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Dhirendra Chandra Das Vs. District Magistrate Cachar and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
Subject;Criminal
CourtGuwahati High Court
Decided On
Judge
AppellantDhirendra Chandra Das
RespondentDistrict Magistrate Cachar and ors.
Excerpt:
.....liberty of a subject on its subjective satisfaction with reference to specified matters if that satisfaction is stated to be based on a number of grounds or for a variety of reasons, all taken together and if some out of them are found to be non-existent or irrelevant the very exercise of that power is bad. however the court must be satisfied that the vague or irrelevant grounds are such. we do not see how the above passage relied upon by the learned advocate-general assists him in this case where the first two grounds along with the third clearly furnish the reasons for the detention. it is also laid down in that decision that the constitutional requirement that the grounds must not be vague must be satisfied with respect to each of the grounds communicated to the person detained..........son of late krishna chandra das of m/s. das brothers. silchar being the sole wholesale agent of battery cells. torch cells. gold flake cigarettes. wills tabacco etc. had adopted unfair means to disturb regular supplies of these commodities essential to the life of the community.(2) that he being the sole agent he is expected to keep fairly adequate stocks for the consumption of the people whereas he clandestinely distributes the stock that he has obtained from the manufacturers to unauthorised persons at higher rates than that prescribed by the manufacturers and the customers do not get their requirements from his firm at the prices fixed by the manufacturers.(3) that he has made an attempt to sell out the stocks that are available with him in a clandestine manner as evidenced by the.....
Judgment:

P.K. Goswami, C.J.

1. When this habeas corpus application came up for hearing on 15th November 1971. after hearing the learned Counsel for the petitioner and the learned Advocate-General. Assam we reached the conclusion that the order of detention could not be sustained and. therefore. released the petitioner from detention. We further observed that the reasons for the order would be given later on. and we give the same today.

2. The petitioner is one of the partners of M/s Das Brothers and Co. a partnership firm carrying on business at Silchar for a number of years. The firm is the selling agent at Silchar of Indian Tobacco Company Ltd. and of other concerns. The firm is also one of the redistribution stockists of Silchar town of Eveready Batteries the only distributor or the wholesale selling agent of the said products in the district of Cacher being M/s. Ramkrishna Das and Sons of Karimgani town who gets supply of Eveready batteries directly from the manufacturers and in turn supplies the same to redistribution stockists as and when the supply is available from the manufacturers. The petitioner's firm, like other re-distribution stockists has to sell about 80 per cent of the supply to the various retailers at Silchar town as ear-marked by the distributor and only about 20 per cent of the supply has to be sold in the counter of the shop premises. in retail.

On 11th October 1971 the petitioner was served with an order of the District Magistrate. Cachar. of the same date passed under Section 3(2)(a) read with Section 3 (1)(a)(iii) of the Maintenance of Internal Security Act. 1971. (No. 26 of 1971). hereinafter called 'the Act and detained under it from the same date. The order may be quoted:

Whereas I am satisfied with respect to the person known as Shri Dhirendra Chandra Das, son of late Krishna Chandra Das of Silchar Town. P. S. Silchar. District Cachar that with a view to preventing him from acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community in the District Cachar. it is necessary to make the following orders:

Now therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred on me under Section 3 (2)(a) read with Section 3 (1)(a)(iii) of the Maintenance of Internal Security Act. 1971 Act No. 26 of 19711 I. Sri K. S. Rao I. A. S. District Magistrate. Cachar district do hereby direct that the said Sri Dhirendra Chandra Das be detained with immediate effect and until further orders at the Silchar Jail.

The grounds of detention were served on the petitioner on 14th October. 1971, These may be set out.:

(1) That the person known as Shri Dhirendra Chandra Das son of late Krishna Chandra Das of M/s. Das Brothers. Silchar being the sole wholesale Agent of Battery cells. Torch cells. Gold Flake cigarettes. Wills Tabacco etc. had adopted unfair means to disturb regular supplies of these commodities essential to the life of the community.

(2) That he being the Sole Agent he is expected to keep fairly adequate stocks for the consumption of the people whereas he clandestinely distributes the stock that he has obtained from the manufacturers to unauthorised persons at higher rates than that prescribed by the manufacturers and the customers do not get their requirements from his firm at the prices fixed by the manufacturers.

(3) That he has made an attempt to sell out the stocks that are available with him in a clandestine manner as evidenced by the fact that on 9th October. 1971 at about 6-30 p. m. one Shri K. S. Nath. Magistrate of Silchar wanted to purchase battery cells but the proprietor Shri Dhirendra Chandra Das told him that he had no stock of battery cells since lone. But just before his visit to the shop. one Shri Jitesh Roy Choudhury purchased battery cells from this very shop. This proves that the firm has kept concealed stocks of battery cells with a view to selling them at exorbitant prices to the customers who are compelled to buy at the prices created by scarcity conditions built. up by the firms clandestine activities.

