Vishnu Sahai, J.
1. Through this Writ Petition, preferred under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the petitioner, who describes herself as the wife of the detenu Hanumant Kathod Fulore, has impugned the order dated 11.10.2000 passed by Respondent No. 2 Mr. S. M. Shangari. Commissioner of Police. Thane, detaining the dclcnu under sub-section 1 of Section 3 of the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Slumlords, Bootleggers, Dru Offenders and Dangerous Persons Act. 1981. (hereinafter referred to as M.P.D.A. Act.)
2. The detention order alongwith the grounds of detention, which are also dated 11.10.2000, was served on the detenu on 16.10.2000 and their true copies have been annexed as Exhibit A collectively to this petition.
3. The prejudicial activities of the detenu necessitating the issuance of the impugned order are contained in the grounds of detention. Their perusal shows that the impugned order is founded on two C. Rs. namely, C.R. No. 1-56/1999 under Section 326. 325 r/w 34 of the I.P.C. registered on the basis of a complaint dated 11.3.1999 lodged by Rajesh Thawaru Chavan at Ambernath Police Station and C.R.No. 1-46/2000 under Sections 147. 148. 149. 452, 324, 504 and 506(2) of the I.P.C. registered on the basis of a complaint dated 23.2.2000 lodged by Rajesh Shlrke at Ambernath Police Station and in camera statements of two witnesses, namely, A and B, which were recorded on 7.7.2000.
4. Since in our view, a reference to the prejudicial activities of the detenu contained in the said C.Rs. and the in camera statements is necessary for the disposal of this Writ Petition, we are adverting to them.
4A. The details contained in the C.Rs are as under :
We begin with C.R. No. 1-56/1999.
The complainant Rajesh Thawaru Chavan is a Rickshaw driver residing at Shastrinagar, Swaminagar, behind Ambal Hotel, House No. 368, Ambernath. On 11.3.1999 at about 8 p.m.. while he was standing near the auto rickshaw of his friend Guddu at Shivaji Chowk, Ambernath, the detenu armed with a chopper alongwith his associates. Pandit Krisna @ Kisan Fulore armed with a sword and Bahrain Damodar Bhoir @ Mhatre armed with a steel rod and Prakash Fulore, approached him and took him in a auto rickshaw to a lonely place near Ekvecra Apartment in Shivaji Nagar. Ambernath. Thereafter, the detenu started abusing him in relation to an incident which had taken place 4 to 5 days ago in connection with a quarrel between his younger brother and Rajesh Chavan and then all of them assaulted him with chopper, sword and iron rod. Blows with fists and kicks were also inflicted on him. The complainant Rajesh Chavan was first admitted in Central Hospital. Ulhasnagar and then at K.E.M. Hospital, Mumbai.
The details in respect of C.R. No. 1-46/2000 in short are as under :
Since on 16.9.1999, at about 2 p.m., one Shailcsh Shirke. a resident of Jagruti Galli, Plot No. 10, Vadavali Section. Ambernath, had assaulted Mahesh Fulore. brother of the detenu, the detenu became enraged and alongwith his associates armed with sword, wooden log and choppers, etc. surrounded the house of Rajesh Shirke. the brother of Shailesh Shirke. on the same day at 6 p.m. and assaulted Rajesh Shirke and enquired about the whereabouts of Shailesh Shirke.
48. The details of in camera statements are as under :
Witness A in his statement recorded on 7.7.2000 stated that when at about 8 p.m., a month ago. he was returning home by Cabin Road, Ambernath, the detenu alongwith his associates Pandit Fulore and some others came and accosted him. The detenu put a revolver on his stomach and asked him to pay Rs. 1,000/-. He showed his inability to pay the said amount. On this, Pandit Fulore slapped him and took out Rs. 400/- from his purse. The near by shopkeepers closed their shops and passers by ran away and no one came to his rescue.
