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Bai Amina Vs. State of Gujarat and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtGujarat High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1982CriLJ1531; (1981)GLR1186
AppellantBai Amina
RespondentState of Gujarat and ors.
Cases ReferredGanga v. Govt of Maharashtra (supra
Excerpt:
- - 1. the petitioner, a widow, has been detained by the second respondent (district magistrate, panchmahals) in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 3 of the national security act, 1980 (hereinafter referred to as 'the act') upon being satisfied that her detention was necessary with a view to preventing her from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. 3. the first ground mentions that the petitioner was a head-strong and fanatic woman and that she was habituated to indulge in criminal activities and that she was inciting communal feelings amongst muslims against sindhis and hindus and that, in that manner, she was indulging in acts and conduct endangering public peace and tranquillity and public order. in view of all that has been.....p.d. desai, j.1. the petitioner, a widow, has been detained by the second respondent (district magistrate, panchmahals) in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 3 of the national security act, 1980 (hereinafter referred to as 'the act') upon being satisfied that her detention was necessary with a view to preventing her from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. the order of detention is dated april 11/12, 1981. the actual detention commenced on and with effect from april 14, 1981. the grounds of detention were furnished to the petitioner on april 17, 1981. the first respondent (state of gujarat) accorded its approval to the order of detention under sub-section (4) of section 3 on april 22, 1981. on may 2 1981, the petitioner made a.....
Judgment:

P.D. Desai, J.

1. The petitioner, a widow, has been detained by the second respondent (District Magistrate, Panchmahals) in exercise of the powers conferred by Sub-section (2) of section 3 of the National Security Act, 1980 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') upon being satisfied that her detention was necessary with a view to preventing her from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. The order of detention is dated April 11/12, 1981. The actual detention commenced on and with effect from April 14, 1981. The grounds of detention were furnished to the petitioner on April 17, 1981. The first respondent (State of Gujarat) accorded its approval to the order of detention under Sub-section (4) of section 3 on April 22, 1981. On May 2 1981, the petitioner made a representation to the State Government which was rejected on June 12, 1981. Meanwhile, the Advisory Board considered the case of the petitioner and on June 9, 1981 it reported to the first respondent that there was, in its opinion, sufficient cause for the detention of the petitioner. Hence the present petition.

2. The grounds of detention supplied to the petitioner disclose that two grounds weighed with the detaining authority in arriving at the requisite satisfaction.

3. The first ground mentions that the petitioner was a head-strong and fanatic woman and that she was habituated to indulge in criminal activities and that she was inciting communal feelings amongst Muslims against Sindhis and Hindus and that, in that manner, she was indulging in acts and conduct endangering public peace and tranquillity and public order. The particulars of six incidents or events are given to substantiate the aforesaid ground. The incidents or events particularized are alleged to have occurred during the period 'from Aug. 1979 to April, 1981. Broadly speaking, those particulars tend to indicate that the petitioner alone or along with others had indulged in violent activity in August, 1979 and February, 1980 and that she had actively participated in the communal riots which occurred in the month of October, 1980 in the town of Godhra. Those particulars also reveal that complaints for various offences punishable under the Indian Penal Code were lodged with the police against the petitioner from time to time and that she had absconded and was twice arrested, for the -first time in February 1980 and, for the second time, in February 1981 in connection with the various complaints. Chapter proceedings were also instituted against the petitioner in April, 1981. Having regard to the ultimate view which we are inclined to take in this matter, it is not necessary to set out in greater detail the particulars in relation to the first ground.

