1. These are five applications under Article 226 of the Constitution praying for the issue of writs in the nature of 'habeas corpus' directing the release of the petitioners, who are said to be unlawfully detained in the Central Jail at Indore. The petitioners have been detained in pursuance of orders made by the District Magistrate of Morena for action prejudicial to the maintenance of public order Under Section 3(1) (a) (ii), Preventive Detention Act, 1950. With the exception of the petitioner Udaybhan Singh, all other applicants were arrested on 27-11-53, and the grounds of detention were served on each of them on 28-11-53. Udaybhan Singh was arrested on 1-12-53 and the grounds of detention were served on him on 2-12-53.
2. The separate grounds of detention served on each of the petitioners are to the effect that the detenu concerned was associating himself actively with notorious, proclaimed and named leaders of gangs of dacoits and that on the dates mentioned in the grounds he aided, abetted and harboured these dacoits by supplying arms, ammunition and money, by giving information about the postings and movement of the police, by instigating them to commit dacoity and by -various other ways.
The grounds on which the petitioners challenge their detention are similar. They are (i) that the statements set out in the grounds of detention about the alleged activities of the petitioners are baseless and false (ii) that the District Magistrate was not in fact satisfied with respect to any of the petitioners that it was necessary to detain him with a view to preventing him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order; (iii) that the allegations contained in the grounds of detention do not touch any of the matters covered by Section 3(1) (a) (ii), Preventive Detention Act, 1950; (iv) that the acts referred to in the grounds constitute offences under the Penal Code and could not, therefore, be regarded as relevant grounds for preventive detention under the Act (v) and that the detention of the petitioners was illegal inasmuch as the Government did not refer the matter of the detention of any of the applicants to the Advisory Board within thirty days from the date of detention as required by Section 9 of the Act and further that the Advisory Board also admitted to dispose of the 'references' within the time prescribed by Section 10.
3. In the affidavits filed in reply, the District Magistrate has denied the allegation of mala fides and said that on the reports received by him, he was satisfied that the detention of the petitioners was necessary. In relation to each of the detenus he has further stated that the detenu was found to have been associated with notorious dacoits and supplied them with arms and ammunition and gave them information, about the movements of the police and that in view of a situation of lawlessness and disorder in his district and of the fact that witnesses were not coming forward to give evidence against the detenu because of his long and close association with gangs of revengeful dacoits, recourse to the normal process of investigation and trial would not have been effective and appropriate. According to the affidavits of the District Magistrate, the Advisory Board having reported that there was sufficient cause for the detention oH the applicants, the Government has now confirmed the detention orders and continued the detention of the applicants Chandan Singh, Nawal Singh, Madan Singh and Hubbalal till 26-11-54 and of the applicant Udaybhan Singh till 30-11-54.
4. On the allegations of the petitioners that the references were not made within thirty days from the date of detention and were also not disposed of by the Board within ten weeks of the dates of detention. Mr. Kocher, Deputy Secretary, Home Department has sworn to affidavits, in reply saying that the grounds on which the detention orders were made, the representations of the detenus and the reports of the District Magistrate under Sub-section (3) of Section 3 of the Act were despatched from Lashkar per registered post on 24-12-1953 to the Advisory Board at Indore, that all this material was received in the office of the Board on 28-12-1952, that as 27-12-1953 was a Sunday, the references to the Board were within the time laid down in S, 9; and that the reports of the Advisory Board on the detention of all the applicants, which were received by the Government on 3-2-1954, were thus submitted to the Board within the time limit of ten weeks prescribed by Section 10.
5. The main contention advanced by Mr. De, the learned Counsel appearing for the petitioners was that the detention of all the applicants was illegal inasmuch as there was no reference to the Advisory Board within the time provided by Section 9. On the facts set out in the affidavits of Mr. Kochar, which have not been challenged by the learned Counsel, this contention must, in my opinion, be rejected. Section 9 of the Act says that the requisite material shall be placed before the Board, 'within thirty days from the date of detention under the order.' In the commencement of this period of thirty days, the date of the detention under the order has to be excluded Under Section 9, General Clauses Act, 1897. Now, in. the present case with the exception of Udaybhan Singh, who was arrested on 1-12-53, all other detenus were arrested on 27-11-53. Thus the last day for placing the material before the Board, in the cases of detenus other than Uday-bhan Singh was 27-12-53 and in regard to Uday-bhan Singh it was 30-12-53.
