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Suraj Prakash and ors. Vs. State - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal;Constitution
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Ref. Nos. 147 to 153 and 222 of 1960
Judge
Reported inAIR1964All95; 1964CriLJ319
ActsPublic Gambling Act, 1867 - Sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9; Constitution of India - Article 14; Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC)
AppellantSuraj Prakash and ors.
RespondentState
Appellant AdvocateD.N. Wali, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateJ.R. Bhatt, Dy. Govt. Adv.
Excerpt:
constitution - validity of provisions - sections 2,3,4,5,6, and 9 of public gambling act, 1867 and article 14 of constitution of india - provisions applied strictly to certain areas by state government alleged as violative of article 14 - object of act to curb gambling - state government applying strict provisions to areas where gambling rampant - fulfilling object of act - provisions not violative of article 14. - - section 5 of the act confers on the officers specified in that section extra-ordinary powers which they do not, enjoy under the cr. 7. the point that requires consideration, however,is whether the state governments concerned have beengiven a naked or arbitrary power to apply these morestringent and harsh provisions to whichever area they,like or the legislature itself has.....jagdish sahai, j.1. these are twelve connected criminal references made by the learned additional sessions judge, muzaffarnagar, under section 432 cr. p. c., in which a common question of law is involved, the same being whether sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9 of the public gambling act (hereinafter referred to as the act) infringe article 14 of the constitution of india. the matter originally came before our brother broome, who directed that it be heard by a larger bench and that is how the matter has come before us.2. the act is applicable to this state as also to those of punjab, delhi and madhya pradesh. by virtue of the provisions of section 2 of the act sections 13 to 17 of the act have been made applicable to all the areas in these states. so far as the remaining sections are concerned.....
Judgment:

Jagdish Sahai, J.

1. These are twelve connected Criminal References made by the learned Additional Sessions Judge, Muzaffarnagar, under Section 432 Cr. P. C., in which a common question of law is involved, the same being whether Sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9 of the Public Gambling Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act) infringe Article 14 of the Constitution of India. The matter originally came before our brother Broome, who directed that it be heard by a larger Bench and that is how the matter has come before us.

2. The Act is applicable to this State as also to those of Punjab, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh. By virtue of the provisions of Section 2 of the Act Sections 13 to 17 of the Act have been made applicable to all the areas in these States. So far as the remaining sections are concerned it is provided by that section that the Stata Governments concerned may by a notification in the State Gazette extend such of the remaining provisions as they consider appropriate to such areas in their respective States as they consider suitable. By means of the Notification No. 2195/VI-349-1909, dated June 14, 1910, published in the U. P. Gazette, Part 1, of the same date, at page 578, all the provisions of the Act were made applicable to the district of Muzaffarnagar from where the cases giving rise to these references have arisen.

3. We have heard Mr. D. N. Wall for the convicted persons at whose instance the references have been made and whom we shall hereinafter call, the applicants, and Mr. Bhatt, learned Deputy Government Advocate, for the State.

4. The submission of Mr. Wali is that the provisions of the Act being more onerous and stringent thantheir counter parts in the Cr, P. C., the unguided power,given to the State Governments to extend those provisions to any area within their jurisdiction results in theinfringement of Article 14 of the Constitution. In otherwords the argument is that the powers conferred by Section 2 of the Act are discriminatory in their natureand it has been left to the State Government withoutthere being any legislative guidance to choose the areasto which the stringent provisions of the Act would applyleaving other areas to be dealt with under the moregenerous provisions of the Cr. P. C. It would contribute towards a correct decision of the case if in brief,the scheme of the Act were to be given and its variousprovisions surveyed. Section 1 of the Act is the interpretation clause and defines a 'common gaming house.'Section 2 of the Act reads as follows:

'2. Sections 13 and 17 of this Act shall extend to the whole of the said States; and it snail be competent to the State Government, whenever it may think fit, to extend, by notification to be published in three successive numbers of the official gazette, all or any of the remaining sections of this Act to any city, town, suburb, railway station house and place being not more than three miles distant from any part of such station house within the States and in such notification to detail tor the purposes of this Act limits of such city, town or suburb or station house, and from time to time to alter the limits so defined.