4. The second ground is material for the purposes of the decision of this case and it requires to be set out verbatim. When translated into English, the said ground reads as under:

Moreover, on the raising of the interim order issued by the Court against the reconstruction of the cabins and shops near Police Chowky No. 7 on the Station Road at Godhra, which were destroyed in fire on October 29, 1980, Sindhis started the work of reconstruction of the cabins on the morning of March 29, 1981 and, at that time, a crowd of Muslims committed unruly acts against Sindhis with a view to preventing them from reconstructing their shops. You had incited and clandestinely instigated Muslims to indulge in such unruly acts. In connection with the then prevailing situation, statements of two persons were recorded in the presence of the Divisional Police Officer, Godhra. Their names are not disclosed in the public interest as they had sought an assurance to that effect on the ground that otherwise their lives would be in danger. Those persons have stated that you would again come out in order to incite communal feelings when the curfew would be lifted again and that there is genuine apprehension that you would incite communal riots and would indulge in activities endangering public order. Responsible persons have made statements to the effect that strict action should be taken against you. Therefore, it is not in the interest of public order to keep you free. In view of all that has been stated above, it clearly transpires and we are satisfied that you indulge in criminal activities and that you are an accomplice of the Muslim communal and unruly elements. In particular, you arm yourself with a cycle-chain and use it as a weapon and put the other person in fear. Moreover, you participate in communal riots and disturbances overtly and covertly. You endanger public order by indulging in activities such as assaults and criminal and communal activities. In that manner, although you are a woman, your conduct being communal and tending to be seriously criminal endangering public order, we are satisfied that it is necessary to detain you in order to prevent you from indulging in such activities.

5. The petitioner has challenged the order of detention on the following grounds:

(1) Incidents Nos. 1 and 2 relied upon in support of the first ground are irrelevant since they are relatable purely to law and order situation and they do not involve public order.

(2) The last two incidents or events have no bearing on incitement of communal feelings or frenzy and therefore, they do not support the allegations contained in the first ground.

(3) The second ground is vague in material particulars. Though copies of the statements of the two individuals referred to in the said ground are furnished, their identity is not disclosed on the ground that it is not in the public interest to make such a disclosure. The privilege to withhold the identity has been exercised arbitrarily and is vitiated by legal mala fides. The nondisclosure has materially affected the petitioner's right to make a representation against her detention.

(4) Even assuming that the privilege has been rightly exercised and that, therefore, the two statements can be relied upon in support of the order of detention, the statements do not contain any material or facts which could have rationally led the detaining authority to the conclusion that it was necessary to detain the petitioner. Those statements do not contain facts based on personal knowledge and they are merely inferential and in the nature of opinion expressed by two individuals. On the basis of such statements, it would be impossible to reach the conclusion recorded in the second ground.

(5) There is complete non-application of mind as' regards the identity of the person against whom allegations are made in the several statements upon which reliance is placed by the detaining authority. No attempt has been made to establish that the petitioner was the person who was in the mind of the persons whose statements are relied upon.

(6) The detaining authority has failed to consider a material aspect, namely, whether the prosecution of the petitioner is a sufficient alternative to the detention.

6. In the view that we are taking of two of the grounds set out above, namely, grounds (3) and (4), we do not think it necessary to consider the rest of the grounds.

Re. Ground (3):

7. The second ground furnished to the petitioner would appear to be of a vague and general character. In general terms, it refers to the alleged behind-the-scene activities of the petitioner and alludes to her alleged indulgence in criminal and communal activities and on that basis records the requisite satisfaction. There is reference in the said ground to the statements of two persons recorded in the presence of the Divisional Police Officer, Godhra and those statements have been relied upon in support of the material allegations and conclusions. Copies of those statements were furnished to the petitioner. However, the identity of the persons who made those statements has not been disclosed. The reason for withholding such information, as stated in the ground, is that it was considered to be against the public interest to reveal the identity as the said persons had sought an assurance to that effect on the ground that the disclosure would endanger their lives. In the affidavit-in-reply dated July 17, 1981, the second respondent has stated that as she was satisfied that the feeling of fear of those two individuals was genuine and real and that it would be against the public interest to disclose the names, the identity of those persons was not revealed to the petitioner. The petitioner contends that on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the power to withhold the disclosure has been exercised arbitrarily and on the grounds not germane to the exercise of such power and that the same has resulted in denying to her the constitutional right of making an effective representation against her detention. The question with regard to the claim of privilege to withhold disclosure, therefore, requires consideration.

