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M. R. Venkataraman Vs. the Commissioner of Police and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported in(1949)1MLJ90
AppellantM. R. Venkataraman
RespondentThe Commissioner of Police and anr.
Cases ReferredOm Prakash Mehta v. King
Excerpt:
.....commissioner on the material before him was satisfied that the petitioner was acting in a manner prejudicial to public safety. it is therefore not possible for the court to see the entire material on which the commissioner was satisfied that the petitioner was acting in a manner prejudicial to public safety. it is no doubt true that under section 2(1) of the act, the government or the delegated authority must be satisfied that a person is acting or is about to act in a manner prejudicial to public safety. the provincial government if satisfied that any person is acting in a manner prejudicial to the public safety, order or tranquillity, or is fomenting or inciting strikes with intent to cause or prolong unrest among any group or groups of employees may if it considers such order..........under section 2(2) on the 9th june, 1948. on the 11th september, 1948, the government served the grounds of detention on the petitioner. though the order of detention was passed on 1st april, 1948, the petitioner was arrested only on 17th august, 1948, as presumably his whereabouts were not known till that date.2. mr. a. k. pillai, learned counsel for the petitioner, raised before us the following four points: (1) that the order of the commissioner dated 1st april, 1948, was invalid; (2) that though the order was valid when passed, it became invalid in view of the non-compliance with some of the mandatory provisions of the statute; (3) that though the detention in its origin was valid the detention of the petitioner subsequent to the contravention of the mandatory provisions of the.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Subba Rao, J.

1. This is an application under Section 491, Criminal Procedure Code. The petitioner is an advocate of this Court. On the 1st April, 1948, the Commissioner of Police passed an order of detention under Section 2(1)(a) of the Madras Maintenance of Public Order Act (Act I of 1947). He was duly authorised by the Provincial Government to exercise its powers under Section 2(1) of the said Act. In the detention order it is stated that the petitioner is acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order and that with a view to preventing him from so doing, it is necessary to detain him. The Commissioner of Police communicated the said order to the Government under Section 2(2) on the 9th June, 1948. On the 11th September, 1948, the Government served the grounds of detention on the petitioner. Though the order of detention was passed on 1st April, 1948, the petitioner was arrested only on 17th August, 1948, as presumably his whereabouts were not known till that date.

2. Mr. A. K. Pillai, learned Counsel for the petitioner, raised before us the following four points: (1) that the order of the Commissioner dated 1st April, 1948, was Invalid; (2) that though the order was valid when passed, it became invalid In view of the non-compliance with some of the mandatory provisions of the statute; (3) that though the detention in its origin was valid the detention of the petitioner subsequent to the contravention of the mandatory provisions of the statute was Illegal; and (4) that the Government in detaining the petitioner was actuated by mala fides.

3. There is no force in the learned Counsel's first argument. Section 2(1) reads as follows:

The Provincial Government, if satisfied with respect to any particular person that he is acting or about to act in any manner prejudicial to the public safety or the maintenance of public order and with a view to preventing him, it is necessary so to do, may make an order:

(a) directing that he be detained....

As aforesaid this power of the Government was delegated to the Commissioner under Section 15 of the Act. The Commissioner states in the detention order in clear terms that the petitioner is acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order and that with a view to preventing him from so doing it is necessary to detain him. The order is in strict compliance with the provisions of Section 2(1) and is therefore clearly valid.

