T.N.R. Tirumalpad, J.C.
1. The petitioner in this case was sentenced to 6 months' S.I. under Section 6(b) of the Preventive Detention Act (hereinafter to be called the Act) by the S.D.M., I.W. in Criminal Case No. 748 of 1960. His appeal to the Sessions Judge against the said conviction and sentence was dismissed. Now he has come up in revision.
2. During the recent agitation in Manipur in connection with the demand for Legislative Assembly the District Magistrate, issued an order Ext. A/2 on 14.8.1960 under Section 3(1)(a)(2) of the Act for tie detention of die petitioner with a view to preventing him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order in Manipur Territory. The Police Officer P.W. 2 went to execute die detention order on 15.6.1960 and raided the house of the petitioner with a Police party. But the petitioner was found absent and thereupon P.W. 2 made an enquiry about his whereabouts and found that nobody could tell him about the same and he learnt that the petitioner was absconding and concealing himself to evade the service of the detention order and that there was no possibility of his immediate arrest.
Accordingly, P.W. 2 submitted a report - Ext. A/6 to his superior Officer. On that report, the Superintendent of Police, Manipur, sent the letter - Ext. A/10 to the District Magistrate, Manipur on 16.6.1960 stating that the petitioner was absconding and concealing himself to prevent the execution of the detention order. Thereupon the District Magistrate, issued the second order Ext. A/5 on 18.6.1960 under Section 6(1)(b) of the Act stating that he has reason to believe that the petitioner was absconding or concealing himself so that the said order should not be executed and directing the petitioner to appear before the Superintendent of Police, Manipur at his Office within 10 days from the date at publication of the said order. This order was published on 20.6.1960 in the Manipur Gazette Extra Ordinary. We get ft from the judgment of the learned Sessions Judge in appeal that the gist of the order was also published in the local Ngasi Daily dated 22.8.1980 and Simanta Patrika dated 21.6.1960.
The petitioner did not appear before the, Superintendent of Police within the 10 days. On 11.7.1960, P.W. 1, the Police Officer saw the petitioner at Bir Tikendrajit Park along with 10 or 20 others making preparation to hold a public meeting. Thereupon he arrested the petitioner. Thereafter, he was charge-sheeted under Section 6(1)(b) of the Act and sentenced as stated above.
3. Only two points were Urged before me. First, it was urged that the order, Ext. A/5 directing the petitioner to appear before the Superintendent of Police was passed mala tide by the District Magistrate and it was stated that the petitioner was totally unaware of the detention order, Ext. A/2 as well as the order Ext. A/5. It was stated that the District Magistrate ought to have satisfied himself judicially by proper evidence that the petitioner was, in fact, absconding or concealing himself with a view to prevent the execution of the detention order and that he should not have acted on the letter - Ext. A/10 written to him by the Superintendent of Police and that therefore the order - Ext. A/5 issued by him should be treated as mala fide.
4. In support of that contention the decision Ashutosh Lahiry v. State of Delhi : AIR1953SC451 , was brought to my notice. But the said decision would not, in any way, help the petitioner. No doubt, the decision held that a detenu under the Act would be entitled to establish that the order under Section 3 of the Act was issued mala fide and in abuse of powers. But the decision made it clear that the burden of proving the absence of good faith was upon the detenu and that it was certainly a heavy burden to discharge and that mere suspicion was however not proof of mala fide. In that particular case, even though their Lordships of the Supreme Court felt that the recourse to the drastic provisions of the Act instead of a preventive order under Section 144, Cr.P.C. lent some suspicion about the good faith of the order. Still their Lordships Were not prepared to hold that the order was mala fide and dismissed the petition filed by the detenu.
5. In the ease before me the petitioner has not challenged the order Ext. A/2 issued under Section 3 and so we have to take it that the order of detention was validly passed by the District Magistrate. What was challenged before me was the subsequent order issued under Section 6(1)(b), calling upon the petitioner to appear before the Superintendent of Police within 10 days from the date of the order; I fail to see how this order could be challenged at all. The District Magistrate was already satisfied under Section 3 that the petitioner's detention was necessary. That satisfaction of the District Magistrate has not been challenged. Section 6(b) of the Act does not say that the District Magistrate should be satisfied that the person in respect of whom a detention order has been made has absconded or was concealing himself. What it says is only that the District Magistrate 'has reason to believe'. Certainly the words 'has reason to believe' in Section 8(b) are less onerous than the words 'if satisfied' appearing in Section 3.