8. article 22, Clause (5) provides that when any person is detained in pursuance of an order made under any law providing for preventive detention, the authority making the order shall, as soon as may be, communicate to such person the grounds on which the order has been made and shall afford him the earliest opportunity of making a representation against the order. Clause (6) provides that nothing in Clause (5) shall require the authority making any such order as is referred to in Clause (5) 'to disclose facts which such authority considers to be against the public interest to disclose.

(underlining supplied).

9. Section 8(1) of the Act provides that when a person is detained in pursuance of a detention order, the authority making the order shall, as soon as may be, but ordinarily not later than five days and in exceptional circumstances and for reasons to be recorded in writing, not later than ten days from the date of detention, communicate to him the grounds on which the order has been made and shall afford him the earliest opportunity of making a representation against the order to the appropriate Government. Sub-section (2) provides that nothing in Sub-section (1) shall require the authority 'to disclose facts which it considers to be against the public interest to disclose.'

(underlining supplied)

10. It is settled law that article 22, Clause (5) of the Constitution has two facets. (1) communication of the grounds on which the order of detention has been made, and (2) an opportunity of making a representation against the order of detention. It is also settled law that 'grounds' in Clause (5) of article 22 do not mean mere factual inferences but mean factual inferences plus factual material which led to such factual inferences. 'Grounds' must be self-sufficient and self-explanatory. Therefore, the grounds communicated to the detenu should reveal the whole of the factual material considered by the detaining authority and they should comprise all the constituent facts and materials that went in to make up the mind of the statutory functionary. An opportunity to make a representation against the order of detention necessarily implies that the detenu is informed of all that has been taken into account against him in arriving at the decision to detain him. (See Shalini Soni v. Union of India : 1980CriLJ1487 . It would thus appear that the detenu is to be informed not merely of the factual inferences and factual material which led to such inferences but also the sources from which the factual material is gathered. The disclosure of sources would enable the detenu to draw the attention of the detaining authority in the course of his representation to the fact whether the factual material collected from such sources could be relied upon and used against the detenu on the facts and in the circumstances of the case.

11. The right of the detenu to be furnished with material facts and particulars is, however, subject to the limitation mentioned in article 22, Clause (6). The detaining authority is thereunder empowered to withhold such facts and particulars, the disclosure of which such authority considers to be against the 'public interest'. Both, the obligation to furnish material facts and particulars and the duty to consider whether the disclosure of any facts involved therein is against public interest, are vested in the detaining authority and not in any other. When the privilege of withholding facts and particulars is exercised, the detenu cannot be heard to say that the grounds did not disclose the necessary facts and particulars or that in the absence of such facts and particulars, he is not in a position to make an effective representation, save and except when the exercise of privilege is challenged as mala fide, (see Lawrence D'Souza v. State of Bombay : 1956CriLJ935 and Puranlal Lakhanpal v. Union of India : 1958CriLJ283 ). The mala fides required to be shown may be factual or legal, that is to say, it might be shown, that the exercise of power was actuated by personal malice or that the power was exercised arbitrarily and capriciously or on the basis of grounds or materials which have no rational connection with public interest or on the basis of which it was not reasonably possible to be satisfied that the disclosure would harm public interest.

12. Sub-section s (1) and (2) of Section 8 of the Act substantially reproduce the provisions of Clauses (5) and (6) of article 22 of the Constitution. What has been stated above in the context of the said constitutional provisions would, therefore, apply proprio vigore to the obligation imposed and duty cast upon the detaining authority under the said statutory provisions.

