1. This is a rule directed against the State of the Punjab to show cause why the order of detention made on Nanu Bam the detenue dated 7-2-1953 be not set aside and why the detenue be not ordered to be released.
2. The order for detention of Nanu Ram was made on 7-2-1953 and the date of the grounds which are required to be given under the law is 10-2-1953. On 24-3-1953 Nanu Ram was arrested and the order for detention and the grounds therefor were served on him on that date. On 9-5-1953 the order of detention was confirmed by the Punjab State Government upto 23-3-1954.
3. The petitioner has made several allegations in his petition under Article 226 of the Constitution. The State has accused him of being a most dangerous character. It is stated in the grounds which are Annexure 'A' that there are two camps of Bishnois in village Sadalpur in the Police Station, Fatahabad, Mukh Ram being the leader of one and Chandu of the other, and Nanu Bam is stated to be a 'confederate of Chandu in the commission of the murders and other heinous crimes' and the history of assassinations in this village extends over a period of a quarter of a century during which 12 murders have been committed. In paragraphs 2 to 12 particulars of various offences committed with which Nanu Ram had connection are given. In para. 13 it is stated that Nanu Ram and members of his party are still after the life of Mukh Ram. In para. 14 Nanu Ram is accused of being a desperate and dangerous character who was responsible for no less than five murders and that he was prosecuted in two cases under the Arms Act in which he was convicted. It was also stated:
A good many desperadoes and outlaws are linked with you. You are in fact, the right leiutenant of Chandu, the leader of your party, and are ever ready to commit murders and other heinous crimes. You are thus a menace to the public peace and tranquillity.
The 15th ground is as follows:
I have been myself to Sadalpur and the 'ilaqa', and have made extensive enquiries from the people about this age-long enmity between the parties. I am convinced that the people in general of village Sadalpur and Dhand, who are extremely poor and best cultivators in the whole district, have to suffer on account of the Intrigues and machinations of your party and that of Mukh Ram. Your places are the meeting places of all murderers and badmashes not only from this State but also from Pepsu and Rajasthan. It is widely known that the members of your party and that of Mukh Bam are big schemers and do no cultivation themselves. People are mortally afraid of you and at your bidding do your cultivation. No one can pick up courage to appeax as a witness against you. Anyone who ever contemplates to do so, is threatened with murder. From the extensive enquiries made I am convinced that the only remedy to end this age-long series of murders is to detain you and thus to relieve the general poor public and the cultivators numbering thousands from mortal fear of you and your partymen who are murderers and schemers. Thus your detention is not only just but was extremely essential for the good of the greatest number, I am convinced in my mind beyond any shadow of doubt that you are, to say the least, a professional murderer and do no other business. It is your wholetime job. This trade has flourished at the cost of ruination of the population of this 'ilaqa' and to the detriment of the general public and the law and order position of the district.
4. Several objections were taken to the validity of the detention order. It was firstly submitted that the order was 'mala fide' and that the order of detention is no substitute for a punitive action which could have been taken against him as the object of the Act is preventive and that in this particular case it has been shown that although Nanu Ram was tried for murder he was never convicted, and reliance was placed on a judgment of the Supreme Court in - 'Ashutosh Lahiri v. State of Delhi' : AIR1953SC451 , It was then submitted that merely because a man has committed some murders does not connect his actions with the maintenance of public order. And lastly it was submitted that the grounds in No. 14 are too vague and fall within the rule laid down by the Supreme Court in - 'Dr. Ram Kishan Bhardwaj v. State of Delhi' : 1953CriLJ1241 .
5. I shall take the last objection first. In the 15th ground it is stated:
Your places are the meeting places of all murderers and 'badmashes' not only from this State but also from Pepsu and Rajasthan. It is widely known that the members of your party and that of Mukh Ram are big schemers and do no cultivation themselves.
So the ground is that all murderers and all 'badmashes' not only of the Punjab but from Pepsu and Rajasthan meet at the 'places of Nanu Bam' and that Nanu Ram and members of his party are 'schemers' and do no cultivation themselves. I am of the opinion that this is much too vague a ground and does not comply with the fundamental right which is given to the detenu under Article 22(5), Constitution of India. Patanjali Sastri, C. J. said in 'Dr. Ram Kishan's case, (B)', at p. 320 of the report:
Preventive detention is a serious invasion of personal liberty and such meagre safeguards as the Constitution has provided against the improper exercise of the power must be jealously watched and enforced by the Court. In this case, the petitioner has the right, under Article 22(5), as interpreted by this Court by a majority, to be furnished with particulars of the grounds of his detention 'sufficient to enable him to make a representation which on being considered may give relief to him'.
Now in 'Dr. Ram Kishan's case, (B)', the ground which was found to be vague was as follows:
You have been organising the movement by enrolling volunteers among the refugees in your capacity as President of the Refugee Association of the Bara Hindu Rao.
and this was held not to satisfy the, constitutional requirements,
6. Counsel for the State referred us to - 'State of Bombay v. Atma Ram Sridhar Vaidya' : 1951CriLJ373 , Kania, C. J., dealing with vagueness of ground said:
That is a matter of detail which has to be examined in the light of the circumstances of each case. If on reading the ground furnished it is capable of being intelligently understood and is sufficiently definite to furnish materials to enable the detained person to make a representation against the order of detention it cannot be called vague.
But that case must be taken to have been explained by their Lordships in 'Dr. Ram Kishan's case, (B)' and the two must be read together. In the later case the Supreme Court held otherwise and the judgment was by Patanjali Sastri, C. J., who had taken the contrary view in 'Atma Ram's case, (C)'. This being 'the view of the Supreme Court, I am constrained to hold that as ground No. 15 is vague, there has been an infringement with the rights of Nanu Ram and the order of detention is therefore illegal. I would therefore allow this petition, set aside the order of detention and direct that Nanu Ram be released forthwith.
7. I agree.