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Sarju Pandey Vs. State - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal;Constitution
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Misc. Case No. 2029 of 1955
Judge
Reported inAIR1956All589; 1956CriLJ1152
ActsConstitution of India - Articles 14, 19, 19(1), 21, 22, 22(5) and 226; Preventive Detention Act, 1950 - Sections 3, 7 and 10
AppellantSarju Pandey
RespondentState
Appellant AdvocateS.N. Dwivedi, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateGovernment Adv.
DispositionPetition dismissed
Excerpt:
.....of the act there would be a danger of the disturbance of public order at the hands of the person in question, the authority concerned would be well within its rights to pass a detention order against such a person even though by that time no act had actually emanated from him. the point is however well covered by authority since it has been laid down in a number of cases that a law which deprives a person of his personal liberty falls exclusively under arts. now, it is well recognised that wherever a law is challenged as offending against the guarantee contained in article 14, the first and foremost thing to do is to examine the purpose and policy of the enactment concerned and then to see whether the classification which it purports to make has a reasonable relation to the..........of the act there would be a danger of the disturbance of public order at the hands of the person in question, the authority concerned would be well within its rights to pass a detention order against such a person even though by that time no act had actually emanated from him.for the above reasons, the contention of the petitioner that the district magistrate of ghazipur had no power to pass the detention order in question on foot of the speeches made by him outside his territorial jurisdiction has no force.10. two other grounds were taken by the petitioner before us although they are not contained in his petition. he was allowed to take these grounds because they raised pure questions of law. the gravamen of both those grounds was that the preventive detention act was ultra.....
Judgment:

Chowdhry, J.

1. This is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus by one Sarju Pandey, a detenu in the District Jail at Lucknow, against the order of the District Magistrate of Ghazipur, dated 14-5-1955, passed under Section 3(1)(a)(ii), Preventive Detention Act, 1950 (hereinafter referred to as the Act). The order purported to have been passed with a view to preventing the petitioner from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order.

2. The petitioner is a member of the Provincial Committee of the U. P. Communist Party and Vice-President of the U. P. Kishan Sabha. He was arrested on the same day on which the detention order was passed and on 16-5-1955 he was supplied with the grounds of detention. He was accused of having delivered a number of speeches between 29-12-1954 and 13-5-1955 inciting people to violence, and the District Magistrate therefore felt satisfied that it was necessary to make the detention order with a view to 'preventing the petition from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State and the maintenance of public order. The gist of these speeches, or extracts therefrom, were given in the grounds, and instances of resultant acts of violence were cited.

3. The petitioner made a representation, against the detention order to the State Government, and the latter placed the grounds for the detention and the petitioner's representation against it before the Advisory Board. The Board, after hearing the petitioner, submitted its report on 19-7-1955 that there was in its opinion sufficient cause for the detention of the petitioner whereupon the detention order was confirmed by the Government.

The report of the Advisory Board was communicated to the District Magistrate of Ghazipur by the Government by means of a letter dated 11-8-1955 from Lucknow. This letter reached the District Magistrate of Ghazipur on 16-8-1955, and on the same date the District Magistrate issued a letter addressed to the Superintendent, Sitapur Jail, where the detenu was then supposed to be detained, informing him of the decision of the Advisory Board.

It appears, however, that meanwhile the detenu had been transferred to the Lucknow Jail. The aforesaid letter of the District Magistrate was therefore redirected to the Lucknow Jail and communicated there to the petitioner on 27-8-1955. On 26-9-1955 the present petition was filed. The petition is supported by the petitioner's affidavit.

A counter-affidavit has been filed on behalf of the State by Rana Jai Singh, Sub-Inspector District Intelligence Staff Ghazipur, he being the officer who had submitted reports of the speeches delivered in various meetings by the petitioner. The following points have been raised by the petitioner, who argued the case personally before us.

4. The grounds supplied to the petitioner reproduce extracts from the petitioner's speeches. According to those extracts, the petitioner purports on a number of occasions to have incited people to violence. The first point taken by the petitioner was that the aforesaid extracts were not a correct reproduction of the speeches delivered by him, his contention being that the portions of the speeches attributed to him in which he is alleged to have incited people to violence were mere fabrications.

