1. Pujarla Sambaiah, who is a student of law, Law College, Osmania University, was taken into custody on 5-3-1981 at Hyderabad under an order of detention dated 1-3-1981 passed by the District Magistrate, Nalgonda, who is the first respondent herein, in exercise of the powers conferred on him under Section 3(3) of the National Security Act. The detenu was served with the grounds of detention on 6-3-1981. The petitioner, who is the father of the detenu, filed this petition for the issuance of Writ of Habeas Corpus quashing the orders of detention and set Sambaiah at liberty forthwith. The grounds mentioned in the order of detention are four in number :
1. He is an active member of the extremist organisation called 'Andhra Pradesh Reorganising Committee,' wedded to violence by armed struggle and revolution, which committed 18 dacoities and 5 murders in Nalgonda District.
2. He has organised the radical Youth League and Raithu Cooli Sangham in Nalgonda in 1979-80 and instigated and misdirected the peasants and agricultural labourers to revolt against the land owners causing dislocation to agricultural economy. He also extracts money. He committed Crime No. 13 of 1979 under Sections 395 and 427 of the Indian Penal Code of Vemulapalli Police Station against a land owner when he refused to pay money.
3. Pursuant to the violent revolutionary policy he has participated in three extremists dacoities in Crime Nos. 19 and 20 of 1980 of Aravapalli Police Station in Crime No. 44 of 1980 of Suryapet Rural Police Station in which two guns wee snatched and properties looted.
4. He is adept at obtaining illicit arms and country made bombs to carry out his revolutionary policy. He was arrested in Crime No. 93 of 1982 of Chityal Police Station with a country made revolver and bombs.
2. Sri K. G. Kannabhiran, appearing for the detenu assails all these grounds as vague, irrelevant and are not in accordance with the constitutional mandate envisaged in Article 22(5).
3. He impugns the first ground as vague and irrelevant. He contends that even if it is accepted, for argument sake that the detenu is a member of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganising Committee, no particulars are given in support of the ground to show that either the Committee or the detenu committed the 18 dacoities and 5 murders in Nalgonda District. He also contends that how can the Andhra Pradesh Reorganising Committee or the detenu be held responsible for the dacoities and murders committed in the said District. He also contends that so far as the detenu is concerned, there is no material whatsoever to show that the detenu is in any way connected with the 18 dacoities and 5 murders in the Nalgonda District. He, therefore, contends that this ground is vague and irrelevant.
4. It is now well settled that the grounds of detention must be precise but not vague, pertinent, but not irrelevant, proximate but not stale. The object in requiring the detaining authority to furnish the detenu precise, definite and relevant grounds is to enable the detenu to make an effective representation. If the grounds are vague, indefinite or irrelevant, the detenu cannot have an opportunity to make an effective representation and the grounds cannot, therefore, be said to be in accordance with the constitutional mandate as envisaged in Article 22(5). As early as in 1951, their Lordships of the Supreme Court held in State of Bombay v. Atmaram, : 1951CriLJ373 that the satisfaction of the Government must be based on some grounds. If the grounds furnished to the detenu are vague or indefinite, the grounds cannot be said to be in accordance with Art. 22(5).
5. In Ram Krishan v. State of Delhi, : 1953CriLJ1241 their Lordship held that preventive detention is a serious invasion on personal liberty and such meagre safeguards as the Constitution has provided against the improper exercise of the power must be jealously watched and enforced by the Court. The petitioner has the right, under Art. 22(5) to be furnished with particulars of the grounds of his detention sufficient to enable him to make a representation which on being considered may give relief to him. The constitutional requirement must be satisfied with respect to each of the grounds communicated to the person detained, subject of course to a claim of privilege under Clause (6) of Article 22. Where it has not been done in regard to one of the grounds mentioned in the statement of grounds the petitioner's detention cannot be held to be within the meaning of Article 21 and is, therefore, entitled to be released.
