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Sri Raj NaraIn Singh and ors. Vs. District Magistrate, Gorakhpur and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Misc. Writ No. 962 of 1955
Judge
Reported inAIR1956All481; 1956CriLJ1026
ActsCode of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) , 1898 - Sections 144; Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 - Sections 188; Constitution of India - Articles 13, 13(1), 19, 19(1), 19(2) to 19(6) and 226
AppellantSri Raj NaraIn Singh and ors.
RespondentDistrict Magistrate, Gorakhpur and anr.
Appellant AdvocateMilon Kumar Banerji, ;S.C. Khare and ;Gopi Krishna Sahai, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateK.L. Misra, Adv.
DispositionApplication dismissed
Excerpt:
criminal - section 144 of criminal procedure code, 1898, section 188 of indian penal code, 1860 and article13, 19 and 226 of constitution of india - the punishment for disobedience of the order under section 144 of criminal procedure code, 1898 is provided in section 188 of indian penal code - mere disobedience not sufficient - disobedience must cause or tend to cause obstruction - order under section 144 of criminal procedure code, 1898 does not infringe any of the rights of an individual guaranteed under constitution of india. - - accordingly on 23-4-1955 the city magistrate, gorakhpur, promulgated an order under section 144. in the preamble he referred to the information received by him to the effect that certain persons intended to make demonstrations in connection with the.....desai, j. 1. this is an application for a writ of habeas corpus by three persons who are being prosecuted' for the offence of section 188, i. p. c. for disobedience of an order promulgated under section 144, criminal p. c. by the city magistrate, gorakhpur. at the time when the applicants presented the application in this court they were detained in the district jail, gorakhpur; they have been released by this court on bail during the pendency of this application. this court has also stayed further proceedings in the case under section 188, i. p. c. (2) applicant 1 is a member of the u. p. legislative assembly and leader of the opposition party in the assembly, applicant 2 is a trade unionist and member of the praja socialist party and applicant 3 is a member of the praja socialist party.....
Judgment:

Desai, J.

1. This is an application for a writ of habeas corpus by three persons who are being prosecuted' for the offence of Section 188, I. P. C. for disobedience of an order promulgated under Section 144, Criminal P. C. by the City Magistrate, Gorakhpur. At the time when the applicants presented the application in this Court they were detained in the District Jail, Gorakhpur; they have been released by this Court on bail during the pendency of this application. This Court has also stayed further proceedings in the case under Section 188, I. P. C. (2) Applicant 1 is a member of the U. P. Legislative Assembly and leader of the opposition party in the Assembly, applicant 2 is a Trade Unionist and member of the Praja Socialist Party and applicant 3 is a member of the Praja Socialist Party and Secretary of the District Kisan Panchayat, Gorakhpur. On 25-4-1952 the police fired upon a crowd of railway workers and killed two of them. Since then 2-3 persons have been going every year on April the 24th to the spot where the two workmen were killed to place wreaths. The district authorities have been every year passing orders under Section 144, Criminal P. C. prohibiting such an act and prosecuting persons who disobey the order.

Accordingly on 23-4-1955 the City Magistrate, Gorakhpur, promulgated an order under Section 144. In the preamble he referred to the information received by him to the effect that certain persons intended to make demonstrations in connection with the incident of 25-4-1952 on private land belonging to the Railway without the consent of the railway authorities and expressed his opinion that such demonstrations were 'likely to cause annoyance to the persons lawfully employed and to disturb the public peace and tranquility and speedy remedy is desirable'.

In the operative portion he directed that no person shall organise any meetings, demonstrations or processions without previous permission that 'no person shall deliver any speech or shout any slogan which incites or is likely to incite bad feeling among the public', that no person shall enter a certain piece of land, that no person shall carry any lathi and other weapon, that no person shall collect material, which can, be used for the purpose of attack, in any premises under his management or proprietorship, that no person shall print, distribute, exhibit etc. any leaflet, notice etc. which incites or is likely to incite bad feelings among the public and that no person shall use a microphone or loud speaker without previous permission.