From the date of any such extension, so much of any rule having the force of law which shall be in operation in the territories, to which such extension shall have been made, as shall be Inconsistent with or repugnant to any section so extended shall cease to have effect in such territories.'

5. Section 3 of the Act provides for punishment for owning or keeping or having charge of a gaming house. Section 4 of the Act makes it penal for a person to be found In a gaming house. Section 5 of the Act confers on officers specified in that section the powereither to themselves enter or authorise any officer of police, not below such rank as the State Government may appoint, to enter the houses, waited enclosures, room or place which he has reason to believe is a common gaming house. Section 6 provides that any cards, dice, gaming-tables, cloths, bonds or other instruments of gaming found in any house, walled enclosures, room or place entered or searched under the provisions of Section 5 of the Act or about the person of any of thosewho are found therein, shall be -evidence that that house, walled enclosure, room or place is used as common gaming house and that the persons found therein were present there for the purpose of gaming, although no play was actually seen by the public officer who had entered there.

Section 7 provides for punishment of persons who having been found In a common gaming house, give falsenames and addresses to the officer raiding it. Section 8 of* the Act provides that on conviction the Magistratemay order all the instruments of gaming found in a gaming house to bs destroyed and any of the securities for money and other articles seized, not being instruments of gaming, to be sold and converted into money, the proceeds whereof would be forfeited to the State or paid to persons who, in his opinion, are entitled toreceive it. Section 9 provides that in order to convict a person of keeping a common gaming house or of being concerned in the management of any common gaming house, it would not be necessary to prove that the person found playing at any game was doing so for any money, wager or stake.

Section 10 of the Act confers on a Magistrate the power to require any person apprehended to give evidence on oath while Section 11 empowers the Magistrate to indemnify a witness and Section 12 provides that nothing contained in the Act shall be field to apply to any game of mere skill wherever played. Section 13 of the Act confers on a police-officer the power to apprehend without warrant any person found playing for 'money or other valuable thing with cards, dice, counters or other instruments of gaming used in playing any game not being a game of mere skill in any public street, place or thoroughfare. Section 14 of the Act requires that offences punishable under the Act shall be triable by any Magistrate having jurisdiction in the place where the offence is committed. Section 15 of the Act provides for penalty for a subsequent offence and Section 16 gives to the Magistrate the power to pay any portion of any fine levied under Sections 3 and 4 of the Act to be paid to an informer. Section 17 of the Act provides that all fines imposed under the Act shall be recovered in the manner prescribed by Section 61 of Cr. P. C.

6. Admittedly, there are no provisions similar to Section 3 or 4 I. P. C. or any other penal law. It is also admitted that there are no provisions analogous to Sections 5, 6 and 7 of the Act either in the Cr. P. C. or the Indian Evidence Act or any other statute. There is no analogous provisions to Section 9 of the Act in. the Cr. P. C. or the Indian Evidence Act . or any other Statute. It cannot also be denied that these provisions are very onerous, sections 3 and 4 of the Act being penal provisions are obviously very stringent. Section 5 of the Act confers on the officers specified in that section extra-ordinary powers which they do not, enjoy under the Cr. P. C. Section 6 of the Act creates a rule of evidence which is a departure from the general law of evidence prevailing in the country in so far as it provides for an arbitrary rule that the mere presence inside common gaming house would be enough for the conclusion that the persons present, were there for the purpose of gaming although no play was actually seen by the public officer entering the gaming house.

Section 9 of the Act also embodies a drastic rulethe application of which in many cases may be inconsistent with the reality in so far as that even an innocentperson if found in a common gaming house would beliable to conviction without any proof that he was playingany game or that he was doing so for any money, wagerbr stake. We also consider the rule laid down in Section 13of the Act a departure from the normal law prevailingin the country in so far as it confers on a police officerthe power of apprehending without warrant any personfound playing for money or other valuable thing- withcards etc. We are however unable to consider the provisions of Sections 3, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16 and 17 of theAct as more harsh than their counterparts in otherstatutes. From what we have said ' above It is clearthat there are contained In the Act certain previsionswhich are definitely harsher than their counter-parts Inother Acts.

