1. This is an application under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying for the issue of a writ, in the nature of Habeas Corpus for the release of the applicant, Kadam Singh from detention in pursuance of an order made by the District Magistrate of Morena under Sub-clause (ii) of Clause (a) of Sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the Preventive Detention Act, 1950. The petitioner was arrested on 12-1-1953 and detained for action prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. The grounds of detention were served on him on 13-1-1954.
They are to the effect that the petitioner was associating himself actively with named, notorious and proclaimed dacoits and leaders of gangs of dacoits, and was aiding and abetting them in the commission of the dacoities by supplying arms and ammunition, by giving information to them about the movements of the police and by harbouring them; that on the diverse dates mentioned in the grounds he concealed and confined, kidnapped or abducted women and transported them to Rajasthan, extracted money from the relations of persons held to ransom by the dacoits with whom he was associating, forced the chamars of village Sarai Chhola to do 'begar' work and that on their refusal to do so. instigated the dacoits to loot the chamars and deterred certain persons from giving evidence against persons accused of murder and against persons from whom security under Section 110, Criminal P. C. was being demanded.
The petitioner says in his petition that the action of the District Magistrate in detaining him was mala fide; that the detention order was passed without any satisfaction on the part of the District Magistrate and that the grounds on which the District Magistrate ordered the petitioner's detention are all false and fabricated and that the order of detention was made for the purpose of stifling legitimate criticism by his brother one Sobaran Singh of the inefficiency and inaction of the police, in Morena and has nothing to do with the maintenance of public order.
2. On behalf of the State, the District Magistrate has sworn to an affidavit stating that on the report and record placed beforehand by the District Superintendent of Police of Morena, in regard to the prejudicial activities of the - petitioner Kadam Singh, he felt completely satisfied that it was necessary to detain Kadam Singh in order to prevent him from acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. The District Magistrate has emphatically denied that he acted mala fide in passing the order. He says in para 5 of the affidavit that
the applicant was found to have been associated with notorious dacoits and supplied them with arms and ammunition and it was apprehended that he gave them information about the movements of the police. This immediate danger compelled action of preventive detention. Past activities of the detenu gave cause for the apprehension. The order of detention was precipitated by the incidents between July to December 1953, which have been included in the grounds of detention.
In para 10 of the affidavit of the District Magistrate it is further stated that
the order of detention in the present case was not resorted to as a punitive measure taut as a preventive measure in view of the alarming law and order situated in the Morena District and for the reasons contained in the grounds of detention. Recourse to ordinary law was not efficacious to prevent further deterioration of public order in view of the present law and order situation in the district and in view of the fact that witnesses are not forthcoming to give evidence against the petitioner because Of his long and close association with gangs of notorious and revengeful dacoits.
3. We are precluded from going into the truth or the adequacy of the grounds of detention communicated to the detenu. The Supreme Court has in a number of cases held that the power to issue a detention order under Section 3, Preventive Detention Act depends entirely upon the satisfaction of the appropriate authority specified in that section and that the sufficiency of the grounds upon which such satisfaction purports to be passed, provided they have a rational probative value and are not extraneous to the scope or purpose of the legislative provision cannot be challenged in a court of law, except on the ground, of mala fides. See - 'State of Bombay v. Atma Ram' : 1951CriLJ373 ; - 'Tara-pada De v. State of West Bengal' : 1951CriLJ400 ; - 'Shibban Lal v. State of Uttar Pradesh' : 1SCR418 . The truth or otherwise of the facts which are mentioned as grounds of detention in the communication to the detenu under Section 7 of the Act cannot also be inquired into by a court of law. See : 1SCR418 .
Mr. Anand learned Counsel for the applicant, therefore, rightly did not challenge before us the order of detention of the petitioner on the ground that the grounds of detention were false or inadequate or that the District Magistrate had not really satisfied himself with regard to the necessity of detaining the petitioner on those grounds. Learned Counsel for the petitioner did not also question the bona fides of the District Magistrate in making the order of detention. He, however, urged that items Nos. 7, 8 and 9 of the grounds supplied to the applicant did not touch the maintenance of public order and were therefore, irrelevant to the detention of the applicant, that the acts said to have been done by the detenu la 1950, 51, 52 and 53 could not form valid or relevant grounds for his detention; and that the acts of the applicant referred to the grounds constitute offences under the Penal Code and could have formed the basis of punitive action and that, therefore, they could not be regarded as relevant grounds for detention under the Preventive Detention Act.
