1. The petitioner who is the wife of the detenu has challenged in this writ petition the order of detention issued by the Government of Maharashtra in respect of the detenu known as Shakeel Ahmed alias Mohamed Shakeel alias Shakeel alias Shakil alias Javedali Akhtarali alias Dhobi alias Takku alias Taklu alias Airport, dt. 7th November 1981 and the continued detention of the detenu on various grounds. It is an admitted position that in pursuance of the said detention order dated 7-11-1981 the detenu was detained on 26th July, 1982 and the grounds of detention together with all the relevant documents referred to and relied upon were supplied to the detenu.
2. Shri Jethmalani the learned counsel appearing for the detenu has contended before us that the ground No. 2 referred to in para 5.2 of the grounds of detention which is based on secret intelligence report dated 14-5-1980 and the ground No. 3 referred to in para 5.3 of the grounds of detention based on secret intelligence reports dated 20-1-1981 and 29-1-1981 are wholly irrelevant since they are not proximately connected with the detenu. So far as the ground No. 4 incorporated in para 6.1 and onwards is concerned, it is contended by him that the said ground is also invalid because the statement recorded earliest in point of time dated 17-5-1981 of Bharat Saple was neither placed before nor considered by the detaining authority while passing the order of detention. The said statement of Bharat dated 17-5-1981 which was first in point of time was vital and material document which would have affected the subjective satisfaction of the detaining authority one way or the other and in view of the non-consideration of this vital and material document the satisfaction on that count is wholly vitiated. In support of this contention he has placed reliance upon the decision of the Supreme Court in : 1979CriLJ203 Ashadevi v. K. Shivraj. He has also contended that if these 3 grounds are held to be bad in law, then provisions of Section 5A of the COFEPOSA Act have no application to the facts and circumstances of the present case. According to the learned counsel the residue clause (v) of Section 5A will have to be read ejusdem generis with the other clauses. Clauses (i) to (iv) of Section 5A deal with the quality of material which will vitiate the grounds of detention and therefore the generic words used in clause (v) will have to be given restrictive meaning by applying the principle of ejusdem generis and if so read the present case is not covered by Section 5A at all. He also contended that clauses (i) to (iv) are not exhaustive but are enumerative. A conclusion not based on rationally probative material or a case where the ground is declared as invalid because of its staleness or that it is unintelligible then such defects alone are covered by Clause (v) since it is akin to and similar to the defects enumerated in clauses (i) to (iv). It will not cover a defect which is based on non-application of mind or non-consideration of vital material since in that case the said defect is not referrable to any particular ground of detention. According to the learned counsel such defect or invalidity is outside the scope of Section 5A. According to Shri Jethmalani in enacting the residue clause (v), the intention of the legislature was to narrow down the scope of invalidity and to cover those cases where a ground is said to be invalid because of the quality of the factual material. The word 'invalid' used in clause (v) if read in its context means, bad in law since the factual material on which it is based is defective. Even on pure interpretation of clause (v), it will not apply to a case where the ground is vitiated because of non-application of mind to a material and vital document or fact, since such defect is wholly outside the purview of Section 5A of the Act. He then contended that even on merits the first ground, which relates to the seizure of contraband goods from the vessel 'Manek Prasad' is also otherwise invalid. According to Shri Jethmalani even though more than 15 statements of Bhagwanbhai were recorded, in none of these statements he had involved the detenu, Bhagwanbhai was detained on 18-6-1981 and thereafter for the first time in his statement recorded on 21-7-1981 he has made a reference to the name of the detenu. The so-called confessional statement made by Bhagwanbhai is wholly involuntary. The detaining authority has not taken into consideration the material and vital fact that the shipping bill seized from Bhagwanbhai was not forthcoming. The said shipping bill obviously contained the names of persons involved. Suppression of this material documents and its non-consideration by the detaining authority has vitiated the subjective satisfaction qua this ground also. In support of this contention Shri Jethmalani made a reference to the fact that when Bhagwanbhai was produced before the Magistrate on 7-8-1981 he has state before him that the Customs Officer has told him that if he discloses by way of statement as to whom the goods belong he will get rid of the charge. This in terms amounts to inducement and this vital and material aspect of the matter is also not considered by the detaining authority. Therefore on this count also the said ground is vitiated because of non-application of mind.
