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P. Ramiah and ors. Vs. Chief Secretary to the Government of Madras and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal;Constitution
CourtChennai
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Misc. Petn. Nos. 442 to 447 of 1949
Judge
Reported inAIR1950Mad100
ActsMadras Maintenance of Public Order Act, 1947 - Sections 2(1) 13 and 15
AppellantP. Ramiah and ors.
RespondentChief Secretary to the Government of Madras and anr.
Appellant AdvocateV.G. Row, Adv. for ;Row and Reddy
Respondent AdvocateCrown Prosecutor
DispositionApplication dismissed
Cases ReferredHuth v. Clarke
Excerpt:
.....valid. - - in view of this language of the section it would be perfectly open to the provincial government to say that they would not part with the power under section 2 (1) entirely and would reserve to themselves a part of it. it was definitely stated in the grounds that these people were members of the communist strong arms intimidation squad of the singapore harbour labour union; the antecedent history of the person -whether he lived in malaya or elsewhere it does not matter--so long as it was proximate enough in date, if it is such as to produce the satisfaction in the mind of the detaining authority that the person concerned was likely to act in a manner prejudicial to public safety and the maintenance of public order, will be perfectly relevant material under the..........behalf of the applicants is that when once a transfer of the power was effected by virtue of the power of delegation conferred under section 15 upon the provincial government, the provincial government had no further power to exercise that particular power which has been so delegated, and in support of this proposition a passage from the judgment of the judicial committee in emperor v. sibnath banerji was relied on, referring to sub-section (5) of section 2, defence of india act, the judicial committee therein observed: 'their lordships would also add, on this contention, that sub-section (5) of section 2 provides a means of delegation in the strict sense of the word, namely, a transfer of power or duty to the officer or authority defined in the sub section with a corresponding.....
Judgment:

Satyanarayana Rao, J.

1. The applicants in all these applications are Indians who were living in Malaya for some years, and as they were engaged in Malaya in Communist activities, the Malayan Government seems to have detained some of the important leaders under the Malayan Emergency Regulations. But as they are Indian nationals, the Malayan Government released them and repatriated them. The applicants along with others arrived in India by S. S. Vasna in November 1948. Immediately after the arrival, on 19th November 1948 they were arrested by the police in Madras and were detained in custody. They were later produced before the Commissioner of Police, Madras, who remanded them for 9 days, and the period of remand was later extended by a further order. On 30th November 1948 orders of detention under Madras Act I [1] of 1947 were passed by His Excellency the Governor of Madras under Section 2 (1) of the Act directing the detention of the applicants in the Central Jail, Vellore. The grounds of detention were served on these applicants on 24th December 1948, and they submitted their representations to the Government on 7th January 1949. The matter does not seem to have received the attention of the Advisory Council and the Government has not yet passed final orders under Section 3 (5) of the Act.

2. The grounds of detention of the applicants in all the cases are substantially the same. The learned advocate for the applicants contended that His Excellency the Governor of Madras had no power to pass an order of detention under Section 2 (1), as His Excellency had already delegated the powers conferred on the Provincial Government by Section 2 (1) (a) of the Act to the District Magistrates or the Commissioner of Police, Madras as evidenced by G. O. No. Ms. 907, dated 2lst March 1947, and that the proper authority to have passed an order of detention under the Act was the Commissioner of Police, Madras and not His Excellency the Governor of Madras. Secondly, it was argued that the grounds of detention are vague and indefinite, and that, in any event, the activities of the petitioners which were outside the Province of Madras should not have been taken into consideration in arriving at the satisfaction under the Act that they were acting or about to act in a manner prejudicial to public safety or the maintenance of public order.

