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Chekuri Narayana Raju Vs. the Chief Secretary to the Government of Madras and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal;Constitution
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Misc. Petn. No. 2700 of 1950
Judge
Reported inAIR1951Mad182; (1951)IMLJ274
ActsConstitution of India - Article 22, 22(5) and 22(6); ;Preventive Detention Act, 1950 - Sections 3 and 7
AppellantChekuri Narayana Raju
RespondentThe Chief Secretary to the Government of Madras and anr.
Appellant AdvocateA. Ramachandran, Adv. for ;Row and ;Reddy, Advs.
Respondent AdvocatePublic Prosecutor
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredMachindar Shivaji v. The King A.I.R.
Excerpt:
.....- detained under act of 1950 to prevent from acting in manner prejudicial to security of state and maintenance of public order - contended that grounds of detention vague and have no relation either to security of state or to maintenance of public order - government has right to detain person who had identified himself with party which is resorting to activities which is prejudicial to sate and maintenance of public order - held, state justified in detaining petitioner under act of 1950. - - 4. section 3 (1), preventive detention act lays down that, the central government or the state government may (a) if satisfied with respect to any person that with a view to preventing him form acting in any manner prejudicial to, (ii) the security of the state or the maintenance of..........therein were insufficient or incomplete so as to render the order of externment unsustainable. the grounds stated in that case were as follows :'your activities generally & particularly since the recent trouble in east & west bengal have been of a communal nature tending to excite hatred between communities & whereas in the present composition of the population of delhi & the recent communal disturbances of delhi feelings are roused between the majority & minority communities, your presence & activities in delhi are likely to prove prejudicial to the maintenance of law & order, it is considered necessary to order you to leave delhi.'meeting the argument advanced on behalf of dr. khare based on the insufficiency or the incompletness of the grounds, the learned chief justice of india.....
Judgment:

Chandra Reddi, J.

1. This petn. is presented by one Chekuri Narayanaraju under Article 226 of the Constitution challenging the validity of an order passed by the Govt. of Madras under Section 3(1), Preventive Detention Act (Act IV [4] of 1950). The petnr. herein was originally detained on 13-3-1948 by an order passed under the Madras Maintenance of Public Order Act. Subsequently when the latter Act was considered to be inconsistent with the Articles of the Constitution & when Act IV [4] of 1950 was passed by the Parliament, the State of Madras passed an order directing the detention of the petnr. under Act IV [4] of 1950 with a view to prevent him from acting in a manner prejudicial to the security of the State & the maintenance of public order, & this was communicated to him immediately. A few days later, the petnr. was furnished with the following grounds of detention :

'1. He started the Communist Volunteer Corps at Palacole during the last week of November 1947 & was training about 30 members in drill, parade & lathi exercises, holding classes, spreading revolutionary ideas & creating class-hatred.

He underwent training as an instructor in drill, parade, lathi exercises, etc., along with 29 others at Ellore in the 'Officers' Training Centre' organised by the West Godavari District Communist Party from 16th to 18th January 1948.

2. He is a member of the Communist Party which has been banned by the Govt. of Madras under the Criminal Law Amendment Act from 26-9-1949. The underground communists all over the State still indulge in subversive activities such as loot, arson, murder, throwing of bombs, etc. The general situation is, therefore, unsettled & the recent underground circulars & wall-posters by the Communists indicate their determination to take advantage of the prevailing conditions & incite the labourers, working classes & kisans to cause damage to public institutions, to attack police stations, prisons, etc., & to try to obtain power by violence. Recent literature seized from the Communists also indicate that they are collecting weapons including bombs & revolvers for use on these occasions.

3. The grounds set forth in para. 1 will show that Sri Chekuri Narayana Raju is likely to indulge in engineering & executing the violent programme of the Communists. An order of detention has therefore been passed with a view to preventing him from acting in a manner prejudicial to the security of the State & the maintenance of public-order.'