3. It is not disputed by Shri Kotwal the learned Public Prosecutor that the first statement of Bharat dated 17-5-1981 was neither placed before nor considered by the detaining authority when the present order of detention was issued. In its affidavit the detaining authority has stated that when the orders of detention were issued qua other detenus the said statement was also before him. However, from the affidavit it is not clear as to whether the said statement was before the detaining authority when the impugned order of detention was issued. The affidavit also does not make it clear as to when the orders in cases of other detenus were issued and what was the time-lag. Therefore reading the affidavit of the detaining authority as a whole it can safely be said that when the order of detention was issued qua present detenu the statement of Bharat dated 17-5-81 was neither placed before it nor was considered by the detaining authority. Therefore on that ground alone it will have to be held that the ground of detention based on seizure of the contraband goods in the vessel known as Arab Dhow Dastagiri is vitiated, and therefore, will have to be excluded from consideration.
4. So far as the other 2 (two) grounds incorporated in paras 5.2 and 5.3 are concerned, it is clear that they have no nexus direct or indirect with the present detenu. The said grounds read as under :
'Secret intelligence report dated 14-5-1980 received by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Bombay, indicated that one vessel named 'Sagar Laxmi' had left for Dubai from Jamsalaya area on or about 14-4-1980 with a large quantity of silver and that you were wanting to send 150 to 300 pieces of 17' Japanese Television sets by the said vessel to India from Dubai.
5.3. Secret Intelligence report dated 29-1-1981 received by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence. Bombay, indicate that your brother Ashok had sent a craft from Dubai on 15-1-1981 for Bombay with about 50,000 watches and other contraband goods and at that time you were in Bombay, that Shamshi had entrusted the crossing and landing job to Yusuf Batata, that the seizure of a trawler named 'Kusumam' with contraband wrist watches, textiles etc. valued about Rs. 18 lakhs by the Customs officers on 28-1-1981 is of the same goods referred to above'.
From the bare reading of these two grounds it is clear that but for a bald and vague statement that the detenu wanted to send 150 to 300 pieces of 17' Japanese Television sets by the vessel named Sagar Laxmi to India from Dubai, it is not even alleged that the detenu had in fact sent these television sets or that the vessel Sagar Laxmi had ever touched Indian shore. So far as the ground incorporated in para 5.3, is concerned though in the grounds of detention a reference to the detenu's brother Ashafak, is made it is not even suggested that the detenu himself had any direct or indirect connection with the said contraband goods. Therefore it can safely be said that these two grounds are neither relevant nor they are proximately connected with the present detenu. This position is not disputed by Shri Kotwal the learned Public Prosecutor. However, according to Shri Kotwal the order of detention could be sustained on the first ground alone i.e. the seizure of contraband goods from the vessel known as 'Manek Prasad' referred to in para 1.1 of the order of detention. The said para reads as under :-
'1.1 That working on a secret information received on 30-1-1981 the officers of the Marine and Preventive Wing of the Collectorate of Customs (Preventive), Bombay, intercepted a vessel named 'Manek Prasad' BLS-512 in the sea off Worli, at Bombay on 2-2-1981 at about 2 a.m. and thereafter seized therefrom the following goods as none of the seven persons found on board, had any document to prove legal import of the foreign goods found therein :
(a) 8,807 wrist-watches of foreign origin, valued at Rs. 18,98,935/- contained in 16 gunny covered packages.
(b) Textiles such as shirting, dress material and sarees all of foreign origin, valued at about Rs. 18,20,675/-, contained in 100 gunny covered packages.
(c) Miscellaneous goods such as cassette recorders, binoculars, dress material, suitings, shirting, etc. valued at Rs. 18,769/- found in 8 suit cases :
(d) Indian currency of Rs. 1540/-. U.A.E. Dhirams 188 approximately, one old wrist watch Garuda with strap valued Rs. 20 and some documents found with Shri Bhagwanbhai Chhanabhai Tandel.
(e) Vessel 'Manek Prasad' - BLS-512 valued Rs. 3 lakhs and some documents found in the engine room of the vessel and in the baggage of Shri Balkrishna Dhaku Ramgadkar'.