13. It is relevant to point out at this stage that the foundation of the law behind Clause (6) of article 22 and Sub-section (2) of Section 8 is injury to the public interest. The reason for the exclusion from disclosure is that if the facts and materials are disclosed, the public interest would be injured. While withholding the disclosure of material facts and particulars to the detenu on. the ground that it would harm the public interest, another public interest, which requires the disclosure of all relevant particulars and materials on which the order of detention is based, with a view to affording an effective opportunity of representation to the detenu against the order of detention, must be borne in mind. The delicate balance between the two must be maintained by the detaining authority upon whom is cast the obligation to furnish material facts and particulars and who is under a duty to withhold the disclosure of such facts and particulars under certain circumstances. It is only when the public interest likely to be subserved by non-disclosure outweighs or overrides the public interest intended to be served by disclosure that the relevant information must be withheld.

14. It is well to remember that since all the constitutional and statutory protection that a detenu can claim is the little that is afforded by the procedural safeguards prescribed by Clause (5) of article 22 read with Article 19 and Sub-section (1) of Section 8, the Courts rigidly insist that preventive detention procedure should be fair and strictly observed. The privilege under Clause (6) of article 22 and under Sub-section (2) of Section 8 must, therefore, be sparingly exercised in those cases only where there is full satisfaction of the detaining authority arrived at on consideration of all the relevant aspects that the public interest requires that the privilege should be exercised.

14A. Can the consideration that the particulars and materials relied upon were furnished to the detaining authority in confidence by some person be a sufficient ground by itself for protecting from disclosure to the detenu such particulars and materials or the identity of the person who furnished them where the disclosure of those matters would assist the detenu in making an effective representation against the order of detention Is the apprehension of the person furnishing such particulars and materials that his life and property would be in danger if his identity is disclosed, which might have induced the detaining authority to extend to such person the promise of confidence, a relevant factor for the exercise of privilege If so, under which circumstances and subject to which safeguards the privilege should be exercised in such a case These are some of the important and pertinent questions which require examination.

15. The mere fact that the relevant particulars and materials are furnished to the detaining authority in confidence by some person is not by itself a sufficient ground for withholding the disclosure of such particulars and materials, if those materials and particulars have been relied upon against the detenu and the disclosure of such materials and particulars would assist the detenu in making an effective representation against his detention. The private promise of confidentiality must yield to the general public interest that is served by communication of such particulars and materials to the detenu in order to enable him to make an effective representation against his detention. Confidentiality is not a head of privilege; it is a consideration to bear in mind only if a more important public interest is served by protecting the particulars and materials from disclosure to the detenu either by reason of the nature and character or class of such particulars and materials or on account of a clear, certain and imminent danger of the sources of such particulars and materials drying up due to fear of reprisal, thus rendering the very exercise of power of detention nugatory. Documents such as cabinet minutes, confidential dispatches of the departmental or inter-departmental authorities or papers involving the security of the State or diplomatic relations are a class of documents which it would be damaging to the national interest to divulge and their confidentiality is to be safeguarded in the national interest. If the disclosure of the particulars and materials and the sources from which they are obtained is not to be made on the ground of promise of confidentiality made to the informant in view of his apprehension that he would be visited with dire consequences if the detenu came to know that he was the source from which the particulars and materials were gathered, the detaining authority must be fully satisfied that the apprehension expressed by the informant is honest, genuine and reasonable in the circumstances of the case. The 'general background, character, antecedents, criminal tendency or propensity, etc, of the detenu and such of those matters as are relevant in the context of the informant must be inquired into and carefully examined by the detaining authority with a view to satisfying itself that the alleged apprehension is not imaginary or fanciful or that it is not merely an empty excuse invented by the informant, inter alia, to protect himself against the falsity of his version being exposed by an effective explanation of the detenu or to hide his own involvement or to conceal his enmity with the detenu. The detaining authority must be further satisfied that the promise of protection against reprisal would not be an effective substitute for the promise of confidentiality and that unless confidentiality is guaranteed, material information would not come forth making it impossible to exercise the power of detention. If the promise of confidentiality has been extended by a subordinate or outside authority and the detaining authority entertains a reasonable doubt about the validity of such promise on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, or even where such promise is extended by the detaining authority but, upon a reconsideration, the detaining authority feels, while furnishing the grounds, that the promise could not have been validly extended, it would be its constitutional and statutory obligation to make disclosure of the relevant materials and particulars to the detenu, notwithstanding the promise. A mere moral obligation arising out of such a promise cannot be pressed into service even by the informant, who cannot complain of the betrayal of trust, if the public interest or public welfare is to be served by making the disclosure. The maxim 'salus populi suprema lex' (Regard for the public welfare is the highest law) is relevant in this connection. The maxim is based on the? principle that there is an implied assent of every member of the society that his own individual welfare shall, in cases of necessity, yield to that of the community, and that his property and life shall, under certain circumstances, be placed in jeopardy or even sacrificed for the public good (see Broom's Legal Maxims Ninth Edition, page 1),