Witness B in his statement, which was recorded on 7.7.2000, stated that one day about 9 p.m. 15 to 16 days prior, while he was packing his material after finishing his day's business, the detenu alongwith his associates - Pandit Fulore and others came at his stall and ransacked the fruits kept by him for sale and inflicted blows on him. Thereafter, Pandit Fulore whipped out a chopper saying his father would have to pay and broke open the cash box and took out Rs. 700/- to Rs. 800/- therefrom. This incident was seen by fruit vendors and rickshaw drivers who. on account of fear of detenu and his associates, did not come forward to help the witness. Thereafter, the detenu forcibly took Rs. 200/- from the pocket of his shirt and threatened him.
5. We may also mention that in the grounds of detention, there is a reference to two anonymous telephone calls made on 13.6.2000 and 1.7.2000 respectively at Ambernath police station and an anonymous application made on 3.7.2000 to the Inspector of Ambernath Police Station.
The call made on 13.6.2000 was to the effect that the detenu and his associates, namely. Pandit Fulore and others threatened that if they were not supported in the Municipal elections, they would do away with the callerand that made on 1.7.2000 was to the effect that the detenu and his associates used to move with weapons like sword in Kansai area and used to threaten that in case they (the caller and others) wanted to do their business, they would have to make monthly payments.
In the anonymous application dated 3.7.2000 which, was purported to have been made by the residents of Ambernath (East) and as mentioned earlier, was addressed to Police Inspector. Ambernath Police Station and which was received by the latter on 7.7.2000. it has been mentioned that the detenu and his associates Pandit Fulore and others had formed a gang; used to extort ransom from shopkeepers: offences against them have been registered; and after being released on ball in them they continued committing such activities. In short, it has been alleged that they have created a reign of terror in Ambernath (East).
But, we may mention that the impugned order is not founded on the said telephone calls and the said application.
6. We have heard the learned Counsel for the parties. Although, in this Writ Petition, Mr. A. R. Pitale, the learned Counsel for the petitioner, has pleaded a large number of grounds, he has only pressed before us three grounds, namely those pleaded as ground Nos. 17(A(. 17(E), and 16. We may mention that ground Nos. 17(E) and 16 are in substance the same ground and the averments made therein are identical.
7. We now propose dealing with the said grounds.We would like to begin with ground No. 17(A).
In short, the said ground is that since the last in camera statement was recorded on 7.7.2000 and the impugned detention order was issued on 11.10.2000, there was a delay of over three months In its issuance; which delay has vitiated the genuineness of the subjective satisfaction of the Detaining Authority.
8. Ground No. 17(A) has been replied to in paragraph 19 of the return of the Detaining Authority and in paragraph 3 of that of Mr. V. K. Targe, Senior Inspector of Police attached to Arnbernath Police Station, the Sponsoring Authority.
In paragraph 19, the Detaining Authority in short, has stated as under:
The incamera statements were recorded on 7.7.2000. The proposal was submitted on 7.8.2000 through proper channel. As per the usual practice, it was submitted to the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime), who went through all the papers and gave his endorsement on 11.8.2000. On 14.8.2000, the proposal was forwarded to the Detaining Authority. On 27.9.2000. the Senior Inspector, P.C.B.. C.I.D., forwarded it to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, who after going through all the papers, gave his endorsement on 28.9.2000. Thereafter the papers were again placed before the Detaining Authority, who opined that it was a fit case for detention and gave his endorsement to the said effect on 5.10.2000 and formulated the draft grounds of detention and forwarded the papers to the Sponsoring Authority for the purpose for fair typing, translation, etc. and on 10.12.2000. after all this had been completed, the papers were again sent to the Detaining Authority, who issued the impugned detention order on 11.10.2000.
In paragraph 19, the Detaining Authority has furnished a threefold reason with regard to the time taken in between 14.8.2000 and 27.9.2000, they being :-
(a) between 16.8.2000 and 26.9.2000. there were seven proposals which were received and scrutinised by him. In addition, there were many detention proposals in respect of which he took decision.