Then in sub-paras 1, 2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 4.1, 4.2 and 5.1 a detailed reference is made to the material which connects the detenu with the smuggling of contraband goods seized from the vessel 'Manek Prasad'.
5. Shri Bhagwanbhai in his letters dated 26th the 28th June, 1981 and 8th July and 9th July, 1981 addressed to the officers of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence indicated that he wanted to disclose certain important points relating to the case in which he was involved and requested that his statement should be recorded. In his statement dated 21st July, 1981 Shri Bhagwanbhai stated that the goods seized from him belong to S/Shri Shashim, Shakiel Ahmed (present detenu) and Yusuf Batata. The statements of Bhagwanbhai were then recorded on 6th, 8th, 20th and 22nd August, 1981 and 28th September, 1981. In these statements also he has involved the detenu. In subsequent paras of the grounds of detention relevant recitals from the statements of Bhagwanbhai are reproduced. On 19th of August, 1981 Bhagwanbhai's statement under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was recorded by the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate in which also he stated that on arrival in India the goods were to be handed over among others to the detenu. Shri Dhirubhai, Maganbhai and Jagatsingh also identified the detenu to be the person who was involved in the smuggling activities.
6. Therefore it will have to be seen as to whether on this admitted position. Section 5A of the COFEPOSA Act is applicable to the facts and circumstances of the present case. The Section 5A of the COFEPOSA Act reads as under :-
'5A. Grounds of detention severable : Where a person has been detained in pursuance of an order of detention under sub-section (1) of Section 3 which has been made on two or more grounds such order of detention shall be deemed to have been made separately on each of such grounds and accordingly :-
(a) such order shall not be deemed to be invalid or inoperative merely because one or some of the grounds is or are -
(iii) non relevant,
(iv) not connected or not proximately connected with such person, or
(v) invalid for any other reason whatsoever and it is not therefore possible to hold that the Government or officer making such order would have been satisfied as provided in sub-section (1) of Section 3 with reference to the remaining ground or grounds and made the order of detention :
(b) the Government or officer making the order of detention shall be deemed to have made the order of detention under the said sub-section (1) after being satisfied as provided in that sub-section with reference to the remaining ground or grounds.'
7. The Supreme Court had an occasion to consider the scope and ambit of Section 5A of the COFEPOSA Act, in the State of Gujarat v. Chamanlal Manjibhai Soni, : 1981CriLJ1042 . While construing the provisions of Section 5A and overruling the decision of the Gujarat High Court, this is what the Supreme Court observed in para 2 of its judgment :
'It is manifest that whenever the allegations of smuggling are made against a person who is sought to be detained by way of preventing further smuggling, there is bound to be one act or several acts with the common object of smuggling goods which is sought to be prevented by the Act. It would therefore, not be correct to say that the object of the Act constitutes the ground for detention. If this is so in no case there could be any other ground for detention, except the one which relates to smuggling. In our opinion, this is neither the object of the Act nor can such an object be spelt out from the language in which Section 5A is couched. What the Act provides is that where there are a number of grounds of detention covering various activities of the detenu spreading over a period or periods, each activity is a separate ground by itself and if one of the grounds is irrelevant, vague or unspecific, then that will not vitiate the order of detention. The reason for enacting Sec. 5-A was the fact that several High Courts took the view that where several grounds are mentioned in an order of detention and one of them is found to be either vague or irrelevant then the entire order is vitiated because it cannot be predicated to what extent the subjective satisfaction of the authority could have been influenced by the vague or irrelevant ground. It was to displace the basis of these decisions that the Parliament enacted Section 5A in order to make it clear that even if one of the grounds is irrelevant but the other grounds are clear and specific that by itself would not vitiate the order of detention'.
Therefore the provisions of Section 5A will have to be construed and interpreted in this background.