According to him, he never uttered a word inciting the public to violence and words to that effect had been introduced into his speeches in order to justify his arrest under the Preventive Detention Act. He brought to our notice a number of cuttings from two newspapers, the Aj Banaras and the Quami Aawaz Lucknow, in which references were made to some of the speeches delivered by the petitioner.

In some of the cuttings there were comments in respect of certain meetings addressed by the petitioner It was arguedi by the petitioner that in none of these extracts was there any reference made to his having incited the public to violence. He also showed to us a booklet published by the Communist Party containing a Resolution which purports to have been passed by the Central Committee of the Party in June 1955.

It was argued by the petitioner that the Resolution in question showed that it was not the policy of the Communist Party to propagate its tenets by violent means. The petitioner also argued that he was a responsible person in that he was a member of the Provincial Committee of the U. P. Communist Party and Vice-president of the U. P. Kisan Sabha, and therefore it was unthinkable that he should have made speeches inciting the public to violence against the tenets of his party.

It has however been stated in the counter-affidavit that the objectionable portions in question in the speeches of the petitioner were in fact uttered by him. The petitioner admitted before us that there were many active members of the Communist Party who, like him, had made speeches, but that he and a few others were the ones to be detained under the Act. His contention was that the Government chose them for detention, not because they had really incited the people to violence, but because they carried the masses with them.

It is difficult to accept this contention since no action under the Act would prima facie be necessary against a person who merely carried the masses with him without inciting them to violence. It is however not necessary to enter into this controversy since it is well established that, the Legislature having left the making of the detention order to the subjective satisfaction of the authority concerned, the question of the truth of the statements contained in the grounds of detention is beyond the jurisdiction of the Court to decide. Bhim Sen v. State of Punjab : 1952CriLJ75 ; Mohammad Athar Rizvi v. State : AIR1951All456 and Hari Nath Tandon v. The State of U. P. 1950 All LJ 608 (610) (C).

5. It was strenuously argued by the petitioner in this connection that it amounted to an act of tyranny that a detenu should be deprived of the opportunity of proving before the Court that the statements contained in the grounds for detention were incorrect. This complaint of deprivation of opportunity to be heard is really untenable since it was open to him to prove the allegation before the Advisory Board. And it is noteworthy that the Board, constituted under the Act, consists of three persons who are, or have been, or are qualified to be, appointed as Judges of a High Court.

Non-existence of any of the grounds upon I which the detention order is based would, according to the Supreme Court decision in Shibban Lal V. State of U.P : [1954]1SCR418 , be a basis for the Board to hold that there was no sufficient cause for detention. If therefore the Board in the present case reported sufficiency of cause for detention, it was due presumably either to the petitioner's failure to allege non-existence of grounds before the Board or to the Board's rejection of that allegation.

It is manifest therefore that the petitioner had the fullest opportunity of having his allegation of non-existence of grounds judicially determined by the Board: either he failed to avail himself of that opportunity or he did so but unsuccessfully. His complaint therefore boils down to this that he has no second opportunity of proving the allegation in this Court.

But a petition for a writ of habeas corpus is not the only judicial proceeding where finality is given to a finding of fact before it reaches this Court. If therefore the petitioner cannot canvass again in this Court the aforesaid question of fact, it is not because of any transgression of the well-known maxim of natural justice, Audi alteram partem -- no man shall be condemned unheard -- but because public policy requires that there should be an end to litigation.

Article 21 of our Constitution empowers the Legislature to provide for preventive detention, and the Act in question is a product of that power. Should it be considered that under the Act or the Constitution there ought to be a provision for a reagitation of the matter in this Court, and that the absence of such a provision is an instance of legislative tyranny, the remedy lies in the public opinion asserting itself through the legislature, and not in its questioning the wisdom and policy of the Legislature before a Court of Law, inasmuch as a Court must administer the law as it finds it. In this connection the following observations of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Gopalan v. The State of, Madras : 1950CriLJ1383 are opposite:

'The only right given by Article 21 is that no person shall be deprived of his life or liberty except according to 'procedure established by law'. By adopting that phrase, the Constitution gave the Legislature the final word to determine law ...... Our protection against legislative tyranny if any, lies, in the ultimate analysis, in a free ana intelligent public opinion which must. eventually assert itself ...... It is not for the Court to question the wisdom and policy of the 'Constitution which the people gave unto themselves.'