(b) there were as many as 11 holidays, namely on 12.8.2000. 15.8.2000, 21.8.2000, 22.8.2000, 19.8.2000, 26.8.2000, 1.9.2000, 2.9.2000, 9.9.2000, 16.9.2000 and 23.9.2000; and
(c) on account of Ganpati festival, the staff was busy in bandobast.
At the end of para 19, the Detaining Authority has mentioned that looking to the facts of the case and bearing in mind the propensity and potentiality of the detenu to indulge in similar prejudicial activities, it cannot be said that on account of the delay, the nexus between the prejudicial activities of the detenu and the necessity of clamping detention order on him has been snapped.
8A. We now take up the reply furnished in paragraph 3 of the return of Mr. V. K. Targe, Senior Inspector of Police attached to Ambernath Police Station, the Sponsoring Authority.
In short it is as under :
On 7.7.2000, the last in camera statement was recorded and since there were two other proposals, which had to be carefully considered and scrutinised by various authorities and necessary sets of documents had to be typed, xeroxed, etc. the proposal was formulated on 7.8.2000. It has also been mentioned that in the month of August, 2000. there were various bandobasts in jurisdiction of Ambernath Police Station; 12.8.2000. 15.8.2000. 19.8.2000 and 26.8.2000 were holidays; and on 31.8.2000. Prasanna Kulkarni, a Shiv Sena Nagar Sevak was murdered and there was a lot of commotion resulting in deployment of police force in order to ease out the tension in the said area. It is further been mentioned that between 2.9.2000 and 12.9.2000, there was Ganesh Chaturthi bandobast and 9.9.2000, 16.9.2000 and 23.9.2000 were holidays. Regarding the movement of the file and proposal in the month of August, the same explanation has been furnished as that in paragraph 19 of the return of the Detaining Authority. Consequently, we do not want to overburden our judgment by reiterating it.
At the end, it is mentioned that looking to the explanation offered and bearing in mind, the propensity and potentiality of the detenu to commit similar prejudicial activities. It cannot be said that on account of the delay. the live link between the prejudicial activities of the detenu and the rationale of clamping a detention order on him has been snapped.
9. We have examined ground 17(A) and paragraphs 19 and 3 of the return of the Detaining Authority and the Sponsoring Authority respectively wherein the said ground has been replied to. We are constrained to observe that we do not find any merit in the said ground for two reasons. Firstly, because, in our view, in the said returns the delay has been satisfactorily explained. Secondly, because, even assuming that there was some delay, the same in our view, bearing in mind the propensity and potentiality of the detenu to commit prejudicial activities could not have snapped the nexus between the prejudicial activities of the detenu and the rationale of clamping a detention order on him.
10. Mr. Pitale, learned Counsel for the petitioner, strenuously urged that the proposal to detain the detenu in the instant case has proceededat a snail's pace. He urged that it is characterised by lethargy on the part of the Sponsoring Authority, who was oblivious to the promptitude with which a preventive detention proposal had to be initiated. Mr. Pitale urged that since the in camera statements were recorded on 7.7.2000 and the proposal was formulated by the Sponsoring Authority on 8.8.2000, it is manifest that the latter acted with undue indolence and consequently, the impugned detention order warrants to be quashed.
11. We have reflected over Mr. Pitale's submission. In the first place, in our view, the Sponsoring Authority did not act with undue lethargy. The return of the Sponsoring Authority shows that this time was taken by him because apart from the present proposal, there were two other proposals and documents had to be examined, translated and xeroxed before forwarding the proposal.
12. It should be borne in mind that when this Court examines the explanation offered for the delay in the issuance of a detention order, it does not indulge in a microscopic examination of it. but broadly sees whether it is tenable. The angle of enquiry is not whether each day has been explained but whether broadly the concerned officials have acted with promptitude and there has been no indolence or lethargy on their part.
When we bear this angle of approach in mind and examine the explanation offered by the Sponsoring Authority in his return, we do not think that the latter has acted with any laxity.
