B.C. Gadgil, J.
1. These two petitions can be conveniently decided by a common judgment, as they pertain to the detention of two detenus practically on same and similar grounds.
2. Prakash is the petitioner in Criminal Writ Petition No. 382 of 1983 while in the other Criminal Writ Petition No. 383 of 1983 Ashok is the petitioner. For the sake of convenience, we would refer to both these petitioners by their names and not as petitioner in a particular petition. Prakash and Ashok are the residents of Thane. On 7th November, 1982, the Commissioner of Police, Thane, issued two separate orders, one against Prakash and other against Ashok, for their detention under the National Security Act. By these petitions, Prakash and Ashok have challenged those detention orders. Though, in the petition, there are a number of grounds, the only challenge that is urged before us is that grounds Nos. 1, 2 and 4 are relevant for the purpose of taking a subjective decision that conduct of Prakash and Ashok was prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. It would be convenient to refer to all the grounds that are alleged against Prakash and Ashok, and then appreciate the validity or otherwise of the contention raised by Mr. Chitnis. We would reproduce the grounds formulated while detaining Prakash. They read as follows :---
'(1) On 3-2-1982 at about 23.30 hours you and your associate Ashok Babu Jadhav had been to Talao Pali, Thane, to purchase 'Pav-Bhaji' which was being sold on a hand-cart and asked the owner to serve you, 'Pav-Bhaji'. At that time complainant Kishore Bhiku Jadhav came there and insisted that he should be served first. During the heated exchange of words that followed, you assaulted the complainant and your associate Ashok Babu Jadhav who was carrying a knife, inflicted stab injuries on the hands and neck of the complainant. In this connection, on offence vide Naupada Police Station C.R. No. 184/82 under section 324 Indian Penal Code came to be registered in which both of you were arrested on 26-2-1982. The case was charged-sheeted in the Court or law on 15-3-1982 and it is sub-judice. (Copies of the F.I.R. and relevant documents are enclosed).
(2) On account of the incident mentioned above, there was enmity between you and Kishore Bhiku Jadhav and you and your associate were threatening the latter and his friends with dire consequences.
On 16-3-1982 at about 13-30 hours, complainant Nanappa Chagappa Shise, a friend of Kishore Bhiku Jadhav, resident of Lohar Ali was playing carrom with his friends in a by-lane in Lohar Ali. At that time you and your associate Kisan Rajaram Gavand, Ashok Babu Jadhav alias Ashok Bhangi and two others came there, blocked his way and assaulted Shri Nanappa. Your associate Ashok Babu Jadhav inflicted a serious injury in the stomach of the complainant with a sword-stick. In this connection, an offence at Thanenagar Police Station C.R. No. I 189/82 under sections 147, 148, 141, 341, 307 Indian Penal Code came to be registered and your associates Ashok Babu Jadhav and two others were arrested. You, however, absconded after the commission of the offence, but were subsequently arrested on 31-8-1982. The case is pending investigation. (Copies of the F.I.R. and relevant documents are enclosed).
(3) One Shri Pundalik Narayan Lone, resident of Chendani Koliwada, Thane, is a servant of Ramesh Pandit who sells cold-drinks (Sarbat) on a hand-cart near CIDCO Bus Stop, Thane. On 15-4-1982 night, Pundalik Narayan Lone slept on the hand-cart which was parked near CIDCO Bus Stop. During the early hours of 16-4-1982 at about 01.45 hours you, your associates Kisan Rajaram Gavand, Ashok Babu Jadhav and 10/12 others came there in a tempo and assaulted Shri Pundalik Lone with sword-sticks, sticks and iron-bars. You and your associates stopped assaulting him thinking that he was dead and started leaving the place. In the meantime, Shri Pundalik Narayan Lone got under a bus parked nearby to save himself. On seeing this, you and your associates pelted stones at the bus and caused damage to it as a result of which Pundalik Narayan came out from the bus and you and your associates beat him again with sticks and iron-bars. Thereafter you entered the house of one Kavishwar Vitthal Koli situated nearby and caused damage to the house. You also pelted stones at a Soda-water Factory and broke the window panes. In this connection, an offence at Thanenagar Police Station C.R. No. 1290/1982 under sections 147, 148, 149, 324, 426 Indian Penal Code came to be registered and your 8 associates were arrested. You and your associate Ashok Babu Jadhav were absconding and were subsequently arrested on 8-9-1982 and charge-sheeted on 31-9-1982. The case is pending trial. (Copies of the F.I.R. and relevant documents are enclosed).
