TNM brings you an explainer about this tool used by officials to keep out “dangerous elements” of society.

What is externment The law that Telangana cops used to ban Mahesh Kathi from Hyd
news Law Tuesday, July 10, 2018 - 14:16

On Monday, Telangana police banned film critic Mahesh Kathi from entering Hyderabad for six months, using provisions under the Telangana Prevention of Anti-Social and Hazardous Activities Act, 1930. The police invoked the Act following the latter’s statements which supposedly hurt religious sentiments of residents in the city.

The Act essentially allows for the government to take preventive measures to detain and/or extern those members of society whom they deem to potentially pose a threat or could cause a disturbance to the peace of society.

Police and governments have long used externment as a method of ‘peacekeeping.’ Each state in the south (as well as the Union Territory of Puducherry) has its own form of a law which allows for the police or government to take an action, by which they can ban persons from entering a particular area, for a given period of time.

“We have externed several rowdies with criminal history in the past. This is not the first time that police has taken such a decision. But in recent times, after the formation of Telangana state, this is perhaps the first time that the law has been used against a controversial person," said South Zone DCP V Satyanarayana.  

Though each state has tailored the law in different ways, the general principle remains the same. Under these, so-termed ‘prevention of dangerous activities’ laws, specific individuals have been defined as potentially being able to disrupt society (particularly in urban areas as stated by the Karnataka Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug-Offenders, Gamblers, Goondas Act, 1985) and even incite violence. They allow for ‘preventive detention of the persons indulging in these dangerous activities.’

Among those who are targeted specifically in these laws include “bootleggers, dacoits, drug-offenders, goondas, immoral traffic offenders, land grabbers, gamblers,” as listed by these Acts.

Through externment, officials not only identify those who’ve already committed crimes, but also keep tabs on those who may potentially pose a threat to the peace of society. In the case of film critic Mahesh Kathi, officials thought it necessary to extern him after he allegedly made deprecatory comments against Lord Rama and Sita during a regional news channel debate.

Following outbursts from those who opposed his statements as well as registered complaints, Telangana DGP Mahender Reddy issued a statement that Mahesh was to be externed from the city of Hyderabad for 6 months and that he would be dropped off in Chittoor district, his native place.

Activists termed this unconstitutional and have called it the ‘rise of fascism.’

Also read: ‘Rise of fascism’: Activists flay Telangana govt for banning Mahesh Kathi from Hyd

Similarly, in December 2017, a ‘cow vigilante’ from Maharashtra was externed from his hometown after having had over 9 FIRs filed to his name, with charges of criminal intimidation and even attempt to murder lodged against him.

There have also been instances wherein externment orders have been cancelled, like in Aurangabad in November 2017, where the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court dismissed the externment order citing that the police had not given appropriate reasons for detaining the individual.

 

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