13. Even assuming that there is some delay in between 7.7.2000 and 8.8.2000. the said delay is not fatal in view of the propensity and potentiality of the detenu, as reflected from the grounds of detention. It is manifest that on account of it, the live link between the prejudicial activities of the detenu and the rationale of clamping a detenion order on him has not been snapped. More than often, it is forgotten that the Courts strike down a detention order on the vice of delay because delay severs the nexus between the prejudicial activities of the detenu and the rationale of clamping a detention order on him. But, where the grounds of detention make it manifest that the propensity and potentiality of the detenu to commit prejudicial activities of the type mentioned in them is so firmly entrenched that it would not wither away with passage of time, delay, provided it is not unduly long would make no difference.
Our view is fortified by the observations contained in paragraph 14 of the off-quoted case of Supreme Court rendered in the case of Abdul Salam v. Union of India,. We are extracting the relevant part of the said paragraph. It reads thus :
'That apart, we arc unable to agree with the learned counsel that becauseof this delay the necessary nexus got severed and that the grounds have becomestale and illusory. In appreciating such a contention, the Court also has to bearin mind the nature of the prejudicial activities indulged by the detenu and thelikelihood of his repeating the same. It is this potentiality in him that has to betaken into consideration and if the Detaining Authority is satisfied on theavailable material then on mere delay as long as it is not highly unreasonable andundue (he Court should not normally strike down the detention on that ground.'
14. In the instant case, as emphatically urged by Miss. Kamat, A.P.P., appearing for the respondents, there is Intrinsic material in the grounds of detention to justify the inference of survival of this propensity and potentiality of the detenu. Miss Kamat urged that the material furnished in the grounds of detention, namely, twoC.Rs., two in camera statements, the two anonymous telephone calls and the application dated 3.7.2000 (we have referred to it in paragraphs 4, 4A, 4B and 5 of this judgment) candidly and categorically shows that the propensity and potentiality of the detenu to commit prejudicial activities of a similar nature was so firmly entrenched that it could not have been defeated by a mere time efflux of slightly over three months.
15. We have reflected Miss Kamat's submission and we make no bones in observing that we find merit in it. It should be borne in mind that whether the propensity and potentiality of the detenu to commit prejudicial activities similar to those spelt out on the grounds of detention would survive or sink as a consequence of efflux of time, would depend on the nature of prejudicial activities stipulated in the grounds of detention. If a perusal of the grounds of detention shows that the prejudicial activities are gross and are being committed in an organised, pre-planned and well-executed manner, the inference would be that they would not wither away with mere passage of time but in the converse situation. It would be opposite. In the instant case, in our view, a perusal of the grounds of detention irresistably leads to the inference that they would not have withered away with a mere time efflux of slightly over three months.
16. For the said reasons, in our view, ground No. 17(A) falls.
17. We now come to grounds 17(E) and 16. As observed earlier, both the grounds are identical. This is manifest from their perusal :
Ground 17(e) reads thus :-
'In view of the fact that the alleged in camera statements were recorded by the inferior authority and it appears that it has not been verified by any superior authority and hence the claim of privilege under section 8(2) of the said Act is not Justified in the law. Also in view of the fact that neither in the detention order nor in the grounds of detention, the Detaining Authority, has stated anything that he was satisfied about the truthfulness of the statements made in in camera statements, hence the Detaining Authority has not applied his mind about the truthfulness of the assertions made in in camera statements which vitiates the detention order.' Ground 16 reads thus :-
'The petitioner says and submits that the alleged in camera statements were recorded by the inferior authority and it appears that it has not been verified by any superior authority and hence the claim of privilege under section 8(2) of the said Act is not justified in the law. Petitioner further says and submits that neither in the detention order nor in the grounds of detention the Detaining Authority has stated anything that he was satisfied about the truthfulness of the statements made in camera statements. Hence petitioner submits that the Detaining Authority has not applied his mind about the truthfulness of the assertions made in the in camera statements which vitiates the detention order.' 18. A perusal of ground 17(a) and 16 would show that a two-fold grievance has been pleaded In them, namely :-
(i) the Detaining Authority has not stated anything about his being satisfied about the truthfulness of the averments made in the in camera statements and hence the detention order is vitiated; and
(ii) the claim of privilege in not disclosing the names of the witnesses A & B whose in camera statements have been recorded is untenable.