8. It is not necessary to make a detailed reference to the various decisions cited before us as to when and in what circumstances the rule of law generally known as ejusdem generis rule will apply to a particular statutory provision, since the said decisions are summarised by the Supreme Court in Jage Ram v. State of Haryana, : 3SCR871 of the said decision read as under :
'13. The ejusdem generis rule is not a rule of law but is merely a rule of construction to aid the Courts to find out the true intention of the legislature. If a given provision is plain and unambiguous and the legislative intent is clear, there is no occasion to call into aid that rule : Ejusdem generis rule is explained in Halsbury's Laws of England (3rd Edn.) Vol. 36. p. 397, paragraph 599 thus :'As a rule, where in a statute there are general words following particular and specific words, the general words must be confined to things of the same kind as those specified, although this, as a rule of construction, must be applied with caution, and subject to the primary rule that, statutes are to be construed in accordance with the intention of Parliament. For the ejusdem rule to apply, the specific words must constitute a category, class or genus; if they do constitute such a category, class or genus, then only things which belong to that category, class or genus fall within the general words .........'
14. It is observed in Craies on Statute Law (6th Edn.), p. 181 that :-
'The ejusdem generis rule is one to be applied with caution and not pushed too far, as in the case of many decisions, which treat it as automatically applicable, and not as being, what it is, a mere presumption in the absence of other indications of the intention of the legislature. The modern tendency of the law, it was said, is 'to attenuate the application of the rule of ejusdem generis.' To invoke the application of the ejusdem generis rule there must be a distinct genus or category. The specific words must apply not to different objects of a widely differing character but to something which can be called a class or kind of objects'.
15. According to Sutherland Statutory Construction (3rd Edn.). Vol. II, p. 395 for the application of the doctrine of ejusdem generis, the following conditions must exist :
(i) The statute contains an enumeration by specific words;
(ii) The members of the enumeration constitute a class :
(iii) The class is not exhausted by the enumeration;
(iv) A general term follows the enumeration and
(v) There is not clearly manifested an intent that the general term be given a broader meaning than the doctrine requires;
16. The scope of the ejusdem generis rule has been considered by this Court in several decisions. In State of Bombay v. Ali Gulshan, : 2SCR867 it was observed :-
'Apart from the fact that the rule must be confined within narrow limits, and general or comprehensive words should receive their full and natural meaning unless they are clearly restrictive in their intendment, it is requisite that there must be a distinct genus, which must comprise more than one species, before the rule can be applied'. In Lilavati Bai v. State of Bombay, : 1SCR721 it was observed :-'The rule of ejusdem generis is intended to be applied where general words have been used following particular and specific words of the same nature on the established rule of construction that the legislature presumed to use the general words in a restricted sense; that is to say, as belonging to the same genus as the particular and specific words. Such a restricted meaning has to be given to words of general import only where the context of the whole scheme of legislation requires it. But where the context and the object and mischief of the enactment do not require such restricted meaning to be attached to words of general import, it becomes the duty of the Courts to give those words their plain and ordinary meaning.'
17. The same view was reiterated by this Court in K. K. Kochini v. States of Madras and Kerala, : 3SCR887 . Shri Jethmalani has also made a reference to a later decision of the Supreme Court in : 1SCR533 Amar Chandra Chakraborty v. Collector of Excise, Govt. of Tripura, Agartala, which practically reiterates the law laid down in Jage Ram's case : 3SCR871 . Therefore, restrictive meaning could be given to a clause or word of general import only where the context and the scheme of the legislation require it. But where the context and the object and mischief of the enactment do not require such restricted meaning to be attached to words of general import, it becomes the duty of the Courts to give those words their plain and ordinary meaning. In support of his contention Shri Jethmalani has placed reliance on certain observations in Maxwell on the Interpretation of Statutes (Twelfth Edition) at pages 297 and 301 and has contended that even the word 'whatsoever' will have to be given a restrictive meaning having regard to the principle of ejusdem generis. However, it is worthwhile to note in this context that in The Sun Fire Office v. Hart (1889) 14 AC 98, such a word was construed otherwise and it was held that :
'The canon is attended with no difficulty, except in its application. Whether it applies at all, and if so, what effect should be given to it, must in every case depend upon the precise terms, subject-matter, and context of the clause under construction'.
