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Ram Newaz Vs. R.K. Bhargava - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectContempt of Court
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Misc. (Contempt of Court) Appln. No. 16 of 1965
Judge
Reported inAIR1967All295; 1967CriLJ682
ActsContempt of Courts Act, 1952 - Sections 1; Preventive Detention Act, 1950 - Sections 3
AppellantRam Newaz
RespondentR.K. Bhargava
Appellant AdvocateS.K. Tewari, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateB.N. Katju, Adv.
DispositionPetition dismissed
Excerpt:
.....laws of the land were defeated and courts orders circumvented. to my mind the basis of the preventive detention act of 1950 as amended by act iv of 1951 is that the central or the state government is given the power to make orders of detention against certain persons provided such government is satisfied on the grounds mentioned in section 3 of the act. by result of operation of these factors the court may make an order of discharge or acquittal but nevertheless it is competent and proper in my opinion for the government to act under section 3 of the preventive detention act if it is satisfied that such acquitted or discharged person should be detained in order to prevent him from acting in a prejudicial manner as laid down under that section. it means that the jury were not..........would furnish conclusive ground for any penal action by the transport authorities. equally, if the criminal prosecution ended in a discharge or acquittal of the accused and that event happened before the order of any road transport tribunal, thensuch tribunal would not have the power to go behind the final order of a competent criminal court........ this procedure wouldavoid the spectacle of two departments of the government proceeding on contradictory lines to the annoyance and hardship of the citizen.' the above proposition was not accepted by a division bench of this court in b. k. agarwala v. regional transport authority, kumaon, 1962 all lj 116 (db) where this court disagreeing with the madras decision observed as follows:'two independent tribunals with different jurisdiction and.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Gyanendra Kumar, J.

1. This is an application for action under Article 215 of the Constitution of India read with Section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act gainst the District Magistrate of Banda. The facts of the case are that proceedings under Section 110, Cri. P. C. were launched against the applicant which were decided by a First Class Magistrate on 23-12-1963. The applicant was, however, discharged by the Magistrate by his judgment and order dated 23-12-63. The relevant portion wherefrom reads as follows:

'In fact I am of the opinion that Beta should have never been prosecuted in this case under Section 110, Cri. P. C and his prosecution in the case itself can be called as rash and uncalled for. There has been unnecessary waste of public money and time in this reckless prosecution. From the findings recorded bv me it has been positively proved that Beta opposite party is of good character and is not at all hazardous to the community and does not habitually take any part in the commission of offences involving the breach of peace To call him as a thief or a house-breaker is most absurd and shows bankruptcy of brain. The result is that the notice given to him should be discharged '

2. A case under Section 307, I. P. C. was also instituted against the applicant which gave rise to Sessions Trial No. 15 of 1964. The applicant was, however, acquitted by the learned Judge by his judgment dated 31-7-64, The relevant portions wherefrom run as follows:

'The shortcoming discrepancies, absurdities and incongruities in that evidence havealso been pointed out during that discussion. I need not repeat them over again. It is difficult on that evidence even to accept that any encounter as alleged, took place between the police party and the badmashes at the alleged date, time and place and much more to accept that the accused persons standing trial took part in that encounter. A word also need be said regarding the investigation of the case. The investigation of the case lacks much in straightforwardness. It is all fabricated and mere farcial and superficial than real.

The only inference that can be deduced from the aforesaid facts is that in reality no investigation was done and all acts shown to have been done towards investigation are farzi.....

It would thus be seen that there is entirely nothing in the case to earn the confidence of the Court and to make the prosecution story every bit of which pre-eminently lacks in reality and actually acceptable even in the remotest manner. I feel painfully constrained to observe that the instant case furnishes a glaring instance of concerted highhandedness of the police of Manikpur G. R. P. Station and civil Police of Karwi.

There is no escape from the conclusion that the whole of the case is false and fabricated and all the accused persons should be held not guilty of the offence charged and should be acquitted thereof.