2. He was also informed by this communication that if he wished to make any representation he could do so within fifteen days of the receipt of the memorandum of grounds. The petnr. submitted his written representation denying the correctness of the grounds & chellenging the validity of that order. The State Govt. after reviewing his case passed an order dated 7-6-1950 continuing his detention. Hence the petnr. has approached this Ct. for the issue of a writ of habeas corpus directing the State Govt. to release him from detention.

3. The main grounds upon which this petn. is founded as that the grounds of detention furnished to him are vague & indefinite, that they have no relation either to the security of the State or to the maintenance of public safety, either (sic) of which grounds alone would entitle a State Govt. to detain a citizen under Section 3, Preventive Detention Act, & that neither of the two grounds mentioned in the memorandum communicated to him indicate how the petnr's being at large would affect either the security of the State or maintenance of public safety, & that lastly, the grounds do not disclose any present connection between the order of detention now impugned & the materials on which this order is based. The argument on behalf of the petnr. is that since he has been in detention ever since 13-3-1948, he could not have indulged in any activity calculated either to affect the security of the State or the maintenance of public order, & that the detaining authority in 1950 could not fall back upon the grounds that are said to have existed prior to 13-3-1948 & therefore there could be no valid ground to continue his detention.

4. Section 3 (1), Preventive Detention Act lays down that,

'the Central Government or the State Government may (a) if satisfied with respect to any person that with a view to preventing him form acting in any manner prejudicial to, ..... (ii) the security of the State or the maintenance of public order, .... it is necessary so to do, make an order directing that such person be detained.'

Under Section 7 of the Act the Govt. concerned is required to communicate to the detenu the grounds on which the order has been made & afford him the earliest opportunity to make a representation to that Govt. Under Sub-section (2) of Section 7 the detaining authority is not bound to disclose facts which it considers to be against the public interest to disclose.

5. It must be mentioned that Section 7 of the Act is in consonance with Article 22, Clause (5) of the Constitution. Clause 5 of Article 22 is in the following words :

'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.'

It is manifest, that the object of these two provisions is to enable the detenu to know the basis upon which he is detained & to make a representation to the concerned authority refuting the charges if they are unfounded.

6. On the first point the contention urged on behalf of the petnr. by Mr. Ramachandran, his learned counsel, is that inasmuch as the particulars of the grounds of his detention were not communicated by the detaining authority, that order should be quashed. In support of his argument he relied upon a decision of the Calcutta H. C. in Safatulla Khan v. Chief Secretary, West Bengal Govt., : AIR1951Cal194 a decision of a D. B. of the Orissa H. C. in Kulamoni v. The State, : AIR1951Ori20 , a decision of the same Bench in Ananta Charan v. The State, : AIR1951Ori27 & on a ruling of a single Judge of the Allahabad H. C. in Asharam v. The State, : AIR1950All709 .

7. In Safatulla Khan v. Chief Secretary, West Bengal Govt., : AIR1951Cal194 , it was held that the Ct. can order the release of a detenu if the grounds of detention served on him are vague & indefinite & not precise enough to enable him to make an effective representation to the appropriate authority. At p. 197 Harries C. J. observes :

'The authorities are bound to disclose the grounds & they cannot suggest that it is against public interest not to disclose the grounds. It appears to mo that there is a clear difference between grounds & facts. The grounds are the basis of the allegations. The facts really are the evidence upon which the basis of the allegations are to be established, e. g., in pleading a party must give particulars of allegations, but he is not required to give his evidence. It he makes an allegation he must state that the basis of that allegation, but he need not state how he is going to to prove such basis.'

In that case it was found that the grounds were very vague & the detenu was not furnished with sufficient information which placed him in a position to send an effective reply & therefore there was no sufficient compliance with the provisions of Clause 5 of Article 22.

