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Chongtham Manoranjan Vs. State of Manipur and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
Subject;Criminal
CourtGuwahati High Court
Decided On
Judge
AppellantChongtham Manoranjan
RespondentState of Manipur and ors.
Excerpt:
.....prevailing or likely to prevail in any area within the local limits of the jurisdiction of a district magistrate or a commissioner of police, the state government is satisfied that it is necessary so to do, it may, by order in writing, direct, that during such period as may be specified in the order, such district magistrate or commissioner of police may also, if satisfied as provided in sub-section (2). exercise the powers conferred by the said sub-section *as mention has been made of sub-section (2) in this provision, that sub-section may also be noted: if satisfied with respect to any person that with a view to preventing him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the state or from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies and services..........(i) the incident which had taken place in meghalaya could not have been taken into account by the district magistrate (central). manipur in forming his subjective satisfaction : (ii) the activities, in any case, are too remote, and (iii) the documents mentioned in the grounds were in fact not made available to the detenu.3. the last submission may be taken up first because the same is devoid of any force, as it has been stated in the counter-affidavit of the district magistrate that the order of detention as well as grounds of detention were served personally on the detenu with copies of the documents specified therein on 11.12.82 : and the detenu himself had signed on the office copy of these documents acknowledging due receipt of the same. the connected file has been produced before.....
Judgment:

B.L. Hansaria, J.

1. This habeas corpus proceeding is on behalf of C. Bijoy Singh against whom an order of detention under the provisions of the National Security Act, 1980 — hereinafter the Act — was passed on 7.12.1982, as the same was deemed necessary to prevent him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State and the maintenance of public order. The grounds which led the detaining authority to arrive at the above subjective satisfaction read as below:

1 (a). That you as a member of 'RED BRIGADE' which is an outlawed organisation have committed the following criminal offences to further the cause of your outlawed organization-

(i) Armed robbery of Rs. 2,55,000/- from Dasharath Bhai M. Patil of Bidi Company on 8.7.1980 at about 9.45 AM.

(ii) Attacking the Meghalaya Police Post Bishenpur in the night of 1.8.80 to snatch arms.

(iii) Armed robbery of Rs. 1,97,000/- from PWD office, Shillong on 1.6.81.

It is thereafter mentioned that the detenu was given some documents which include extracts of his statement dated 29.11.82 and of 4 (four) other persons. Ground 1 (b) states that he was arrested by the police on 28.11.82 in connection with F.I.R. No. 537 (7) 80 of Imphal Police Station (IPS), a copy of which was enclosed along with the grounds.

2. Such an order is assailed by Shri S. Jayanta Singh, learned Counsel for the petitioner, on three grounds : (i) the incident which had taken place in Meghalaya could not have been taken into account by the District Magistrate (Central). Manipur in forming his subjective satisfaction : (ii) the activities, in any case, are too remote, and (iii) the documents mentioned in the grounds were in fact not made available to the detenu.

3. The last submission may be taken up first because the same is devoid of any force, as it has been stated in the counter-affidavit of the District Magistrate that the order of detention as well as grounds of detention were served personally on the detenu with copies of the documents specified therein on 11.12.82 : and the detenu himself had signed on the office copy of these documents acknowledging due receipt of the same. The connected file has been produced before us and we do find an endorsement of the detenu on the document styled 'GROUNDS OF DETENTION' reading 'Received a similar copy'. The detenu being an educated youth which is apparent from the fact that even as per his own ' statement he was a regular student of Diploma in Chinese language in the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, would not have put the aforesaid endorsement in the above-mentioned document if the copies mentioned therein would not have formed part of the same. To further satisfy ourselves in this regard, we have looked into the representation of the detenu made to the Chairman of the Advisory Board. There is not even a whisper in that representation about not making available the documents mentioned in the grounds of detention. It may also be pointed out in this connection that after the counter-affidavit had been filed by the respondents, time had been taken on two occasions by the petitioner to file affidavit-in-reply : but ultimately this was not done. This contention has, therefore, no merit.

4. Let us now see whether the first submission has any foundation. The learned Counsel has referred in this connection to Section 3(3) of the Act, which reads:

3. Power to make orders detaining certain persons:

(1) and (2) ** ** **

(3) If any having regard to the circumstances prevailing or likely to prevail in any area within the local limits of the jurisdiction of a District Magistrate or a Commissioner of Police, the State Government is satisfied that it is necessary so to do, it may, by order in writing, direct, that during such period as may be specified in the order, such District Magistrate or Commissioner of Police may also, if satisfied as provided in Sub-section (2). exercise the powers conferred by the said sub-section

** ** ** **

As mention has been made of Sub-section (2) in this provision, that sub-section may also be noted:

(2). The Central Government or the State Government may. if satisfied with respect to any person that with a view to preventing him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State or from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community it is necessary so to do, make an order directing that such person be detained.

These provisions of Section 3 would show that the local limits of the jurisdiction of which mention has been made in Sub-section (3) is relatable to the conferment of power on the District Magistrate. So, a District Magistrate can pass an order of detention relating to persons who are residents within the local limits of his jurisdiction. This does not. however, mean that while passing an order against such a person, the activities which could be taken into consideration must have also taken place within the territorial jurisdiction of the concerned District Magistrate. It may be pointed out that the conferment of power on the District Magistrate is having regard to 'the circumstances prevailing or likely to prevail' (emphasis ours} within the local limits of the jurisdiction — the same is not connected with the activity of the person which might have been undertaken within the jurisdiction. We do not find any such restriction in Sub-section (2) also which controls the satisfaction of the District Magistrate in exercising power under the Act. Sub-section (2) rather speaks of passing of an order against 'any person'. As the detenu is a permanent resident of Lalambung Makhong within the jurisdiction of Imphal police Station, as stated in para 2 of the petition, it cannot be held that the District Magistrate (Central) Manipur had no territorial jurisdiction to invoke the provisions of the Act. We are, therefore, not impressed by the first submission of Shri Jayanta.