(4) Sometime in the month of February 1982, you and your associates had assaulted one person in Lohar Ali. At that time one Suresh Jayawant Deshmukh who was present on the spot, tried to save that poor man by raising an alarm. You and your associates, therefore, bore a grudge against Suresh and waited for an opportunity to assault him. On 29-4-1982 at about 12-15 hours you, Ashok Babu Jadhav and your associates rushed to the house of Suresh Deshmukh with acid-bulbs in yours hands. Suresh was not present in the house and you enquired with the complainant Smt. Nalini, mother of Suresh and other inmates about the whereabouts of Suresh and threatened them with dire consequences. In this connection an offence at Thanenagar Police Station C.R. No. I 322/1982 under sections 451, 506(2) Indian Penal Code came to be registered. You and your associate were absconding and subsequently you and your one associate were arrested on 8-9-1982 and charge-sheeted an 13-9-82. The case is pending trial. (Copies of the F.I.R. and relevant documents are enclosed).
(5) One Shri Dewaram Mahadeo Chaurasiya, resident of Lohar Ali, is a tenant of Kishore Bhiku Jadhav with whom you are on inimical terms. On 30-5-1982 at about 14-00 hours complainant, Shri Chaurasiya and his friend were chit-chatting in front of a Pan-Shop near Lohar Ali. Shri Kishore Bhiku Jadhav and two children of his family were also present there. At that time you and your associate came there brandishing lethal weapons. Kishore ran away out of fear. Your associate went to Bhangi Ali and called Ashok Babu Jadhav and 7/8 others who were armed with swords, iron bars, stones, sticks and acid-bulbs. All of you then assaulted the complainant and witnesses as a result of which the complaint received head-injury and two small girls viz. Jyotsna (6 years) and Savita (6 years) sustained acid burns. On seeing the Police party approaching, all of you ran away. In this connection, an offence at Thane Nagar Police Station C.R. No. I 405/1982 under sections 147, 148, 149, 325, 504 Indian Penal Code came to be registered and your two associates were arrested on 1-6-1982. You, however, absconded after commission of the offence and were subsequently arrested on 2-9-1982. The case was charge-sheeted on 8-9-1982 and the same is sub judice. (Copies of the F.I.R. and relevant documents are enclosed).
(6) Again on 10-6-1982 at about 16-00 hrs. the complainant, Shri Devaram Mahadeo Chaurasiya was chit-chatting with family members of Kishore Bhiku Jadhav in the latter's house. Kishore Bhiku Jadhav was not in the house. At that time you, your associates Ashok Babu Jadhav, Kisan Rajaram Gavand and some others entered the house, caught hold of the complainant by his neck, pulled him out of house, took him forcibly to Gaondevi Maidan and assaulted him with sticks and stones causing serious injuries to him. Thereafter, you and your associates put him in an auto-rickshaw and threw him near the Railway line. In this connection, an offence at Thanenagar Police Station C.R. No. I/435/1982 under section 147, 148, 149, 325, 326, 452 Indian Penal Code came to be registered and was classified as 'A' final on 30-6-1982 as you all were absconding. However, subsequently you and your associate Ashok Babu Jadhav were arrested on 1-9-1982 and the case was sent up to the Court of Law on 10-9-1982. The case is sub judice. (Copies of the F.I.R. and relevant documents are enclosed).