4. There are no merits in the second point either. If the order was valid at its inception, we cannot see how it would become invalid by the subsequent non-compliance with the other provisions of the Act. The argument was that the order passed under Section 2(1) was not complete till it was communicated to the Government in strict, compliance with the provisions of Section 2(2). By Sub-section (2) when any order is made under Sub-section (1) by an officer or authority empowered under Section 15, that officer or authority shall forthwith report the fact to the Provincial Government together with the grounds on which the order has been made and such other particulars as, in the opinion of such officer or authority, have a bearing on the necessity for or expediency of the order. Though the order of detention was passed on 1st April, 1948, the Commissioner communicated the same to the Government on 9th June, 1948, i.e., after ten weeks. In Crl. M. P. No. 1309 of 1948 Since reported in : (1949)1MLJ78 we differed on the interpretation of the word ' forthwith' in the said section. Assuming that in view of this enormous delay, it must be held that the provisions of the section have not been strictly complied with, would it have the effect of invalidating an order that had been validly passed. We think not. Once an order had been passed in strict compliance with the provisions of Section 2(1), it was validly passed. Sections 2(2) and 3(1) were designed to provide a machinery for the person against whom the order has been passed to seek redress as early as possible. If a statutory authority did not comply with the provisions of Section 2 or Section 3, there may be other remedies open to the aggrieved party. But in our view, the non-compliance with the provisions prescribing a procedure to get redress by the aggrieved party against whom an order has been passed under Section 2(1) cannot in law invalidate an order validly passed under Section 2(1). In support of his argument, Mr. Pillai cited the decisions in Ramdhir Rai v. Emperor 21 Ind.Cas. 162 and Abdul Jabbar v. Emperor : AIR1935Cal251 . In our view those decisions have no bearing on the question to be decided in. this case.

5. We do not also agree with the third contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner. The argument of Mr. Pillai was that assuming the order passed under Section 2(1) was valid at its inception and continued to be so, the further detention after the violation of the provisions of Section 2(2) was illegal. This argument ignores the distinction between the order of detention and the procedure prescribed for enabling the aggrieved party to seek redress. The petitioner, as we found, was legally detained under Section 2(1) of Madras Act I of 1947. Under Section 4 of the Act this order of detention shall be in force for six months from the date on which it is confirmed or modified under Sub-section (5) of Section 3. If the authority concerned did not carry out his statutory duties, the petitioner could have taken the appropriate remedy to compel him to perform his duty. He may have other remedies if he was prejudiced by the breach of a statutory, duty by the authority concerned. But in our view the non-compliance with the provisions of Sub-section (2) to Section 2 could not make the detention illegal. In any view as the order was communicated to the Government and the grounds for detention were duly served on the petitioner, it would be impossible to hold that the detention of the petitioner at present is invalid.

6. We cannot also accept the learned Counsel's last argument. Paragraph 16 of the petition puts the petitioner's case briefly:

I submit that my detention is mala fide actuated, by feelings of political animosity and made solely with the political intent of stifling the voice of all democratic opposition. I am kept in detention only because I fearlessly campaign for the common people. This is not liked by the vested interests and the Ministry which is theirs.

This idea is elaborated in greater detail in the other paragraphs of the petition. The learned Counsel argued that we should infer mala fides from the long delay in communicating the order of detention to the Government. Mala fides is a state of mind. If a person is detained and with a view to prevent him from taking steps to get redress from the Government, if the appropriate authority intentionally delays the communication of the said order to the Government, it is possible to infer or attribute mala fides to the authority concerned. But in this case there is one important fact which negatives any such intention on the part of the Commissioner. The order of detention was passed on 1st April, 1948, and it was communicated on 9th June, 1948. But the petitioner was arrested on 17th August, 1948. On these facts it is impossible to attribute mala fides to the Commissioner as his order was communicated long before the petitioner was arrested.

7. It was further contended by Mr. Pillai that the grounds served upon his client could not sustain an order under Section 2(1) and therefore we must attribute mala fides to the Government. He argued that except the last ground all the other previous grounds related to his client's antecedents which are not permissible grounds for passing an order under Section 2(1) of the Act. The last ground according to him does not support the statement made by the Commissioner that the petitioner is acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. If we accept this argument we would in effect be ignoring the recent Full Bench decision Since reported in : AIR1947Mad275 . The Commissioner on the material before him was satisfied that the petitioner was acting in a manner prejudicial to public safety. Under Sub-section (2) to Section 2 he reported to the Provincial Government the said order with the grounds on which it has been made and other particulars. Under Sub-section (3) the Government communicated the grounds to the petitioner. It will be seen that under Section 3, the Government is not bound to disclose to the petitioner all the material that was placed before them. It is therefore not possible for the Court to see the entire material on which the Commissioner was satisfied that the petitioner was acting in a manner prejudicial to public safety. Even the grounds communicated to the petitioner disclose material on which the Commissioner could reasonably satisfy himself that a case was made out for detention. It is not permissible for the Court to go into the correctness or otherwise of the facts or canvass the grounds for detention. The antecedent and the present activities of the petitioner were given in the grounds. They afford sufficient material for a competent authority to come to a conclusion one way or the other. Mr. Pillai argued that the last ground does not say that the petitioner Is acting, but only says that the communist party is indulging in violent subversive activities and it is likely that he will also indulge in violent subversive activities. But the Commissioner certainly was entitled to infer from the said fact that the petitioner who is the present secretary of the Tamil Nadu Provincial Committee of the Communist party was also acting in a manner prejudicial to public safety. But as we have already stated this is only one of the grounds. There might have been other material which was not disclosed to the petitioner.