8. Though we agree that if the grounds of detention are very vague & indefinite so as to render the object of furnishing the grounds nugatory the order may be set aside, we cannot subscribe to the view that the detaining authority is under an obligation to disclose to the detenu the basis of the allegation, i. e., the particulars of the allegations on which the detention is made. We do not think the detaining authority is bound to state the facts on which the grounds or the allegations are based. If the detaining authority is required to give the particulars of the grounds, the effect of Clause 6 of Article 22 will be reduced to a zero. We do not consider that what Clause 6 of the Article entitles the detaining authority is only to refrain from disclosing to the detenu the evidence of the allegations as postulated by the learned Judges in that case. One can understand the force of the contention if the Cts. are empowered to scrutinise the grounds so as to determine the reasonableness or otherwise of these grounds. It is now well settled that the satisfaction contemplated in Section 3, Preventive Detention Act, is that of the detaining authority & since that section has provided only for a subjective standard & not an objective standard of satisfaction, we do not see why the particulars of the reasons for detention should be furnished to the detenu.

9. Dealing with the argument in Gopalan v. State of Madras, : 1950CriLJ1383 that Section 3, Preventive Detention Act does not provide an objective standard to enable a Ct. to see whether the requirements of law have been complied with or not, the Chief Justice of India observed at p. 191 :

'It is clear that no such objective standard of conduct can be prescribed, except as laying down conduct tending to achieve or to avoid a particular object. For preventive detention action must be taken on good suspicion. It is a subjective test based on the cumulative effect of different actions, perhaps spread over a considerable period. As observed by Lord Finlay in the King v. Halliday, 1917 A. C. 260 L. J. K. B. 1119) a Ct. is the least appropriate tribunal to investigate the question whether circumstances of suspicion exist warranting the restraint on a person. The contention is urged in respect of preventive detention & not punitive detention. Before a person can be held liable for an offence, it is obvious that he should be in a position to know what he may do or not do, & an omission to do or not to do will result in the State considering him guilty according to the penal enactment. When it comes, However, to preventive detention, the very purpose is to prevent the individual not merely from acting in a particular way but as the sub-heads summarised above show, from achieving a particular object. It will not be humanly possible to tabulate exhaustively all actions which may lead to a particular object'

10. In the same case with reference to the argument advanced on behalf of the petnr. therein that Section 3 of the Act is unreasonable in that it places a citizen at the mercy of the executive authority, Fazl Ali J. says at p. 226 as follows :

'The Administrative authorities who have to discharge their responsibilities have to come to quick decisions & must necessarily be left to act on their own judgment. This principle is by no means unreasonable & it underlies all the preventive or quasi administrative measures which are to be found in the Cri. P. C. Therefore I do not find anything wrong or unconstitutional in Section 3 of the Act.'

Repelling the argument based on Section 12, Preventive Detention Act, not complying with the requirements of Clause 7 of Article 22, Patanjali Sastri J. observes in the same case at p. 243, 'the argument loses sight of the fact that Clause 7 deals with preventive detention which is a purely precautionary measure which 'must necessarily proceed in all cases, to some extent, on suspicion or anticipation as distinct from proof. The remarks I have already made with reference to the absence of any objective rules of conduct in Section 8 of the impugned Act apply also to this criticism of Section 12. It would be difficult, if not impracticable to mention the various circumstances, or to enumerate the various classes of cases exhaustively in which a person should be detained for more than three months for preventive purposes, except in broad outline. Suppose a person belongs to an organization pledged to violent & subversive activity as its policy. Beyond his membership of the party the person might have done nothing until he was arrested & detained. But if released he might indulge in anything from the mildest form of prejudicial activity, like sticking an objectionable handbill on a hoarding, to the most outrageous acts of sabotage. How could the insertion in Section 12 of a long series of categories of aggravated forms of prejudicial activities or the enumeration of the various circumstances in which such activities are likely to be indulged in, be of any assistance to the detaining authority in determining whether the person concerned should be detained for three months or for a longer period All that would be necessary & sufficient for him to know for coming to a decision on the point is that the person is a member of such an organisation & will probably engage in subversive activities prejudicial to the security of the State or the maintenance of public order or, in other words, he belongs to class (b) in Section 12'