(7) On 14-6-1982 at about 01-40 hours you and your associates Ashok Babu Jadhav and Kisan Rajaram Gavand went to Blue Bird Hotel, threatened the Manager Shri Madhukar Sadashiv Pethe and robbed Rs. 1500/- at the point of knife and decamped with the loot. In this connection, an offence at Thanenagar Police Station C.R. No. I 444/1982 under sections 392, 34 Indian Penal Code came to be registered. You and your associates also threatened another Manager of the Hotel Shri Arvind Patel with dire consequences and demanded Rs. 5000/- from him. You and your associates were absconding after the commission of the offence. Subsequently you and Ashok Babu Jadhav were arrested on 27-8-1982. The case was charged-sheeted on 14-9-1982 and it is sub judice. (Copies of the F.I.R. and relevant documents are enclosed).
(8) One Shri Gordon Victor Kabral, resident of Shanti Niwas, near Castle Mills, Thane, is a friend of Kishore Bhiku Jadhav with whom you and your associates are at cross terms. On 15-6-82 at about 00.30 hours while Shri Kabral was passing along Can Can Hotel, you and your associates Kisan Gavand and Ashok Jadhav were present there. You all threatened Shri Kabral with dire consequences and assaulted him because he was on friendly terms with Kishore Bhiku Jadhav. In this connection, Shri Kabral has lodged a complaint at Thanenagar Police Station which came to be registered as C.R. No. II 73/1982 under sections 506(2), 323, 34 IPC. You and your associates were absconding but subsequently you and Ashok Babu Jadhav were arrested on 24-8-1982. The case was charge-sheeted on 8-9-1982 and it is sub judice. (Copies of the F.I.R. and other relevant documents are enclosed.)
(9) One Shri Gopinath U.V. Menon, resident of Can Can Hotel, Thane, was conducting an exhibition at Gaondevi Maidan, Thane since March 1982 on behalf of New India Exhibition Company where at some games of skills were being played by the customers on stakes. He had obtained a licence to conduct such games. On 29-6-1982 at about 01.00 hours complainant Shri Balgopal Kutti Krishnan Nair, an employee of the above-mentioned Gopinath Menon and 3 other employees viz. (1) Stayanarayan Narsingh Shastri and two others were present in the tent erected at the venue of the exhibition. At that time you, your associates Kisan Rajaram Gavand and Ashok Babu Jadhav and other 10/12 associates were there, armed with lethal weapons like sword, knives, etc. and assaulted the complainant Shri Nair and other employees and robbed Rs. 200/- in cash by breaking open the Cash Box. One of your associates inflicted a stab wound on the buttocks of the complainant Shri Nair with knife. Your associate threatened the witness Shri Shastri and asked him to tell the whereabouts of Gopinath. He informed that the latter was putting up in Can Can Hotel, Thane. Thereafter you asked 4 of your associates to remain there and to keep watch on the complainant and the witnesses. You, with remaining associates then took witness Shri Shastri with you at the point of knife threatening him to show Gopi's room in Can Can Hotel, Thane. In this connection an offence at Naupada Police Station C.R. No. I 420/1982 under section 395 Indian Penal Code came to be registered. You and your associates were absconding after the commissioner of the offence but subsequently on 12-8-1982 you and one of your associates viz., Ganesh Babaji Wadkar were arrested. The case is pending investigation. (Copies of the F.I.R. and relevant documents are enclosed).
