1. This is an application for the issue of a Writ of Habeas Corpus by one Raj Bahadur Goud, who has been detained under the Preventive Detention Act. The petitioner was arrested on 24.4.1951 in the hills known as the Rajkonda f hills in Devarkonda Taluq of the Nalgonda District. He was produced before a Magistrate on 27.4.1951. Again it is stated that he was produced before the District Magistrate on 12.5.1951 and the police prayed that he might be remanded to custody for further investigation. After this on 18.5.1951 when he was in police custody, an order of detention was served on him by the Collector, Nalgonda District, purporting to act under Section 7, Preventive Detention Act. These grounds were served on the detenu on the same date. The detenu subsequently made his representation to the Advisory Board and the Advisory Board recommended that he be kept under detention till 31.12.1951. This period of detention was subsequently extended to 31.3.1952. On 29.3.1952, the period was further extended till 30.9.1952. This order of detention is now sought to be attacked on various grounds. Before we deal with the grounds of attack it is just as well that we mention herein what the grounds of detention are on the basis of which the petitioner has been detained.
2. The order of detention, while stating that he is a person belonging to the Kaisth community Whose forefathers had come from the Uttar Pradesh and settled down in Hyderabad, says that in 1940 the petitioner joined the Andhra Maha-sabha of the Communist Party; that he in company with Ravi Narayana Reddy and Maqdum Mohiuddin, two of the foremost leaders of the State Communist Party, arranged for strikes to be staged by the Alwyn Metal Works and arranged for similar strikes by other organizations. It is further stated in the order that he is a person associated with all Labour Unions which are affiliated with the Communist Party of India; that he wrote objectionable literature emphasizing Communist ideology. It is also stated in the order that he was disseminating disaffection and hatred against the Government with a view to overthrow the Government established by law and that at his instance several murders and gruesome atrocities were committed in various places. These are some of the main grounds urged in the order of detention.
3. The learned Vakil for the petitioner placed before us a number of factors and contended that this order of detention can no longer stand and he questioned the validity of the order. The main objections raised by him are, (a) that the grounds were served on the petitioner nearly one month after the date of the arrest, (b) that the action of the Government is palpably mala fide inasmuch as they tried to extract all information about the Communist Party and its movements and not being able to get the same they resorted to this order of detention under the Preventive Detention Act, (c) that the grounds that have been urged have absolutely no relevancy and have no connection with the matters set out in Section 3, Preventive Detention Act, and (d) that the grounds were vague. In support of the petitioner's application impeaching the validity of the order of detention, petitioner has tiled an affidavit giving the sequence of events from the date of his arrest namely on 24.4.1951 till almost the period when the order of detention was served on him. The purpose of this affidavit appears to be to show that he was ill-treated and put to all sorts of humiliation to extract from him information with regard to the Communist Party.
A counter has been filed on behalf of the Government, wherein, while admitting that the petitioner was arrested on 24.4.1951 in Rajkonda Hills in Nalgonda District in the hide-outs of the Communists, it is stated that when he was arrested he had in his possession (i) a sum of Rs. 4,000/-, (ii) a radio receiving set and (iii) a lot of communist literature. It is also stated therein that he was in possession of dangerous and deadly weapons. The Government's submission in its counter is to the effect that as the petitioner was a top-ranking member of the Communist Party of the Hyderabad State which is instigating an armed struggle in Telangana and suggesting a policy of violence and to indulge in activities prejudicial to the maintenance of order and the security of the State and that his detention was necessary for the maintenance of public order and security of the State; and that the detention is therefore justified for the reasons mentioned above. After the counter was filed the petitioner filed in this Court a certified copy of the proceedings of the Court of the Munsiff-Magistrate of Nalgonda in order to show that simultaneously with the proceedings under the Preventive Detention Act the Government was pursuing criminal proceedings against the detenu.
4. Taking the objections of the vakil for the petitioner seriatim, the first objection is that the grounds were served on the detenu nearly a month after his arrest was effected. This objection has not much force. There is a statutory duty imposed on the detaining authority, to communicate 'as soon as may be' to the person detained the grounds on which the order has been founded. The words 'as soon as may be' appearing in Section 7, Preventive Detention Act, have to toe interpreted as meaning as soon as circumstances permit the authority to furnish the grounds. No unreasonable or unjustifiable delay can be allowed. When something is required by a, Statute to be done at the earliest and practicable moment it means, it has to be done in a reasonable time. The word 'forthwith' was construed by the Privy Council in - R. v. Price (1853-54) 8 Moo PC 203 (A), to mean 'as soon as a party can reasonably perform it', There has been no inordinate delay and this objection fails.