16. While this question is under consideration, it would be worthwhile to point out that the detaining authority must itself be satisfied that it is against the public interest to make such disclosure. This inevitable conclusion flows from the constitutional and legal scheme whereunder the obligation to furnish grounds and the duty to consider whether the disclosure of any facts involved therein is against public interest are both vested in the detaining authority and not in any other. The mind of the detaining authority itself should, therefore, be applied to the question whether or not the supply of the relevant particulars and materials would be injurious to the public interest. If it mechanically endorses or accepts the recommendation of an outside or inferior authority in that behalf, the exercise of power would be vitiated as arbitrary (see Ganga v. Govt. of Maharashtra : 1980CriLJ1263 ).

17. We consider it appropriate to observe also that an omnibus satisfaction, without close application of mind to each matter separately, with regard to the advisability of withholding, on the ground of public interest, the whole of any statement or document/the entire materials and particulars/the identity of sources from which they were gathered, is not sanctioned by the law. The satisfaction must be qua each statement or document and qua each particular and material and qua the identity of each informant. It must be arrived at upon the application of mind from the various angles relevant to each of them. The detaining authority must separately consider whether the statement or document or particulars and materials can be disclosed without disclosing the identity of the source and whether any part of such statement or document or particulars and materials can be disclosed without giving a distorted or misleading picture.

18. One more aspect before we turn to examine the validity of the claim of privilege in the instant case. If the exercise of privilege is challenged in a Court of law as vitiated by factual or legal mala fides, the bald assertion of the detaining authority that it was not in the public interest to disclose the relevant documents, materials and particulars would not conclude the issue. A mere ipse dixit of the detaining authority to that effect will not preclude the examination of the challenge. A general, unspecific and bald averment of public interest is not what the Constitution or the law requires. The Court will have to be satisfied in such a case by an affidavit affirmed by the detaining authority itself that the decision to withhold from the detenu the material documents, statements, materials and particulars was bona fide and rationally reached by the detaining authority after proper application of mind to each matter and after considering all the relevant aspects. Although the question of public interest is not justiciable and although the Constitution and the Act have left it to the detaining authority to decide what materials and particulars should be withheld, the Court must atleast be satisfied that the authority has applied its mind and has come to the conclusion with regard to public interest bona fide and not arbitrarily or capriciously, (see Balkrishna Kashinath v. District Magistrate, Thana (1956) 58 Bom L.R. 614). Once the affidavit of the detaining authority discloses the grounds and reasons which weighed with it in withholding the documents, statements, materials and particulars, it would be the duty of the Court to examine whether the grounds and reasons have any rational connection with the public interest or whether the detaining authority could have been reasonably satisfied on that basis that the disclosure was not in the public interest, in Ganga v. Govt of Maharashtra (supra), the Supreme Court entered upon such an examination in the context of documents which were there withheld from the detenu. For this purpose, it would be open to the Court, if it considers necessary, to itself peruse or scrutinise the documents, statements, materials and particulars withheld in order to judge whether tire material belongs to a class which requires to be withheld in the national interest or whether it has rational connection with public interest. Indeed, having regard to the seriousness of the question involved, the detaining authority would be well-advised to make a contemporaneous record of the grounds and reasons which weighed with it in withholding the documents, statements, materials and particulars.

