Use experiment orders with caution: SC

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Use experiment orders with caution: SC

  • The Supreme Court has held that a person cannot be barred by authorities from entering a place on mere suspicion.
  • The court said authorities can pass an order of externment against a person only under extraordinary circumstances.

About Externment

  • It is a system of preventing people from entering into a particular place for a certain period, due to their ability to affect that place’s conditions by criminal activity, as exhibited by their prior conduct.
  • It is a time-worn method of controlling crime in ancient India, where unwanted elements were banished from a certain geographical area.
  • In modern India, the provisions for providing the power of externment were enshrined in various statutes such as The Bombay Police Act (MPA), 1951, that subsequently changed to Maharashtra Police Act (MPA).
  • The principle of externment is to protect an area or areas of districts from probable danger of commission of offences by known criminals.
  • The logic being that banishing a criminal from his area of operation would sever his link with the normal area of his criminal activities and reduce his criminal propensity in general.
  • Every police station in Mumbai has a designated externment officer who keeps an eye on habitual criminals and initiates a procedure to make a proposal by collecting documents of cases registered against a person who they want to extern.

Issues with externment order

  • Clause (d) of Article 19(1) of the Constitution provides citizens a fundamental right to move freely throughout the territory of India.
  • Many court judgments have pointed out that externment proceedings make a serious inroad in personal liberty, with the Bombay High Court in 2013 stating that the drastic step of externment should be rarely taken as the provisions make serious inroads into personal liberty.

Power to issue externment order

  • In cities, the commissioner of police has the power to extern a criminal while a sub-divisional magistrate is empowered with externment duties in districts.
  • During the proceeding, both the person in question and the officers who have recommended his externment are called and their statements are recorded.
  • Accordingly, the DCP pronounces the period of externment that can go up to maximum two years.