5. The learned Vakil very strongly urged that the Government was harassing the detenu in both ways, while keeping pending an intended criminal prosecution, it has put him under detention. As pointed out by us, the vakil for the petitioner has filed before us a certified copy of the proceedings of the Court of the Munsiff-Magistrate of Nalgonda. We read the proceedings of 8.2.1952 in the case of the - State v. Raj Bahadur Goud Case No. 16 of 1951. The proceedings of that date show that the case was adjourned to 1.3.1952 to await the filing of challan. On 1.3.1952, the case was further adjourned to 20.3.1952 to enable the prosecution to file the challan. These proceedings would clearly Indicate that the Government have not dropped the proceedings in the criminal Court, against the petitioner. We can only infer that they are still pending as the Advocate-General, on our enquiry, could not say that the proceedings had been dropped. It was argued and quite legitimately that it is not open to the Government to have simultaneous recourse to proceedings in a criminal Court and to preventive detention. Although the matter as to whether the Government would have recourse to one remedy or the other is a matter left to the discretion of the Government the law enjoins that the Government should elect to take this step or the other. If there is a pending prosecution then the question might arise as to whether the order of detention is bona fide or not. The test would be whether the order of detention is for an ulterior purpose. This would have to be decided on the particular facts and circumstances of the case. We have not before us the entire record of the criminal case. No hard and fast rule can be laid as when and in what cases a criminal case ought to be continued and the detention proceedings not resorted to. The man might be according to the Government a dangerous man whom it may be necessary to detain in the interests of public security. That this is the settled law is supported by judicial decisions both in England and in India. Lord Greene M.R. observed in point of - Ayr Collieries Ltd. v. Lloyd George (1943) 2 All ER 546 (B)
It is for the competent authority to decide whether the situation requires an immediate step or whether some delay may be allowed for further investigation.
6a. We might herein clearly lay down that the burden of substantiating the plea that the order is mala fide is primarily upon the detenu and having regard to the circumstances of this case we must hold that the detenu has not discharged the same. The mere fact that the detenu challenges the factum or bona fides of the order or the fact that in such cases the Government is in possession of information on the subject does not shift the onus on the Government - Greene's case has declared this in unequivocal terms vide - Greene v. Secy of State for Home Affairs (1942) AC 284 (C), and the Federal Court has also made it clear in the case of - Basanta Chandra v. Emperor AIR 1945 FC 18 (D). The sole fact that the petitioner was arrested under some provision of the ordinary law and subsequently detained under the Preventive Detention Act would not by itself make the act of the Government 'mala fide'. We are in. agreement with the view taken by the Allahabad and the Madras High Courts in the cases of (i) - Moolchand v. Emperor AIR 1948 All 281 (E) and (ii) - Dasappa v. District Magistrate South Kanara AIR 1949 Mad 712 (F). The particulars that have been set out in the grounds of detention categoricatfy enumerate the various activities of the petitioner and amongst the activities that have been mentioned some of the violent and subversive activities have been mentioned. The grounds state.
He was instructing his comrades to kill Government servants. In pursuance of the policy of violence, and at his instance, several murders and other gruesome atrocities were committed in Guddi Malkapur, pillai Palli....
Two girdawars and two armed police constables MPAP were ambushed and killed in pursuance of this policy of violence.
Raj Bahadur Goud had gone to Rachakonda Hills to convey the ideas of violence to other-comrades and buck up the morale of the comrades.
He was caught with dangerous and deadly-weapons, a radio receiving set, a Medicine chest...lot of communist literature.
6b. With regard to the grounds mentioned above the objection raised by the learned vakil for the petitioner is that the grounds are vague and insufficient and that they have no rational connection with the ends mentioned in Section 3, Preventive Detention Act, The objection as regards 'Vagueness' of the grounds cannot be sustained, for, it is now well settled that grounds of detention could be regarded as being vague only if they are couched is such language which makes it impossible for the detenu to make an effective representation to the Advisory Board. If they are understandable by the detenu to enable he to make his representation to the Advisory Board the grounds would be certainly regarded as clear and unambiguous. The decision in the case of the - State of Bombay v. Atmaram Sridhar concludes the point vide : 1951CriLJ373 In the case under consideration it is admitted that the detenu did make a representation to the Advisory Board, questioning the grounds.
