N.U. Beg, J.
1. This is a writ petition by one Ram Swarup. The opposite parties in this writ petition are Ram Narain Sharma, station officer Beniganj district Hardoi, opposite party No. 1 and Sri Ravindra Nath Agarwala, Superintendent of Police Hardoi opposite Party No. 2. The allegations of the petitioner in the writ petition are that the peitioner is a resident of Beniganj in the district of Hardoi. He has never been convicted of any offence mentioned in paragraph 226 of the Police Regulations. He is a cloth merchant and has a shop in the town at Beniganj. He also holds agricultrual land op an area of about sixty bighas. He was paying the Town Area Tax for a long time. At one time he was also paying income-tax. He comes of a respectable family of Beniganj.
2. The petition then goes on to state that since the year 1947 relations between the petitioner and the local police became strained. The petitioner had lodged a report against one Mohammad Amin, a sub-inspector of police who was dismissed as a result thereof. In the year 1957 the petitioner protested against the high-handedness of the station officer of Beniganj, and on an enquiry made by the Superintendent of Police into the matter, the said station officer was transferred. In the year 1957 a complaint was filed against the station officer of P. S. Beniganj,and the petitioner was a witness against the station officer in that case. One Smt. Ganesha was waylaid, and her report relating to the occurrence was not recorded by the police.
The petitioner got a complaint in respect of this matter sent to the Superintendent of Police, Hardoi and further brought this matter to the notice of the Complaint Officer, Hardoi as well as the Circle Inspector. The complaint in this matter was against opposite party No. 1. The police did not take any action on the said report of Smt. Ganesha. Since that time opposite party No. 1 is alleged to have been bearing ill-will against the petitioner and has been proclaiming that he would involve the petitioner in some crime.
3. On the 18th July 1959 the petitioner was informed by opposite party No. 1 that his history sheet had been opened and he would be put under police surveillance. Since then he has been shadowed by the police and interrogated by them. The petitioner claims to be a social worker and states that he is the Secretary of the Akhadya Tel Sabun Udyog Sahkari Samiti Ltd., district Hardoi. He further stated that his house adjoins police station Beniganj.
4. The case of the petitioner is that the action taken by the police in opening his history sheet was a mala fide one, that this action was not warranted by his past conduct, that he had never been convicted of any of the offences mentioned in paragraph 228 of the Police Regulations, and, therefore, the action of the police in opening his history-sheet was arbitrary, illegal and without jurisdiction. He, therefore, prays for a writ of mandamus directing the opposite parties Nos. 1 and 2 to close his history sheet.
5. This application was opposed on behalf of the opposite parties who filed a counter affidavit to meet the allegations made by the petitioner in his affidavit. Thereafter the petitioner filed a supplementary affidavit.
6. Having heard the learned counsel for the petitioner I am of opinion that this petition should be allowed. It is admitted on behalf of the State that the petitioner has never been convicted of any offences enumerated in paragraph 226 or 228 of the Police Regulations. It is also admitted on behalf of the State that the petitioner is cloth merchant, that he has a shop in the town of Beniganj and that he also holds lands over fifty bighas in area. It is further admitted that the petitioner has been paying town area tax for a long time.
The counter affidavit filed on behalf of the opposite parties states that once upon a time in the past the history sheet of the uncle of the petitioner named Manna wag opened. It is also stated in the counter-affidavit that the petitioner's son Ravendra was prosecuted under Section 411 I.P.C. by the police. Even if these facts are true I see no reason why they should cast any reflection on the conduct, character or integrity of the petitioner. His case should be judged on the merits of his own conduct.
On behalf of the opposite parties it is stated in the counter affidavit that on the 1.5th January 1959 (sic) the petitioner was convicted under Section 81 of the D. I. R. and sentenced to six months R. I and to pay a fine of rupees two hundred. Later on, on the 15th May 1947 he was again convicted under Section 81 of the D.I.R. and sentenced to six months' R. I. Further it is stated, that the petitioner was convicted for an offence under Section 147/307 I.P.C. and sentenced to six years' R. I. by the trial court, but, on appeal,, his sentence was reduced to one month's R. I. and a fine of rupees one hundred, and, in default, to one month's further R. I. under Section 323 I.P.C.