19. Ground 17(E) and ground 16 have been replied together, (in our view rightly because the pleadings therein are the same) in paragraph 18 of the return of the Detaining Authority. The Detaining Authority has candidly and categorically averred that he perused the entire material in this case, including the in camera statements and was subjectively satisfied that the said statements were true. He has averred that he placed reliance on them because he knew that they were true and had a nexus with the purpose for which the detention order was passed. He has specifically asserted in paragraph 18(d) that he has individually considered each statement. He has stated in paragraph 18(e) that he claimed privilege for not disclosing the names of the witnesses in public interest. He has averred that he was satisfied that the fear on the part of the witnesses at the hands of the detenu and his associates was genuine. He has stated that on account of the fear of the detenu, people were not prepared to come forward and depose against him and hence, he has withheld their names.
20. Mr. Pilale, the learned counsel for the petitioner, invited our attention to paragraph 5 of the decision of the Supreme Court rendered in the case of Smt. Phulwari Jagdambaprasad Pathak v. Shri R. H. Mendonca & Ors.; and paragraph 6 of the decision of a Division Bench of this Court rendered In the case of Smt. Vijaya Raju Gupte v. Shri R. H. Mendonca & Ors.
Paragraph 5 of Phulwari Jagdambaprasad Pathak's case (supra) reads thus :
'Then comes the crucial question whether in camera statements of persons/witnesses can be utilised for the purpose of arriving at subjective satisfaction of the Detaining Authority for passing the order of detention. Our attention has not been drawn to any provision of the Act which expressly or impliedly lays down the type of material which can form the basis of a detention order under Section 3 of the Act. Preventive detention measure is a harsh, but it becomes necessary in larger interest of society. It is in the nature of a precautionary measure taken for preservation of public order. The power is to be used with caution and circumspection. For the purpose of exercise of the power it is not necessary to prove to the hilt that the person concerned had committed any of the offences as stated in the Act. It is sufficient if from the material available on record the Detaining Authority could reasonably feel satisfied about the necessity for detention of the person concerned in order to prevent him from indulging in activities prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. In the absence of any provision specifying the type of material which may or may not be taken into consideration by the Detaining Authority and keeping in view the purpose the statute is intended to achieve the power vested in the Detaining Authority should not be unduly restricted. It is neither possible nor advisable to catalogue the type of materials which can form the basis of a detention order under the Act. That will depend on the facts and situation ofa case. Presumably, that is why the Parliament did not make any provision in the Act In that regard and left the matter to the discretion of the Detaining Authority. However, the facts staled in the materials relied upon should be true and should have a reasonable nexus with the purpose for which the order is passed.'
Paragraph 10 of the latter decision reads thus :
'There remains no doubt in the light of the law laid down by the Apex Court that in camera statement of person/witness can be utilised by the Detaining Authority for the purpose of arriving at subjective satisfaction for passing the order of detention. However, the Apex Court made it clear that the facts stated in the materials relied upon should be true and have a reasonable nexus with the purpose for which the order is passed. Necessary corollary, therefore is that the Detaining Authority must be satisfied about the truthfulness of the statements made in the in camera statements. Testing it from this touch stone, we find that neither in the detention order nor in the grounds of detention, the Detaining Authority has stated anything that he was satisfied about the truthfulness of the statements made in the in camera statements. !n the present case, the petitioner has set up specific case that in camera statements were false and fabricated after the detenu was released on bail. The Detaining Authority in his first affidavit filed on 13.4.2000 has only denied that false and fabricated statements were recorded after the detenu was released on 3.7.1999. While denying that the documents were fabricated, the Detaining Authority in his aforesaid affidavit has further stated that the in camera statements were verified by the higher grade Police Officer of the rank of A.C.P. As a matter of , fact, in two subsequent affidavits, this stand has been reiterated and further statement has been made that he was subjectively satisfied that the contents of the in camera statements were true and genuine since it was verified by the Assistant Commissioner of Police. The English translation of the verification made by the Assistant Commissioner of Police below the in camera statements reads, 'my statement was translated to me in Hindi which is in accordance with what I stated.' This means that the Assistant Commissioner of Police has only verified that the statement made by the witness was recorded as actually made by him. Therefore, on the basis of mere verification, without there being something more by way of contemporaneous document of material moreover when no such statement is made in the grounds of detention that the statements made in the in camera statement were believed to be true, it is very difficult to hold that the Detaining Authority was in fact subjectively satisfied that the assertions made in camera statements were true. The detaining authority has to apply his mind about the truthfulness of the assertions made in camera statements which in the facts of the present case seems to have not heen done which in our opinion vitiates the detention order.'