9. It is a well known cannon of construction that ejusdem generis rule is one to be applied with caution and not pushed too far. Normally every word in a statute ought to be construed in its primary and natural sense unless secondary or more limited sense is required by the subject or context. Ultimately the principle of law generally known as ejusdem generis rule is really a principle of assumed intention of the statute. In the present case if clause (v) of Section 5A(a) is read in the context of other sub-clauses it is quite obvious that by the said residue clause the legislature wanted to cover all other reasons which would invalidate a ground of detention. The words 'invalidate for any other reason whatsoever', would in our opinion exclude the rule of ejusdem generis since the said clause is all comprehensive and could not be construed in a limited sense. As observed by the Supreme Court in Chamanlal Manjibhai Soni's case : 1981CriLJ1042 what the said provision provides is that where there are a number of grounds of detention covering various activities of the detenu spreading over a period or periods each activity is a separate ground by itself and if one of the grounds is irrelevant, vague or unspecific, then that will not vitiate the order of detention. The reason for enacting the Section 5A was the fact that several High Courts took the view that where several grounds are mentioned in the order of detention and one of them is found to be either vague or irrelevant, then the entire order is vitiated because it cannot be predicated to what extent the subjective satisfaction of the detaining authority could have been influenced by the vague or irrelevant ground too. It was to displace the basis of these decisions that the Parliament enacted Section 5A in order to make it clear that even if one of the grounds is irrelevant but other grounds are clear and specific that by itself would not vitiate the order of detention. From this object of the legislature it is quite clear that Section 5A was deliberately generally worded by the legislature to cover wider area and field than the one covered by the earlier sub-clauses. The context of the clause clearly suggests that by the said residue clause it is intended to cover all other reasons which are not specifically referred to in sub-clauses (i) to (iv) but which can render a ground invalid. To provide for an effective remedy to cure the mischief the last and residue clause is made all comprehensive so as to cover all other reasons which could render a ground of detention invalid. The word 'whatsoever' as a rule excludes any limitation or qualification and therefore in our view clause (v) will have to be understood in utmost generality and in its comprehensive sense and cannot be read as ejusdem generis. If the interpretation suggested by Shri Jethmalani is accepted, then the very object and purpose behind the enactment of Section 5A will be defeated. In the present case it is neither easy nor possible to construe various sub-clauses of Section 5A as constituting one category or a class. On the other hand the very language of sub-clause (v) and the object intended to be achieved clearly indicate the contrary intention of the legislature to exclude the application of the rule of ejusdem generis.
10. So far as the ground No. 1 which is based on seizure of the contraband goods in the vessel named Manek Prasad is concerned, it is not possible for us to accept the contention of Shri Jethmalani for more than one reason. It is well settled that in a habeas corpus petition of this type it is not open to this court to enter into the controversy relating to the truthfulness of the allegations made in the grounds of detention or to substitute or test the subjective satisfaction objectively.
11. It is well settled that in a case of this kind, investigation as to the truthfulness of facts forming the basis of the grounds of detention cannot be embarked on. In Khudiram Das v. State of West Bengal, : 2SCR832 , it is held by the Supreme Court that the power of detention is clearly a preventive measure. It does not partake in any manner of the nature of punishment. It is taken by way of precaution to prevent mischief to the community. Since every preventive measure is based on the principle that a person should be prevented from doing something which, if left free and unfettered it is reasonably probable he would do, it must necessarily proceed in all cases, to some extent, on suspicion or anticipation as distinct from proof. Preventive detention is largely precautionary and based on suspicion. Therefore the court is the least appropriate tribunal to investigate into the circumstances of suspicion on which such anticipatory action must be largely based. These are not the matters susceptible of objective determination and they could not be intended to be judged by objective standards. Their determination is deliberately and advisably left by the Legislature to the subjective satisfaction of the detaining authority which by reason of its special position, experience and expertise would be best fitted to decide them. The court cannot on a review of the grounds substitute its own opinion for that of the detaining authority. This would clearly show that the power of detention is not quasi-judicial power. In this context a reference could usefully be made to the following observations of the Supreme Court in State of Gujarat v. Adam Kasam Bhaya, : 1981CriLJ1686 :-
'Now to turn to the merit. The order of High Court is clearly erroneous. The High Court has misdirected itself to its jurisdiction to inquire into the order of detention by an authority. The High Court, accepting the contention of the counsel of the detenu before it, has held that there was no material on record to prove knowledge of the detenu with the contraband goods in the vehicle. By implication, the High Court has erroneously imported the rule of criminal jurisprudence that the guilt of an accused must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt into the law of detention. The High Court in its writ jurisdiction under Art. 226 of the Constitution is to see whether the order of detention has been passed on any materials before it. If it is found that the order has been based by the detaining authority on materials on record, then the court cannot go further and examine whether the material was adequate or not, which is the function of an appellate authority or Court. It can examine the material on record only for the purpose of seeing whether the order of detention has been based on no material. The satisfaction mentioned in Section 3 of the Act is the satisfaction of the detaining authority and not of the Court.'