The order was expressed to remain in force for 7 days with effect from 24-4-1955 in specified area. It was passed ex parte. It warned the public that any breach of its provisions was punishable under Section 188, I. P. C. The three applicants proceeded to the spot on 25-4-1955 and were promptly arrested by the police for disobedience of the order.

3. The applicants contend that they alone went to the spot, Chat they were shouting no slogans and were making no speeches, that they were arrested as soon as they entered the railway station premises, that the order issued under Section 144 was vague, went' beyond the scope of Section 144 and contravened Article 11 (which seems to be a mistake for 19) of the Constitution, that there was no urgency justifying issue of the order and that Section 144 is ultra vires the Constitution. In the counter-affidavit, filed by the station officer of police station, Cantonments, Gorakhpur, it was stated that 100 persons including the applicants marched in a procession shouting inflammatory slogans and that they were arrested when they attempted to enter into the prohibited area.

4. Section 144(1), Criminal P. C. is as follows:

'In cases where, in the opinion of a ......... Magistrate ....there is sufficient ground for proceeding under this section and immediate prevention or speedy remedy is desirable, such Magistrate may... .direct any person to abstain from , a certain act or to take certain order with -certain property in his possession or under his management such Magistrate considers that such direction is likely to prevent or tends to prevent obstruction, annoyance or injury, or risk of obstruction, annoyance or injury to any person lawfully employed, or danger to human life, health or safety, or a disturbance of the public tranquillity or a riot, or an affray.'

In cases of emergency or where the circumstances do not permit the service in due time of a notice, the order may be passed ex parte. It may be directed to a particular individual or to the public generally when frequenting or visiting a particular place. Any Magistrate either on his own motion or on the application of any person aggrieved may rescind or alter any order made by him or by any Magistrate subordinate to him. If an application is made to him, he must afford to the applicant an early opportunity of appearing before him either in person or by pleader and showing cause against the order. The order cannot remain in force for more than two months, unless in case of likelihood of a riot or an affray the State Government otherwise directs. The Magistrate must state in the order the material facts of the case, i.e. the facts that confer Jurisdiction upon him to pass. This is the gist of the remaining provisions of Section 144.

The punishment for a disobedience of the order is provided in Section 188, Indian Penal Code, but a mere disobedience of the order is not enough; in addition, the disobedience must cause or tend to cause obstruction, annoyance or injury, or risk of obstruction, annoyance or injury, to any I persons lawfully employed, or danger to human life, health or safety, or a riot or an affray, Though a Magistrate's belief that the direction contained in the order is likely to prevent or to tend to prevent obstruction, annoyance etc. is sufficient to confer upon him the Jurisdiction to pass the order, it is not sufficient for convicting a person disobeying it; the Court trying the person also must be satisfied that the disobedience was likely to cause or tended to cause obstruction, annoyance etc.

The ultimate sanction behind an order passed under Section 144 is the punishment provided for its disobedience in Section 188; if Section 188 did not exist, anybody would be free to disobey the order and would not be able to complain that his freedom was restricted by the order. The order by itself does not infringe any of the rights of a person guaranteed by the Constitution; it is merely an act in writing of a Magistrate which by itself cannot affect the rights of any one. Consequently when a person complains that his rights under the Constitution have been infringed by the passing of the order, the order must be considered not in isolation but in conjunction with the provisions of Section 188, Penal Code through which it is enforced.

5. There is no substance in the contention that the order goes beyond the scope of Section 144 or is 'very vague and widely worded'. There is nothing vague or of a sweeping nature in the order, and even if there were anything of the kind, it would be no ground for our releasing the applicants on habeas corpus. The Magistrate has stated in the order the facts that some Railway employees and other persons intended to make demonstrations and celebration on private land belonging to the Railway without the consent of the Railway authorities and that they were likely to cause annoyance to the persons lawfully employed and to disturb the public peace and tranquillity and that speedy remedy was desirable.

Really the Magistrate should have, said immediate prevention was desirable. Since no annoyance or disturbance of the public peace and tranquillity had taken place, there was no question of any remedy; the question was merely of prevention. But there is no doubt that the Magistrate meant to pass the order in order to prevent the apprehended mischief. The objects with which he passed the order are some of the objects with which it could be passed; the directions that he has issued are directions that could have been issued, A Magistrate has very wide powers under Section 144(1); he can direct any person to abstain from any specified act or to take any specified order with any specified property in his possession or management. A person can be directed to abstain from' doing any act that can be done physically.

