New Delhi: In a major development, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal last night granted Delhi Police powers to detain individuals under the National Security Act (NSA). As per a notification from the L-G’s office, the NSA will be in force in the national capital from January 19-April 18.

The development comes at a time Delhi is witnessing massive, albeit peaceful protests against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), including an ongoing sit-in by Muslim women at Shaheen Bagh for well over a month now.

However, calling it a ‘routine order’ which is issued every four months, Delhi Police clarified that it had nothing to do with the ongoing protests.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (3) of section 3, read with clause (c) of Section 2 of the National Security Act, 1980, the Lt Governor is pleased to direct that during the period January 19 to April 18, the Delhi Police Commissioner may also exercise the powers of detaining authority under sub-section (2) of section 3 of the aforesaid Act,” the notification from the L-G’s office stated.

The NSA, passed by the Indira Gandhi government in September 1980, grants authorities powers to make preventive detention of an individual for months if it is felt that he/she is a threat to the national security, and law and order. The individual can be detained without any charge for up to a year and also need not be informed of the charges for 10 days. He/she can appeal before a high court advisory board but is not allowed a lawyer during the trial.

Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, who was yesterday released on bail in connection with last month’s Daryaganj violence, was detained by the Uttar Pradesh government under the NSA in November 2017 but was released next September after the NSA order against him was withdrawn.