3. The opposite party has admitted in his counter affidavit that he knew about the aforesaid decisions and yet the petitioner was arrested on 5-1-65 at 2 p.m. at Banda Railway Station under an order of the opposite party issued under Section 3 (2) of the Preventive Detention Act, 1950, inter alia, on the following grounds:

'2. That you on 30-3-62 at Railway Station Bahalpurwa, Central Railway attempted to commit the murder of Sri Ranjit Singh Bhandhari, Inspector, G. R. P. and his party and used fire arms along with your gang of bad characters and were prosecuted for the said offence......

10. That you were challaned under Section 110, Cri. P. C. and 107/117, Cri. P. C. but you terrorised the witnesses so much that none could dare to depose against you. In the end the petitioner was charged of an offence of establishing a reign of terror in the locality which was highly prejudicial to the maintenance of the public peace and public order.

4. Charge No. 2 quoted above was the subject-matter of Sessions Trial No. 15 of 1964 in which the applicant was acquitted on the finding that his prosecution was false and concocted. Likewise charge No. 10 quoted above was the subject-matter of enquiry by the Magistrate in which the applicant was discharged again on the finding that the prosecution case was false.

5. The applicant challenged his detention by Habeas Corpus Petition No. 317 of 1965. The matter came up before a DivisionBench of this Court consisting of Verma and Gupta, JJ. They considered the two judgments dated 28-12-68 and 81-7 84 passed by the Magistrate and the Sessions Judge in the two cases referred to above. The Bench dealt with the case of the petitioner in following words:

'He has argued that neither the findings recorded in the previous cases nor the evidence led in support of the allegations upon which those findings were given could be taken as grounds for the petitioner's detention. We are of the view that the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner, supported as it is by high authority, must be upheld.'

6. Regarding the remaining grounds mentioned in the District Magistrate's notice dated 6-1-1965 the Division Bench observed as follows :

'There may be circumstances such as communal disturbances and riots in which the detention of a notorious goonda may be justified. The justification, however, would not be the fact of his being a notorious goonda but the existence of circumstances making his detention imperative in the interest of public order. In the present case there are no special circumstances, whatsoever, even if it be assumed that the petitioner is a bad character.'

In the result the applicant's habeas corpus petition was allowed and he was directed to be set at liberty forthwith. He was also granted costs which were assessed at Rs. 250, The aforesaid judgment was pronounced by the Division Bench on 19-2-1905. However, a few days before the pronouncement of the judgment in habeas corpus petition the applicant had moved the instant application on 8-2-1965 for proceedings in contempt against the opposite party, principally on the footing that the opposite party had detained the applicant on the grounds which bad already been judicially decided in his favour by contempt of courts of law.

7. In his counter affidavit the opposite party has admitted that he had perused the aforesaid judgments of the Magistrate dated 23-12-1868 and of the Sessions Judge dated 31-7-1964, but pleaded that he had bona fide passed the order of detention of the applicant under powers conferred on him by the Preventive Detention Act. He contended that the existence of the aforesaid judgments could not bar the exercise of the powers conferred under the Preventive Detention Act. In other words, he averred that the action under the Preventive Detention Act could not amount either to lowering the prestige of Courts or sitting in judgment over judicial pronouncements.

8. In support of his contention the opposite party has placed reliance on a Division Bench case reported in Raman Lal Rathi v. Commr. of Police, Calcutta : AIR1952Cal26 in which their Lordships had considered the point whether the order of detention under the Preventive Detention Act could be made against a person on the very grounds which were the subject of prosecution in the ordi-nary course of law. In that case it was argued that by such order of detention the ordinary laws of the land were defeated and Courts orders circumvented. The circumvention of an order of the Court was also put forward to indicate mala fides on the part of the detaining authority. Dealing with the matter the Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court observed as under:

'To my mind the basis of the Preventive Detention Act of 1950 as amended by Act IV of 1951 is that the Central or the State Government is given the power to make orders of detention against certain persons provided such Government is satisfied on the grounds mentioned in Section 3 of the Act. The satisfaction is of the appropriate Government and not of the Courts. Such satisfaction as laid down in Section 3 of the Preventive Detention Act is not limited to be based on the existing laws of the land. Fundamentally therefore the operation of the existing laws of the land or the determination of the offences by Courts under such laws and the result arising therefrom whether of acquittal or discharge or even of conviction (for instance only a sentence of fine and not of imprisonment) cannot be allowed to operate as a restriction on the powers of the Government to detain under Section 3 of the Preventive Detention Act. To allow it to do so would in my view be to completely eliminate the very justification of the Preventive Detention Act. For if the ordinary laws of the land and their application to any particular person by the Courts were enough to meet the situation which the Preventive Detention Act was intended to meet, then it is difficult to imagine either the purpose or the object of such an Act.

In a criminal case under the ordinary criminal or quasi-criminal law of the country an accused may be acquitted or discharged on various grounds not the least important of which are the theory of reasonable doubt, the possibility of alternative conclusions of guilt or innocence, the satisfaction of the jury in a jury trial, the Judge's impression or satisfaction about the credibility of a particular witness, the artificial rules of jurisdiction of particular Court and the technical rules of the Indian Evidence Act. By result of operation of these factors the Court may make an order of discharge or acquittal but nevertheless it is competent and proper in my opinion for the Government to act under Section 3 of the Preventive Detention Act if it is satisfied that such acquitted or discharged person should be detained in order to prevent him from acting in a prejudicial manner as laid down under that section.

What does the Court's order of acquittal or discharge mean? It means that the jury were not satisfied or that the Judge was not satisfied. In my judgment the satisfaction of the Judge, or the jury cannot be a substitute for the satisfaction of the Government as slated under Section 3 of the Preventive Detention Act. The Government may, notwithstanding such satisfaction of the Judge or the jury, be legally satisfied under the statute that it is 'necessary', in the particular case decided by the Judge or the jury to detain the particular person with a view to preventing him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the interests or causes mentioned in Section 3 of the Statute, as for instance the interests of national security or maintenance of essential supplies or services in the country.

The answer to this branch of the argument will he manifest when it is realised that the central purpose of the Preventive Detention Act is preventive detention justified by national security and maintenance of public order and essential supplies and services and its purpose is not criminal conviction justified by legal evidence and by existing laws relating to crimes and offences. The consideration of the Court and the consideration of the Government are in this context disparate and do not belong to the same realms of scrutiny. In this view of the matter it is necessary to dispel the notions of the principles of autrefois acquit and the seductive cliche of arguments based upon doable jeopardy under Article 20(2) of the Constitution which consciously or unconsciously influenced the submission made on behalf of the petitioner. The principle of autrefois acquit under Section 403, Criminal P. C. has in my view, no application because the satisfaction of the Government under the Preventive Detention Act is not a 'trial' The constitutional protection against double jeopardy under Article 20(2) of the Constitution is also inapplicable because satisfaction under the Preventive Detention Act is not a 'Prosecution' There is and can be no identity of offence or of prosecution between detention under the Preventive Detention Act and trial conviction by a Court of law.

I am therefore of the opinion that the order of detention under the Preventive Detention Act is not illegal merely because it nullifies a previous older of discharge or acquittal by a Court in a criminal or a quasi-criminal case.