11. In Dr. N. B. Khare v. The State of Delhi, : [1950]1SCR519 one of the questions that fell to be considered by the S. C. was as to whether the grounds for externing the petnr. therein were insufficient or incomplete so as to render the order of externment unsustainable. The grounds stated in that case were as follows :

'Your activities generally & particularly since the recent trouble in East & West Bengal have been of a communal nature tending to excite hatred between communities & whereas in the present composition of the population of Delhi & the recent communal disturbances of Delhi feelings are roused between the majority & minority communities, your presence & activities in Delhi are likely to prove prejudicial to the maintenance of law & order, it is considered necessary to order you to leave Delhi.'

Meeting the argument advanced on behalf of Dr. Khare based on the insufficiency or the incompletness of the grounds, the learned Chief Justice of India remarked : 'Apart from being vague, I think that these grounds are specific & if honestly believed can support the order.'

12. In Ashutosh Lahiry v. State of Delhi, 1950 S. C. J. 433 : (1950-2 M.L.J. 555), the S. C. held that the only condition under which the detaining authority could exercise its powers of detention is its satisfaction as to the matter specified in the Preventive Detention Act & a Ct. cannot substitute its own satisfaction for that of the authority making the order of detention.

13. On these authorities & on a careful examination of the provisions of sections 3 & 7, Preventive Detention Act & Clauses 5 & 6 of Article 22 of the Constitution, we have come to the conclusion that grounds of detention cannot be said to be vague & indefinite for the reason that they do not contain the basis of those grounds. It will be reading too much into Section 7, Preventive Detention Act, of Clause 5 of Article 22 of the Constitution to hold that the detaining authority is bound to disclose the basis of the allegations. As already stated by us, the intendment of the provisions of law contained in Section 7 as well as in Article 22 of the Constitution is to provide the affected person with an opportunity to make a representation & the rule of law enacted in these two provisions is complied with when the grounds are communicated.

14. As regards the ruling in Kulamoni v. The State, : AIR1951Ori20 we think that it has no application to the facts of this case. There the detenu was first arrested under Section 107, Cri. P. C., but no proceedings were started under that section. He was next detained for three months by the Dist. Mag. but before that period expired, the Chief Secretary revoked that order & passed an order of detention making it effective from an earlier period. The complaint of the detenu was that the State Govt. of Orissa did not act bona fide in taking him into detention. Having regard to the circumstances & the background, the learned Judges agreed with the contention put forward on behalf of the petnr. & directed his release.

15. The other decision of the same Bench, Anantacharan v. The State, : AIR1951Ori27 has absolutely no bearing on this part of the case but we shall refer to it later in connection with another branch of the argument advanced on behalf of the petnr.

16. Asharam v. State, : AIR1950All709 does not help the petnr. very much. There the main question to be considered by the learned Judge was whether the ground, viz., that the activities of the detenu were calculated to lead to a breach of the peace was sufficients to bring his case under Section 3, Preventive Detention Act. It was held there that the ground for detention did not relate either to the security of the State or to the maintenance of public order as it could not be said that a breach of the peace is necessarily connected with either the security of the State or maintenance of public order. The learned Judge observed that the words 'breach of the peace' are very vague & it could not be necessarily inferred from these words that the detaining authority had in mind a breach of the public order, & that even an attempt to commit an affray or an assault would constitute breach of the peace. No doubt there are some observations in that case regarding the particulars to be furnished to the detenu which might lend some colour to the argument of the counsel, but for the reasons already mentioned we cannot agree with them. We may also state here that in the representation made to the appropriate authority by the petnr. herein, he did not complain of the grounds being vague or indefinite or not being precise to enable him to send an effective representation. We are not mentioning this as materially affecting the decision on the question before us, but only to show that he was not really prejudiced by the so-called vagueness or indefiniteness of the grounds, & there is not much force in that contention.

