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Hazi Zafeer Vs. Union of India and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal;Constitution
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Writ Appeal No. 109 of 1983
Judge
Reported in[1984]80CompCas228(Delhi); 1984(1)Crimes886; 1984(7)DRJ1; 1984(24)ELT15(Del)
ActsConstitution of India - Article 22(5)
AppellantHazi Zafeer
RespondentUnion of India and ors.
Advocates: S.B. Padhayay and; S. Sharma, Advs
Cases ReferredSmt. Raziya Umar Bakshi v. Union of India and
Excerpt:
.....detention--the detenu an afghan national signed the copies of the grounds of detention in urdu--the grounds of detention reportedly were translated and explained to the detenu in peshto language--affidavit of the person who actually translated not filed--whether there is sufficient compliance of requirements of article 22(5) of the indian constitution ?--no.; mr. sharma appearing for the respondents submitted that the detenus know urdu which will be apparent from the fact that they have signed in urdu on copies of the grounds of detention were translated and explained to the detenus in peshto language. this, according to him, is sufficient compliance with the requirements of article 22(5).; we do not agree. it was for the detaining authority to have satisfied us that the detenus..........says that the grounds of detention along with documents relied were supplied to the detenus in urdu. the grounds of detention were read over and explained in the language known to the detenus and in token of having received the same and the same having been explained to them, the detenus had acknowledged the same by signing on sheets of paper. they had also signed on the carbon copies of the grounds of detention at every page in token of having received the same. from a reading of this counter-affidavit it is clear that the grounds of detention that were supplied were in english but a translation in urdu of those grounds of detention was also given to the detenus. we were not satisfied with this counter-affidavit and, thereforee, we permitted the respondents to filed additional.....
Judgment:

Prakash Narain, J.

(1) This judgment will dispose of two petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution of India moved by Haji Zaffar and Naseem Shah for issue of writs of habeas corpus or in the nature of habeas corpus in regard to their alleged illegal detention in the Central Jail, Tihar.

(2) Both the petitioners, namely, Haji Zaffar and Naseem Shah, claim to be Afghan nationals. They were detained by virtue of orders passed regarding each one of them on May 7, 1983 for their detention without trial by invoking Section 3(1) of the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974. They were both detained with a view to preventing them from acting in any manner prejudicial to the augmentation of foreign exchange and as the appropriate authority was of the view that it was necessary to make orders in regard to them under Section 3(1) of the aforesaid Act. Grounds of detention, also dated May 7, 1983, in English and a translation in Urdu of the said grounds of detention were served on the two persons in Tihar Jail. According to these grounds of detention these two persons were allegedly indulging in activity of dealing in foreign exchange in an unauthorised manner. It is not necessary to note further facts mentioned in the grounds of detention in the view that we are going to take.

(3) The detention has been challenged, inter alia, on the ground that the grounds of detention served on the detenus are in a language which is not fully understood by detenus as they neither know English nor Urdu. In reply to this contention an affidavit of Shri M.V.N. Rao) working as Additional Secretary (Anti Smuggling) in the office of Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue, at New Delhi, was filed. This affidavit merely says that the grounds of detention along with documents relied were supplied to the detenus in Urdu. The grounds of detention were read over and explained in the language known to the detenus and in token of having received the same and the same having been explained to them, the detenus had acknowledged the same by signing on sheets of paper. They had also signed on the carbon copies of the grounds of detention at every page in token of having received the same. From a reading of this counter-affidavit it is clear that the grounds of detention that were supplied were in English but a translation in Urdu of those grounds of detention was also given to the detenus. We were not satisfied with this counter-affidavit and, thereforee, we permitted the respondents to filed additional affidavits. Two affidavits have been filed, one sworn by Shri R. Mukhopadhyay, working as Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Finance (Department of Revenue) at New Delhi, and the other of Shri B.S. Jarial, working as Assistant Superintendent in Central Jail, Tihar. According to these additional affidavits, in the Ministry/Department while processing the detention case there was insistence to put up Urdu translations of documents which were proposed to be relied upon by the detaining authority. Such of the documents which were relied upon by the detaining authority, with Urdu translations of those were also supplied to the detenus. Shri Mukhopadhyay's affidavit throws no light on whether the grounds of detention were explained to the detenus in the language understood by the detenus. Shri Jarial's affidavit makes an interesting reading. He states that the grounds of detention were served on the detenus in jail on May 11, 1983 in his presence. He goes on to say 'The grounds of detention were read over and explained to the petitioner in his mother tongue i.e. PESHTO'. The verification dated January 12, 1984 of this affidavit reads : 'I the above named deponent do hereby verify that the contents of my above affidavit are true to my knowledge derived from the records maintained in my office.' If the grounds of detention were read over and explained to the detenus in their mother tongue in Peshto it would be in the personal knowledge of Shri Jarial and not a matter of record. We leave it at that.