19. Against the aforesaid background, the question which falls for consideration is whether the decision to withhold the names of the two persons whose statements have been relied upon in the second ground was rationally and honestly reached bearing in mind all the aforesaid aspects. It has been averred in the second ground that the names of those persons were not disclosed as they had sought an assurance because they apprehended that their lives would be in danger. The averment is supported by the text of the statements which in their concluding portion refer to the apprehension of the witnesses as to their safety and to the assurance of confidentiality. It would thus appear that what has weighed with the detaining authority in withholding the identity is the promise of confidentiality given to those persons on account of their alleged apprehansion. The averments made in the ground do not disclose whether before deciding to withhold the identity, the detaining authority had satisfied itself that the apprehension was honest, genuine and reasonable in the circumstances of the case. Those averments which are wanting in the ground, however, find place in the affidavit-in-reply filed by the second respondent. In para. 22 of the affidavit, the second respondent has stated that 'the feeling of fear of the witnesses are genuine and real' and that 'I have considered that the disclosure of the names of the persons whose statements were recorded will be against the public interest and, therefore, names of the persons whose statements are recorded were not disclosed to the detenu'. The question merits consideration whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the second respondent could have been rationally and honestly satisfied that the apprehension of both the persons concerned was genuine and real.

20. Be it noted in this connection that the apprehension was expressed before and the promise was held out by the authority which recorded the statements of those persons. The said authority was other than the detaining authority. The affidavit of the second respondent does not specify the steps taken to satisfy herself about the apprehension being genuine and real and the need to extend the promise of confidentiality. The affidavit also does not bring out that any attempt was made to procure information by assuring those two persons full protection in place and stead of the promise of confidentiality. Besides, as many as about two dozen persons whose statements are relied upon in support of the first ground have specifically named the petitioner as the person involved in one or more of the incidents referred to in the first ground. Some of them have ascribed specific criminal and intimadatory acts to the petitioner. None of those witnesses is shown to have expressed any apprehension about his life and property while involving the petitioner. Under such circumstances, the petitioner appears to be correct in submitting in the petition that the version of the second respondent that the names of the two persons whose statements are relied upon in ground No. 2 were not disclosed because those persons entertained a genuine apprehension for their life and property 'is so repugnant to reason and reality that the same cannot be swallowed even by an ultra credulous man without straining his credulity to the utmost.' It is also significant to note in this connection that it has been stated in ground No. 2 that 'responsible persons' had made statements to the effect that strict action was required to be taken against the petitioner. In the context in which this averment is found in the ground, it is apparent that the reference is to those two persons whose identity is withheld. It would be impossible to accept that such 'responsible persons' would entertain an apprehension to their lives and property when about two dozen persons coming from the ordinary walk of life were bold enough to identify and involve the petitioner in regard to the incidents covered by the first ground. If the detaining authority had delved a little deeper in to the matter with a view to satisfying whether the alleged apprehension was imaginary or fanciful or whether it was a mere empty excuse invented by the concerned persons to protect themselves against the falsity of their version being exposed by an effective representation of the detenu or to conceal their enmity with the detenu, the real truth would possibly have come out. The inevitable inference which can, therefore, be drawn is that the mind of the detaining authority was seriously not applied at all to the question whether the apprehension of the persons concerned was honest, genuine and reasonable in the circumstances of the case. On an overall consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case, it would appear that the detaining authority failed to maintain the balance between its constitutional and legal obligation to disclose and duty to withhold the identity. The detaining authority could not possibly have been satisfied honestly and rationally with regard to the need to exercise power under Section 8(2) in the instant case.

21. The foregoing discussion would show that the exercise of power under Section 8(2) of the Act, in the instant case, is not rational and that it is arbitrary and capricious and dehors the Act. The detaining authority appears to have failed to appreciate the true ambit and scope of Section 8(2) and it appears to have mechanically and casually exercised the power conferred thereby without taking into account all the relevant factors which it was required to consider. The failure to disclose the names of the persons who made the statements which are relied upon in the second ground has resulted in grave prejudice to the petitioner by denial to her of the right of effective representation against detention.