17. We next come to the contention that it was not open to the State Govt. for detaining the petnr. herein in 1950 to fall back upon the grounds that existed prior to his original detention in March 1948. In support of this contention, reliance was placed on a ruling of the Bombay H. C. in In re Section 7. Ghate, : AIR1951Bom161 . In that case the petnr. was detained by an order passed by the Comr. of Police in 1948. After tbe Preventive Detention Act (Act IV [4] of 1950) came into force, an order was passed under the provisions of the latter Act with a view to prevent him from acting in a manner prejudicial to the security of the State of Bombay & the maintenance of public order. A question was raised whether in view of the fact that no new grounds were alleged for the continuance of the detention of the petnr. therein & that during the period he was incarcerated he could not have indulged or could indulge in any prejudicial activity, the detaining authority could proceed on the material which it had prior to his detention in 1948. Learned Chief Justice Chagla who delivered the judgment on behalf of the Bench answered it in the negative & observed as follows (at p. 165) :

''It is not sufficient that some other authority in 1948 thought that the detention of the petnrs. was necessary. There must be a reasonable apprehension in the mind of the detaining authority that if the petnr. was not detained on 26-2-1950, he would act in a prejudicial manner. Therefore in that sense the materials which were present before the detaining authority in 1948 may not be sufficient to lead the detaining authority in 1950 to the same conclusion as arrived at by the other detaining authority. The detaining authority must examine the materials afresh, & although the past activities of the detenu may afford a ground for detention to the detaining authority examining the materials, he mast review those past activities in the context of the time at which he is making the order.'

Further down it is stated that :

'It is not open to the detaining authority in 1950 to fall back upon the satisfaction of the detaining authority in 1948.'

18. We feel that we cannot accept the proposition that the past acts of a man would not furnish safe criteria of the likely future activities of a person. The learned Judge himself expresses at p. 165 that,

'It would be very difficult to lay down at what point of time a particular activity of a particular person ceases to furnish any connection with the subsequent order directing him to be detained, & we refuse to express any opinion that necessarily a period of two years would lead the Ct. to come to the conclusion that there could be no connection whatever between the activities of a detained person two years prior to the making of the order & the apprehension felt by the detaining authority.'

The last observations indicate that the learned Judges thought that it could not be postulated that the past acts would not offer a basis for a fresh order of detention. In our opinion, to judge the likelihood of a person or his propensities to indulge in activities prejudicial to the security of the State or maintenance of public order, regard can be had to the antecedents of the man. The executive authority which is responsible for the security of State & the maintenance of public order would be taking risks by releasing the detenu & allowing him an opportunity to indulge in violent subversive activities. We think that the previous conduct of a detenu or his association with an organisation which is conspiratorial & organised to reach ends which are detrimental to the safety of the State & maintenance of public order & which use methods which are incompatible with our constitutional system can determine the rationality of a fresh order.

19. In this view we are fortified by the ruling of a D. B. of the Orissa H. C. in Anantacharan v. The State, : AIR1951Ori27 relied on by counsel for the applt. as supporting his argument. The following passage occurs at p. 28 :

'We are not inclined to accept unconditionally that the past acts of a man are not safe criteria of his propensities & likely future activities; on the other hand, if he belongs to a particular group of political agitators whose ideals to subvert the present established Govt. by producing confusion & chaos in the society for the purpose of unbalancing the same & by various other activities of revolutionary character are well known, it would not be unreasonable for the administrative authorities to consider the detention of such persons as necessary to prevent them from acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of the public order.'

The observations of the learned Judges of the S. C. in Gopalan v. State of Madras, : 1950CriLJ1383 also lend support to the view we have taken on this branch of the argument. We, therefore, feel that we cannot give effect to this argument either.