(10) As stated above, you and your associates took the witness Shri Shastri at the point of knife to Can Can Hotel, Thane, in which the complainant Shri Gopinath U.V. Menon was staying. When you all reached near the Hotel, the entrance shutter door was partly closed and Watchman Laxman Ambadas Jadhav was present inside. Thereafter, you and your associates entered the Hotel and threatened the Watchman to show complainant's room. You all forcibly took both the witnesses viz. S/Shri Shastri and Jadhav to Room No. 107 in which the complainant was staying and asked Shri Shastri to call out his name (i.e. Gopi's name). When the complainant Gopi opened the door all of you rushed inside and started threatening the complainant and witness Prakash Bhagvandas Jambhulkar by brandishing lethal weapons. You then forcibly removed cash and wrist watches collectively valued at Rs. 19,000/-. Thereafter, all of you decamped with the loot. In this connection, an offence at Thanenagar Police Station C.R. No. I 474/1982 under section 395 Indian Penal Code came to be registered. You all had absconded after the commission of the offence. Subsequently on 20-8-1982, you and your associate Ganesh Babaji Wadkar were arrested. Further investigation is in progress. (Copies of the F.I.R. and relevant documents are enclosed).
(11) Besides S/Shri Jagdish Dwarka Yadhav and Bhagwandas Premchandra Nenvani, both residents of Khoja Kabrastan, Naupada, Thane have stated that you and your associates Ashok Babu Jadhav and Kisan Rajaram Gavand have formed a gang of bad characters and have committed offences involving violence within a short span of 6 months. The residents of the area feel insecure due to the violent and good activities of your gang. (Copies of the statements of these witnesses are enclosed).'
Similar grounds are framed against Ashok with formal changes here and there. It was initially urged by Shri Chitnis that all these grounds would show that they are incidents pertaining to certain individuals and that, therefore, they cannot form a basis for deciding the question of public order. He relied upon the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Ram Manohar v. State of Bihar, : 1966CriLJ608 , where the distinction between 'law and order' and 'public order' has been shown. The relevant observations from that judgment read as follows :
'.........Disorder is no doubt prevented by the maintenance of law and order also but disorder is broad spectrum which includes at one end small disturbances and at the other the most serious and cataclysmic happenings. Does the expression 'public order' take in every kind of disorders or only some of them The answer to this serves to distinguish 'public order' from 'law and order' because the latter undoubtedly takes in all of them. Public order if disturbed, must lead to public disorder. Every breach of the peace does not lead to public disorder. When two drunkards quarrel and fight there is disorder but no public disorder. They can be dealt with under the powers to maintain law and order but cannot be detained on the ground that they were disturbing public order. Suppose that the two fighters were of rival communities and one of them tried to raise communal passions. The problem is still one of law and order but it raises the apprehension of public disorder. Other examples can be imagined..........'
Similar discussion of law appears also in another case Wasi Uddin Ahmed v. District Magistrate, Aligarh : 1981CriLJ1825 . In that case, the distinction between 'law and order' and 'public order' has been made in the following words :---
'.........The true distinction between the areas of law and order and public order lies not merely in the nature or quality of the act but upon the degree and extent of its reach upon society. The acts similar in nature but committed in different situations. In one case, it might affect specific individuals and, therefore, touches the problem of law and order only, while in another it might affect public order. In order to see whether an act has affected 'public order' what has to be seen is whether the detenu's activities have any impact upon the local community, or in other words 'disturb the even tempo of the life of the community of that special locality.'.........'
Similar observations also appear in paragraph 8 of the Supreme Court decision in the case of Ram Ranjan v. State of W.B. A.I.R. 1976 S.C. 609. It is thus clear that the concept about 'public order' is different from that about 'law and order'. In a given case, a single act may be sufficient by hold that it prejudicially affects public order, while in another case, a similar act may create a problem not of public order, but at law and order. However, instances are not uncommon when a person is alleged to have committed certain acts which are primarily against individuals and on that basis allegation is made that these various individuals acts together create a problem of public order. For example, in the case of Arun Ghosh v. State of W.B. : 1970CriLJ1136 , the relevant observation in paragraph 3 reads as follows :--
'.........A large number of acts directed against persons or individuals may total up into a breach of public order.........'.