6. In Rameshwar Lal v. State of Bihar, : 2SCR505 their Lordship held that the detention of a person without a trial, merely on the subjective satisfaction of an authority however, high, is a serious matter. It must require the closest scrutiny of the material on which the decision is formed leaving no room for errors or at least avoidable errors. The very reason that the Courts do not consider the reasonableness of the opinion formed or the sufficiency of the material on which it is based, indicates the need for the greatest circumspection on the part of those who wield this power over others. Since the detenu is not placed before a Magistrate and has only a right of being supplied the grounds of detention with a view to his making a representation to the Advisory Board, the grounds must not be vague or indefinite and must afford a real opportunity to make a representation against the detention.
7. In Motilal v. State of Bihar, : 1969CriLJ33 their Lordships observed 'that if the grounds are vague or irrelevant, there was no opportunity for the detenu to satisfy the Advisory Board and the detenu under those circumstance would be left to attack a shadow.'
8. In Mohd. Yousuf v. State of J&K;, : 1SCR258 their Lordship held in para 20 that if the grounds are irrelevant or vague, the detenu is entitled to be released.
9. In Shiv Prasad v. State of M.P. : 1981CriLJ594 : (1981 Cri LJ 594) his Lordship Mr. Justice Chinnappa Reddy, speaking for the Bench observed 'that the grounds of detention must be pertinent and not irrelevant, proximate and not stale, precise and not vague. Irrelevance, staleness and vagueness are vices any single one of which is sufficient to vitiate a ground of detention.'
10. Judged from these rulings, we have to hold that the first ground has suffered from the vices of vagueness and irrelevance. It is vague because it does not mention the basic facts and material to show how the detenu is connected with the 18 dacoities and 5 murders that were committed in the Nalgonda District. If particulars showing the part played by the detenu in the alleged 18 dacoities and 5 murders with reference to the time, place and charge-sheet or the number of Sessions case against him in respect of each dacoity case or each murder case as the case may be, are not furnished, the allegation is of highly sweeping nature and it is, therefore, vague. It is also irrelevant because there is no material to show how the detenu is connected with them. If the 18 dacoities and 5 murders were committed in the Nalgonda District, how can the detenu be said to be responsible for or connected with them Obviously, the detaining authority is influenced by irrelevant or extraneous considerations.
11. The second ground is equally vague. Article 19 of the Constitution permits every citizen to form an association and hence the formation of the Radical Youth League and Ryothu Coli Sangham in Nalgonda District in 1979-80 by the detenu is not illegal nor can it be said to be prejudicial to public peace. The allegation that the detenu instigated and misdirected the peasants and agricultural labourers to revolt against the land owners causing dislocation to the agricultural economy is undoubtedly a vague allegation as particulars regarding the date, place and in what connection the detenu had instigated and misdirected the peasants and agricultural labourers are not given and the particulars as to what sort of instigations the detenu had made are also not given. Even the allegation that he extracts money is again highly vague as particulars as to from whom and on what date he had extracted money are not given. Further the allegation that he committed Crime No. 13 of 1979 under Section 395 and 427, Indian Penal Code of Vemulappali P.S. against a land owner when he refused to pay money cannot form a valid ground for detention of the detenu, since it was the subject matter of Sessions Case No. 15 of 1980 on the file of the Assistant Session Judge, Nalgonda and the learned Sessions Judge acquitted the detenu and 22 others of all charges holding that the investigating agency attempted to cook up materials and even tampered the case records and that there was an attempt to cook up and foist recoveries supposed to be at the instance of A-2 and A-4.
12. Sri K. G. Kannabhiran, learned counsel for the detenu, contends that when once the detenu was taken as an accused in a criminal case and was acquitted of all the charges the detention is illegal, if it was made on the same grounds and the detention amounts to nullifying a judicial decision given by a criminal court on merits after a full dressed trial. He also contends that there should not be detention on the same grounds, if the Sessions Court acquits the accused giving a finding that it is a false case. He further contends that the Supreme Court has deprecated such detentions. He contends that such a detention if opposed to the fundamental rights enshrined in Article 20(2) and Article 21. He further contends that after the decision of the Supreme Court in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India : 2SCR621 the horizon of fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 20 and 21 is widened and if the legality and validity of the detention is scrutinised from the law laid down by the Supreme Court in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India (supra) the law propounded by the Supreme Court in certain decisions that the acquittal or failure of criminal charge does not debar the detention on the same grounds is no more a good law and such a detention amounts to double jeopardy and is, therefore, barred by Articles 20 and 21 and also the doctrine of issue estoppel.
