In Search of Preventive Detention’s Early Colonial History: Lecture by Bhavani Raman

Bhavani Raman delivered a lecture on ‘In Search of Preventive Detention’s Early Colonial History’. It was chaired by Prathama Banerjee.


This talk concerns the early history of a contentious modern legal innovation: Preventive Detention or detention without trial. Preventive detention is known in India as a wartime law and through a landmark Supreme Court judgement, A. K. Gopalan v. State of Madras, 1950. The talk however, focusses on its emergence in Ghumsar (Ganjam agency of erstwhile Madras Presidency) now in Odisha, a history that has been severed from the history of the world’s first preventive arrest law that originated in India: Bengal Regulation III, 1818. By connecting these two histories, the talk will discuss the implications of Ghumsar’s “disappearance” from the history of preventive detention and what its assembled dossier teaches us about abduction, justice, and the history of (national) security.

Bhavani Raman is Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Toronto. She is the author of Document Raj: Scribes and Writing in Early Colonial South India (Permanent Black 2015; University of Chicago Press, 2012).

Prathama Banerjee is Professor at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi.

Wednesday, 9 August 2023, 4.30 pm, Seminar Room and Zoom