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About The COFEPOSA Act


The Madras High Court recently quashed a detention order issued under the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (COFEPOSA) Act, 1974 against a practising lawyer, ordering his release.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the COFEPOSA Act
  2. Advisory Boards under Preventive Detention Laws
  3. Other Preventive Detention Laws in India

About the COFEPOSA Act:

  • The COFEPOSA Act was passed by the Parliament on December 13, 1974, with the following objectives:
  • To enable preventive detention in specific cases related to the conservation and augmentation of foreign exchange.
  • To prevent smuggling activities and associated matters.
  • Power to Make Detention Orders:
  • The Central Government, State Government, or designated authorities such as a joint secretary of the central government and secretary of a state government can issue detention orders for individuals (including foreigners) in cases of:
    • Smuggling.
    • Assisting in smuggling.
    • Transporting, concealing, or storing smuggled goods.
    • Providing shelter to individuals involved in smuggling.
    • Dealing in smuggled goods.
  • Any detention order issued by the State government must be sent to the Central government within 10 days.
Grounds for Detention:
  • The reasons for detention must be communicated to the detained individual within 5 days. A delay of up to 15 days is permissible if provided in writing.
  • The detaining authority must satisfy both the courts and the detainee that the detention was carried out in accordance with the law and after due consideration.
Review by High Courts:
  • High Courts have the authority to examine detention orders before their execution.
  • Detention orders cannot be challenged at the pre-execution stage on grounds of delay in execution.
Execution Nationwide:
  • Detention orders can be executed anywhere in India, similar to arrest warrants under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Advisory Boards under Preventive Detention Laws:

  • The government is required to refer cases of preventive detention to an Advisory Board within five weeks of the date of detention.
  • The Advisory Board is responsible for reviewing the detention and must provide its report within 11 weeks of receiving the detention order.
  • If the Advisory Board is satisfied with the grounds for detention, the detention period can be extended up to one year.
  • However, if the Advisory Board believes there is insufficient cause for detention, the order is revoked, and the person is released.

Other Preventive Detention Laws in India:

Apart from the COFEPOSA Act, India has several other preventive detention laws designed to address various aspects of national security, illegal activities, and public order. Some of these laws include:

  • National Security Act (NSA), 1980
  • Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) of 1967
  • Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (PITNDPS) Act, 1988
  • Prevention of Black Marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980
  • Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA)

-Source: The Indian Express

December 2023