13. The learned Public Prosecutor on the other hand, contends that the Supreme Court did not disapprove the detention of a person who was acquitted in a criminal case if he was detained on the same grounds and this legal position is not changed even after the decision in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India (supra) and the Supreme Court did not give such a ruling so far.
14. It is true that the Supreme Court held in several decisions that the acquittal of a person of a criminal charge or pendency of a criminal case did not preclude the District, Magistrate from detaining the same person on the same grounds. But at the same time it is pertinent to note that the Supreme Court also held that there is difference between an acquittal on the technical ground and an acquittal on a positive finding that it is a false case and insists on the detaining authorities to observe this difference in such cases.
15. In M. S. Khan v. C. C. Bose AIR 1972 SC 1970 : (1972 LJ 1220) their Lordship held that the mere fact that the petitioner was discharged in a criminal case relating to certain incident does not mean that no valid orders of detention could be passed against him in connection with those very incidents or that such an order can be characterised as mala fide. The detaining, authorities might well feel that though there was not sufficient evidence for a conviction, the activities of that person, which they had been watching, were of such a nature as to justify the detention order.
16. In Mohd. Subbrati v. State of West Bengal, : 1974CriLJ397 their Lordship held that if for any reason it is not possible to successfully try and secure the conviction and imprisonment of the persons concerned for their past activities, which are also relevant for the satisfaction of the detaining authority for considering it necessary that the detention order under Section 3 be made for preventing such persons from acting in a prejudicial manner as contemplated by that Section, then the Act would indisputably be attracted and a detention order can appropriately be made.
17. Bhut Nath v. State of West Bengal, : 1974CriLJ690 was a case where a detenu was prosecuted previously. But the criminal prosecution failed. Then he was taken as detenu on the same grounds. The detenu's representation mentions the cases challenged and the discharge of the detenu by the Court in regard to the very incident which pressed into service to found the detention order. The question, therefore, arose for consideration was whether the detention order was bad Their Lordship finally held that 'we are not satisfied that there was foul exercise of power merely because the Courts have discharged the accused.'
18. But the Supreme Court in Rameshwar Lal v. State of Bihar (1968 Cri LJ 1490) (supra) drew distinction between an acquittal on a technical ground and an acquittal on a positive finding that it was false case and insisted upon the detaining authority to bear in mind this difference. Their Lordship observed as follows :-
'The appellant was tried for the offence and acquitted as far back as February, 1967. This ground discloses carelessness which is extremely disturbing that the detaining authority does not know that the appellant was tried and acquitted months before, and considers the pendency of the case against him as one of the grounds of detention shows that due care and attention is not being paid to such serious matters as detention without trial. If the appellant was tried and acquitted, Government was required to study the judgment of acquittal to discover whether all these allegations had any basis in fact or not. One can understand the use of the case if the acquittal was technical but not when the case was held to be false.'
19. These observations received the approval of their Lordship in Bhut Nath v. State of West Bengal, (1974 Cri LJ 690) (supra). Their Lordships observed as follows :-
'After all, however well-meaning Government may be, detention power cannot be quietly used to subvert, supplant or to substitute the punitive law of the Penal Code. The immune expedient of throwing into a prison cell one whom the ordinary law would take care of, merely because it is irksome to undertake the inconvenience of proving guilt in Court is unfair abuse. To detain a person after a Court has held the charge false is to expose one self to the criticism of absence of due care and of rational material for subjective satisfaction. After all, the responsible officer, aware of the value of civil liberty even for undesirable persons, must make a credible prediction of the species of prejudicial activity in Section 3(1) before shutting up a person. It may perilously hover around illegality, if a single act of theft or threat, for which a prosecution was launched but failed, is seized upon after, say, a year or so, for detaining the accused out of pique. The potential executive tendency to shy at Courts for prosecution of ordinary offences and to rely generously on the easier strategy of subjective satisfaction is a danger to the democratic way of life. The large number of habeas corpus petitions and the more or less sterotyped grounds of detention and inaction by way of prosecution, induce us to voice this deeper concern.'
