Inter-State Arrests: A Daunting Threat to Personal Liberty | Rahul Machaiah

On 13 February, 2021 the Delhi Police arrested 21 year old Disha Ravi who was booked for sedition and other offences in connection with the ongoing farmers’ protests. She was accused of editing a toolkit created to help people understand the protests and released 10 days later on bail. Disha’s arrest appears to be part of a massive crackdown on people who have been highly critical of the government’s handling of the protests. For instance, journalists and politicians have been booked for sedition and other offences after they alleged that a protester had been killed by the police.

Disha Ravi’s Arrest 

It is important to note that Disha’s arrest was an inter-state arrest as the Delhi Police arrested her from Bengaluru. The Delhi Police had obtained an arrest warrant against her from a court in Delhi. On 13 February, two teams of the Delhi Police arrived in Bengaluru.  Soon after she was arrested, one team took her to the airport while the other team went to the local police station to officially inform the local police about her arrest. She was produced before a magistrate in Delhi on February 14, approximately twenty hours after her arrest.

This case symbolises how high-handedness has been corroding the bulwarks of liberty. Apart from the vindictive nature of the arrest, what is worrisome is the ease of arresting a person from another state and taking her away to a distant place, without judicial authorization. The fact that constitutional safeguards are not percolating into everyday lives ought to make us ponder whether the Indian State has transformed the Constitution into a mirage. There is more to this problem than the mere failure to follow the law. We also need to be concerned about the normative dimensions of inter-state arrests and legal reforms to address the faults in the law.

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