The next argument is that the order of detention is mala fide I am asked to make an inference of mala fides because it is said that the whole purpose of the order of detention is to nullify and circumvent the orders of the Court. It is said that as the Stale chose to prosecute the petitioner under the ordinary law, it has thereby precluded itself from taking recourse to the Preventive Detention Act On the question of law I am of opinion for the reasons stated under the second branch of the argument that there can be no question of election of remedies by the Government

Where is the election of remedy? In the criminal case the State can only prosecute. Conviction in such a case is not in the hand of the State...... If the prosecution fails,the Court acquits the accused. It only means at best that the offence has not been proved according to the Indian Penal Code. Criminal Procedure Code and Indian Evidence Act 1 see no reason why such acquittal must necessarily mean that the acquitted person nevertheless cannot be acting in a manner prejudicial to national security or maintenance of essential supplies and services as mentioned in Section 3 of the Preventive Detention Act and if the Government is satisfied on that account it cannot in such a case come to the conclusion that it is necessary to detain him......To my mindit is entirely erroneous to think that the ordinary criminal laws of the country and the Preventive Detention Act are substitutes for each other. If anything they are complementary.'

9. It was further held in the aforesaid case that the failure of prosecution under the ordinary criminal law cannot by itself be said to make the subsequent application under the Preventive Detention Act mala fide. Where the Government chose to bring the offender to book under the ordinary criminal laws of the country and the Government was told by the Courts that the accused was outside the reach of such laws, then, it is not mala fides but bona fides of the Government, when it applies the Preventive Detention Act only as a means of last resort where the ordinary laws of the land had failed It only shows that the Government acted in good faith and was reluctant to apply its summary powers of preventive detention in the first instance Thus a prior successful application of the ordinary criminal laws of the country to a citizen does not make a subsequent application of the Preventive Detention Act to that citizen ipso facto mala fide. It cannot be doubted that the scope and ambit of the ordinary criminal laws are limited and circumscribed, while the range of the Preventive Detention Act is much wider from the very nature and requirements enumerated in Section 3 of the Preventive Detention Act.

10. In the instant case the petitioner has also attributed numerous other facts of mala fides to the District Magistrate of Banda, which have all been denied by him. I am not at all satisfied that the petitioner has been able to establish any factual material to prove prejudice or mala fide on the part of the District Magistrate. It has already been pointed out by their Lordships of the Calcutta High Court in Raman Lal's case. : AIR1952Cal26 that the mere detention of a person under the Preventive Detention Act, who has been acquitted of a criminal offence by the Courts of law, would not by itself amount to mala fldes in law

11. In Kamla Kant Azad v. Emperor AIR 1944 Pat 354 (DB) a somewhat similar view was expressed by a Division Bench of that Court when it was observed 'I do not say that, in no case, where a man has been acquitted, should or can an order of detention be made. Prosecution may break down, and acts of the person against whom an order is sought, other than the act or acts which led to his being prosecuted, may, quite properly have to be taken into consideration. '

12. I am in respectful agreement with the views expressed by the Calcutta and PatnaHigh Courts in the two cases referred to above. In spite of his acquittal or discharge by a Court of law a person may still be detained under the Preventive Detention Act on the same allegations and material, which had formed the subject-matter of his prosecution and trial before a Court, for the object and ambit of the proceedings are essentially different. There would be greater justification for preventive detention, if apart from those acts of the detenu which led to his prosecution, the detaining authority has taken into consideration other acts and facts in conjunction therewith, as in the position in the instant case.

13. Under the Contempt of Courts Act where proceedings are taken against a government official, there is a further rebuttable presumption that he was acting regularly and bona fide, till the contrary is proved. As already observed earlier, nothing has been shown by the petitioner in this case to dislodge the presumption in favour of the opposite party.

14. On behalf of the petitioner reliance was placed upon the case of J. D'Silva v. The Regional Transport Authority. South Kanara. : AIR1952Mad853 where it was laid down 'If there is a conviction by a competent criminal Court, that would furnish conclusive ground for any penal action by the Transport Authorities. Equally, if the criminal prosecution ended in a discharge or acquittal of the accused and that event happened before the order of any Road Transport Tribunal, thensuch Tribunal would not have the power to go behind the final order of a competent criminal Court........ This procedure wouldavoid the spectacle of two departments of the Government proceeding on contradictory lines to the annoyance and hardship of the citizen.' The above proposition was not accepted by a Division Bench of this Court in B. K. Agarwala v. Regional Transport Authority, Kumaon, 1962 All LJ 116 (DB) where this Court disagreeing with the Madras decision observed as follows:

'Two independent tribunals with different jurisdiction and scope can examine the same matter and it will be lawful on their part to come to different findings in relation to the purpose of the enquiry before them.'