The matter is again considered by the Supreme Court in the case of Ashok Kumar v. Delhi Administration, : 1982CriLJ1191 . In that case, the detenu was said to have committed a number of offences. In paragraph 16, the Supreme Court mentioned four instances to bring out the gravity of the crimes. On 19-11-1979, there was a gold chain snatching. On 11th December, 1979, a wrist watch and cash was robbed. On 18th July, 1981, a gold chain and a pair of tops were robbed at the point of knife. On 20th July, 1981, a woman was robbed of her gold chain. After investigating these offences, the detenu was charge-sheeted. The above activities of the detenu were considered by the Supreme Court in order to find out as to whether they constituted danger to public order and the relevant observations as reproduced below make the position clear :
Paragraph 12 :
'.........The contention is that the grounds of detention served on the detenu are not connected with 'maintenance of public order'...... It is urged that the facts alleged in the grounds of detention tend to show that he is engaged in criminal activities and it is an apparent nullification of the judicial process if, in every case where there is a failure of the prosecution to proceed with a trial or where the case ends with an order of discharge or acquittal, the Executive could fall back on its power of detention.........' Paragraph 13 :
'.........The distinction between the two concept of 'law and order' and 'public order' is a fine one but this does not mean that there can be no over lapping. Acts similar in nature but committed in different contexts and circumstances might cause different reactions. In one case it might affect specific individuals only and therefore, tough the problem of law and order, while in another it might affect public order. The act by itself therefore, is not determinant of its own gravity. It is the potentiality of the act to disturb the even tempo of the life of the community which makes it prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. That test is clearly fulfilled in the facts and circumstances of the present case.' Paragraph 15 : 'The prejudicial activities of the detenu leading to public disorder, as revealed in the grounds of detention, consist of consistent course of criminal record. Although the criminal activities of the detenu in the past pertained mostly to breaches of law and order, they have now taken a turn for the worse. From the facts alleged it appears that the detenu has taken to a life of crime and become a notorious character......There have been a series of criminal activities on the part of the detenu and his associates during a span of four years which have made him a menance to the society.......'
It is also material to note that past conduct of the detenu would be relevant for making a detention order. This can very well be seen from the abovementioned decision of the Supreme Court [Vide Head Note (F)] as also from another decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Fitrat Raza Khan v. State of U.P. : 1982CriLJ338 .
3. It is thus clear that an incident against an individual would not ordinarily be sufficient to come to a conclusion that incident creates a problem of public order. Ordinarily, it will be a matter of law and order. A detention order would not, therefore, be sustainable if it is based upon an individual act which has no tendency of creating a problem of public order. There cannot be any dispute about this position. Shri Chitnis relied upon a number of decisions of the Supreme Court, e.g., Sudhir Kumar v. Police Commr. Calcutta : 1970CriLJ843 ; Jitendra Nath v. State of West Bengal : AIR1975SC1215 ; Pushkar Mukherjee v. State of W.B. : 1970CriLJ852 and Bimla Dewan v. Lieutenant Governor of Delhi : 1982CriLJ1737 . However, it is material to note that in each of these cases, the Supreme Court on facts came to the conclusion that the actions alleged against the detenu were only individual incidents and had no bearing on the question of public order. Shri Chitnis then urged that if one of the grounds in the detention order is bad, the entire detention order becomes void. For this purpose, he relied upon the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Jitendra Nath v. State of West Bengal, : AIR1975SC1215 , wherein it is held that the order stood vitiated if some of the grounds were found to have no nexus with the object of detention. Shri Kotwal for the respondents in Criminal Writ Petition No. 382 of 1983 did not challenge this legal position.