Re. Ground (4),

22. We are examining this ground as an alternative to ground (3) considered above and on the assumption that the privilege was rightly claimed on the facts and in the circumstances of the case.

23. Both the concerned statements are recorded on April 7, 1981. The first statement is more elaborate than the second and its contents may be briefly adverted to. A perusal of the said statement shows that it refers to the communal incidents which took place in Godhra on October 29, 1980 and March 29, 1981. It also refers to an incident which had occurred (on August 15, 1979 according to the other evidence on record) in which the petitioner was alleged to have assaulted an employee of the Ambica Cinema at Godhra with a cycle-chain. It alludes to the complaints lodged against the petitioner in connection with the above referred incidents. There is a general averment to the effect that in the communal riots the petitioner had played an important part and that she was continuing her venomous communal activities. A specific allegation is made to the effect that the petitioner and her son were mainly responsible for setting fire to the cabins near the railway station and the houses and shops in the Singal Falia and in burning alive five Sihdhi inhabitants during the course of those incidents. The further allegation is that the petitioner was a woman having communal frenzy and that she carried on nefarious riotous activities. Nowhere in the course of the statement, however, the witness has stated that he had personal knowledge regarding the involvement of the petitioner in any of the above-mentioned incidents or regarding her activities and attitudes. The source of his information on those points is also not specified. Upon a comprehensive reading of the statement, it would not be unreasonable to infer that the involvement of the petitioner in those incidents has been alluded to primarily on account of the complaints lodged against the petitioner in respect of those incidents. What is still more relevant and important, however, is that the statement further goes on to record that it was the 'belief' of the witness that the control of the situation after the communal incidents of March 29. 1981 was in the 'hands of the petitioner and the reason for the 'belief' was that the petitioner was directly involved in the communal riots which took place on October 29, 1980 during the course of which there was arson and loot and burning of cabins and Sindhis and 'cases' were instituted against her in regard to the same. The statement fails to reveal that the 'belief' is based on any direct evidence in possession of the witness and it makes it clear that the 'belief' rested on the petitioner's past acts and involvements regarding which again there was no personal knowledge of the witness. The statement concludes with the expression of an apprehension that as and when the curfew would be lifted, the petitioner would again come out to incite violence and communal riots and that, therefore, it was necessary to take strict action according to law against the petitioner in the interest of public peace.

24. The second statement is more or less on similar lines. It also refers to the various incidents in which the petitioner is alleged to have been involved. It fails to disclose that the witness had any personal knowledge about the involvement of the petitioner and it appears to suggest that the witness's conclusion with regard to the petitioner's involvement was an inference from her having been arrested and/or prosecuted. The statements refers to the 'belief' and 'apprehension' in similar terms.

25. It appears to us that having regard to the material contained in the two statements in question, it was impossible for the detaining authority to have arrived at the satisfaction recorded in the second ground of detention. On the basis of the two statements which appear to have been founded on hearsay only and which merely contain the opinion and belief of two persons not based on any direct evidence, it was impossible for the detaining authority to have been reasonably satisfied with regard to the need of detaining the petitioner with a view to preventing her from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. It requires to be emphasised in this connection that the second ground in terms recites that the satisfaction of the detaining authority that 'it is not in the interest of public order' to keep the petitioner free rests substantially On the aforesaid opinion and belief of those two persons and on their plea for 'strict steps' against the petitioner.

26. In view of the aforesaid infirmities affecting the second ground relied upon in support of the detention, the order of detention must be quashed and set aside, as the law is well-settled that even if one out of several distinct and separate grounds of detention cannot be sustained, the whole order would be vitiated.

27. Accordingly, the petitioner is directed to be set at liberty forthwith, so far as the present case is concerned. Rule made absolute accordingly by quashing and setting aside the impugned order of detention.


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