8. We cannot also accept the argument of the petitioner that in no circumstances the antecedent conduct of a detenu could be taken note of by the concerned authority to satisfy himself whether he is acting or is about to act in a manner prejudicial to public safety. It is no doubt true that under Section 2(1) of the Act, the Government or the delegated authority must be satisfied that a person is acting or is about to act in a manner prejudicial to public safety. But the antecedent conduct would certainly afford data or furnish reasonable grounds in, finding out the present attitude of the person concerned. Learned Counsel for the petitioner relied on a decision in Om Prakash Mehta v. King-Emperor I.L.R. (1947) Nag. 579 That was a decision under the Central Provinces and Berar Maintenance of Public Order Act, 1946. The operative portion of Section 2(1) of the said Act reads as follows:

The Provincial Government if satisfied that any person is acting in a manner prejudicial to the public safety, order or tranquillity, or is fomenting or inciting strikes with intent to cause or prolong unrest among any group or groups of employees may if it considers such order necessary make an order (a) directing that he be detained.

There is a material difference between the provisions of that section and Section 2(1) of Madras Act I of 1947. In the latter section the Provincial Government can detain a person not only when he is acting but also when he is about to act in a manner prejudicial to public safety. The learned Judges in construing that section held that detention could not be ordered on the basis of past actions. But they observed at page 597 as follows:

The bulk of the acts which are said to constitute the ' acting ' consist of past acts, but in each case there is included some overt act done after the 21st of November, 1946, on which date the Act came into force. The series of acts so set forth convey the sense of continuity which the Act requires and the inclusion of an overt act done after the 21st of November, 1946, imports that the said acting was continued after the datum line. These statements, combined with the reference in the order to Section 2(1)(a) of the Act, are sufficient to show that the' satisfaction ' relates to a continuous course of conduct which was persisted in after the coining into force of the Act.

The grounds here also disclose that the petitioner continued to indulge in subversive activities even after the Act came into force. He is a prominent member of the Communist party. He took part in various communist activities and had even gone underground. He was detained on the previous occasions. He was charged with responsibility for many violent acts including murder, looting, arson and other grave offences which have taken place in Madura in 1947. He had participated in secret meetings held on 6th December, 1947, and 7th January, 1948 and drew up the programme of the party. The Communist party to which he belongs, according to the last ground, is now indulging in violence and subversive activities and most of the members of the party have gone underground and front there, they are guiding various crimes such as arson, loot, murder, etc. On these facts and presumably some others which are not disclosed, the Commissioner was satisfied that the petitioner was acting in a manner prejudicial to public interests. We cannot say on the said material that no reasonable man could be satisfied that the petitioner was acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order.

9. After judgment was reserved, Mr. Pillai requested us to allow him to cite some cases in support of his contention that the order passed under Section 2(1) of the Act was invalid as it was not forthwith communicated to the Government under Section 2(2). We allowed him to do so. In addition to the cases cited by him, he wanted to raise a new plea for the first time, viz., that the Commissioner of Police had no authority to pass an order of detention under Section 2(1) as the order of the Provincial Government empowering him to exercise the powers under Section 2(1) had expired by the time he issued the order under the said section. This objection was not taken in the petition nor was it addressed to us before judgment was reserved. As the validity of this objection would depend upon certain facts and as it was not raised before judgment was reserved, we did not allow the advocate to raise this plea.

10. This application is therefore liable to be dismissed and it is accordingly dismissed.


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