6. The other ground taken was that the decision of the Advisory Board should have been communicated to the petitioner within three months of his arrest and that inasmuch as it was actually communicated to him 3 months and 14 days after his arrest his detention was illegal. The Act does not, however, provide anywhere for the communication of the Advisory Board's report to the detenu. Under Section 10 the report has to be submitted by the Board only to the appropriate Government within 10 weeks from the date of detention.

In point of fact, it would be quite unnecessary that the Board's report should be supplied to the detenu himself since the only use made of the report, as provided by Section 11, is that in a case where the Board has reported that there is in its opinion sufficient cause for the detention of a person the appropriate Government may confirm the detention order and continue the de tention of the person concerned for such period as it thinks fit, and in a case where it has reported that there is in its opinion no sufficient cause for the detention of the person concerned, the appropriate Government shall revoke the detention order and cause the person to be released forthwith.

In other words, the Board's report only serves the purpose of enabling the appropriate Government either to confirm the detention order and continue the detention of the person concerned or to revoke that order and cause the person to be released forthwith. That being so, no question of supplying the detenu with a copy of the Advisory Board's report arises, for it would be of no use to the detenu.

It, may be noted that wherever it is necessary for a particular material to be supplied to the detenu, there is a clear provision for the same. For instance, Article 22(5) of the Constitution provides that when any person is detained in pursuance of an order made under any law providing for preventive detention, the authority making the order shall, as sqon as may be, communicate to such person the grounds on which the order has been made and shall afford him the earliest opportunity of making a representation against the order.

Accordingly, Section 7 of the Act provides for the communication of the grounds of detention to the detenu not later than 5 days from the date of detention. It will appear therefore that the petitioner cannot legitimately make any grievance of non-supply to him of a copy of the Advisory Board's report. . It may be mentioned incidentally, however, that, as already shown, the petitioner was in fact informed of the decision of the Advisory Board, and that without any avoidable delay. The report was made on 19-7-1955, and, by means of a letter dated 11-8-1955, the petitioner was actually informed of the same on 27-8-1955.

The objection with regard to non-supply of Advisory Board's report has also therefore no force.

7. The next ground taken was that the petitioner was only an honest critic of the Government and that the right to criticise a party Government has been judicially recognised. In this connection the petitioner cited the following from the decision of V. Bhargava J. in Ahmad Ali v. State : AIR1951All459 .

'Spreading of disaffection against a party Government cannot be said to be a ground for inferring that the public order would not be maintained. It is the right of every citizen in a democratic Government to spread disaffection against a particular party Government'.

But the learned Judge goes on to observe:

'This right is, of course, subject to the condition that the disaffection should not be so spread as to result in violence and there should be really no incitement to use violence, or to resort to other illegitimate course.'

It has, however, been seen that in a number of speeches delivered by the petitioner (the correctness of which has, for reasons already recorded, to be accepted by this Court) he purports to have incited the public to violence. That being so, it cannot be said that the petitioner is only an honest critic of the Government.

8. The last ground taken in the present petition was that the District Magistrate of Ghazipur was not empowered to use as grounds for the petitioneri's detention the speeches which he is alleged to have made in other districts, i.e. in the districts of Azamgarh and Ballia.

The various speeches which the petitioner is said to have delivered, including those delivered in the districts of Azamgarh and Ballia, formed the material on the basis of which the detention order in question was passed by the District Magistrate of Ghazipur. They constituted the material which enabled the District Magistrate to be 'satisfied' with respect to the petitioner that it was necessary to make an order of detention against him with a view to preventing him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order.

That subjective satisfaction as regards the sufficiency of the grounds for passing a detention order is the satisfaction exclusively of the authority which has to pass such an order, and it is not for this Court to enter into the merits of that order. See, for instance : 1952CriLJ75 .

That being so, it follows necessarily that it is not open to this Court to examine the said materials with a view to determining whether the aforesaid subjective satisfaction of the . executive authority concerned had been arrived at correctly or not. The only purpose for which the grounds, and therefore the material for those grounds, could be judicially examined would be to see whether they were sufficient to enable the detenu to make an effective representation contemplated by Article 22(5) of the Constitution, State of Bombay v. Atmaram : 1951CriLJ373 , or whether they were relevant to the circumstances under which the detention could be supported : 1950CriLJ1383 , or whether the order had been made mala fide (the 2 cases just cited).