To say the least Shri Jethmalani is asking us to reappreciate the whole evidence on record over again and then to come to a different conclusion which is wholly impermissible.
12. From the statement of Bhagwanbhai made on 21-7-1981 and his subsequent confessional statement made before the Magistrate it is clear that present detenu was concerned with the contraband goods. It is no doubt true that it is argued by Shri Jethmalani that the confessional statement of Bhagwanbhai in itself is not voluntary and is the result of an inducement. For this proposition he has placed reliance upon a question asked by the Magistrate and answer, given by Bhagwanbhai when he was initially produced before the Magistrate on 17-8-1981. However, it cannot be forgotten that when he was again produced on 19-8-1981 Bhagwanbhai in clearest terms stated that no police officer of customs officer had given him any threat, coercion or inducement to make the confession. The first part of the confessional statement dated 17-8-1981 was also placed before the detaining authority. After considering the said statement in its entirety, the present detention order was issued by the detaining authority. It is also true that in para 3 of the statement Bhagwanbhai had referred to a shipping bill which he gave to the customs officers and it is not forthcoming. However, according to the detaining authority no such shipping bill was ever seized from Bhagwanbhai. The panchnama of the seizure does not include the shipping bill. It is an admitted position that this shipping bill was not placed before the detaining authority as it was not seized at all. But for the conjectural contention that this shipping bill might have contained names of the persons concerned, there is no other material on record from which such an inference could be drawn. Therefore it cannot be said that the satisfaction arrived at by the detaining authority in that behalf is in any way invalid or is any way vitiated nor it could be said that the detaining authority had not applied its mind to any vital or material fact in that behalf. Apart from the statement, of Bhagwanbhai, Dhirubhai Patel Maganbhai Patel and Jagatsingh Rawat the other crew members have also identified the detenu. In these circumstances it cannot be said that any false case is being concocted by the detaining authority to falsely implicate the detenu in such a serious crime. To say the least the subjective satisfaction arrived at by the detaining authority is based on the material placed before it and same cannot be termed as perverse or unreasonable.
13. It is well settled that an order of detention could also be based on a single solitary act attributed to a person. In the present case the volume and magnitude of the smuggling activity together with the nature and value of the contraband goods seized, clearly indicate its propensity. The smuggling was well planned and pre-meditated. Hence the detention order could have been reasonably based on this ground alone. Therefore applying the provisions of Section 5A of the COFEPOSA Act, we have no hesitation in sustaining the present detention order on the basis of the first ground alone i.e. seizure of the contraband goods from the vessel known as 'Manek Prasad'.
14. The contention of Shri Jethmalani that the provisions of Section 5A cannot apply to this case because of non-consideration of the vital document i.e. Bhagwanbhai's statement qua ground No. 4 cannot also be accepted. The said statement had no general application. It was restricted to ground No. 4 alone i.e. seizure of the contraband goods from the vessel 'Dastagiri' and had no reflection on any other grounds whatsoever. Therefore by non-consideration by the said statement the validity of the ground No. 4 alone was affected. Because of the non-consideration of the said statement it cannot be said that the order of detention as a whole stands vitiated. The said defect had an effect of invalidating the ground No. 4 alone and not others. Even remotely it cannot affect the subjective satisfaction so far as other valid ground is concerned. Therefore in our opinion to this case Section 5A aptly applies.
15. In the result therefore petition fails and is dismissed. Rule is discharged.
We are informed that at present the detenu is in hospital and obviously will continue in hospital till he is discharged by the medical authorities. Having regard to the facts and circumstances of the present case we direct that even after his discharge by the medical authorities the detenu should be detained in Bombay prison.
16. Petition dismissed.