3. The petitioner has taken several objections to the order of detention but for the purpose of our order it is enough to deal with the main attack. namely that the grounds are vague and indefinite and do not enable the petitioner to make an effective representation against the order. On a nerusal of the grounds it appears that the detainins authority relied upon three grounds set out above for having its subjective satisfaction to make the order of detention. The first ground relates to the petitioner's adopting unfair means to disturb regular supplies of 'these commodities.' namely 'Battery cells. Torch cells. Gold Flake Cigarettes. Wills Tobacco etc.'. The only instance of 'unfair means' given is that when on 9th October 1971 at about 6.30 p. m. Sri Nath. Magistrate of Silchar. wanted to purchase battery cells. the petitioner told him that 'he had no stock of battery cells since long'. It is also stated that before the Magistrate's visit to the shop another person Jitesh Roy had purchased battery cells from that very shop. From this instance. the Order states that 'this proves that the firm has kept concealed stocks of battery cells with a view to selling them at exorbitant prices...created by scarcity conditions builtud by the firm's clandestine activities'. We are not required to consider whether the instance cited in ground No. 2 proves the fact asserted. It is sufficient to state that ground No. 1 refers not only to battery cells, but also to torch cells. Gold Flake cigarettes. Wills Tobacco etc. No instances are given of any unfair means with regard to these commodities. The words 'et cetera' in the ground of an order of this kind is also inappropriate and should always be avoided. Apart from that. since the first ground is also one of the grounds of detention the petitioner cannot. in our opinion. make an effective representation against that ground of adopting unfair means to disturb regular supplies of these commodities in the absence of any particular instance of any of his transactions. The second ground is eaually vague and indefinite and we are of opinion that the petitioner is unable to meet such a ground except perhaps denving it.

4. The learned AdvocateGeneral submits that the first two grounds are really included in the third ground and need not be considered separately. We are however unable to accept this submission. The district Magistrate has given three grounds. which weighed with him in making the order and it is not permissible to contend that two of the grounds should be left out of consideration and only the third ground. if sufficient should sustain the order. It is well-settled that if any one of the grounds is non-existent, or irrelevant. or so vague and indefinite as not to enable the detenu to make an effective representatior against the order. the order of detentior cannot be sustained. If any authority is necessary for this. we may only refer to the decision of the Supreme Court in Dwaraka Dass Bhatia v. State of Jammu and Kashmir. reported in 1956 S.C.R. 948 (955).

Where power is vested in a statutory authority to deprive the liberty of a subject on its subjective satisfaction with reference to specified matters if that satisfaction is stated to be based on a number of grounds or for a variety of reasons, all taken together and if some out of them are found to be non-existent or irrelevant the very exercise of that power is bad. That is so because the matter being one for subjective satisfaction it must be properly based on all the reasons on which it purports to be based. If some out of them are found to be non-existent or irrrlevant. the Court cannot predicate what the subjective satisfaction of the said authority would have been on the exclusion of those grounds or reasons. To uphold the validity of such an order in spite of the invalidity of some of the reasons or grounds would be to substitute the objective satisfaction of the statutory authority.

The learned Advocate-General. who relied only on this case. drew our attention to the following passage in the same page (955):

In applying these principles. however the Court must be satisfied that the vague or irrelevant grounds are such. as, if excluded might reasonably have affected the subjective satisfaction of the appropriate authority. It is not merely because some ground or reason of a comparatively unessential nature is defective that such an order based on subjective satisfaction can be held to be invalid. The Court while anxious to safeguard the personal liberty of the individual will not lightly interfere with such orders.

We do not see how the above passage relied upon by the learned Advocate-General assists him in this case where the first two grounds along with the third clearly furnish the reasons for the detention. The question is not how a counsel looks at it, but whether these grounds weighed with the authority who furnished these grounds as the basis of the order of detention to enable the petitioner to make a representation against the same.

In Shibban Lal Saksena v. State of Uttar Pradesh reported in : [1954]1SCR418 the Court observed as follows:

The detaining authority gave here two grounds for detaining the petitioner. We can neither decide whether these grounds are good or bad. nor can we attempt to assess in what manner and towhat extent each of these arounds operated on the mind of the appropriate authority and contributed to the creation of the satisfaction on the basis of which the detention order was made. To say that the other ground. which still remains. is quite sufficient to sustain the order. would be to substitute an objective judicial test for the subjective decision of the executive authority which is against the legislative policy underlying the statute. In such cases, we thinkthe position would be the same as if one of these two grounds was irrelevant for he purpose of the Act or was wholly illusory and this would vitiate the detention order as a whole.

The same view was taken by the Supreme Court in Motilal Jain v. State of Bihar. : 1969CriLJ33 Hegde J. speaking for a unanimous court of six Honourable Judaes. again reiterated the view earlier taken in Dr. Ram Krishan Bhardwaj v. State of Delhi, : 1953CriLJ1241 and observed as follows:

It is also laid down in that decision that the constitutional requirement that the grounds must not be vague must be satisfied with respect to each of the grounds communicated to the person detained subject to the claim of privilege under C l. (6) of Article 22 of the Constitution and where one of the grounds mentioned is vague, even though the other arounds are not vague the detention is not in accordance with the procedure established by law and is therefore illegal.

5. We are. therefore. clearly of opinion that in any view of the matter the grounds 1 and 2 are vague and indefinite and do not enable the petitioner to make an effective representation against the order and for that reason the order is illegal and is accordinaly quashed.

M.C. Pathak, J.

6. I agree.


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