7. In his supplementary affidavit the petitioner had admitted that he was, no doubt, convicted in these cases but was eventually acquitted in all the three cases. Learned counsel for the petitioner has produced certified copies of, the judgments of those cases proving the correctness of his case in this regard. There is no doubt, therefore, that the counter affidavit filed on behalf of the opposite parties has suppressed material facts. There does appear to be an attempt made on behalf of the opposite parties to distort facts against the petitioner.
8. The counter affidavit filed on behalf of the State further alleges that two first information reports were made against the petitioner, but those reports remained uninvestigated. This allegation, in my opinion, has no value for two reasons. The first reason is that these two reports are said to have been made in the year 1940 and 1948 respectively. The history sheet of the petitioner was opened in December 1958. Both these reports, therefore, relate to a period beyond ten years from the date of the opening of the history sheet. The second reason is that the very fact that these reports were not investigated by the police and no action was taken thereon by any party shows that there was hardly any substance in those reports.
The petitioner has stated in his supplementary affidavit that he was not aware of any reports made against him by any person, in view of the fact that none of these cases was investigated nor any action taken thereon by any party, the statement of the petitioner in his supplementary affidavit is worthy of credence.
9. In the counter-affidavit on behalf of the State reference is also made to two other cases in which final reports were submitted and one more case in which prosecution was launched and which ended in the acquittal of the petitioner. I do not see how the opposite parties can take any advantage of the institution or investigation of a case against the petitioner which. was eventually found to be groundless and not worthy of prosecution. The very fact that the petitioner was involved in so may cases, and yet not one of those cases ended in his conviction shows that an attempt was being made by the police to secure his conviction for the purposes of satisfying their feeling of malice and revenge against the petitioner.
10. There does appear to be some basis for thinking that the police of the locality bear an animus against the petitioner, The petitioner'sallegation that he had lodged a report against one Sri Mohammad Amin who was a sub-inspector and who was dismissed as a result thereof has not been denied on behalf of the State. On the other hand, it is alleged on behalf of the State that the papers relating to the matter having been weeded out, it is not in a position to throw any light on the matter. The petitioner further stated in his affidavit that in the year 1957 he had protested against the highhandedness of the station officer of Beniganj, and, on an enquiry being made into the matter by the Superintendent of Police, the said station officer was transferred.
In the affidavit filed on behalf of the State it is admitted that the petitioner had made a complaint in the year 1957. It is further admitted that that complaint was against Sri Gurudayal Singh, Station Officer of Beniganj. It is also admitted that the said station officer was transferred from police station Beniganj. The ground for his transfer alleged on behalf of the State is that it was made on administrative grounds. This is a vague allegation. The circumstances, however, speak for themselves. In view of the fact that the transfer was made shortly after the complaint made by the petitioner, it does not require much thinking to come to the conclusion that the transfer was the direct result of the complaint made by the petitioner.
11. The petitioner has also alleged in his petition that in a complaint which was matte against the station officer, Beniganj, he had appeared as a witness against the station officer. This fact had to be admitted in the counter-affidavit filed on behalf of the State.
12. In reply to the allegations relating toSmt. Ganesha in the petition, it is admitted in the counter-affidavit filed On behalf of the State that Smt. Ganesha had made a complaint to the Superintendent of Police to the effect that on the 18th October, 1958 her enemies Dasrath and others had looted her house and when she went to lodge a report at police station Beniganj her report was not recorded. It is also admitted therein that Smt. Ganesha had further complained that on the 21st October, 1958, when Smt. 'Ganesha was following the station officer from Uljha, the station officer attempted to dishonour her elder daughter, that this conduct of the station officer was resented by her, and that the station officer did not make any enquiry into the incident of looting.
It is, however, stated on behalf of the State that no action was taken on the complaint of Smt. Ganesha as on enquiry her allegations were found to be false. Whatever the result of the enquiry might have been (sic) extremely annoyed with the petitioner who was throughout trying to support Smt. Ganesha in her complaint find had gone to the extent of giving evidence against the police.