7. The point that requires consideration, however,is whether the State Governments concerned have beengiven a naked or arbitrary power to apply these morestringent and harsh provisions to whichever area they,like or the legislature itself has laid down the policyof law and legal principles Into a binding rule of conduct and all that has been left to the State Governmentsis to choose the areas in which the remaining provisionsof the Act were to be made applicable, for which aguidance has been given in the Act It has not beencontended that there has been a delegation of essentiallegislative functions by enacting Section 2 or any otherprovision of the Act. The only submission that has beenmade is that the Act has not provided any guidance tothe State Government and has left it to its arbitrary willto decide as to which areas they would extend theremaining provisions of the Act.

8. It is true that the State Governments have been given a certain discretion in the matter but it is well settled that discretionary powers are not necessarily discriminatory powers and where conditions for the exercise of the power are laid down in the Act or the Rules made thereunder the powers cannot be said to be discriminatory. (See Tika Ramji v. State of U. P., 1956 SCR 393 : ((S) AIR 1956 SC 676). It is only in cases where it is found that either there is no standard or guide at all or that the guidance is vague or uncertain that the Court has power to strike down the law at the altar of Article 14 of the constitution, (see State of west Bengal v. Anwar All Sarkar, 1952 SCR 284 : (AIR 1952 SC 75)).

9. Whether or not the standard offered by the statute is vague has to be determined by the Court upon an examination of the Act read as a whole. (See Salakotaiah v. Union of India, AIR 1958 SC 232). In Budhan Choudhry v. The State of Bihar, (S) AIR 1S55 SC 191 a Constitution Bench of seven Judges of the Supreme Court at page 193 explained the true meaning and scope of Art 14 as follows;

'The provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution have come up for discussion before this Court in a number of cases, namely, Chiranjit Lal v. Union of India, 1951 SCR 869 : AIR 1951 SC 41, State of Bombay v. F. N. ealsara, 1951 SCR 682: AIR 1951 SC 318 1952 SCR 284 : AIR 1952 SC 75, Kathi Raning Rawat v. State of Saurashtra, 1952 SCR 435 : AIR 1952 SC 123, Lachmandas Kewalram v. State of Bombay, 1952 SCR 710 : AIR 1952 SC 235, Qasim Razvi v. State of Hyderabad, 1953 SCR 589-: AIR 1953 SC 156 and Habeeb Mlohammad v. State of Hyderabad, 1953 SCR 661: AIR 1953 SC 287. It Is therefore not necessary to enter upon any lengthy discussion as to the meaning, scope and effect of the article in question. It is now well established that while Article 14 forbids class legislation, it does not forbid reasonable classification for the purposes of legislation. In order, however, to pass the test of permissible classification two conditions must bo fulfilled, namely, (1) that the classification must be founded on an Intelligible differentia Which distinguishes personsor things that are grouped together from ethers left out of the group and (i) that that differentia must have a rational relation to the object sought to be achieved by the statute in question. The classification may be founded on diffrent bases; namely, geographical, or according to objects or accupation or the like. What is necessary is thatthere must be a nexus between tha basis of classification and the object of the Act under consideration, it is also well established by the decisions of this Court that Article 14 condemns discrimination not only by 8, substantive law but also by a law! of procedure.'

10. In Ram Krishna Dalmia v. S.R. Tendolkar, AIR 1958 SC 538 at page 547, S.R. Das, c. J. after reproducing the passage quoted above laid down as follows:

'The principle enunciated above has been consistently adopted and applied in subsequent cases. The decisions of this Court further establish -

(a) that a law may be constitutional even though It relates to a single individual if, on account of some special circumstances or reasons applicable to him and not applicable to others, that single Individual may be treated as a class by himself;

(b) that there is always a presumption In favour of the constitutionality of an enactment and the burden is upon him who attacks it to show that there has been a clear transgression of the constitutional principles:

(c) that it must be presumed that the legislature understands and correctly appreciates the need of Its own people, that its laws are directed to problems made manifest by experience and that its discriminations are based on adequate grounds;

