How Maharashtra law defines ‘dangerous persons’

MPDA Act empowers the district magistrate and the commissioner of police to exercise provisions under MPDA to detain a person who in their view is acting in manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order.

Written by Rashmi Rajput | Mumbai | Published: August 27, 2018 2:00:27 am
How Maharashtra law defines ‘dangerous persons’ Passed by the state government, the MPDA act came into effect on June 11, 1981. (Representational Image)

AURANGABAD POLICE recently detained a city corporator, Sayyed Mateen Rashid of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), under the stringent Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Slumlords, Bootleggers, Drug Offenders and Dangerous Persons Act (MPDA), 1981. What is this stringent law about?

Passed by the state government, it came into effect on June 11, 1981. The Act empowers the district magistrate and the commissioner of police to exercise provisions under MPDA to detain a person who in their view is acting in manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. Either of these two authorities can pass an order under the Act directing that such a person be detained.

In Rashid’s case, Aurangabad Commissioner Chiranjeev Prasad said, “Serious offences like arson, rioting, inciting mob for breach of communal harmony, creating alarm in society… hence left with no choice but to book him under MPDA. Other preventive actions failed to check him.”

The corporator

Rashid had reportedly opposed a resolution to pay tribute to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and was allegedly beaten by some BJP corporators. In the past, he had reportedly opposed singing of the national anthem in the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation. After he reportedly opposed the resolution on Vajpayee, some BJP corporators allegedly beat him up and filed a complaint under the IPC, accusing him of promoting enmity between members of communities. Rashid was granted bail in the IPC case Tuesday. However, minutes after being released, he was served the Commisioner’s notice under MPDA and sent back to judicial custody in Harsul jail.

When & how

The Act states that an order under it can be issued against a person who uses his influence and resources to clandestinely organise and carry out dangerous activities in violation of law. These include slumlords, bootleggers and drug offenders. People who directly or indirectly cause or calculate to cause any harm, danger or alarm or a feeling of insecurity among the general public or a section of it could be detained.

Senior police officers described how the law came about: the mafia in Maharashtra, particularly Mumbai, was making much of its earnings from bootlegging in the 1980s and drugs in the 1990s. During this period, slumlords too were flexing their muscle in Mumbai. Today, the police use the law mainly during a buildup to a protest, or when they feel that an activity or event could affect law and order.

In the recently concluded monsoon session of the Assembly, Minister of State for Home (Urban) Ranjit Patil said the government was looking at a proposal to bring human traffickers under the realm of MPDA so as to deal effectively with the issue of missing girls.

Detention rules

In the first instance, an order under MPDA passed by the district magistrate or the police commissioner cannot exceed three months. The person against whom the order is issued could challenge his detention before a higher court and, if the court is satisfied with his/her plea, the order can be revoked or set aside.

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