3. Section 15 of Madras Act I [1] of 1947 empowers the Provincial Government by order to direct that any power or duty conferred upon the Provincial Government be exercised or discharged by any officer or authority subordinate to the Provincial Government, One of the powers exercisable by the Provincial Government under the Act is the power to pass an order of detention under Section 2 (1) of the Act. G. O. No. MS. 907 dated 21st March 1947 empowered the District Magistrates and Commissioner of Police, Madras, within their respective jurisdictions to exercise the power conferred on the Provincial Government by Section 2 (1) (a) of the Act. It is in these terms :

'In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 15, Madras Maintenance of Public Order Act, 1947 (Madras Act I [1] of 1947), His Excellency the Governor of Madras hereby directs that the powers conferred on the Provincial Government by Section 2 (1) (a) of the said Act shall be exercised also by all the District Magistrates and the Commissioner of Police, Madras, within their respective jurisdictions.

(By order of His Excellency the Governor).'

4. The contention urged on behalf of the applicants is that when once a transfer of the power was effected by virtue of the power of delegation conferred under Section 15 upon the Provincial Government, the Provincial Government had no further power to exercise that particular power which has been so delegated, and in support of this proposition a passage from the judgment of the Judicial Committee in Emperor v. Sibnath Banerji was relied on, Referring to Sub-section (5) of Section 2, Defence of India Act, the Judicial Committee therein observed:

'Their Lordships would also add, on this contention, that Sub-section (5) of Section 2 provides a means of delegation in the strict sense of the word, namely, a transfer of power or duty to the officer or authority defined in the sub section with a corresponding divestiture of the Governor of any responsibility in the matter, whereas under Section 49(1) of the Act of 1935, the Governor remains responsible for the action of his subordinate taken in his name.'

This passage in the judgment of the Judicial Committee, in our opinion, refers to the manner and the mode of delegation contemplated by Sub-section (5) of Section 2, Defence of India Act. It is not authority for holding that, where under a power of delegation permitted under an Act, the transfer of the power is circumscribed and is restricted in the manner in which we find in the G. O. now under discussion, the Provincial Government is absolutely prohibited from exercising the power so transferred. In the present case, the Government order makes it clear that the District Magistrates and the Commissioner of Police, Madras, were also empowered to exercise powers under Section 2 (1) in addition to the Provincial Government. It is not an absolute transfer by the Provincial Government of the power to pass an order of detention under Section 2 (1) of the Act but a partial delegation or transfer of its power which is not prohibited by Section 15 of the Act. Section 15 itself lays down that the transfer may be effected in such circumstances and under such conditions as may be specified in that direction. In view of this language of the section it would be perfectly open to the Provincial Government to say that they would not part with the power under Section 2 (1) entirely and would reserve to themselves a part of it. Of course in the case of the same person the Provincial Government and the Commissioner of Police at Madras cannot exercise the power of detention under Section 2(1) of the Act. But there is nothing in the provisions of the Act to limit or restrict the authority of the Provincial Government to delegate its powers in the manner in which it was effected in the G. O. above referred to. The observations of the Judicial Committee must be taken to be confined to cases where the actual wording of the delegation is not restricted in its scope but is absolute. This view of the Government order is really sufficient to dispose of this aspect of the case.

5. We are however of opinion that in cases where a statute authorises an authority to delegate its power or duty, the principles laid down by Coleridge C. J. and Wills J. in Huth V. Clarke, (1890) 25 Q.B.D. 391 : 59 L.J.M.C. 120 would be more apposite than the observations of Scott L. J. in the decision in Blackpool Corporation v. Locker, 1948 1 K.B. 349. In Huth v. Clarke, (1890) 25 Q.B.D. 391, under the Local Government Act of 1888, an executive committee of a county council was authorised to appoint a sub-committee or sub committees and delegate to them all or any of the powers of the executive committee with or without restrictions and from time to time to revoke or alter any such delegation. The point raised was whether after this delegation the executive committee of the county council could exercise the power under the Act notwithstanding the fact that there was a delegation of the power to the sub-committee. The argument raised in that case was that delegation implied a denudation of the power and authority, and that therefore the executive committee had no right to exercise the power. Coleridge C. J. answered the contention thus :

'But delegation does not imply a denudation of power and authority; Schedule 6 of the Act provides that the delegation may be revoked or altered and the powers resumed by the executive committee. The word 'delegation' implies that powers are committed to another person or body which are as a rule always subject to resumption by the power delegating, and many examples of this might be given. Unless, therefore, it is controlled by statute, the delegating power can at any time resume its authority. Here the executive committee has exercised the power which the sub-committee might have exercised but did not--and no question of conflict of jurisdiction arises.'