According to Mr. Kochar's affidavit the cases of all the applicants were received in the office of the Advisory Board on 28-12-53. Thus so far as Udaybhan Singh is concerned, the relevant material was clearly placed before the Board within thirty days of the date of his detention. Section 9 was also complied with in regard to the other detenus for the reason that 27-12-1953 ;was a Sunday and their cases were received by the Board on the next day i.e., 28-12-1953. The thirty days' period prescribed by Section 9, Preventive Detention Act, 1950, is governed by Section 10, General Clauses Act. so that if the period expired on a holiday, the material could be placed before the I Board on the next day on which the office of the Board was open. Section 10, General Clauses Act, 1897, applies to any act or proceeding' which is directed or allowed to be done or taken in any court or office within a prescribed period, by any Central Act. That the placing of the requisite material before the Board is an 'act or proceeding' cannot, in my view, admit of any doubt. It cannot, therefore, be maintained that Section 9 was not complied with.
Mr. De', however, argued that for the purposes of Section 9, it was not sufficient that the office of the Board should receive the requisite material within thirty days from the date of detention. According to learned Counsel the material can be said to be placed before the Board only if the Board at a formal meeting is made aware of the material and the Board at that meeting applies its mind to the detenu's case. This argument does not impress me. To me it seems that the plain meaning of the expression -place the materials before the Advisory Board' is simply this, that the materials should be made available to the Board or placed in their hands. The phrase does not import anything as to the manner in which ithe material should be laid before the Board or as to what the Board is required to do when the material is placed before it. That a consideration of the materials and of the detenu's case is an act quite distinct from, and subsequent to the act of placing the materials before the Board is plain also from the provision in Section 10 of the Act that 'the Advisory Board shall after considering the materials placed before it...submit its report....'
Further it appears clear from the marginal note to Section 9 that the section intends that the matter of detention should be handed over to the Board within a certain time for consideration and not that the Board should begin applying its mind to the case of the detenu within that time. I must admit, I have some hesitation in invoking the marginal note 'Reference to Advisory Boards.' It is no doubt true the marginal note cannot control the meaning of the body of the section if the language employed therein is clear and unambiguous, see - 'Nalina Khya Bysacit v. Haider' : 4SCR533 . But as was observed by Collins M. R. in - 'Bushell v. Hammond' (1904) 2 KB 563 (B)
the side-note, although It forms no part of the| section, is of some assistance, inasmuch as it I' shows the drift of the section.
I am, therefore, clear in my mind that Section 9, Preventive Detention Act, 1950 is sufficiently com-, plied with if the material referred to therein is handed over in the office of the Board within thirty days from the date of detention under the order.
6. Some doubt was felt at the Bar whether Sections 9 to 10 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 could be resorted to in construing the provisions of the Preventive Detention Act, 1950, when the General Clauses Act, 1897, has not been extended to Part B States. The doubt is founded on the fact, that whereas the General Clauses Act, 1897 was extended to 'Merged States' by the Merged States (Laws) Act, 1949, it has not been likewise extended to Part B States by the Part B States (Laws) Act, 1951. learned Counsel appearing before us did not, however, address any arguments to explain the implication of this difference in the Merged States (Laws) Act and the Part B States (Laws) Act. I am, however, inclined to think that even in the absence of a specific territorial extension of the General Clauses Act, 1897 to Part B States, that Act would apply in construing the provisions of all the Central Acts or Regulations in force in Part B States. The General Clauses Act, 1897 when it was enacted did not create any new legislation. It has been enacted
to shorten the language of statutory enactments and to provide for uniformity of expression in cases where there is identity of subject- matter.
As the Federal Court said in 'Hayarappan v. Madhavi Amraa' AIR 1950 FC 140 (C)
it has been enacted so as to avoid superfluity of the language in statute where it is possible to do so.
There is no 'territorial extent' clause in the General Clauses Act, 1897. Its application is primarily with reference to Central Acts or Regulations and not with reference to territory itself. It is in a sense a part of every Central Act or Regulation. It has application to a Central Act not by virtue of its territorial extent, but pro prio vigore so that if a Central Act is extended to any territory, the General Clauses Act, 1897 would also be deemed to have come into force in that territory and would apply in the construction of the Central Act extended. There is, therefore, no reasonable ground for holding that as the General Clauses Act, 1897 has not been extended to Part B States, it can have no application for construing in those States the provisions of Central Acts or Regulations in force there. Even assuming that the General Clauses Act cannot be invoked so long as it has not been e.xtend-ed to Part B States, there can be no justification for holding that the general principles of construction embodied in the Act have no application in the construction of Central Acts in force in Part B States. Instances are not unknown where legislation to which the General Clauses Act did not strictly speaking apply, has been interpreted in accordance with the principles laid down in the General Clauses Act.