7. With regard to the second objection that the grounds have no connection with the purposes mentioned in the Preventive Detention Act we hold the same view, as we held with regard to the objection of vagueness. The individual activities of the detenu that have been detailed in the grounds of detention according to us have everything to do with the maintenance of law and order. The grounds clearly come within the ambit of Section 3, Preventive Detention Act.
8. Above all, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the sufficiency or otherwise of the grounds is not a matter which we as judges of the High Court can go into. That the Courts are the least appropriate tribunals to investigate into the adequacy or otherwise of the grounds justifying an order of detention has been decided by the highest Court in the land in the cases of : 1951CriLJ373 and - Ashutosh Laheri v. State of Delhi 1950 SCJ 433 (H). And further that inferences drawn by the Government on facts supplied to it cannot be gone into is also a matter that has been laid down by the Supreme Court.
9. It was urged by the learned vakil for the petitioner that whatever might have been the position at the time the order of detention was passed a change had come over and, we, as judges deciding the case, were entitled to take notice of events that happened subsequent to the order of detention and grant relief in view of the changed circumstances. The learned vakil relied upon the fact that the ban imposed on the Communist Party in Hyderabad in September 1948 was removed by Notification of the Government on 24.3.1952. It was argued by the learned vakil that where the ban on the party had been removed there was no meaning in continuing the detention of a person who belonged to the party which had been banned and which has ceased to be an unlawful and illegal organization. In reply it was urged by the Advocate-General that the mere fact that the ban on an association or an organization had been lifted did not take away the powers of the Government to act under the provisions of the Preventive Detention Act where it apprehended that if a person were not detained there was great apprehension of danger to public security. After considering the respective contentions of the vakil for the petitioner and the Advocate-General we are of opinion that the argument advanced by the Advocate-General is Bound. The Justification for imposing a ban or laying restrictions on the activities of an association may cease to exist but the right of the Government to exercise its powers under the Preventive Detention Act with regard to a particular Individual in the interest of maintenance of public order and for the sake of public security will continue as long as the Government is responsible for the security of the State and for the maintenance of law and order. As observed' by Patanjali Sastri, J., as he then was, in the case of - Machinder Shivajee v. The King AIR 1950 PC 129 (I), 'Mere belief in or acceptance of any political ideology may not be a ground of detention'.
On that footing even if Raj Bahadur Goud was a top-ranking communist and a leader of the organization in Hyderabad and that organization has ceased to be an illegal organization by reason of the lifting of the ban by the Government recently, the activities of the petitioner which afforded a justification for the Government to pass an order of detention have still to be taken into consideration. The potential risks from a person's activities have to be determined by the surrounding circumstances. If a body of persons are known to have been resorting to extreme steps and violent methods not warranted by law and if there are no reasonable grounds to come to the conclusion that this attitude has undergone a change and the Detaining Authority is satisfied that there is still apprehension of clanger to public safety if a particular individual is allowed to remain unbridled then the Court cannot help the detenu in the matter. We as judges are labouring under a disadvantage of not being able to investigate into the correctness or otherwise of the allegations on which the order of detention is passed. As was very artistically put it would be beyond our power of interference 'even if it does not fit within judicial strait jacket'. It is one thing to remove a ban on an association and it is quite a different thing to release a member of that organization to whom violent and subversive activities are attributed. Certainly a ban on the communist party in Hyderabad would not stand after the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of the - 'State of Madras v. V.G. Row AIR 1952 SC 198 (J) decided on 31st March 1952. As to whether the Communist Party in Hyderabad had abjured violent activities and had changed its 'modus operandi' from one of guerilla warfare to that of constitutional agitation is a matter about which the Government has to be satisfied. When there is no material before us that a change has come over with regard to the mode of activities of the members of the Communist Party, we cannot pass an order of release especially where the most violent acts of killing by use of dangerous and deadly weapons are attributed to the detenu, It cannot be denied that it is the Government that is entrusted with the duty of maintaining public peace and it would be a serious derogation from that responsibility if we, as judges, substitute our judgment in the matter for the satisfaction of the Government. The liberty of the individual to do as he pleases is not. absolute. It must yield to common good. There is no such thing as absolute personal liberty. Some compromise must be struck between private liberty and public authority. When the safety of the State is involved the liberty of the subject must give way. It is not absolute freedom.
10. After giving careful consideration to the matters that have been placed before us we are of opinion that we would not be justified in directing the release of the detenu. This application is therefore, dismissed.