5. This leaves for our consideration the second submission which is relatable to the staleness of the grounds. This submission has been advanced because the three activities mentioned in the grounds were of 8.7.1980. 1.8.1980 and 1.6.1981, whereas the detention order was passed on 7.12.1982. To substantiate his submission, the learned Counsel has referred to Lakshman Khatik v. State of West Bengal : 1974CriLJ936 wherein the order of detention was passed some seven months after the alleged activities were committed. It was stated in this connection that indeed mere delay in passing a detention order is not conclusive. What the Courts have to see is the type of grounds given and consider whether such grounds would really weigh with an officer seven months later in coming to the satisfaction in question. As the detention order in that case was passed to prevent the detenu acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of essential supplies of foodgrains, it was observed that prompt action in such matters should have been taken. No explanation as to the delay was available in that case. Because of these factors, the order was set aside.

6. This case was referred in Golam Hussain v. Police Commr. Calcutta : 1974CriLJ938 , wherein it was stated that there must be a livelink between the grounds of criminal activities and the purpose of detention. This credible chain is snapped if there is too long and unexplained an interval between the offending acts and the order of detention. This was said to be the ratio of proximity. A note of caution was, however, struck by saying that no mechanical test by counting months could be laid down in this regard. It would all depend on: (i) the nature of the acts relied on, grave and determined, or less serious and corrigible, (ii) on the length of the gap. short or long; and (iii) on the reason for the delay in taking preventive action, like information of participation being available only in the course of an in out that it would be a misuse of power if the detaining authority takes the chance of conviction and. when the court verdict goes against it, falls back on its detention power to punish one whom the court would not convict. But if honestly finding a dangerous person getting away with it by overawing witnesses or concealing the commission cleverly, an authority is satisfied that there is need to interdict the activities, he may validly direct detention. We may also refer to Rameshwar Shaw v. District Magistrate : 1964CriLJ257 which is a leading case on staleness wherein the constitution Bench dealing with this point observed that the past conduct or antecedent history of the person sought to be detained 'should ordinarily be proximate in point of time and should have a rational connection with the conclusion'. It was further held that the test of proximity indicated the bona fide exercise of power inasmuch as the evidence of past conduct or antecedent history must be such as would reasonably justify the conclusion that if the person is not detained he may indulge in prejudicial activities.

7. So, while considering the attack on the ground of staleness, the Court has to bear the following in mind:

(a) The length of the period between the alleged activity and the date of order. No mechanical test by counting the months of interval can however, be applied.

(b) The nature of the acts alleged — whether the same were grave or less serious, and did the act(s) suggest repetitive tendency.

(c) The reason for the delay in taking action.

(d) The object of detention.

(e) The reason for invoking the preventive detention law.

8. The length between the last criminal act and the order of detention is definitely too long in present case inasmuch as that act was committed on 1.6.1981 and the order was passed on 7.12.1982. But then, that is not the end of the matter. First of all, we have to see the nature of the act. These are undoubtedly serious and indicate repetitive tendency inasmuch as the detenu was allegedly involved in two armed robberies, of which one was of about Rs. 2.5 lacs and another in the neighbourhood of Rs. 2 lacs. The second alleged act is attack on the Police Outpost to snatch arms. Further, it seems that the information about the involvement of the detenu in these matters came to be known rather late inasmuch as the arrest by the police in connection with the Meghalaya matters was only on 26.4.1982 whereafter he was brought to Shillong on 3.5.1982 and was released on bail on 19.11.1982 to come back home on 20.11.1982 to be arrested on 28.11.1982 in connection with FIR No. 537 (7) 80 Imphal Police Station. The impugned order was passed on 7.12.1982. On these facts, we are satisfied that the District Magistrate had no information about the involvement of the petitioner in the matters too long before the impugned order was passed. The present is also not a case where it could be stated that the authority has fallen back on the detention power having failed to secure conviction in a Court of law. Golam Hussain was a case 1974 CriLJ 938 (SC) wherein the detenu had been discharged in a criminal case for want of evidence. Even so the invocation of the detention power was not regarded as an abuse of the power. We have also to remember that the object of detention in the present case is the security of the State and the detenu was said to be a member of the 'Red Brigade', an out-lawed organisation.

9. This being the position, we have, not felt persuaded to hold that the grounds were stale to debar invocation of the detention power. We do not read an element of punishment in the present act of prevention.

10. Though this is all that we have to state about the submissions advanced by Shri Jayanta, we have noted that in the first ground the place of robbery has not been mentioned. But then, the same has not introduced vagueness in this ground inasmuch as even the copy of the First Information Report relating to this was enclosed as a document with the grounds. This apart, the statement of the detenu, whose extract was made available with the grounds, does not leave anything to doubt that the place of residence of the person named in this ground was not known to the detenu.

11. In view of the above, we do not find any infirmity in the impugned order of detention to merit setting aside of the same. The petition is, therefore, dismissed.


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