The Magistrate apprehended on 23-4-1955 that annoyance and disturbance of public peace and tranquillity would take place on the next day; he had to take action to prevent the annoyance and the disturbance, and he had to take it at once. Section 144 conferred full jurisdiction upon him to pass an order containing any directions that he considered necessary to prevent the apprehended mischief. The order was addressed to the public and it was a case of emergency within the meaning of Section 144 (2); so the order could validly be passed ex parte.

Sri Gopi Krishna Sahai could not support by any authority his contention that the emergency contemplated is the emergency referred to in Article 352 of the Constitution. There is not only one kind of emergency and that is a sufficient answer to the contention. The order passed by the Magistrate is fully covered by the provisions of Section 144, but even if it were not, I would let the applicants challenge it during the trial, rather than release them on habeas corpus.

6. The order was passed by the Magistrate in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 144 and both the order and the provisions of Section 144 were impugned as infringing the provisions of Article 19(1) and therefore void under Article 13 of the Constitution. Both the section and the order are 'laws' within the meaning of Articles 13 and 19(2) to (6). The provisions of Section 144 were also an 'existing law' within the meaning of Article 19(2) to (6) and 'law in force' within the meaning of Article 13(1). If the provisions of Section 144 are void, the order cannot but be void. It is remarked in Brajnandan Sharma v. State of Bihar : AIR1950Pat322 (A) that if an enactment is constitutional the order passed under it must be constitutional and it is enough for a Court to consider the constitutionality of the enactment alone.

If an order purports to be passed under an enactment but goes beyond its scope, it can be unconstitutional even though the enactment is constitutional. See State of West Bengal v. An-war All : 1952CriLJ510 . In the instant case, however, the order has been found to be within the scope of the provisions of Section 144 and if the latter are constitutional, the order cannot be unconstitutional. It is, therefore, unnecessary to go into the question of the constitutionality of the order.

7. Article 19 of the Constitution guarantees to all citizens the rights of freedom of speech and expression, to assemble peaceably and without arms etc. subject to the condition that the State can impose reasonable restrictions in the interests of public order, decency, morality etc.

Thus a State can impose reasonable restrictions on the right of freedom of speech and expression in the interests of public order, on the right to assemble peaceably and without arms in the interests of public order, on the right to form associations or unions in the interests of public order, on the rights to move freely throughout the territory of India, to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India and to acquire, hold and dispose of property in the interests of the general public and on the right to practise any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business in the interests of the profession, occupation etc.

Under Section 144 of the Code a Magistrate can direct a person to abstain from doing any of the acts the right to do which is guaranteed under Article 19. Therefore, Section 144, through an order passed under it by a Magistrate, imposes restrictions upon the rights guaranteed by Article 19 and the question is whether they are reasonable and in the interests of public order etc. The reasonableness of the restrictions cannot seriously be doubted. If the acts are likely to cause obstruction, annoyance etc. they must be prevented. The Magistrate is required to state the material facts to justify his passing the order. The order is to remain in force for not more than two months. A person against whom it is made is given the right to appear before the Magistrate and show against it.

Further the Magistrate and any superior Magistrate have been given the power on their own motion or on an application by any aggrieved person to rescind or alter the order. According to some authorities the High Court has jurisdiction to revise an order passed by a Magistrate. A person disobeying it cannot be punished unless it is found by the Court that the disobedience caused or tended to cause obstruction, annoyance etc. In the face of all these safeguards the restrictions cannot be said to be unreasonable. In Chintaman Rao v. State of M. P. : [1950]1SCR759 , Mahajan J, said on p. 119:

'The phrase 'reasonable restrictions' connotes that the limitation imposed on a person in enjoyment of the right should not be arbitrary or of an excessive nature, beyond what is required in the interests of the public. The word 'reasonable' implies intelligent care and deliberation, that is, the choice of a course which reason dictates. Legislation which arbitrarily or excessively invades the right cannot be said to contain the quality of reasonableness and unless it strikes a -proper balance between the freedom guaranteed ......and the social control permitted .. it must be held to be wanting in that quality.'

