Eliah has been in police custody since March 19, 2016, without any further trial or court hearing.

SC slams Telangana after man spends a year in preventive detention for allegedly stealing 5 sarisFile photo: PTI
news News Tuesday, March 07, 2017 - 09:39

The Supreme Court pulled up the Telangana government on Monday, for keeping a man in preventive custody for close to a year, after he was suspected to have stolen five saris. 

Referring to industrialists like Vijay Mallya, the court reportedly said, “A person who has taken away crores of rupees is enjoying... But here a person who took five saris and he is in jail,”  

The apex court was hearing a petition filed by the wife of Eliah, who has been in police custody since March 19, 2016, without any further trial or court hearing. 

The SC questioned this move by the Telangana government.

According to reports, the state defended the decision, stating that the suspect was a habitual offender and was working with a bigger gang of sari thieves.

According to a report in the Deccan Chronicle, the state also informed the court that Eliah was involved in at least three instances of sari theft in six months, and his detention was affirmed by a state advisory board, headed by a retired judge of the High Court.

This comes shortly after the SC had criticised Telangana for the detention when the petition was first filed.

“Where are we leading to? What is happening to this country? We have to see that people are not harassed by the state. We thought Telangana is a good state. Even if it is true that he had stolen five sarees, will you keep him in jail for a year in preventive detention. We are going to pass severe strictures if you are not going to give proper explanation for detaining this person," Chief Justice JS Khehar was quoted as saying.

Eliah was detained under the Andhra Pradesh Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Dacoits, Drug Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders and Land Grabbers Act, 1986.

The Act is still used by both the Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra.

It has already been criticised in the past, as it allows the government to detain a person for almost a year without proper review.

In February, The Hyderabad High Court has slapped a fine of Rs 25,000 on Chittoor Superintendent of Police G Srinivas for passing detention orders that were in violation of the provisions of the Preventive Detention (PD) Act.

According to the provisions of the PD act, it is mandatory for the authorities to provide all details regarding the detention of a person, in a language known to the detainee, which was not followed  by the Chittoor administration.

The court posted Eliah's case for further hearing, to March 8.

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