K.N. Goyal, J.
1. The petitioner 1 has been detained Under Section 3, Sub-section (2) read with Sub-section (3, of the National Security Act, 1980, by an order of the District Magistrate, Lucknow dated 7-5-1981. The order recites that the action has been taken with a view to preventing him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community. Petitioner 2 is his wife and has filed the petition on his behalf.
2. The grounds supplied to him are, in substance, as follows: During 1979-80 he was serving as Chief Medical Officer, Azamgarh. While so acting he committed certain acts of criminal misconduct and criminal conspiracy in relation to the purchase of essential life saving drugs. No medicines were purchased for the control of leprosy as was required. Bogus purchases were made and proper medicines were not purchased, with the result that many people who could have been saved died of jaundice between March and July 1980. He also put Government to considerable financial loss as a result of these activities. He purchased medicines from unapproved firms in violation of the various standing orders of the Government. Details of these charges are given in the grounds supplied to the petitioners.
3. Apart from denial or explanation of the allegation contained in the said grounds, the main contention advanced In support of the Habeas Corpus petition is that assuming all the grounds supplied to the petitioner to be correct, no case is made out, as a matter of law, for preventive detention. The petitioner has already been suspended for the last one year. In view of the suspension he is not in a position at all to be engaged in any activity involving purchases of medicines for a Govt. hospital.
4. This contention has been sought to be met by the detaining authority through para 31 of its counter-affidavit which runs as follows:
That now the petitioner though under suspension is free to execute his conspiracy by his activities which are prejudicial to the maintenance of the essential supplies to the community, and it is wrong to say that he cannot indulge in the activities prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community.
5. The learned Deputy Government Advocate has also developed the same point in his arguments in defence of the impugned order. He has contended that if the petitioner is at large, he would be .free to complete and further execute the conspiracy in which he had been engaged prior to his suspension. The grounds supplied do not, however, indicate that the petitioner had been engaged in any such acts in furtherance of the conspiracy even after his suspension during the last one year. If the conspiracy was for purchase of substandard medicines or for making bogus purchases in violation of Govt. orders, or if the petitioner was guilty of gross negligence in the discharge of his duties as Chief Medical Officer, it is obvious that he cannot repeat any such act for so long as he remains under suspension. It is thus not at all clear as to what part of the conspiracy remains unexecuted, in the furtherance of which he can play any role if allowed to remain at liberty while under suspension.
6. In a challenge to preventive detention the factual correctness of the ferounds cannot normally be gone into. That is a matter for the satisfaction of the detaining authority. All the acts attributed to the petitioner, if true, are reprehensible and would be totally indefeasible and should make him liable to be suitably punished both departmentally and also under the criminal law of the land. The preventive detention law is, however, not meant to be used as a purely punitive measure. It cannot be used merely for punishing any person for his past crime. His past crime will no doubt be relevant where they show that if allowed to remain at large he would be likely to repeat them in future. That principle applies where the crimes are of a nature that they are capable of being repeated by the man while he is out of prison. But where the crimes of the act or omission attributed is such that the same can be committed only while the man is occupying a particular office, then, as soon as he is suspended or dismissed or retired he automatically stands disabled from committing it, and the need to imprison him for preventing him from repeating it cannot arise.
7. It is thus patent that the grounds of which the detention order has been made are irrelevant to the object sought to be achieved namely, the prevention of activities prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community. In relying on these grounds alone for arriving at the subjective satisfaction that preventive detention of the petitioner was necessary the detaining authority has thus come to a conclusion so unreasonable that no reasonable authority could ever have come to it. As such, the detention order cannot be sustained.
8. In the result the petition is allowed and we direct that the petitioner 1 shall be set at liberty forthwith.
9. Let a copy of the short order be supplied to the petitioner's counsel today, if possible.