There is nothing unreasonable, arbitrary or excessive in the restrictions imposed. The Magistrate is to be satisfied that an immediate direction to a person to abstain from doing a certain act is necessary in order to prevent obstruction, annoyance etc. but not only has it been held in Dr. N. B. Khare v. State of Delhi : [1950]1SCR519 that

'the vesting of authority in particular officers to take prompt action under emergent circumstances, entirely on their own responsibility or personal satisfaction, is not necessarily unreasonable.'

but also, as pointed out earlier, the provisions of Section 188, Penal Code, through which the order is enforced, require an objective, and not a subjective test. The observation in Brajnandan Sharma's case (A) of Meredith C. J. at p. 325 that if the restriction is based, not on any reasonable grounds, but upon the satisfaction of some individual and the provision is in such terms that it 'is not open to the Court to examine the reasonableness or otherwise of the order passed, the restriction is not reasonable, not only is not quite in consonance with the law laid down by the Supreme Court in Dr. N.B. Khare's case (D) but also contains the important condition that the reasonableness of the order is not open to challenge.

The reasonableness of an order passed under Section 144 is open to challenge; it can be challenged before the same Magistrate or a superior Magistrate or according to one view before the High Court, or in prosecution under Section 188, Penal Code for disobedience of the order. In a prosecution there is a regular trial with a right of appeal and the' Court is not merely permitted to test the reasonableness of the order; it is required to be satisfied by the prosecution that the disobedience of the order caused or tended to cause obstruction, annoyance etc.

If it be proved that there was an apprehension of obstruction, annoyance etc. and that there would have been no obstruction, annoyance etc. if the person concerned had obeyed the order, it means that the order was reasonable. If an order is to continue for an indefinite period without the aggrieved person's being given an opportunity to show cause against it, the order may be said to impose an unreasonable restriction as pointed out by Mukherjea, J. in Dr. N.B. Khare's case (D) at p. 217, but here the law has fixed a maximum period which cannot be said to be unreasonable and the person to whom the order is addressed has been given a right to show cause against it. A Magistrate is given wide powers to pass any order under Section 144, but there was no alternative.

The provisions are meant to be applied in all sorts of emergencies and the Legislature could not be required to lay down what particular orders can be passed by a Magistrate in which emergencies. A large volume of discretion had to be conferred upon the Magistrate. When the section lays down the conditions that immediate prevention or speedy remedy is desirable and that the directions proposed to be issued are likely to prevent or will tend to prevent obstruction etc., it cannot be said that the section empowers the Magistrate to pass arbitrary or unreasonable orders or orders of an excessive nature. The constitutionality of an enactment must be tested in the light of the interpretation placed upon it by the High Court.

In Satyanarayan Chowdhry v. Emperor 1931 Mad 236 (AIR V18) (E), it was stated that the connection between the act prohibited and the obstruction, annoyance etc. to be prevented must be reasonable or proximate and not merely speculative or distant. Even if it be true that the power conferred upon a Magistrate is so wide that it can be abused by him, it is no ground for saying that the provision is unreasonable.

In Dr. N.B. Khare's case (D) at p. 214 Kania C. J. deprecated an assumption that a power may be abused by the authority upon whom it is conferred; he observed, 'Abuse of the power given by a law sometimes occurs; but the validity of the law cannot be congested because of such an apprehension'. It has been truly said that every power can be abused. In considering the reasonableness of restrictions both substantive and procedural laws regarding the restrictions must be taken into account; I have found nothing unreasonable in the substantive law or in the procedural law in respect of the restrictions imposed by Section 144 on the rights guaranteed under Article 19.

8. Now I come to the question whether the restrictions are within the permissible limits set out in Article 19(2), (3). When the provisions of Article 19(2), (3) are compared with those of Section 144, some conflict between them becomes obvious. The permissible limits of restrictions that can be imposed upon the rights guaranteed vary from right to right whereas Section 144 imposes restrictions on every conceivable act for the same purpose of preventing obstruction, annoyance, etc. Permissible limits for imposing restrictions under Section 144 do not vary from act to act.