4. It would not be necessary to consider the contention of Shri Chitnis in the background of the above-mentioned legal position. We have already observed that his argument is that grounds Nos. 1, 2 and 4 pertain to the incidents against individuals involving question of law and order and that they have no nexus with the question of public order. In ground No. 1, it is alleged that Prakash and Ashok started a quarrel at a Pav-Bhaji shop on the question as to whether one Kishore was to be served first or these two detenus were to be served first. After this exchange of words, Prakash assaulted Kishore, while Ashok who was carrying a knife inflicted stab injuries on the hands and neck of Kishore. No doubt Shri Chitnis contended that there is a mis-statement in this ground that Prakash had assaulted Kishore. For this purpose, he relied upon the copy of the first information report. However, Shri Kotwal drew our attention to certain statements recorded during the investigation of this incident wherein witnesses have made a mention of an assault by Prakash also. The second ground is a follow-up action on the part of the detenu and the action was directed against Kishore and his friends. On 16-3-1982, Nanappa, a friend of Kishore, was playing carrom. At that time, both the detenus viz. Prakash and Ashok, accompanied with others, assaulted Nanappa. It is alleged that Ashok inflicted a serious injury on the stomach of Nanappa with a sword-stick. As far as the fourth ground is concerned , the allegation is that in the month of February, Prakash and Ashok, along with their associates, had assaulted one person in Lohar Ali. At that time, Suresh Deshmukh who had nothing to do either with the victim or the assailants tried to intervene in order to save that victim by raising an alarm. It is alleged that on account of this action of Suresh, both the detenus bore a grudge and on 29-4-1982 they went to the house of Suresh with acid bulbs in their hands. Inquiries were made as to where Suresh was. He was not in the house, but his mother Nalini was there and both the detenus are said to have given threats with dire consequences to her. It may be noted that in all these three incidents covered by grounds Nos. 1, 2 and 4 the matter has been reported to the police and the cases are pending either investigation or trial. Shri Chitnis urged that these incidents would mean that there was an individual assault on Kishore's friend Nanappa and Suresh Deshmukh and that these incidents would not form a basis for passing an order of detention. In substances, he wants to say that these are individual incidents which may create problem of law and order and not public order.
5. Here we are dealing with the detenus with allegations of continued course of criminal conduct against various persons. The rest of the grounds also deal with assaults on certain other persons. There were in all ten or eleven incidents and what is important is that the allegations about those incidents create an impression that both the detenus and their associates have indiscriminately used force and many a time deadly weapons were used against the victims. It appears that all the grounds taken together indicate that Prakash, Ashok and their associates had formed a gang and they had been including in anti-social or indiscriminate assaults on the members of the public. Another important factor that is revealed from the grounds is that practically all these assaults were for no reason as the poor victims had not done anything so as to invite any assaults on the part of the detenus. Thus, the activities of both the detenus Prakash and Ashok disclosed from the series of violent activities mentioned in the grounds cannot be interpreted to mean that each of these incidents should be treated as an individual incident unconnected with the question of public order. The activities of both the detenus as mentioned in the grounds of detention had an impact upon the concerned part of the town and with such activities the Detaining Authority came the conclusion that a problem of public order had arisen. In our opinion, this subjective decision of the Detaining Authority cannot be successfully challenged, as on the face of it, the various activities of the detenus had disturbed the even tempo of life in the locality. It will be futile for Shri Chitnis to urge that these assaults should be treated as individual assaults so as to bring the case as one pertaining to law and order. As laid down by the Supreme Court in the above-mentioned case of Ashok Kumar v. Delhi Administration, when there have been a series of assaults by the two detenus and their associated which create a sort of terror in the minds of the public, there can be valid detention orders, though each individual assault may be directed against an individual. What is to be seen is the total impact of the various assaults on the life of the society. If such impact is likely to disturb the public order and the even tempo of the life of the society, the Detaining Authority would be entitled to take a subjective decision that a case for detention is made out.
6. Thus, there appears to be no substance in the contention of Shri Chitnis that some of the incidents are against individuals. In fact, those incidents coupled with the rest of the grounds mentioned in the detention order constitute a chain of events and the effect of such chain of events on the life of the society has been considered by the Detaining Authority. The said authority came to the conclusion that a problem of public order has been created and this subjective decision cannot be successfully challenged as based upon irrelevant material.
7. The result is that both the petitions fail. Rule in Criminal Writ Petition No. 382 of 1983 is discharged. Rule in Criminal Writ Petition No. 383 of 1983 is also discharged.