20. In the light of the observations made in Rameshwar Lal v. State of Bihar, (1968 Cri LJ 1490) (SC) (supra) and also in Bhut Nath v. State of West Bengal, (1974 Cri LJ 690) (SC) (supra), the legal position is now clear that where an accused is acquitted by a Criminal Court on a positive finding that the charge is false, he cannot be detained on the same ground and such detention should be treated as illegal.
21. Sri K. G. Kannabhiran argued at length in the light of the decision in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, : 2SCR621 (supra) that the detention is hit by Articles 20 and 21 when once the detenu was acquitted by a competent criminal Court on merits after trial. We unhesitatingly say that is Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India (supra) Bhagwathi, J., speaking for the majority has widened the horizon of personal liberty with unprecedented dimensions. While interpreting the scope and ambit of Article 21, his Lordship observed :-
'It is not a valid argument to say that the expression 'personal liberty' in Art. 21 must be so interpreted as to avoid overlapping between that Article and Article 19(1). The expression 'personal liberty' in Article 21 is of the widest amplitude and it covers a variety of rights which go to constitute the personal liberty of man and some of them have been raised to the status of distinct fundamental rights and given additional protection under Article 19. the language of Article 21 that the protection it secures is a limited one. It safeguards the right to go abroad against executive interference which is not supported by law; and law here means 'enacted law' or 'State law'. Thus, no person can be deprived of his right to go abroad unless there is a law made by the State prescribing the procedure for so depriving him and the deprivation is effected strictly in accordance with such procedure. Obviously, the procedure cannot be arbitrary, unfair or unreasonable.'
In para 65 his Lordship also observed :-
'If a law depriving a person of 'personal liberty' and prescribing a procedure for that purpose within the meaning of Art. 21 has to stand the test of one or more of the fundamental rights conferred under Art. 18 which may be applicable in a given situation exhypothesi it must also be liable to be tested with reference to Art. 14.'
In para 56 His Lordship observed :
'The principle of reasonableness, which legally as well as philosophically, is an essential element of equality or non-arbitrariness omnipresence and the procedure contemplated by Art. 21 must answer the test of reasonableness in order to be in conformity with Art. 14. It must be 'right and just and fair' and not arbitrary, fanciful or oppressive; otherwise, it would be no procedure at all and the requirement of Art. 21 would not be satisfied.'
In para 57 his Lordship observed :
'Although there are no positive words in the statute requiring that the party shall be head, yet the Justice of the common law will supply the omission of the legislature. The principle of audi alteram partem, which mandates that no one shall be condemned unheard, is part of the rules of natural justice.'
In para 58 his Lordship also observed :
'Natural Justice is a great humanising principle intended to invest law with fairness and to secure justice and over the years it has grown into a widely pervasive rule affecting large areas of administrative action. The inquiry must always be : does fairness in action demand that an opportunity to be heard be given to the person affected
In para 61, his Lordship also observed :
'The law must now be taken to be well settled that even in an administrative proceeding, which involves civil consequences, the doctrine of natural justice must be held to be applicable.'
In para 77 his Lordship further observed :
'Even if a right is not specifically named in Article 19(1), it may still be a fundamental right covered by some clause of that Article if it is an integral part of a named fundamental right or partakes of the same basic nature and character as that fundamental right. It is not enough that a right claimed by the petitioner flows or emanates from a named fundamental right or that its existence is necessary in order to make the exercise of the named fundamental right meaningful and effective. Every activity which facilitates the exercise of a named fundamental right is not necessarily comprehended in that fundamental right not can it be regarded as such merely because it may not be possible otherwise to effectively exercise that fundamental right. What is necessary to be seen is, and that is the test which must be applied, whether the right claimed by the petitioner is an integral part of a named fundamental right or partakes of the same basic nature and character as the named fundamental right so that the exercise of such right is in reality and substance nothing but an instance of the exercise of the named fundamental right.'