15. It has to be noted that in the instant case the decision in favour of the petitioner was given by competent criminal courts but the District Magistrate, when he passed an order of detention of the petitioner, was neither acting as court nor as a tribunal, but merely as executive or administrative head of the district. Therefore, the principle which applies to the case of two sets of Courts or tribunals would not apply in the instant case. As a matter of fact the detention of the petitioner could by no means be called a trial or adjudication of the case as normally understood. It was merely a case of preventive detention in the interest of maintenance of public peace under special legislation enactedfor the purpose, namely, the Preventive Detention Act.

15-A. On behalf of the applicant reliance has also been placed upon a well known decision of the Supreme Court in Pritam Singh v. State of Punjab : 1956CriLJ805 wherein it was held.

'The effect of a verdict of acquittal pronounced by a competent Court after a lawful trial is not completely stated by saying that the person acquitted cannot be tried again for the same offence. To that it must be added that the verdict is binding and conclusive in all subsequent proceedings between the parties to the adjudication. The maxim 'res judicata pro veritate accipitur' is no less applicable to criminal than to civil proceedings. Thus an acquittal of an accused in a trial under Section 19(f), Arms Act, is tantamount to a finding that the prosecution had failed to establish the possession of certain revolver by the accused as alleged. The possession of that revolver was a fact in issue which had to be established by the prosecution before he could be convicted of the offence under Section 19(f). That fact was found against the prosecution and could not be proved against the accused in the subsequent proceedings between the Crown and him, under a charge of a murder. The evidence against him in the latter proceedings would have to be considered regardless of evidence of recovery of the revolver from him.'

16. It is noteworthy that their Lordships of the Supreme Court were considering the case of two trials before competent Courts of law, one after another, on the same facts or for different offences under different provisions of criminal law arising out of the same set of facts. As already observed above, the detention of the petitioner under the Preventive Detention Act was not a trial or a proceeding before a court of law. On the other hand, the order in question was passed by the District Magistrate in the exercise of his administrative powers conferred on him under the special provisions of the Preventive Detention Act, that is, the detention of the petitioner under Section 3 of the said Act was in the public Interest. The broad principle laid down by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Pritam Singh's case, AIR 1956 SC 416 (supra) has, therefore, no application to the facts and circumstances of the present case.

17. It is true that a Division Bench of this Court had subsequently held in Habeas Corpus Petition No. 317 of 1965 that 'Neither the findings recorded in the previous case nor the evidence led in support of the allegations upon which those findings were given could be teken as grounds for the petitioner's detention'. It was further found that some of the grounds were too vague while the others were irrelevant, with the result that the entire order of the District Magistrate was vitiated. The above judgment was pronounced by the Division Bench of this Court on 19-2-1966 while the order of detention had been made by the District Magistrate on 6-1-1966. In the lightof the decision of the : AIR1952Cal26 , case referred to above it was the District Magistrate (and not a Court) who had to be satisfied about adequacy of the grounds of detention of the petitioner. The District Magistrate had obviously bona fide entertained the belief that he could legitimately detain the petitioner. There is also a presumption of bona fides on his part, as laid down by this Court in Manohar Lal v. Prem Shanker Tandon, AIR 1960 All 281. At the most it would be called an error of judgment on the part of the District Magistrate, as it ultimately turned out to be in the light of the decision of this Court in the habeas corpus case.

18. In the result, I find that no casefor proceeding under the Contempt of CourtsAct against the opposite party is made out.The petition is accordingly dismissed. Noticeissued against the opposite party is herebydischarged. But, under the circumstances ofthe case. I make no order ss to costs.Notice discharged.


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