(d) that the Legislature is free to recognise degrees of harm and may confine its restrictions to those cases where the need is deemed to be the clearest;

(e) that in order to sustain the presumption of constitutionality the Court may take Into consideration matters of common knowledge, matter of common report the history of the times and may assume every state of facts which can be conceived existing at the time of legislation: and

(f) that while good faith and knowledge of the existing conditions on the part of a Legislature are to be presumed, if there is nothing on the face of the taw or the surrounding circumstances brought to the notice of the Court on which the classification may reasonably be regarded as based, the presumption of constitutionality cannot be carried to the extent of always holding that there must be some undisclosed and unknown reasons for subjecting certain Individuals or corporations to hostile or discriminating legislation.' The statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill which became the Public Gambling Act of 1867 is stated in the following words in the Gazette of India dated 28th July, 1956, at p. 976:

The primary object of this Bill, which has been prepared at the desire of the Lieutenant-Governor of the North-Western Provinces and of the Chief Commissioner of British Burmah, is to repress public gambling in large towns situate in the territories respectively under their governments, without, at the same time, giving rise to oppression and other malpractices on the part of thepolice.

In these territories, as the law stands, persons cannot be prosecuted for gambling or keeping gaming-houses, and can only be punished under the I. P. C., Section 290, If It can be shown that their acts cause 'common injury danger and annoyance to the public.' tills of course is a matter of such difficulty that such persons practical enjoy an immunity from punishment.

The present Bill is founded on Sections 56-68 of the Towns Police Act, No. XIII of 1856, which correspond with I Sections 10-15 of Act No. XXI of 1857. (The Calcutta and Howrah Police and Conservancy Act.) These Sections. 10-15 have, in the form of Rules, teen for some years in force in Oudh, the Central Provinces and the Punjab, and they have been found to work satisfactorily. It is obviously desirable to convert these Rules into express legislative enactments, and this Bill, if it becomes law, will effect that object. A similar Act has recently been passed by the Governor of Bombay in Council. Under the present Bill, houses will only be searched by an officer of Police not below the rank of Inspector, and under the authority of a warrant from a Magistrate with full powers.'

11. The statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill clearly discloses that the necessity for introducing the Bill was that gambling was rampant in certain areas and the Government wanted to repress it but considered the provisions of Section 290, I. P. C. as wholly inadequate to meet the situation. It is also clear that even though the Government desired to check gambling it was conscious that the powers conferred by the Act might result in oppression and other malpractices on the part of the police and consequently did not wish to make all the provisions, specially the stringent ones, applicable to all the areas In the States to which the Act was being made applicable. There is good authority for the proposition that even though tie statement of objects and Reasons is not admissible as an aid to the construction of the Statute it can be used in, order to ascertain the conditions prevailing and which actuated the sponsor of the Bill to introduce the same (See State of West Bengal v. Subodh Gopal, AIR 1954 SC 92 and Ranganathan v. Govt of Madras, (S) AIR 1955 SC 604).

12. The long title and the preamble of the Actread as follows:

Long title-

'An Act to provide for the punishment of public gambling and the keeping of common gaming-house in the Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Delhi and the Madhya Pradesh.'

Preamble-

'Whereas It is expedient to make provision for the punishment of public gambling and the keeping of common gaming-house in the Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh.'

The long title and the preamble of the Act clearly show that the Act was passed with a view to punish public gambling and the keeping of common gaming-houses. As the statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill shows :he idea was to check gambling and the running of common gaming-houses and yet not to give unnecessary powers to the police or making administration of the Act oppressive. The Legislature could not have had Ml and detailed knowledge of the local conditions prevailing in all parts of the States for which the Act was being passed. They could not have known, as the State Government could have known, in which areas gambling was more rampant, and in which less. The state Governments concerned would naturally be expected to be more cognisant about the areas In which the enforcement of the Act would result in unnecessary harshness or oppression. Consequently, having laid down the policy of law and legal principles into a binding rule of conduct, the legislative left it to We State Governments concerned to decideto which areas they would extend the remaining provisions of the Act. The preamble clearly provides a guidance to the State Governments in so far as it declares that the Act has been passed with a view to punish public gambling and keeping of common gaming houses. The indication of the legislature to the State Governments concerned, therefore, is that wherever they think that it would contribute to the checking of public gambling and the maintenance of common gaming houses and the ordinary laws were not effective for that purpose they should extend the remaining provisions or such of them as they consider proper.