The Supreme Court applied the principles in construing the Letters Patent of Bombay High Court (see - 'National Sewing Thread Co. Ltd, v. James Chadwick & Bros. Ltd.' : 4SCR1028 .
7. As I have taken the view that the references to the Advisory Board were made in this case within thirty days from the dates of detention as required by Section 9, Preventive Detention Act, it is not necessary for me to consider the contention of Mr. Shivdayal, learned Deputy Government Advocate for the State that even if the references were made beyond the prescribed period, the detention would still be valid as the Board submitted its reports within ten weeks from the dates of detention. Without expressing any opinion on the point. I must say that a similar argument was rejected by the Patna High Court in the case of - 'Karamvir v. State' AIR 1954 Pat 57 (E).
8. Coming to the question of the truth or the adequacy of the grounds of detention and of the satisfaction of the detaining authority as to the necessity of detaining the petitioners, it is now settled by numerous decisions of the Supreme Court 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 based provided they have a rational probative value and are not extraneous to the scope or purpose of the legislative provision
cannot be challenged in the court of law except on the ground of mala fides and that a court of law is not even competent to enquire into the truth or otherwise of the facts which are mentioned as grounds of detention communicated to the detenu. See - 'State of Bombay v. Atmaram' : 1951CriLJ373 ; - 'Taraprasad De v. State of West Bengal' : 1951CriLJ400 ; -- 'Sibban Lai v. State of U. P.' : 1SCR418 . Mr. De learned Counsel for the petitioners did not therefore, assail before us the detention of the petitioners 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 any of the petitioners on those grounds.
The only ground urged was that the activities of the petitioners in the years 1951, 52, and 53 could not form relevant grounds of detention and that as these activities, alleged to consist in aiding, abetting and harbouring the dacoits, were punishable under the Penal Code, the detention of the petitioners is punitive and not preventive. There is no substance in this contention. A similar line of attack was taken in the case o- 'Kadam Singh v. State of Madh-B.' AIR 1954 Madh-B 125 (I) in which Kadam Singh was detained by the District Magistrate of Morena on grounds analogous to those on which the petitioners have been detained. In that case following the decisions of the Supreme Court in - 'Bhimsen v. State of Punjab' : 1952CriLJ75 and - 'Ujagar Singh v. State of Punjab' : 1SCR756 we held that Instances of past activities can be taken into account when making a detention order and that as a matter of fact it is largely from the'past activities of as person that his behaviour in the future can be' inferred.
Rejecting the contention that as the past activities of the detenu were punishable under the Penal Code, therefore, his detention was punitive and not preventive, we said in the case of Kadam Singh (I) that the object of the Preventive Detention Act was no doubt preventive and not punitive detention; but from this it was erroneous to infer that past penal acts of the would-be detenu could not be taken into account in finding out his likely course of action in the future. It was observed by us that
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 postings and who intimidate witnesses from giving evidence against the dacoits, the normal process of investigation and trial according to the Code of Criminal Procedure 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 prevent him from acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order is not for the decision of the Court.
9. It was next contended by the learned Counsel for the applicants that in the grounds of detention communicated to each of the detenus, there are one or two grounds which simply say that the detenu on a certain date met the named leader of the dacoits or dacoits. It was said that meeting a dacoit is not per se an act prejudicial to the maintenance of public order and that such a ground being irrelevant to the detention, the order of detention as a whole is vitiated. I am unable to accept this contention. In the case of 'Kadam Singh (I)' we have pointed out that a ground of detention containing a statement of facts showing the association of the detenu with notorious and proclaimed dacoits is a relevant ground, and that as laid down by the Supreme I Court in - 'Shamrao v. Dist. 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.
So reading, it is plain in the present case that the petitioners have been detained because they actively associated themselves with notorious dacoits, and aided, abetted and harboured them in various ways, and because on account of their conduct and previous history, they cannot be trusted to abstain from helping notorious dacoits and thus acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order.
10. In my judgment, the validity of the detention of the petitioners is not assailable on any valid ground. These petitions must, therefore, be dismissed.
11. I agree.