4. In my opinion, there is no force in any of these contentions and this petition must be rejected. In grounds Nos. 7, 8 and 9 it is stated that on 11-7-1953 the applicant met at Masudpur, Bhanpur and Jailpur a gang of dacoits led by Sultan, a notorious and proclaimed dacoit; that on or about 14-10-1953 the Detenu accompanied by two other persons went to Dholpur and there asked one of his companions Sattar Khan to proceed to Rajai and inform the dacoits Prithwi and Devi Dayal that the applicant wanted to meet them; and that on 19-10-1953 the applicant accompanied one Hansa to Dholpur for securing the release on bail of Ghamandi Singh a son of Hansa, who had been arrested in connection with a dacoity.
It is true that meeting a dacoit or making efforts, to get a person arrested for the offence of dacoity released on bail is not per se an act prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. But it cannot be argued and it has not been argued by the learned Counsel for the petitioner, that if a person associates himself actively with named, notorious and proclaimed dacoits and gangs of dacoits, aids, abets and harbours them in various ways, extracts money from the relations of persons held to ransom by the dacoits and terrorizes witnesses from giving evidence against persons accused of serious offences then his activities are not prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. A ground of detention containing a statement of fact showing the association of the detenu with such dacoits would, therefore, be a relevant ground.
Now, as laid down by the Supreme Court in - 'Shamrao v. District Magistrate, Thana' : 1952CriLJ1503 in determining whether a ground of detention is or is not relevant to the detention, the grounds of detention must be regarded as a whole. The relevancy of the ground in question cannot be determined from the ground standing by itself. If the grounds Nos. 7, 8 and 9 are read together with the other grounds, as they must be, their relevancy becomes clear. The gravamen of the indictment against the detenu is that he actively associated with notorious dacoits, aided, abetted and harboured them, concealed and confined, abducted or Kidnapped women and intimidated witnesses from giving evidence against accused persons. Grounds Nos. 7, 8 and 9 only narrate instances of the petitioner's close association with dacoits. The acts mentioned in items Nos. 7, 8 and 9 and under the other items form a chain of acts of the petitioner which might prejudice the maintenance of public order.
5. Mr. Anand relied on : 1SCR418 to support his contention that the detention order was bad. In that case the Supreme Court held that if one of the two grounds of detention mentioned in the order of detention is unsubstantial or non-existent, then the position would be the same as if one of the two grounds was irrelevant for the purpose of the Act or was wholly illusory and this would vitiate the detention order as a whole. This decision would be of assistance to the detenu only if it is first held that the grounds Nos. 7, 8 and 9 arc extraneous to the scope of the Act and irrelevant.
On the question whether the grounds are or are not relevant, the apposite case is the one in : 1952CriLJ1503 which indicates the approach to the determination of the question of relevancy of any ground of detention and lays down that the grounds of detention must be regarded as a whole for the purpose of seeing whether any ground is or is not relevant. In my view the contention of the petitioner that grounds Nos. 7, 8 and 9 are irrelevant is untenable and must be rejected.
6. The contention that the applicant's past activities could not form relevant ground of detention seems to me to be concluded by the decisions of the Supreme Court in two cases. In - 'Bhimsen v. State of Punjab' : 1952CriLJ75 , Kania C. J., observed that:
Instances of past activities are relevant to be considered in giving rise to the subjective mental conviction of the District Magistrate that the appellant are likely to indulge in objectionable activities.
7. In a later decision - 'Ujgar Singh v. State Of Punjab' : 1SCR756 , the Supreme Court said:
The past conduct or antecedent history of a person can be taken into account when making a detention order, and as a matter of fact, it is largely from prior events showing the tendencies or inclinations of the man that an inference could be drawn whether he is likely even in the future to act in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order.
8. The grounds which were given for the detention of the applicant are, therefore, relevant. On these grounds, the District Magistrate was satisfied that the petitioner was associating himself actively with notorious and named leaders of gangs of dacoits and that with a view to preventing him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order, he should be detained. It is not for this Court to assess whether the grounds were sufficient for the detaining authority to make the order of detention.
9. As to the last contention that as the acts of the applicant referred to in the various grounds constitute offences under the Penal code, therefore his detention is punitive and not preventive, it cannot also be accepted. The object of the Preventive Detention Act is no doubt preventive and not punitive detention. But I think from this object of the Act, it is erroneous to infer that past penal acts of the would-be detenu cannot be taken into account in finding out his likely course of action in the future. Moreover, when a number of notorious dacoits operate in co-ordination over extensive areas aided and abetted by their agents who give them shelter, arms, information as regards Police posting and who Intimidate witnesses from giving evidence against the dacoits, the normal process of investigation and trial according to the Criminal P. C. may be found to be ineffective and inadequate to meet a real situation of lawlessness. The question whether in such a situation a person should or should not be detained in order to present him from acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order is not for the decision of the Court.
10. For the reasons which I have indicated, this petition fails, and ought to be dismissed.
11. I agree.