21. We have perused the said decisions and in our view, they are not applicable to the instant case. In Smf. Phulwari Pathak's case (supra), what the Supreme Court has stated is 'however the facts as stated in the material relied upon should be true and should have reasonable nexus for the purpose for which the order is passed.' In the instant case, we have seen that the Detaining Authority has categorically and candidly averred that he examined the entire material on record, including the in camera statements and was satisfied about the truthfulness of the said statements.
In our view, the ratio laid down in the said decision has been followed by the Detaining Authority.
Coming to paragraph 6 of Vijaya Raju Gupta's case (supra), we find that it was a decision on its own facts. In the said case, three returns were filed by the Detaining Authority. In the f!rst return, the Detaining Authority had merely denied that the in-camera statements are false and fabricated but had not averred that he was satisfied about the truthfulness of the averments contained therein. In the second and third returns, the Detaining Authority had put the cart before the horse in as much as he had averred that since the Assistant Commissioner of Police had verified the statements, they were true. But this is not the case here. Here, the Detaining Authority, as we have seen above, has categorically stated that he had perused the entire material, including the in camera statements and was satisfied about the truthfulness of the said statements.
Hence, the first grievance raised in ground 17(E) and 16, in our view, is without merit.
22. The second grievance raised in grounds 17(E) and 16 in our judgment is also without merit.
Section 8 of the M.P.D.A. Act provides and reads thus :
'8. (1) When a person is detained in pursuance of a detention order, the authority making the order shall, as soon as may be. but not later than five days from the date of detention, communicate to him the grounds on which the order has been made and shall afford him the earliest opportunity of making a representation against the order to the State Government.
(2) Nothing in sub-section (1) shall require the authority to disclose fact which it considers to be against the public interest to disclose.'
23. A perusal of the said Section would show that the authority passing a detention order shall as soon as, maybe, but not later than five days from the date of detention, communicate to the detenu the grounds on which the order has been made and shall offer him the earliest opportunity of making a representation against the order to the State Government. However, subsection 2 makes it clear that the Detaining Authority is not bound to disclose the facts, which in his opinion, are against public interest to disclose.
It is on the basis of this provision that the Detaining Authority has sought privilege and rightly so, in our view, we have seen that such was the fear psychosis created by the detenu and his associates that witnesses A & B were absolutely terrified and petrified by the detenu and his associates. Their insistence in only making a statement If their identity was not disclosed was perfectly understandable. In our view, there could have been no better case than the instant one for claiming privilege.
Hence, in view of the provisions contained in Section 8(2) of the M.P.D.A. Act, the Detaining Authority was fully justified in not disclosing their names and claiming privilege.
Hence, the second grievance voiced in ground 17(E) and 16 also fails.
24. We may mention that although a large number of other grounds have also been pleaded in this writ petition but since, the learned counsel for the petitioner has not only pressed them, we have not deait with them.
25. In the circumstances, we find this petition to be devoid of substance and dismiss it.
26. Rule discharged.