Wills I considers the legal import of the word 'delegation' and he observes at p. 395 :

'Delegation, as the word is generally used, does not imply a parting with powers by the person who grants the delegation, but points rather to the conferring of an authority to do things which otherwise that person would have to do himself . . . . The notion, therefore, that the use of the word 'delegate' implies that the executive committee parted with their own authority is misconceived.'

In view of this authority of Coleridge C. J., and Wills J. even if the language of the G. O. were otherwise, we think that merely because the Commissioner of Police is authorised by the Provincial Government by virtue of Section 15 of the Act to exercise the power under Section 2 (1), the Provincial Government is not deprived of that power. The decision of the Court of Appeal in Blackpool Corporation v. Locker, 1948 1 K.B. 349, on which reliance was placed by the learned advocate for the applicants does not conflict with the decision in Huth v. Clarke, (1890) 25 Q.B.D. 391 : 59 L. J. M. C. 120. The point was considered only by Scott L. J. and Evershed L. J. did not think it necessary to consider the question in the view he took of the case. The observations of Scott L. J. dealing with the interpretation of Regn. 51 of Defence (General) Regulations, 1939, particularly, Clause 5, proceeded on the assumption that what the Lord Justice was called upon to consider was the effect of delegated legislation and not a case of delegation of a power or duty under an Act. We are not now concerned here with a case of delegated legislation, and therefore we think that the dicta of Scott L. J. in Blackpool Corporation v. Locker, 1948 1 K. B. 349 are not applicable, and we prefer to follow the decision in Huth v. Clarke, (1890) 25 Q.B.D. 391 : 59 L.J.M.C. 120 which is more in point.

6. We have perused the grounds in all these cases, and we do not agree with the contention strongly pressed on behalf of the applicants that the grounds are indefinite and vague. It was definitely stated in the grounds that these people were members of the Communist Strong Arms Intimidation Squad of the Singapore Harbour Labour Union; that a special feature of this group of Communists was that they have been noted for their violence lately seen in the beating and stabbing of Chinese labourers during the strike; that these applicants were members of the Singapore Harbour Labour Union Thondar Padai; and that they took active part in intimidating labourers under the orders of the Communist leaders of the Union. In case of some of the applicants there were also further grounds. These grounds cannot be said therefore to be indefinite or vague.

7. The argument that it is not open to the detaining authority to take into consideration the activities of the applicants outside the Province in arriving at the satisfaction contemplated by Section 2 (1) of the Act is, in our opinion, unsound. The person against whom action was proposed under Section 2 (1) at the time of the order was within the Province of Madras. The detaining authority had before it material to reach the satisfaction that the person is likely to act in a manner prejudicial to public safety or the maintenance of public order. The basis for this satisfaction was the activity of the person concerned in Malaya, and his activity therefore certainly would be proper material for consideration under Section 2 (1) of the Act in coming to a conclusion whether the person of that description would or would not act in a manner prejudicial to public safety or the maintenance of public order. The Act applies to the whole of the Province, and the danger contemplated was the danger to the public safety and maintenance of public order of this province. The antecedent history of the person -- whether he lived in Malaya or elsewhere it does not matter--so long as it was proximate enough in date, if it is such as to produce the satisfaction in the mind of the detaining authority that the person concerned was likely to act in a manner prejudicial to public safety and the maintenance of public order, will be perfectly relevant material under the section. We see no objection for taking into consideration under Section 2 (1) of the Act the activity of the person outside the Province to justify action under Section 2 (1) of the Act.

8. For these reasons we are of opinion that the orders of detention of the applicants are legal, and that no interference is called for. The applications are dismissed.


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