There is no complaint before us, however, that the grounds in question suffer in any of these ways. ' It follows therefore that it is not open to the petitioner to urge before us that the District Magistrate had no jurisdiction or authority to take into account the speeches delivered by him in the districts of Ballia and Azamgarh with a view to passing the order of detention in question.

9. This contention of the petitioner may be looked at from yet another view point. Preventive detention is by its very nature different from what may be called punitive detention. The latter results, as pointed out in Gopalan's case (E), on a trial of the person concerned for committing a crime after his guilt has been established in a competent Court of justice, whereas the former is not a punitive but a precautionary measure the object of which is not to punish a man for having done something but to intercept him before he does it and to prevent him doing it.

The object in the present case was to prevent the petitioner from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. That being so, as pointed out in the same ruling, justification for action under the Act is suspicion or reasonable probability and not criminal conviction. Such a suspicion may well be based on any past actions of the p'erson concerned, and they may even be actions committed outside the jurisdiction of the authority passing the order of detention.

It would indeed create an anomalous situation, and a situation which might defeat the very purpose of the Act, if the authority concerned were to wait for the person conc22erned to commit acts subversive of public order within its own territorial jurisdiction before being able to take action under it. Indeed, the authority concerned might take action against the person concerned even though he may not have already committed any act subversive of public order.

For instance, the authority may come to know that the person concerned was in communication with persons outside its jurisdiction, and that the purpose of such communication was to commit acts in future which had potentialities for disturbing public order. In such a case, if the authority concerned honestly comes to the conclusion that unless action against the person concerned is taken under the provisions of the Act there would be a danger of the disturbance of public order at the hands of the person in question, the authority concerned would be well within its rights to pass a detention order against such a person even though by that time no act had actually emanated from him.

For the above reasons, the contention of the petitioner that the District Magistrate of Ghazipur had no power to pass the detention order in question on foot of the speeches made by him outside his territorial jurisdiction has no force.

10. Two other grounds were taken by the petitioner before us although they are not contained in his petition. He was allowed to take these grounds because they raised pure questions of law. The gravamen of both those grounds was that the Preventive Detention Act was ultra vires the Constitution. His first contention was that the Act was ultra vires the provisions of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech and expression to all the citizen of this country.

The point is however well covered by authority since it has been laid down in a number of cases that a law which deprives a person of his personal liberty falls exclusively under Arts. 21 and 22 of the Constitution, and that the reasonableness of such a law cannot be questioned with reference to Article 19 of the Constitution. : 1950CriLJ1383 and 'Ram Singh v. The State of Delhi : [1951]2SCR451 .

11. It was next urged that the Act is ultra vires the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees to all equality before the law. Now, it is well recognised that wherever a law is challenged as offending against the guarantee contained in Article 14, the first and foremost thing to do is to examine the purpose and policy of the enactment concerned and then to see whether the classification which it purports to make has a reasonable relation to the object which the enactment in question seeks to obtain 'Kedar Nath v. State of W.B : 1953CriLJ1621 . The Preventive Detention Act provides for preventive detention in certain cases.

Those are cases mentioned in Section 3 of the Act, and cover the reasons specified in Entry 9 of List I and Entry 3 of List III of Schedule VIII of the Constitution (Defence, Foreign Affairs, Security of India or of a State, Maintenance of Public Order or of Supplies and Services essential to the community).

Obviously the purpose and policy of the Act is to prevent anti-social and subversive element from imperilling the welfare of the Republic. The classification of persons under Section 3 of the Act has been made keeping in view the said purpose and policy, and it is obvious therefore that the classification in question has a reasonable relation to the object of the Legislature in passing this enactment. That being so, the enactment in question cannot be said to infringe the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution.

Moreover, equal protection is not violated if the exception which is made is required to be made by some other provision of the Constitution: 'Raj Kishore V. State of U.P.' : AIR1954All343 . Now preventive detention has been recognised by Article 22 of the Constitution itself. That being so, the classification made under Section 3 of the Act, which as already shown, is a classification made to subserve the purposes of preventive detention, is a classification required to be made by a provision of the Constitution.

It follows therefore that the equal protection contemplated by Article 14 of the Constitution cannot be said to have been violated by the Act. Thus both the grounds taken by the petitioner for challenging the vires of the Act vis-a-vis the Constitution also fail.

12. As all the grounds urged by the petitioner fail, his petition is hereby dismissed.


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