22. Thus it is manifest that the ruling in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, : 2SCR621 (supra) has widened the dimensions of personal liberty. But on that account this Court being bound by the decisions of the Supreme Court has no power to say the decisions of the Supreme Court in M. S. Khan v. C. C. Bose, (1972 Cri LJ 1220) (supra), Mohd. Subrati v. State of West Bengal, : 1974CriLJ397 (supra) and Bhut Nath v. State of West Bengal (1974 Cri LJ 690) (supra) need not be followed and say that the detaining authority has no power to take a person as a detenu on the same grounds when he was once tried and acquitted of a criminal charge. The authorities continue to hold the field till the Supreme Court extends the broad based interpretation given to liberty in Maneka Gandhi's case (supra) even to the detenu who as acquitted by a competent court after a full dressed trial but was taken into custody on the same ground, under an order of detention.
23. In view of the same difficulty we find it not necessary to answer the question whether the principle of issue estoppel will apply to the detenu who was acquitted by a competent court after trial when he was taken into custody on the same ground.
24. Sri Kannabhiran contends that even the above cited rulings continue to be in force, the detention of the detenu in the case on hand in bad in view of the mandate given by their Lordships in Rameshwar Lal v. State of Bihar (1968 Cri LJ 1490) (supra) and Bhut Nath v. State of West Bengal (1974 Cri LJ 690) (supra). We find that this contention is wellfounded. In Rameshwar Lal v. State of Bihar (supra) and Bhut Nath v. State of West Bengal (supra) the Supreme Court held that the detention of a person, whom, the Sessions Judge acquitted giving a positive finding that the case in which he was involved is a false one, is illegal.
25. The detenu, in the case on hand, was acquitted by the Sessions Judge in S.C. No. 13 of 1980 and the learned Sessions Judge held that the evidence was cooked up and the case was false, In view of such a finding, the detenu is entitled to take the benefit of the mandate of the Supreme Court given in the above cited two decisions. Hence we hold that the detention of the detenu on the same ground is illegal.
26. The third and fourth grounds make it abundantly clear that only Crime Nos. 19 and 20 of 1980 of Aravapalli Police Station, Crime No. 44 of 1980 of Suryapet Police Station and Crime No. 93 of 1980 of Chityal Police Station were mentioned and the detenu was not supplied with any material documents relating to these crime numbers.
27. Mere mentioning of crime numbers cannot be accepted to have satisfied the constitutional requirement of Article 22(5) in the absence of particulars relating to those crime numbers, Furnishing of all particulars in support of the grounds is intended to facilitate the detenu to make an effective representation. Failure to give the particulars or the details relating to the crime numbers given in the grounds will give rise to the conclusion that the said grounds have suffered from the infirmity of vagueness.
28. It is not admitted that material documents relating to these grounds are not supplied at all. Section 8 of the National Security Act merely re-enacts the constitutional requirement of Article 22(5) of the Constitution that the grounds must be supplied within 5 days and in exceptional circumstances for reasons to be recorded in writing not less than 10 days from the date of detention.
29. Their Lordship explained in Khudiram Das v. State of West Bengal : 2SCR832 that the grounds under Article 22(5) mean all the basic facts and materials which have been taken into account by the detaining authority in making the order of detention and on which, therefore, the order of detention is based. Their Lordships, therefore, exhorted that nothing less than all the basic facts and materials which influenced the detaining authority in making the order of detention must be communicated to the detenu. Their Lordship insisted upon the Courts to examine what are the basic facts and materials which actually and in fact weighed with the detaining authority in reaching the requisite satisfaction. Their Lordships also declared that 'the judicial scrutiny cannot be foreclosed by a mere statement of the detaining authority that it has taken into account only certain basic facts and materials and though some other basic facts and materials were before it, it has not allowed them to influence its satisfaction'.
30. Their Lordship went further to declare in Ramachandra A. Kamat v. Union of India : 2SCR1072 that the copies of the statements and documents referred to in the grounds of detention should also be supplied to the detenu in order to enable him to make an effective representation. Their Lordships also held that it there is undue delay in furnishing the statements and documents referred to in the grounds of detention, the right to make effective representation is denied, and the detention cannot be said to be according to the procedure prescribed by law.
