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State Through Police Vs. Ratan Lal and Udai Lal - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1956CriLJ658
AppellantState Through Police
RespondentRatan Lal and Udai Lal
Excerpt:
.....must be clearly specified. the phrases 'security of the state',friendly relations with foreign states' and 'public order' are however phrases which are well understood and whose connotation and meaning are not in doubt. i agree with the learned counsel that words 'decency' or 'morality' are not equally well understood. there may be wide difference of opinion as to the precise meaning of these words 'decency',or 'morality' and if the legislature intended to impose any restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression in the interest of decency and morality those prohibited acts and restrictiona should be clearly specified so that it could be decided whether the restrictions were reasonable or not. 7. i may draw the attention of the state government to the fact that this section is..........contains ex. p l (a) to ex. p l(e) and which speech calculated to undermine the security of the state, public order, decency or morality and which amounted to defamation or incitement to an offence prejudicial to the security of the state or the maintenance of public order and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 9 of the punjab security of the state act 1953 as extended to the ajmer state and within my cognizance... 2. it was urged before the learned additional district magistrate that section 9 of this act was in. valid |and the learned additional district magistrate has made a reference to this court. in the reference, i have heard the learned counsel for ratan lai and the learned public prosecutor.3. section 9 reads: whoever:(a) makes any speech, or(b) by words,.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Nigam, J.C.

1. Ratan Lal of Bhinal has been charged with an offence under Section 9, Punjab Security of the State Act, 1953, as extended to the State of Ajmer by notification No. S.R.O. 379, dated 31-1-1954. The charge reads:

That you, on the 12th day of November 1954 at Kekri at about 8-30 P.M., delivered a speech in connection with Kekri Municipal elections, which is Ex. P. 1 which contains Ex. P l (a) to Ex. P l(e) and which speech calculated to undermine the security of the State, public order, decency or morality and which amounted to defamation or incitement to an offence prejudicial to the security of the State or the maintenance of public order and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 9 of the Punjab Security of the State Act 1953 as extended to the Ajmer State and within my cognizance...

2. It was urged before the learned Additional District Magistrate that Section 9 of this Act was in. valid |and the learned Additional District Magistrate has made a reference to this Court. In the reference, I have heard the learned Counsel for Ratan Lai and the learned Public Prosecutor.

3. Section 9 reads:

Whoever:

(a) makes any speech, or

(b) by words, whether spoken or written, or by signs or by visible or audible representations or otherwise publishes any statement, rumour or report,

shall, if such speech, statement, rumour or report undermines the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or amounts to contempt of Court, defamation or incitement to an offence prejudicial to the Security of the State or the maintenance of public order, or tends to overthrow the State, be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to three years or with fine or with both.

4. The first contention of the learned Counsel for Ratan Lal is that under Article 19(2) of the Constitution, the State is authorised to make laws imposing reasonable restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression in the interest of the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of Court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

The learned Counsel however urges that the reasonable restrictions imposed must be clearly specified by the Legislature and that it is not sufficient to bodily incorporate these words used in Article 19(2) in the legislation. The suggestion of the learned Counsel is that the restrictions imposed must be with a view to the several objects mentioned in Article 19(2) and must be reasonable. He, however, urges that the restrictions imposed must be clearly specified.

As a general statement, I do not see anything to object. The phrases 'security of the State', friendly relations with foreign States' and 'public order' are however phrases which are well understood and whose connotation and meaning are not in doubt. Thus prohibition of a speech, statement, rumour or report undermining 'the security of the State; 'friendly relations with foreign States' and 'public order' is prohibition of specific acts. I agree with the learned Counsel that words 'decency' or 'morality' are not equally well understood. There may be wide difference of opinion as to the precise meaning of these words 'decency', or 'morality' and if the Legislature intended to impose any restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression in the interest of decency and morality those prohibited acts and restrictiona should be clearly specified so that it could be decided whether the restrictions were reasonable or not.

There can hardly be two opinions as to the 'reasonableness' of restrictions imposed on speech statement, rumour or report which tends to undermine the security of the State, to imperial friendly relations with foreign States, or to disturb public order. In that view, I am of opinion that the restriction imposed with regard to decency or morality is both vague and unreasonable.

5. The second contention of the learned Counsel is that the section also makes it an offence to make any speech or publish any statement, rumour or report which amounts to contempt of Court or defamation. The learned Counsel points cut that there are two possible interpretations. According to the first interpretation, the contempt of Court must be prejudicial to the Security of the State etc. The defamation and the incitement to an offence must also similarly be prejudicial to the security of the State, etc.

The other interpretation would be that the speech or statement, rumour or report may amount to contempt of Court or may amount to defamation or may amount to incitement to an offence prejudicial to the security of the State, etc. The contention of the learned Counsel is that if the second interpretation is accepted, the restriction would not be specific or reasonable.

With that view, I am inclined to agree. It. is, however, possible to interpret the section in the first manner stated above and since there is a presumption as to the validity of the laws, I must take it that the Legislature intended only to make such speeches, statements, rumours or reports as amount to contempt of Court prejudicial to the security of the State etc., defamation prejudicial to the security of the State etc., or incitement to an offence prejudicial to the security of the State., etc. punishable. In that view the restrictions would not be unreasonable or even vague.

(B) Accordingly, I hold that the law so far as it restrains speeches etc, regarding decency or morality is invalid for vagueness or uncertainty. But the rest of the section is not vague. The two portions are easily severable. I, therefore hold that the provisions of Section 9, Punjab Security of the State Act as extended to the State of Ajmer is invalid so far as it refers to speeches, statements, rumours or reports undermining decency or morality.

The rest of the section is valid. I further hold that the reference to the contempt of Court, defamation or incitement to an offence is in each of the three cases to such contempt of Court, defamation or incitement to an offence as is prejudicial to the security of the State or the maintenance of the public order or which tends to overthrow the State.

7. I may draw the attention of the State Government to the fact that this section is not very clearly or happily drafted.

8. The reference is answered accordingly.

9. I would like to draw the attention of the Jearned Additional District Magistrate to the charge-sheet framed against Ratan Lal. It appears to me that it is somewhat vague. It would be better if the learned Magistrate clearly specified which part of the section was offended by each of the five incriminating passages.

10. The file will be returned to the learned Magistrate through the Sessions Judge.


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