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Keho Bam Hazarika Vs. the Government of Assam - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
Subject;Criminal
CourtGuwahati
Decided On
Judge
AppellantKeho Bam Hazarika
RespondentThe Government of Assam
Excerpt:
.....it is necessary with a view to preventing an individual from acting in any manner prejudicial to public safety and the maintenance of public order, may order him to be detained. it is the detaining authority that must be satisfied that detention of an individual is necessary in order that no act prejudicial to public safety and maintenance of public order is committed. 'satisfaction' only means that the detaining authority 'must be in fact satisfied',or, in other words, honestly satisfied'.the reasonableness or otherwise of the satisfaction which forms the basis of the action of the detaining authority is not open to question in any court. this is a statement of fact and if the government felt satisfied that he had been acting in a manner prejudicial to public safety, etc, it would be..........nowgong, under the influence of the g, p. i, have been acting in a manner prejudicial to the public safety and the maintenance of public order.(b) that you have endangered public peace and tranquillity at nowgong by urging lawless activity and fomenting unrest among the students.(c) that you have been propagating communism among the students in nowgong which is subversive of law and orders.(d) that during detention you resorted to lawless and violent activity inside the jail and thereby obstructed jail administration.the petitioner has not sent any representation to the government. in his petition he has contended that the grounds on which he has been detained are baseless and false, and therefore his detention is illegal. he has dealt with each of the grounds in his petition to.....
Judgment:

Ram Labhaya J.

1. This is a petition under Section 491, Criminal P.C., from a security prisoner from Nowgong Jail. The order of detention was passed by the Government of Asaam on 3-10-1919 under Sections (1)(a), Assam Maintenance of Public Order Act, 1947, as amended. The order directed that the petitioner shall be detained for a period of six months with effect from 7-10-1949. A copy of the grounds of detention was sent to the petitioner along with the order and he was informed that he was at liberty to make a representation against the order of detention. He was further informed that his representation should reach the Government; not later than 30-10-1949. The grounds of detention were as follows:

(a) That you, being an active member of the Students' Federation, Nowgong, under the influence of the G, P. I, have been acting in a manner prejudicial to the public safety and the maintenance of public order.

(b) That you have endangered public peace and tranquillity at Nowgong by urging lawless activity and fomenting unrest among the students.

(c) That you have been propagating Communism among the students in Nowgong which is subversive of law and orders.

(d) That during detention you resorted to lawless and violent activity inside the Jail and thereby obstructed Jail administration.

The petitioner has not sent any representation to the Government. In his petition he has contended that the grounds on which he has been detained are baseless and false, and therefore his detention is illegal. He has dealt with each of the grounds in his petition to this Court.

2. Under Section 2, the Provincial Government if satisfied, that it is necessary with a view to preventing an individual from acting in any manner prejudicial to public safety and the maintenance of public order, may order him to be detained. The intention of the Legislature is clear. It is the detaining authority that must be satisfied that detention of an individual is necessary in order that no act prejudicial to public safety and maintenance of public order is committed. The satisfaction contemplated by the section is satisfaction in point of fact. In the words of the learned Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court in Durga Das v. Rex A.I. R. (36) 1949 ALL. 148, at p. 166 : 50 Cr.L, J. 214 F.B. 'satisfaction' only means that the detaining authority 'must be in fact satisfied', or, in other words, 'honestly satisfied'. The reasonableness or otherwise of the satisfaction which forms the basis of the action of the detaining authority is not open to question in any Court.

3. In this case the grounds of detention were supplied to the petitioner. The petitioner has tried to answer the allegation made against him in these grounds. He has not demanded further particulars nor has he expresse this inability to meet the charges levelled against him by reason of the Provincial Government not giving necessary or full particulars. The point: for consideration in this case, therefore, only is whether the grounds on which the Provincial Government has passed the order of detention are valid grounds of detention or not.

4. The first ground was that the petitioner being, an active member of the Students' Federation, Nowgong, under the influence of the C. P, I., has been acting in a manner prejudicial to public safety and the maintenance of public order. The petitioner has pointed out that being an active member of the Students' Federation under the influence of the Communist Party of India by itself would not be a valid ground for detention. To this extent the contention may be right. But what was said in this ground is that he has been acting in a manner prejudicial to public safety and the maintenance of public order. This is a statement of fact and if the Government felt satisfied that he had been acting in a manner prejudicial to public safety, etc, it would be a valid ground for detention.

5. In ground no. 2, it has been stated that the petitioner had endangered public peace and tranquillity by urging lawless activity and fomenting unrest among the students, The petitioner has denied this allegation. The allegation refers obviously to a certain event or occurrence though the date of the occurrence is not stated. The petitioner had no difficulty in answering the allegation. He urged that the allegation is 'a lie', and has suggested that during the period before the date of the order he did not make 'any anti-Government or fomenting speech'. The charge against him is that he had urged lawless activity and was fomenting unrest among the students and thus endangered public safety. This need not necessarily have happened by public speeches or utterances. According to the Provincial Government public peace and tranquillity were endangered and the urge for it came from the petitioner. If the Government is satisfied about this statement, this ground will not be open to any valid objection.

