Amid countrywide protests over the arrest of Anna Hazare, the Supreme Court has held that preventive detention law can be invoked only if there is "imminent danger to peace" and a person sought to be arrested is likely to commit a cognisable offence.
A bench of justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan said that preventive detention of a person in apprehension of breach of peace is permissible only if the police is satisfied that the person is likely to commit a cognisable offence.
"The object of the Sections 107/151 CrPC are of preventive justice and not punitive. S.151 should only be invoked when there is imminent danger to peace or likelihood of breach of peace under Section 107 CrPC.
An arrest under Section 151 can be supported when the person to be arrested designs to commit a cognisable offence," Justice Chauhan writing the judgement said.
The apex court passed the judgement while quashing the Delhi High Court direction for a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the preventive detention resorted to by police of two persons in a drunken brawl case in capital's Jahangirpuri area.
Hazare, spearheading the anti-corruption campaign, was arrested under the preventive detention by police early on Tuesday morning under Section 107/151 CrPC before he proceeded from his Mayur Vihar place to the Jayaprakash Narayan Park.
"If a proceeding under Sections 107/151 appears to be absolutely necessary to deal with the threatened apprehension of breach of peace, it is incumbent upon the authority concerned to take prompt action.
The jurisdiction vested in a Magistrate to act under Section 107 is to be exercised in emergent situation."A mere perusal of Section 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure makes it clear that the conditions under which a police officer may arrest a person without an order from a Magistrate and without a warrant have been laid down in Section 151," the apex court said.