(4) Learned counsel for the petitioners submits that the requirements of Article 22(5) are still not satisfied and, thereforee, the continued detention of the petitioners is vocative of the fundamental rights of any one, be he a citizen or not, as guaranteed by Article 22(5) of the Constitution. He contends, and in our opinion rightly, that postulates of Article 22(5) are mandatory and have to be strictly observed. A detenu cannot make an effective representation unless he is not only made to understand the grounds of detention in a language which he understands by translating the. same in the language which he understands but also by giving a script of the translated grounds of detention in the language which the detenu understands. If the detenu is to make an effective representation he should be able to read for himself not once but more than once the grounds of detention given to him and understand and digest them so that he can make his submissions adequately in a representation. Merely translating the grounds of detention, if at all, once for the detenue would not be good enough. He further says that even otherwise the requirements have not been fulfillled as no affidavit of the person who actually translated the grounds of detention to the detenu has been filed. He relies on the judgment of the Supreme Court in Smt. Raziya Umar Bakshi v. Union of India and others, : [1980]3SCR1398 .

(5) In this case their Lordships have clearly laid down the various postulates which have to be observed in order to comply with the provisions of Article 22(5) of the Constitution in cases of detenus who do not understand English, Hindi or Urdu or some other language in which the grounds of detentions are drawn up. Their Lordships have laid down that 'the service of the ground of detention on the detenu is a very precious constitutional right and where the grounds are couched in a language which is not known to the detenu, unless the contents of the grounds are fully explained and translated to the detenu, it will tantamount to not serving the grounds of detention to the detenu and would thus vitiate the detention ex-facie. In cases where the detaining authority is satisfied that the grounds are couched in a language which is not known to the detenue, it must see to it that the grounds are explained to the detenu, a translated script is given to him and the grounds bear some sort of a certificate to show that the grounds have been explained to the detenu in the language which he understands. A bare statement at the stage when Habeas Corpus petition is filed in the court by the detaining 'authority that these formalities were observed would be of no consequence particularly when it is not supported by any document or by any affidavit of the person who had done the job of explaining or translation.'

(6) In reply, Mr. Sharma appearing for the respondents submitted that the detenus know Urdu which will be apparent from the fact that they have signed in Urdu on copies of the grounds of detention were translated and explained to the detenus in Peshto language. This, according to him, is sufficient compliance with the requirements of Article 22(5).

(7) We do not agree. It was for the detaining authority to have satisfied us that the detenus know Urdu. His ipse dixit cannot be accepted when, admittedly, the duteous are Afghan nationals and are not reported to be highly educated. No affidavit of the person who actually translated the grounds of detention has been filed. Mr. Sharma stated that according to his instructions there were some letters dated January 6, 1984 to the effect that one Aziz, another prisoner in the Central Jail, Tihar, was called to translate and explain the grounds of detention to the detenus. As we have noticed earlier, the affidavit of this Aziz has not been filed. This fact is not even recorded anywhere on the files of the Department shown to us. It is not so stated by Shri Jarial in his affidavit. There is no probative value,therefore, that can be attached to the affidavit of Shri Jarial. Even assuming that one Aziz did translate and explain the grounds of detention to the detenus, we have not been assured that Aziz translated correctly and explained fully and wholly all that is written in the grounds of detention to the detenus. Further, there is force in the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioners that even if grounds of detention are explained and translated at the time of delivery it would not be good enough in order to make an effective representation. The detenus should be able to read, re-read or have reader re-read the grounds of detention to them quite a few times before they can really given an effective representation. This necessitates giving a translation of the grounds of detention to the detenus in the language known to them. That is the law. If this safeguard is not observed, the right to make an effective representation, as contemplated by Article 22(5), will denied to a person held without trial in a civilised society.)

(8) We, thereforee, hold that the detention is vitiated by non-compliance of the provisions of Article 22(5) of the Constitution. The detentions of the petitioners are quashed. The respondents are directed to set them at liberty forthwith, if not required to be detained under any other valid order of detention or an order of a court.


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