Secondly the permissible limits for imposing restrictions on any act mentioned in Article 19(1) under Section 144 are different from those for imposing restrictions under Article 19(2), (3), Not only are they different but also Section 144 allows a much wider field for imposing restrictions than Article 19(2), (3). Restrictions on any of the acts mentioned in Article 19(l)(b) can be only in the in-terests of public order, but Section 144 allows restrictions not only in the interests of preventing a disturbance of the public tranquillity or a riot or an affray which may be said to be necessary for maintaining public order, taut also in the interests of preventing obstruction, annoyance or injury, even risk of obstruction, annoyance or injury, and danger to human life, health or safety.

The restrictions that can validly be imposed I on the freedom of speech and expression are those in the interests of public order, decency or morality or in relation to incitement to an of fence, but Section 144 permits restrictions also in the interests of preventing obstruction,, annoyance or injury, risk to obstruction, annoyance or injury and danger to human life, health or safety. Similar is the case with other acts mentioned in' Article 19(1). It cannot be doubted that at least to the extent that Section 144 permits restrictions In excess of those permitted by Article 19(2), (3) it is void under Article 13.

9. What! is the effect of certain provisions of Section 144 being void upon the rest of the provisions depends upon whether the two classes of the provisions are severable or not. If they are not severaole, all the provisions must be held to be void; naturally when one cannot sever the void part from the valid part, the whole must be rejected. If there are two distinct provisions or provisions which can be severed from each other and one of them is void and the other valid, the mere fact that they are combined together in one section or joined together in one sentence would not) affect the validity of the valid provision. Article 13 requires that if a void provision can be separated from valid provisions, it must be separated and the remaining provisions will remain in force.

In Ram Manohar Lohia v. Supdt., Central Prison, Fatehgarh, : AIR1955All193 1 explained now it can be decided whether void provisions can be separated from valid provisions. In Chiritaman Rao's case (C) at p. 120 Mahajan J. stated that if the language employed in a provision is wide enough to cover restrictions both within and without the limits of constitutionally permissible legislative action affecting the right and there is a possibility of its being applied for purposes not sanctioned by the Constitution, the whole provision must be rejected as void. In that case the Supreme Court knocked down as unconstitutional Section 4, C. P. and Berar Regulation of Manufacture of Bidis (Agricultural Purposes) Act, 64 of 1948.

The impugned pro vision empowered Deputy Commissioners to prohibit the manufacture of bidis during the agricultural season in any village. The object was to maintain the supply of agricultural labour during agricultural season. It might have been reasonable to prohibit the employment in bidi manufacture of those persons who otherwise would have been employed in agriculture, but the provision was so drastic in scope that it prohibited employment of any person in the bidi manufacture during the agricultural season. There was only one provision; therefore there was no question of splitting it into two provisions. Either a manufacturer of bidis was prohibited from employing any person for the manufacture of bidis or he was not, there was no scope for any middle course. Therefore, the whole provision was held to be unreasonable.

In Romesh Thappar v. The State of Madras : 1950CriLJ1514 the Supreme Court was concerned with the constitutionality of Section 9(1A), Madras Maintenance of Public Order Act, 33 of 1949, which empowered the Governor to impose restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression 'for fine purpose of securing the public safety and the maintenance of public order'. Under Article 19(2), as it stood in 1950, restrictions could be imposed on the freedom of speech and expression in order to check matters which undermined the security of the State and not for the purpose of securing the public safety and the maintenance of public order.

Securing the public safety and the maintenance of public order was found by the Supreme Court to be wider in scope than preventing the undermining of the security of the State; therefore the impugned provision allowed restrictions for a wider purpose than allowed by the Constitution and consequently it was held to be void. The Supreme Court repelled the argument that the provision should be upheld so far as it permitted restrictions for the purpose of securing the security of the abate.

