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Hargobinda Das Vs. District Magistrate and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
Subject;Criminal
CourtGuwahati High Court
Decided On
Judge
AppellantHargobinda Das
RespondentDistrict Magistrate and ors.
Prior history
K. Lahiri, J.
1. This is a Habeas Corpus application under Article 226 of the Constitution against the Order of detention passed by the District Magistrate, Goalpara, under Section 3(2) of the National Security Act. The purpose of detention was for preventing the petitioner 'from acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of service essential to the community'.
2. The substance of what lias been described as the 'grounds of detention', which he characterizes as the basis of the 'subje
Excerpt:
.....in which the term has been used in 'the act' indicates that there must be a slate of mind of the detaining authority which was satisfied or contented, occasioned by some facts, event or state of things. in our opinion this is why it has been ruled by the supreme court that the documents and materials relied must be of 'a rational probative value and must not be extraneous to the purpose of the detention'.the facts, events or state of things must be of the nature and character that they may lead a rational human being to reach 'the satisfaction'.4. judicial review in this area is permissible, apart from many other rational, pn the grounds :(i) that the detaining authority has failed to apply its mind to arrive at the subjective satisfaction, or, (ii) that the satisfaction was not..........of detention', which he characterizes as the basis of the 'subjective satisfaction' of the detaining authority, may be summed up thus: that on 30-11-82 the detenu along with others attended 'a close door' meeting of aasu/aagsp of bijni unit, discussed about observance of 24 hours assam bundh and decided to observe a bundh at bijni on 2-12-82. in the meeting it was decided that shops and business establishments, etc should be closed and the vehicles should be put off the road. the said meeting, it is stated. also decided to circulate leaflets and post pickets etc. to make the bundh successful. the second ground. or. the basis of the satisfaction was that the detenu along with others (named persons) circulated, 'a leaflet' in assamese on 1-12-82 and requested the people to. observe.....
Judgment:

K. Lahiri, J.

1. This is a Habeas Corpus application under Article 226 of the Constitution against the Order of detention passed by the District Magistrate, Goalpara, under Section 3(2) of the National Security Act. The purpose of detention was for preventing the petitioner 'from acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of service essential to the community'.

2. The substance of what lias been described as the 'grounds of detention', which he characterizes as the basis of the 'subjective satisfaction' of the detaining authority, may be summed up thus: That on 30-11-82 the detenu along with others attended 'a close door' meeting of AASU/AAGSP of Bijni Unit, discussed about observance of 24 hours Assam Bundh and decided to observe a Bundh at Bijni on 2-12-82. In the meeting it was decided that shops and business establishments, etc should be closed and the vehicles should be put off the road. The said meeting, it is stated. also decided to circulate leaflets and post pickets etc. to make the bundh successful. The second ground. or. the basis of the satisfaction was that the detenu along with others (named persons) circulated, 'a leaflet' in Assamese on 1-12-82 and requested the people to. observe 'Assam Bundh' on 2-12-82 in the said manner, thereby, perhaps meaning by circulating the leaflet.

3. The District Magistrate is undoubtedly competent to detain a person under Section 3(2) of 'the Act.' However, ' it must be based on ''the' subjective satisfaction', The term 'satisfaction' has a reference to the mental element of the detaining authority. namely, his desires or feelings. It is undoubtedly true that the term 'satisfaction' may include 'pleasure'. but the context in which the term has been used in 'the Act' indicates that there must be a slate of mind of the detaining authority which was satisfied or contented, occasioned by some facts, event or state of things. Therefore, it is not an absolute pleasure on the basis of which a person can be detained. Satisfaction cannot be formed on vacuity; there must exist some 'facts, events or some state of things' to arrive at the subjective satisfaction, enabling the detaining authority to make, a valid order of detention under 'the Act'. We find, therefore, that the grounds are required to be furnished to the detenu which must contain the basic facts and materials. These basic facts am) materials are nothing but events, state of things or facts, the basis on which the subjective satisfaction was reached by the detaining authority before making the order of detention. This is why the Supreme Court has ruled that the documents and materials relied by the detaining authority while making the order of detention must be furnished to the detenu 'pari passu' the grounds of detention. All these materials form an integral part of the grounds or events or state of things which helped the detaining authority to reach the satisfaction about the necessity of detention. In our opinion this is why it has been ruled by the Supreme Court that the documents and materials relied must be of 'a rational probative value and must not be extraneous to the purpose of the detention'. The facts, events or state of things must be of the nature and character that they may lead a rational human being to reach 'the satisfaction'.