6. The fourth ground of detention was that during his detention the petitioner resorted to lawless and violent activity inside the Jail and actually obstructed Jail administration. The petitioner gives an evasive reply to this. Ho states that if he did something or refused to do something, he could have been punished under the rules relating to Jail administration and his conduct in the Jail should not have been included as a ground of detention. This is not a correct view of the matter. The action contemplated under the Act is preventive. The detaining authority under the Act may feel satisfied from the past conduct or behaviour of an individual that ha is likely to act in a manner prejudicial to public safety and maintenance of public order. It may have information about his future intentions. Grounds (b) and (d) deal with the past conduct of the petitioner and if this conduct was such that it gave rise to the belief in the mind of the detaining authority and satisfied it that there was the necessity of action under the Act in order to prevent the petitioner from acting in a manner prejudicial to public safety and maintenance of public order, the grounds cannot be held to be invalid, The difficulty may arise in cases where the Provincial Government or the detaining authority acts on information about the future intention of an individual. But where past conduct is relied on and it is referred to and described in the grounds of detention, there can be no reasonable objection to the validity of the grounds. As the validity of the grounds (a), (b) and (d), is not open to any objection, the order of detention cannot be held to be without jurisdiction or mala fide. The custody in these circumstances would not be illegal.

7. It may be observed that ground (c) cannot be regarded as a valid ground. Its validity is open to obvious question. Mere preaching of Communism amongst students may not by itself be subversive of law and order. The Communist Party in India has not been declared unlawful. Even if the Communist Party were an unlawful organisation, the conduct of the member concerned will have to be examined before it could be said that his detention is necessary with a view to preventing him from acting in a manner prejudicial to public safety and maintenance of public order. All that this ground states is that the petitioner was propagating Communism among the students which is subversive of law and order. This is not an accurate statement. Communism may be propagated in a way that need not be subversive of law and order. If petitioner propagated adoption of Communism as creed by methods unconstitutional or unlawful, his conduct or activity could be said to be subversive of law and order but not otherwise. But thi3 defect in ground (c) does not make the custody illegal as I have come to the conclusion that grounds (a), (b) and (d) constitute a valid basis for the detention of the petitioner. The petition is dismissed.

8. Thadani C. J—While I agree with the order proposed by my learned brother, I wish to say that in my opinion, it is immaterial whether grounds A and C, which my learned brother regards as defective, are defective or not. The language in which the grounds are couched is the language of the detaining authority, and not of this Court. As I have observed in another petition in which we have delivered judgment to-day, the grounds stated by the detaining authority are strictly not a part of the order in the sense that they can affect the validity of the order, for the validity of the order depends solely upon the satisfaction of the detaining authority as to the necessity for detaining a person prejudicial to public safety and the maintenance of public order, apart from the grounds which it has stated. For instance, the satisfaction of the detaining authority may have been derived from information which the detaining authority is empowered by statute to withhold in the public interest.

9. Ground a consists of 2 parts : firstly, it contains a statement which the detaining authority regards as a fact, namely that the person sought to be detained is an active member of the Students' Federation, Nowgong, which is under the influence of the Communist Party of India. Secondly, that, as such member, he has been acting in a manner prejudicial to the public safety and the maintenance of public order.

10. It may be conceded that membership simpliciter of the Federation may not be prejudicial to public safety and the maintenance of public order ; but if a member of such a Federation has been acting in a manner prejudicial to the public safety and the maintenance of public order, and the Provincial Government is satisfied that it is necessary to detain him with a view to preventing him from acting in a manner prejudicial to the public safety and the maintenance of public order, the validity of the order cannot be questioned simply because in the ground is stated a fact which may not be prejudicial to public safety and the maintenance of public order. The criterion for the validity of an order of detention under the Security Act is the satisfaction of the detaining authority as to the necessity for detaining him with a view to preventing him from acting in a manner pre-judicial to public safety and maintenance of public order.

11. The powers of a High Court under B. 491, Criminal P.C., are circumscribed by the language of that section, A High Court must con. tent itself, where the order of detention is free from the taint of mala fides, to regard what is stated by the detaining authority, namely that it is satisfied as to the necessity for detaining a person with a view to preventing him from acting in a manner prejudicial to the public safety and the maintenance of public order, as a fact, and not to question it because in its opinion the grounds stated by the detaining authority are inadequate or defective.

12. As to ground. C, it is sufficient to say that ft means—'you have been propagating such Commonism among the students Nowgoing as is subversive of law and order.' If from the facts, the detaining authority is satisfied that it is necessary to detain the person concerned with a view to preventing him from acting in a manner prejudicial to public safety or the maintenance of public order, it is not within the competence of a High Court to say that it should not have bean satisfied.


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