, the Dewas district administration slapped the National Security Act (NSA) against Anwar Mev, an office-bearer of the BJP who was expelled from the party after meat alleged to be beef was found from his house. He was arrested and sent to Ujjain Jail.But a question that is often asked is if the NSA puts irrational curbs on rights of citizens, why is it not struck down by courts? Because the states takes the plea that prevention detentions are necessary to avoid potential public order situations.While state governments continue to enact laws and rules for cow protection, there is a rising fear that new measures by government towards cow protection could be used to harass the minority community.