4. Judicial review in this area is permissible, apart from many other rational, pn the grounds : (i) that the detaining authority has failed to apply its mind to arrive at the subjective satisfaction, or, (ii) that the satisfaction was not grounded on the materials which were of rational probative value; or (iii) if no rational being can find any connection with the facts and the satisfaction reached, or, (iv) if the grounds are not relevant to the subject matter of the enquiry, or extraneous to the scope and purpose of 'the Act', or (v) if the authority has taken into account. as a relevant factor something which it could not properly take into account in deciding whether or not to exercise the power or the manner pr the extent to which it should be exercised, or. (vi) if the authority has failed to take into consideration relevant factors made available to it which it could not overlook in deciding whether or not to exercise the power or the manner or the extent to which it should be exercised, or. (vii) when the power is exercised mala fide, or, (viii) if the authority comes to a conclusion so unreasonable that no reasonable authority could ever have come to it. Such orders can be interfered with. This power is not appellate power, the court exercises power as a judicial authority which is concerned only to see whether the statutory authority has contravened the law by acting in excess of the power which the legislature has confided in it. If there is violation of procedural safeguards conferred by or under the constitution or the provisions of 'the Act', the court will surely interfere.

5. Now, let us scrutinize the grounds: What were the grounds on the basis of which the satisfaction was reached? The materials or the events have been set-forth in the 'grounds of detention'. What is the source of that information? Mr. P. Prasad, learned Government Advocate, submits that the materials were there in a dossier. However, learned Government Advocate has failed to produce the dossier before us. Therefore, we have no manner of doubt, that there was no material before the detaining authority and the facts set forth in the grounds of detention were non-existent and the satisfaction was based on no material. It follows, therefore that the detaining authority had taken into account as relevant facts certain materials which were nonexistent at all relevant time. Therefore, the order of detention based on no material is liable to be set aside, which we hereby do.

6. This apart, we find that one of the two grounds (instances) which influenced the mind of the detaining authority, while making the order of detention was that the detenu circulated 'a leaflet' in. Assamese in the name of AASU/AAGSP at Bijni Bazar on 1-12-82, requested the people to observe the Bundh on 2-12-82. So, one vital ground for detention was that the detenu had circulated 'a leaflet', which contained request to the people to observe 'Assam Bundh'. Now, where is that leaflet? Mr. Prasad learned Government Advocate submits that there is no record to show as to the existence of the said leaflet at all relevant time. As a corollary, it has been conceded that the said leaflet could not be furnished to the detenu. Therefore, this ground was non-existent. The detaining authority has failed to satisfy us that it was in existence when the order of detention was made and it contained the imputed material. On this count as well the order of detention is invalid.

7. If we take that the leaflet was in existence, failure of the detaining authority to furnish a copy of the leaflet to the detenu prevented him to make an effective representation to the authorities. It follows therefore that the detenu was denied his constitutional right under Article 22(5) of the Constitution read with Section 8(1) of 'the Act', and the order of detention must be set aside-Failure to furnish the document proves that the detaining authority failed to comply with the provisions of Article 22(5) of the Constitution and Section 8(1) of 'the Act'. In other words, there was violation of the procedural safeguards by the detaining authority causing serious prejudice to the detenu. It is the established law that if one of the two major grounds fails the entire order of detention must be declared invalid as it is not possible to predicate whether the detaining authority would have detained the petitioner only on the other ground. We are constrained to hold that the impugned order of detention and the continued detention is invalid.

8. The only other ground is very thin, weak and insipid. Personal liberty makes for the worth of human being cherished and prized right, which cannot be taken away on such thin material. The ground is that the detenu was present in the meeting where a decision was taken to observe 24 hours 'Assam Bundh' on 2-12-82. To find out the 'source of information we can only look at the grounds, as neither 'the dossier' nor any other material has been produced by the Respondents. Therefore, when there was no material before the detaining authority to draw up the ground we conclude that the ground was based on 'non-existent material'. We also find that there is no material in the ground to show that the petitioner took any 'active part' in the meeting i.e. moving, seconding or adopting the resolution. The connection of the detenu with the two organisations, namely, AASU and AAGSP is conspicuously absent. Apart from his passive presence in the meeting there is no imputation against the detenu. No active part has been imputed in so far as the detenu is concerned 'dehors' the second allegation as to the circulation of the leaflet. We hold that the ground was structured on nonexistent material. Under these circumstances, the first ground also falls.

9. In the result we have no hesitation in reaching the conclusion that the continued detention of the petitioner is invalid, and, accordingly we allow the petition and direct that the petitioner should be set at liberty unless he is wanted in connection with any other case.


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