Patanjali Sastri, J., who delivered the judgment of the Court, held that the provision could not be split up into two provisions, one to be upheld and the other to be struck down. It is for the Legislature to make a provision severable into two or more parts; if it has chosen not to make it severable, a Court acts without jurisdiction in severing it into two or more parts. If the Legislature has joined two provisions, the Court may separate them.

In 'Romesh Thappar's case (G)' the Legislature did not join two provisions together but enacted one provision, namely that of imposing restrictions for securing the public safety and the maintenance of public order; a Court had no jurisdiction to split up this provision into two (1) of imposing restrictions for preventing the undermining of the security of the State and (2) of imposing restrictions for securing the public safety and the maintenance of public order otherwise than by preventing the undermining of the security of the State. The Court could not change the language used by the Legislature and without changing it, it could not split up the impugned provision.

9a. Section 144 contains several independent (provisions; this itself means that they are sever-'able from one another. For instance, there is one provision that a Magistrate may direct any person to abstain from a certain act and there is another provision to the effect that he may direct any person to take certain order with certain property in his possession. Both these provisions are entirely distinct from each other and one may be unconstitutional and the other may be constitutional. Then there is one provision to the effect that a Magistrate may direct any person to abstain from a certain act if he considers that such direction is likely to prevent obstruction and there is another provision to the effect that he may direct any person to abstain from a certain act if he considers that such direction is likely to prevent annoyance. The provision that a Magistrate may direct any person to abstain from a certain act if he considers that' such direction is likely to prevent1 a disturbance of the public tranquillity is a third provision.

For the sake of convenience they have all been joined together in one sentence, but they can be separated 'without any alteration of the language; only the connecting words 'or' and 'and' have to be removed. The provision that a Magistrate may direct any person to abstain from a certain act if he considers that such direction is likely to prevent obstruction may be unconstitutional, but it would not affect the constitutionality of another provision to the effect that he may direct any person to abstain from a certain act if he considers that such direction is likely to prevent a disturbance of the public tranquillity.

10. In the instant case the Magistrate passed the order because he considered that the directions contained in it were likely to prevent annoyance and a disturbance of the public tranquillity. The prevision empowering him to pass an order if he considered that the direction in it was likely to prevent annoyance was unconstitutional and therefore he could not pass the order in order to prevent annoyance. If he had passed it just to prevent annoyance, it would have been knocked down as an invalid order passed under the authority of an unconstitutional provision.

On the other hand, the provision empowering him to pass an order to prevent a disturbance of the public tranquillity was constitutional and had the order been passed just for that purpose it would have been valid. Actually he passed the order for both the purposes; this means that he exercised the powers conferred upon him by both the provisions. Since he could have passed a valid order by relying upon the constitutional provision, the order actually passed must be held not rendered invalid merely by reason of his having relied upon the unconstitutional provision also. I may mention here that the order that a Magistrate is required to pass is a speaking order; there is, therefore, no difficulty in ascertaining whether the purpose for which it was passed is constitutional or not.

11. My conclusion therefore is that the pro-vision in Section 144 empowering a Magistrate to direct a person to abstain from a certain act or to take certain order with certain property in his possession or under his management, if he considers that such direction is likely to prevent a disturbance of the public tranquillity or a riot or an affray, imposes restrictions permitted by Article 19(2) and (3) upon the rights guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) and (b). The order issued by the Magistrate imposed restrictions only on these two rights and it is unnecessary to go into the question whether Section 144 imposes permissible restrictions on the other rights.

12. In -- 'State v. Deadley Misra : AIR1954All738 our brother Roy held that the provisions of Section 144 are not unconstitutional. In -- 'V. G. Deshpandey v. City Magistrate, Luck-now : AIR1953All577 the question of the constitutionality of Section 144 was raised but was not decided.

13. Since the objection to the validity of the relevant provisions of Section 144 fails, this application for a writ of habeas corpus must be dismissed. The stay orders discharged.

V.D. Bhargava J.

14. I agree with my brother in the order proposed.

BY THE COURT :

The application is dismissed. Orders on the prayer for certificate will be passed tomorrow.

(Note : By order dated, 25-1-1956 the case was certified under Article 132 to be fit one for appeal to Supreme Court.)


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