6. My attention was however drawn to two cases Shewdyal Sing v. Griban Sing 6 Suth WR Cr 73 (2) and In re Ramkishore Sain, reported in 19 Suth WR Cr. 12. They arose under the provision relating to proclamation and attachment of property in the case of a person whom the Court has reason to believe was absconding or concealing himself in order to evade arrest. It is similar to tile provision under Section 87 of the present Cr.P.C. In the particular circumstances of those cases, the Judges concerned in those decisions found that the Magistrate had not done his duty properly and the attachment of the properties were cancelled. What was relied on, was that Section 87, Cr.P.C. provided that the Court 'must have reason to believe' that the person against whom the warrant was being issued had absconded or was concealing himself. It was argued that the District Magistrate must satisfy himself under Section 6(1)(b) just as the Magistrate under Section 87, Cr.P.C. has to satisfy himself. But there is this difference, namely, that the Court or the Magistrate will be acting judicially under Section 87 Cr.P.C. and passing a judicial order, whereas the District Magistrate acting under the Preventive Detention Act is not a Court and is not passing a judicial order.
7. The District Magistrate has stated in his order Ext. A/5 that he had reason to believe that I the petitioner had absconded or was concealing himself. As pointed out in Ashutosh Lahiry's case : AIR1953SC451 , this Court cannot substitute its own satisfaction for that of the District Magistrate. When the District Magistrate has stated that he has reason to believe, this Court cannot say that the District Magistrate did not have reason to believe. It is die subjective satisfaction of the District Magistrate which Is material.
8. No doubt, the petitioner can prove that there was no ground at all for the District Magistrate to believe that the petitioner was absconding or concealing himself and that the order was mala fide. This he could have done by letting in evidence that during the period from 14.6.1960 when Ext. A/2 was issued to 11.7.1960, he was occupied in his normal activities and was available in his house. He did not make any attempt to show that.
9. On the Other hand, it was not disputed that a serious agitation was going on at the time for the establishment of a Legislative Assembly, in Manipur and that am order under Section 144, Cr.P.C. was already in force at the time. The petitioner stated in answer to the question under Section 342, Cr.P.C. that he went to the public meeting on 11.7.1980 according to the scheduled programme for the meeting and that he would never have come out in public if he was absconding and further that every programme of the agitation was being announced to the public and that there was no question of his hiding. But there was the evidence of P.W. 2 that the petitioner could not be arrested in his house and that on enquiry he learnt that he wag absconding and concealing himself. If he was not absconding or concealing himself and was engaging himself in his normal occupation he could have presented himself before the Superintendent of Police within 10 days' time from the date of publication of Ext. A/5.
10. We get from the judgment of the Sessions Judge that it was not disputed before him that the petitioner was aware of die orders Ext. A/2 and Ext. A/5. Section 6(1)(b) provides that the petitioner could prove that it was not possible for him to cumply with the order Ext. A/5 and that he had within the period specified in the order, informed the Superintendent of Police of the reason which rendered compliance therewith impossible and he could also inform the Superintendent of police about his whereabouts. He has not cared to do any one of these things. That itself showed that the petitioner was absconding or concealing himself and that the District Magistrate had every reason to believe it to be so, it showed that the order Ext A/5 was not mala fide.
11. The only other point raised was that the sentence of sis months' S.I. was a harsh sentence. Section 6(1)(b) provided for a maximum sentence of one year. Of course, it provided in the alternative for imprisonment or fine. The petitioner being aware of the orders Ext. A/2 and Ext. A/5 had deliberately absented himself and at a time when the agitation was at its height and his own answer showed that on 11.7.1960 he came out for a meeting which was being held in furtherance of the agitation. It was to prevent such participation in the interests of maintenance of public order that the order for his detention was passed. When therefore the petitioner did not question the validity of the said order of detention, disobedience of the order Ext. A/5 coupled with the attempt on the-part of the petitioner to take part in a public meeting later clearly showed that the stiff sentence was necessary. I cannot say that the sentence of six months' S.I. was a harsh sentence at all. There are no merits at all in this revision petition and it is accordingly dismissed.