1. This writ petition is filed for the issuer of a writ of Habeas Corpus by the son of P. Govindarajulu Naidu for directing the detenu Govindarajulu Naidu to be produced in court and set at liberty.
2. The order of detention was passed on 5-2-1975 and the detenu was arrested on 7-2-1975. The memorandum of grounds was furnished to the detenu on his arrest. On behalf of the detenu, it is submitted that the grounds are not true and that they are totally vague and vitiating the entire order of detention.
3. The order of detention made under Section 3(1)(a)(iii) of the Maintenance of Internal Security Act, 1971, mentions three instances on which tie Collector relied for coming to the conclusion that the detenu should be detained as he was acting prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community.
4. The first ground is that the detenu being a wholesaler in paddy and rice in licence No. 605 from 1971, in flagrant contravention of the Essential Commodities Act and conditions of the licence indulged in an act to sell 50 bags of raw rice and 50 bags of boiled rice to the Coimbatore Urban Cooperative Society Ltd., Coimbatore, on 29-8-1974, having known that entire South Arcot District had been declared as a notified area under G. O. Ms. No. 325, Food Department, dated 10-9-1974, by which movement of paddy and rice from the district without a valid permit is prohibited. On behalf of the detenu it is represented that the entire ground is baseless. The Collector of Coimbatore by his letter L. Dis. 15573/74 dated 28-9-1974, addressed the Collector of South Arcot requesting him to issue a necessary permit to enable the Secretary of the Coimbatore Urban Co-operative Stores to purchase and move rice from South Arcot to Coimbatore District. On the basis of this certificate the detenu agreed to sell rice to the said Cooperative Stores on condition that the rice would be delivered only on an authorisation issued by the Collector of South Arcot Dt. The Secretary of the Co-operative Stores, Coimbatore also applied to the Collector of South Arcot by his petition dated 1-10-1974, setting out the circumstances mentioned above and requested the Collector for the issue of necessary authorisation. The Collector declined to accord permission and the transaction fell through and the sale was not effected. This statement of fact is not disputed by the Government. The contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the ground is non-existent is therefore correct. There was no sale by the detenu in contravention of any of the restrictions relating to the transport of rice. On the other hand, the detenu had properly requested the Co-operative Stores to produce a permit from the Collector before he could sell the rice.
5. The third ground runs as follows : 'On your directions and instructions under collusion with the said Thiru Dharma Naidu, you had transported illicitly on several occasions between 8-1-1975 to 24-1-1975 rice and paddy bags from South Arcot to Salem to the said A. Rajendran of Salem and others without a valid permit and by using undated letters and bills as if the stock of bran, was being transported, while in fact you had transported illicitly rice and paddy in contravention of the orders.' The submission of the learned Counsel for the petitioner is that the ground is vague. The ground alleges that on several occasions between. 8-1-1975 to 24-1-1975 the detenu transported rice and paddy bags illicitly from South Arcot to Salem to one A. Rajendran without a valid permit. The ground does not specify on 'what date and in what manner the paddy was illicitly transported. It does not mention what the several occasions referred to in the ground are. We accept the contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the ground is so vague that he cannot make an effective representation.
6. The second ground relates to an attempt to transport 72 bags of paddy and one bag of rice in a lorry MDF 5765 belonging to one Thiru Dharma Naidu on 1-2-, 1975 illicitly without a permit, by the detenu with the connivance of the said Thiru Dharma Naidu. Even accepting that the second ground is valid, the order of detention cannot be upheld,
7. It is not disputed that the first ground is a very serious one and the order of detention was mainly based on that ground. That ground as we have already pointed out is non-existent. The third ground is also totally vague and so opportunity of making a representation guaranteed under Article 22(5) of the Constitution has been denied to him.
8. On behalf of the detenu, it was submitted that if one ground is bad the entire order of detention fails. The learned Counsel relied on two decisions of the Supreme Court. In Ram Bhadur Rai v. State of Bihar : 1975CriLJ269 it was held-
Where the order of detention is founded on distinct and separate grounds if any one of the grounds is vague or irrelevant the entire order must fall.
In Dwarika Prasad Sahu v. State of Bihar : 1975CriLJ221 , the Supreme Court observes at p. 138 : : 1975CriLJ221 :
If there is one principle more firmly established than any other in this field of jurisprudence, it is that even if one of the grounds or reasons which led to the subjective satisfaction of the detaining authority is non-existent or misconceived or irrelevant, the order of detention would be invalid and it would not avail the detaining authority to contend that the other grounds or reasons are good and do not suffer from any infirmity because it can never be predicated to what extent the bad grounds or reasons operated on the mind of the detaining authority or whether the detention order would have been made at all if the bad grounds or reasons were excluded and the good grounds or reasons alone were before the detaining authority.
9. In making this statement of law, the Supreme Court referred to a number of decisions.
10. The learned Public Prosecutor submitted that the observations of the Supreme Court will have to be taken along with the observations made by the Supreme Court in earlier decisions. Particular reference was made by the Public Prosecutor to a decision of the Bench of six Judges of the Supreme Court in Motilal v. State of Bihar : 1969CriLJ33 wherein Justice Hegde has laid down the law in the following terms, after referring to the decision in Dwarkadasa Bhatia v. State of Jammu and Kashmir : 1957CriLJ316 :
The subjective satisfaction of the detaining authority must be properly based on all the reasons on which it purports to be based. If some out of those reasons are found to be non-existent or irrelevant, the court cannot predicate what the subjective satisfaction of the authority would have been on the exclusive of those reasons. To uphold the order on the remaining reasons would be to substitute the objective standards of the court for the subjective satisfaction of the authority.
Having stated so, the Supreme Court proceeded to caution that the court must, however, be satisfied that the vague or irrelevant grounds are such as, if excluded, might reasonably have affected the subjective satisfaction of the authority.
11. The learned Public Prosecutor submitted that the law as laid down in : 1975CriLJ221 must be read along with the above observations.
12. In : 1957CriLJ316 which has been referred to by Justice Hegde in : 1969CriLJ33 the court observed-
In applying these principles, however, the court must be satisfied that the vague or irrelevant grounds are such as, if excluded, might reasonably have affected the subjective satisfaction of the appropriate authority. It is not merely because some ground or reason of a comparatively unessential nature is defective that such an order based on subjective satisfaction can be held to be invalid. The court while anxious to safeguard the personal liberty of the individual will not lightly interfere with such orders.
It is in the light of these principles that the validity of the impugned order has to be judged. Relying on the above passages, the learned Public Prosecutor submitted that the law laid down in : 1975CriLJ221 will have to be read along with the caution administered by a fuller Bench of the Supreme Court.
13. It is unnecessary for us to go into this question as we are satisfied that in this case, two very important grounds out of the three have failed. It is not unreasonable to hold that the detaining authority would not have ordered the detention if he realised that the two grounds which have failed were nonexistent. In these circumstances, we feel that the order of detention cannot be upheld. The petition is allowed and the detenu is directed to be set at liberty.