13. That a preamble can be construed as laying down sufficiently clearly a policy or principles for the guidance of the executive was held by the Supreme Court in the case in AIR 1952 SC 123. In this case the object of the Ordinance was to

'provide for public safety, maintenance of public order and preservation of peace and tranquillity in the State of Saurashtra.'

The Supreme Court held that there was something in, the ordinance itself to guide the State Government to apply the special procedure provided therein not to any and every case but only to those cases or offences which have a rational relation to or connection with the mam object and purpose of the ordinance and which for that reason become a class by themselves requiring to be dealt with on a special footing. Their Lordships turner observed:

'The clear recital of a definite abjective furnishes a tangible and rational basis of classification to the State Government for the purpose of applying the provisions of the ordinance and for choosing only such offences or cases as affect public safety, maintenance of public order and preservation of peace and tranquillity.'

Again their Lordships observed as follows:

'Thus under Section 11, the State Government is expected to select only such offences or class of offences or class of cases tor being tried by the special court in accordance with the special procedure, as are calculated to affect public safety, maintenance of public order, etc., and under Section 9 the use of the special procedure must necessarily be confined to only disturbed areas or those, areas where adoption of public safety measures is necessary.'

In the present case also the preamble and the long title clearly Indicate that the State Governments were expected to apply the remaining provisions of the Act only to such areas where gambling was rampant on a large scale and where the Government considered the ordinary provisions of law to be of no effect. Our attention was invited to AIR 1952 SC 75. That case was distinguished by Fazl Ali, J. in AIR 1952 SC 123 (Supra) in the folllowing words:

'There is, however one very important difference between the West Bengal Act and the present Ordinance which, in my opinion, does afford such justification, and I shall try to refer to it as briefly as possible.

I think that a distinction should be drawn between 'discrimination without reason' and 'discrimination with reason'. The whole doctrine of classification is based on this distinction and on the well-known fact that the circumstances which govern one set of persons or objects, may not necessarily be the same as those governinganother set of persons or objects, so that the question of unequal treatment does not really arise as between persons governed by different conditions and different sets of circumstances. The main objection to the West Bengal Act was that it permitted discrimination 'without reason' or without any rational basis....... ...The meremention of speedier trial as the object of the Act did not cure the defect, because the expression 'speedier trial' standing by itself provided no rational basis of classification. It was merely a description of the result sought to be achieved by the application of the special procedure laid down in the Act and afforded no help in determining what cases required speedier trial.........The clear recital of a definite objective furnishes a tangible and rational basis of classification to the State Government for the purpose of applying the provisions of the Ordinance and for choosing only such offences or cases as affect public safety, maintenance of public order and preservation of peace and tranquillity. Thus under Section 11, the State Government is expected to select only such offences or class of offences or class of cases for being tried by the special Court in accordance with the special procedure, as are calculated to affect public safety, maintenance of public order etc.........'

14. In the same case Mukherjee, J. distinguished the decision in Anwar Ali Sarkar's case, AIR 1952 SC 75 in the following words:

'The object of passing this new ordinance is identically the same for which the earlier ordinance was passed, and the preamble to the latter, taken along with the surrounding circumstances, discloses a definite legislative policy which has been sought to be effectuated by the different provisions contained in the 'enactment'. If special Courts were considered necessary to cope with an abnormal situation it cannot be said that the vesting of authority in the State Government to select offences for trial by such Courts is in any way unreasonable.' The learned Judge also observed as follows: 'But a statute will not necessarily be condemned as discriminatory, because it does not make the classification itself but, as an effective way of carrying out its policy, vests the authority to do it in certain officers or administrative bodies ................ In my opinion if thelegislative policy is clear and definite and as an effective method of carrying out that policy a discretion is vested by the statute upon a body of administrators or officers to make selective application of the law to certain classes or groups of persons, the statute itself cannot be condemned as a piece of discriminatory legislation.........In such cases, the power given to the executive body would import a duty on jt to classify the subject-matter of legislation in accordance with the objective, indicated In the statute. The discretion that is conferred on official agencies In such circumstances is not an unguided discretion it has to be exercised in conformity with the policy, to effectuate which the direction is given and it is in relation to that objective that the propriety of the classification would have to be tested.'

