29 Jun 2121

Proximate or live link must be established between the criminal proceeding relied upon and the detention order issued by the detaining authority under the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act, 1981 - Supreme Court of India

Case : Ganesh alias Gajaraj Sainath Patil v. The State of Maharashtra and Ors. Criminal Writ Petition No. 846 of 2021

Court : Bombay High Court

Bench : Justice Abhay Ahuja and Justice S. S. Shinde

Decided on : 29 Jun 2121

Relevant Statues

Article 226 of the Constitution of India, 1950

Sections 2(b-1), 3 of the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Slumlords, Bootleggers, Drug-Offenders/Dangerous Persons, Video Pirates, Sand Smugglers and Persons Engaged in Black-marketing Of Essential Commodities Act, 1981

Brief Facts & Procedure History

1. The relevant seminal facts are that the Petitioner has been detained in the Sangli District Prison by a committal order dated 19.1.2021 passed by Respondent No.2. The Petitioner contends that the Respondent No.2 has mainly relied upon the following three grounds based on which the impugned Detention Order has been passed : i) an offence registered against Petitioner at the Islampur Police Station on 23.8.2020 vide C.R. No.636/2020, ii) two in-camera statements dated 26.11.2020 and 30.11.2020 and iii) the criminal antecedents of the detenu as contained in Paragraph 6 of the Grounds for Detention.

2. By this Petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, 1950, the Petitioner is challenging the detention order dated 19.1.2021 issued under Section 3 of the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Slumlords, Bootleggers, Drug-Offenders/Dangerous Persons, Video Pirates, Sand Smugglers and Persons Engaged in Black-marketing Of Essential Commodities Act, 1981 by Respondent No.2, Collector & District Magistrate, Sangli.

The Issue(s) of the Case

Whether the Petitioner is entitled to set aside the impugned Detention Order dated 19.1.2021 issued by Respondent No.2, the Collector and District Magistrate, Sangli?

The Observations of the Court

The Honourable Bombay High Court observed the following:

1. With respect to the ground that there is no subjective satisfaction of the Detaining Authority with respect to the two in-camera statements, the Court noted that the Special District Police Officer has verified the statements of the two witnesses, the truthfulness of the incident and the fear expressed by the witnesses.

2. Took cognizance of the fact that in Paragraph 8 of the Grounds for Detention, it has been specifically stated by the Detaining Authority that he has gone through the material placed on record and that he is subjectively satisfied that Petitioner is acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order.

3. With respect to the ground regarding variance in the Marathi and English version of the Grounds for Detention, the Court observed that there was a typographical error in reference to the year in Paragraph 6 of the Grounds for Detention in respect of three out of seven items, the year in the original Marathi version is 2018, but with respect to the English version, it is 2020.

4. Questioned as to how such a minor error had prevented the Petitioner from moving an effective and purposeful representation based on the above observation. Moreover, the Petitioner failed to point out these errors to the Detaining Authority pursuant to Paragraph 14 of the Grounds for Detention. Hence, the Court found no substance in the said ground raised on behalf of Petitioner.

5. With respect to the ground regarding blanking of the place of incident in the in-camera statements furnished to the Petitioner, the Court witnessed that only in the copies supplied to Petitioner the same has been blanked out. Therefore, the contention on behalf of Petitioner that the Detention Order was based on extraneous material does not hold any value.

6. With respect to the reliance placed by the Respondent No.2 on criminal proceeding bearing C.R. No. 636 of 2020 registered on 23.8.2020 against Petitioner and two in-camera statements, the Court opined that the Detention Order is based only on the CR No.636 of 2020 dated 23.8.2020 read with the two in-camera statements recorded in November 2020 and not on the basis of the criminal antecedents in Paragraph 6 of the Grounds for Detention.

7. Critically analysed Section 2(b-1) of the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Slumlords, Bootleggers, Drug-Offenders/Dangerous Persons, Video Pirates, Sand Smugglers and Persons Engaged in Black-marketing of Essential Commodities Act, 1981 to ascertain whether the Petitioner is a “dangerous person”.

8. Opined that the Petitioner cannot be considered as a dangerous person as the solitary act as referred to in alone C.R. No.636 of 2020 cannot constitute the Petitioner to be a habitual offender committing offences that disturbs the public order.

9. Contemplated that there was a gap of about five months between the date of the C.R. and the Detention Order and the two statements in the month of November appear to be recorded only to fill in this gap. Hence, there is hardly a proximate or live link between the material on which the authority has placed reliance and the Detention Order.

10. Further opined that the nature of such a Detention Order is drastic and extraordinary because it results in detaining a person without recourse to the process of trial under ordinary law.

11. Reliance was placed upon several precedents such as Jay @ Nunya Rajesh Bhosale v. The Commissioner of Police, Pune & Ors., 2015 ALL MR (Cri) 4437; T. Devaki v. Government of Tamil Nadu and Ors., (1990) 2 SCC 456; Arun Ghosh v. State of West Bengal, 1970 (1) SCC 98; Ajay Nagesh Nagmode v. The State of Maharashtra, Writ Petition No.1117 of 2021; Mrunalini Virendra Lonare v. Commissioner of Police and Ors., Criminal Writ Petition No.245 of 2014; Khaja Bilal Ahmed v. State of Telangana & Ors., Criminal Appeal No.1876 of 2019 @ SLP (Crl.) No.5487 of 2019 Etc. 

The Decision held by the Court

1. The Honourable Bombay High Court set aside the impugned Detention Order dated 19.1.2021 issued by Respondent No.2, The Collector and District Magistrate, Sangli.

2. The Honourable Bombay High Court further directed the Petitioner to be released unless required in any other case.

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