31. The principles laid down in the above cited two decisions are reiterated by their Lordships in Ganga v. Govt. of Maharashtra : 1980CriLJ1263 . Their Lordships observed that 'the mere fact that the grounds of detention served on the detenu are elaborate, does not absolve the detaining authority from its constitutional responsibility to supply all the basic facts and materials relied upon in the grounds to the detenu'.
32. Their Lordship in Icchu Devi v. Union of India : 1SCR640 insisted categorically on the supply of documents, statements or other materials relied upon in the grounds of detention to the detenu within the time prescribed in the statute and declared that it would not be sufficient to communicate to the detenu bare recital of the grounds of detention. Their Lordships observed :
'When clause (5) of Article 22 and Sub-section (3) of Section 3 of the COFEPOSA Act provide that the grounds of detention should be communicated to the detenu within five or fifteen days, as the case may be, what is meant is that the grounds of detention in their entirety must be furnished to the detenu. If there are any documents, statements or other materials relied upon in the grounds of detentions, they must also be communicated to the detenu, because being incorporated in the grounds of detention, they form part of the grounds and the grounds furnished to the detenu cannot be said to be complete without them. It would not therefore be sufficient to communicate to the detenu a bare recital of the grounds of detention but copies of the documents, statements and other materials relied upon in the grounds of detention must also be furnished to the detenu within the prescribed time subject of course to clause (6) of Art. 22 in order to constitute compliance with clause (5) of Art. 22 and Section 3. Sub-section (3) of the COFEPOSA Act. of Art. 22 read with Section 3, sub-section (3) is not satisfied the continued detention of the detenu would be illegal and void.'
33. Again in Shalini Soni v. Union of India : 1980CriLJ1487 their Lordship declared that the supply of (sic) vitiates the detention. Speaking for the Court, Chinnappa Reddy, J. observed :
''Grounds' in Art. 22(5) do not mean mere factual inferences but mean factual inferences plus factual material which led to such factual inferences. The 'grounds' must be self-sufficient and self-explanatory. Therefore, copies of documents to which a reference is made in the 'grounds' must be supplied to the detenu as part of grounds. Failure to communicate the factual material as part of the grounds would amount to non-communication of grounds on which the order of detention has been made and thus would vitiate Art. 22(5)'.
34. In the latest decision in Kamala v. State of Maharashtra : 1981CriLJ353 , their Lordships reiterated and incorporated all these principles and held unequivocally that the documents and materials relied upon in the order of detention form the integral part of the grounds and must be supplied to the detenu pari passu the grounds of detention. If the documents and materials are supplied later, then the detenu is deprived of an opportunity of making an effective representation against the order of detention. Before an order of detention can be supported, the constitutional safeguards must be strictly observed.
35. From a careful reading of the above rulings, it is abundantly clear that a bare recital of the grounds of detention would not be sufficient to satisfy the requirement of Article 22(5). It is incumbent on the part of the detaining authority to furnish the copies of the documents, statements and other materials relied upon in the grounds of detention to the detenu within the time prescribed in the statute in order to constitute compliance with Clause (5) of Article 22 of the Constitution. Failure to communicate the factual material consisting of the statements and documents or any other material within the time prescribed would deprive the detenu of an opportunity of making an effective representation against the order of detention and thus would vitiate the constitutional mandate provided in Article 22(5).
36. Judged from these principles the mere recitals of crime numbers in the grounds without furnishing the copies of documents, statements and other materials relating to them cannot be held to constitute sufficient compliance with the wholesome provision of Section 8 of the National Security Act, which is the replica of Article 22(5). It should, therefore, be concluded that there is no compliance with Section 8 of the National Security Act.
37. Having regard to our discussion and findings in respect of each of the grounds, we have no hesitation to hold that all the grounds are vitiated and hence the detention order it wholly illegal and it is, therefore, quashed. The detenu shall be set at liberty forthwith.
38. In the result, the Writ Petition is allowed. No Costs. Advocate's fee : Rs. 250/-.
39. Petition allowed.