13. On behalf of the State it is argued that the history sheet of the petitioner was openedon the 16th December 1958 not by the stationofficer concerned but by the Superintendent of Police. I am not impressed by this argument at all. The Superintendent of Police has obviously no direct concern with these matters. The materials must have been supplied to him by the local police attached to the thana. The circumstances of the case do indicate that they were swayed by feelings of animosity against the petitioner. The opening of the history-sheet is a serious matter in view of the fact that it is likely to cast a grave reflection on the conduct of the person concerned. It is, therefore, desirable that the higher officers of the police should, before approving of a step like this, try to enter into the merits of the matter and look personally into the facts of the case. I cannot help feeling that in the present case this does not appear to have been done,
14. In his affidavit the petitioner has stated that he is a social worker and is the Secretary of the Akhadya Tel Sabun Udyog Sahkari Samiti Ltd., district Hardoi. This statement is admitted as correct in the counter-affidavit filed on behalf of the opposite parties.
15. Having gone into the circumstances of the case and perused the affidavits filed by the parties on either side it does appear that the action taken by the police against the petitioner in opening his history-sheet was highhanded, improper, arbitrary and mala fide. On behalf of the State it is, however, argued that the action being an administrative one is not amenable to the writ jurisdiction of this Court. I am not inclined to accept this contention. Even an administrative action taken by the executive officers of a State will fall within the ambit of writ jurisdiction if such action is found to be in complete disregard of the mandatory provisions of law and is mala fide.
In the present case it presents both these features. So far as the matter of opening history sheet is concerned, law has Hot left it to the arbitrary whim of the police1 officers. Para 223 of the Police Regulations provides for the maintenance of a village crime note-book and states that it is a confidential record kept at every police station and contains information about the crime and criminals of each village in the circle. Part V of this register consists of history-sheets. Para 223 further 'provides' that 'entries in Part V will be made in accordance with the instructions in paragraph 228 below'. Paragraph 226 states that particulars of all residents of the village convicted of the offences mentioned in that paragraph should lie maintained. These offences are given under headings A, B, C and D of that paragraph. They are of the nature of 'theft, extortion, robbery, dacoity, cheating, house breaking, rape, offences against the State, kidnapping, forgery and other offences.
In the present case it is admitted that no such offence has been committed by the petitioner. . Paragraph 228 of the Police Regulations lays down that history-sheets should be opened only for persons who are or are likely to become habitual criminals or abettors of such criminals and divides such history-sheets into two clauses. Clause (A) consists of history-sheets for dacoits, burglars, cattle thieves, railway goods wagon thieves and abettors thereof. Clause (B) consists of history-sheets for confirmed and professional criminals who commit crimes other than dacoity, burglary, cattle theft, and theft from railway goods wagons, e.g. professional cheats and other experts for whom criminal personal files are maintained by the Criminal Investigation Department, poisoners, cattle poisoners, railway passenger thieves, bicycle thieves, expert pick pockets, forgers, coiners, cocaine and opium smugglers, hired ruffians and goondas, telergaph wire-cutters, habitual illicit distillers and abettors thereof. It has not been disclosed on behalf of the opposite parties as to whether the history-sheet of the petitioner appertains to clause (A)or clause (B) above. It is, however, quite clear that the case of the petitioner does not fall under either of the two categories, as none of the offences mentioned either in clause (A) or in clause (B) has been committed by the petitioner, There is not even an allegation on behalf of theopposite parties that he was ever suspected of having committed any of them or having abetted the same. Under the circumstances, it must be held that the opening of the history-sheet of the petitioner was in defiance of the above provisions of law.
I must, therefore, hold that even though the action of the authorities in this regard was administrative, it was, in the present case, without Jurisdiction. Further, the action in the present case further appears to have been taken under the cover of law for an oblique motive. It is mala fide and improper. Liberty and honour of a citizen in an independent country are his most priceless possessions. Any attempt, therefore, on the part of executive officers to rob a citizen of these valuable assets in disregard of the provisions of law can be taken notice of by courts in their writ jurisdiction,
16. In State of Uttar Pradesh v. Ram Upadhyay, AIR' 1961 SC 751, it has been held thatthe provisions contained in Police Regulationsare not mere administrative directions but are tobe treated as if they were a Part of statutorylaw. The judgment of J. K. Tandon J, in Mohammad Yasin v. Superintendent of Police, Sitapur,1960 All LJ 570 would lend support to the viewthat in such a case the provisions of Article 226can be invoked by the Court.
17. For the above reasons, I am of opinionthat this writ petition must be allowed. I, accordingly, allow the Writ petition and direct thata writ of mandamus be issued to the opposite parties directing them to forthwith close the history-sheet of the petitioner. The petitioner willbe entitled to his costs in this case.