20. Lastly, we have to consider as to whether the grounds relied on by the detaining authority have any relation to the security of the State or maintenance of public order. What is urged by Mr. Ramachandran is that since affiliation to the communist organisation is not illegal, which is the second ground alleged by the State Govt., & since the activities of the petnr. mentioned in the first para, of Ex. C, do not show how they affect the security of the State or the maintenance of public order, we should set aside the order of detention as neither of the grounds would bring the petnr's case within the purview of Section 3, Preventive Detention Act.

21. In support of this branch of his argument he referred us to the decision in Lakskminarayana v. The King, : AIR1950Mad266 . In that case on a difference of opinion between Horwill & Balakrishna Ayyar JJ., it was referred to Satyanarayana Rao J. The learned Judge agreeing with the view taken by Horwill J. stated that the ground for the detention that the detenu was clandestinely purchasing & importing from outside sulphur, graphite, salt-petre & potassium & smuggling them to communist camps in Hyderabad State would not be sufficient to constitute a danger to public safety & maintenance of public order. This ruling does not advance the case of the petnr.

22. Our attention was also drawn by Mr. Ramachandran to another opinion of our learned brother, Satyanarayana Rao J. which again was expressed by him on a difference of opinion between Horwill & Balakrishna Aiyar JJ. in Cri. M. P. No. 838 of 1949 (unreported). This also does not touch the point to be decided by us. There the petnr. was released in 1949 after he presented an appln. under Section 491, Cr. P.C. attacking the legality of the order of detention & notice thereof was served on the Govt. Immediately thereafter the Govt. passed an order of detention stating that the appct. was likely to act in a manner prejudicial to public safety & maintenance of public order & with a view to preventing him from so doing. Having found that the order of detention passed in 1948 could not be justified & therefore the Govt. was obliged to release him, the learned Judge agreeing with the view taken by Horwill J. observed that the subsequent order passed by the Govt. for the detention of the petnr. therein was not a bona fide one and was intended merely to circumvent the provisions of the Act & justify a detention which was illegal at its inception by this circuitous method.

23. On the other hand, a decision of the F. C. in Machindar Shivaji v. The King A.I.R. (37) 1950 F. C. 129 : (51 C. L. J. 1480) would meet the argument advanced on behalf of the petnr. Dealing with the contention that an association with the communist party which has not been banned would not afford a ground of detention, Patanjali Sastri J. observes as follows :

'We cannot accede to this contention. While mere belief in or acceptance of any political ideology may not be a ground for detention under the Act, affiliation to a party which is alleged to be spreading its 'doctrine of violence rendering life & property insecure & trying to seize power by violence' may in certain circumstances, lead to an inference that the person concerned is likely to act in a manner prejudicial to the public safety, order or tranquillity. The fact that the party had not been outlawed is immaterial, that being a matter of expediency.'

The point there arose in connection with the detention of a person under a different enactment. However, since the question raised is the same, we think the passage quoted above is apposite to our case & the principle laid down there governs the present case.

24. No doubt a person cannot be deprived of his liberty merely because he belongs to a political organisation whose ideologies differ from the party in power, but when the aims & objects of the party are to create confusion & to threaten injury to society which the Govt. has a right to protect & they are sought to be achieved by resorting to violence & terror, the Govt, would well be justified in detaining a person who has identified himself with that party & who is instrumental in carrying out such a programme, & who is likely to resort to activities calculated to prejudice the security of the State & the maintenance of public order in pursuance of the aims of such a party. In the present case, even apart from the general ground of the petnr's affiliation to a political organisation whose avowed objects are said to be the overthrowing of Govt. by subversive & terroristic activities, we have no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that the activities of the petnr. mentioned in para. 1 of Ex. C, have a relation to the security of the State & the maintenance of public order & would therefore constitute a sufficient ground for detaining the petnr. under the Preventive Detention Act.

25. In these circumstances the only conclusion we can come to is that the order of detention of the petnr. is perfectly legal & justified & do not call for interference. We, therefore, reject this petn.


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