15. In the same case Das, J. observed as follows:

'In my judgment, this part of the section, properly construed and understood, does not confer an uncontrolled and 'unguided power on the State Government. On the contrary, this power is controlled by the necessity for making a proper classification which is to be guided bythe preamble in the sense that the classification must have a rational relation to the object of the Act as recited in the preamble. It is, therefore, not an arbitrary power. The Legislature has left it to the State Government to classify offences or classes of offences or classes of cases for the purpose of the ordinance, for the State Government is in a better position to Judge the needs and exigencies of the State and the Court will not lightly interfere with the decision of the State Government.'

16. In Kedar Nath Bajcria v. State of West Bengal, AIR 1953 SC 404 the long title of the Act was:

'An Act to provide for the more speedy Trial and more effective punishment of certain offences',

and the preamble declared:

'It is expedient to provide for the more speedy trial and more effective punishment of certain offences'.

Distinguishing the case of Anwar Ali Sarkar, AIR 1952 SC 75 (supra), their Lordships by a majority Judgment held that the long title and the preamble afforded sufficient guidance and the powers conferred on the State Government were not uncontrolled. In AIR 1958 SC 538 (supra), S.R. Dass, C. J. on the construction of Section 3 of the Act held that the principle for the guidance of the State Government had been laid down.

17. In Kangshari Haldar v. State of West Bengal, AIR 1960 SC 457 the Supreme Court observed that the preamble to an Act and its material provisions must be considered in order to determine whether or not the powers conferred on the State Government were uncontrolled. In that case the long title and the preamble disclosed that the Act was passed

'because the Legislature thought it expedient in the interest of the security of the State, maintenance of public peace and tranquillity and the due safeguarding of the industry and business, to provide for speedy trial of the offences specified in the schedule.'

Their Lordships held that the long title, the preamble and the various provisions of the Act did provide sufficient guidance to the State Government.

18. In P.J. Irani v. State of Madras, AIR 1961 SC 1731 the preamble along with the operative provisions of the Act were held to be providing enough guidance to the State Government. In that case their Lordships of the Supreme Court observed as follows:

'The arguments addressed to us were the same as had been urged before the leanred Judges of the High Court and had been repelled by them. They pointed out that it was not correct to say that the enactment did not sufficiently disclose the policy and purpose of the Act which furnished adequate guidance for the basis of the exercise of the power of exemption. The preamble to the Act ran:

'Whereas it is expedient to regulate the letting of residential and non-residential buildings and to control the rents of such buildings and to prevent unreasonable eviction of tenants therefrom in the State.' This meant that the legislation was enacted for achieving three purposes: (1) The regulation of letting, (2) The control of rents and (3) The prevention of unreasonable eviction of tenants from residential and non-residential buildings.'

It is not necessary to multiply authorities. We find no difficulty in holding that the long title and the preamble of the Act lay down a clear guiding policy, the same being that wherever it is considered necessary to punish public gambling and the keeping of common gaming houses the remaining provisions of the Act should be extended, we have already said above that the legislature could not have had a better knowledge than the State Governments concerned as to which are the worst areas in the various State to which the Act applies and where the ordinary law would not be able to prevent the mischief. It therefore left to the State Governments to choose the areas having given an indication as to what the aim and object of the Act was.

19. Having given our anxious consideration to the submissions made at the Bar we have come to the conclusion that the provisions of Sections 2 or 3 or 4 or any other provision in the Act are not hit by Article 14 of the Constitution of India. We therefore answer the references made to this Court by holding that the provisions of Sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9 of the Act are not ultra vires and in fact all the provisions in the Act are intra vires. Let the record of the cases be sent back to the Sessions Judge for the decision of the cases on merits.


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