Decided on August 17,1950

STATE Respondents


Ray, C.J. - (1.) These cases arise out of petitions made by the petitioners named above for issue of writs of Habeas Corpus as against their detention under the Preventive Detention Act (iv [4] of 1960). Mr. V. Pasayat, Advocate, appears for all the petitioners amicus curias. The arguments advanced by him are common to all the cases and we, therefore, propose to pass one judgment covering all the petitions.
(2.) The arguments advanced are : (i) That the petitioners other than those of Cr. Misc. cases nos. 69, 79 and 83 are old detenus, and the respective orders of detention passed against them are based on the same grounds as on which they had been detained prior to the Preventive Detention Act enacted after the Constitution. This, he urges, is sufficient indication that the detaining authority had not applied his mind to the facts and circumstances appearing against the petitioners. In the course of argument, he has pointed out that in some cases even the grammatical inaccuracies in the construction of some of the sentences have reappeared. His contention, therefore, is that there was no exercise of that mental process which is necessary in order that the detaining authority be satisfied that, in order to prevent the petitioners from acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order, their detention was necessary. This deficiency deprives the order of the irreducible minimum of rationality and reasonableness under the Constitution; (ii) The second ground urged is that the satisfaction of the detaining authority on the previous occasion cannot be relied on for the. satisfaction of the detaining authority for fresh detention after the passing of the Preventive Detention Act. In this connexion, a passage from an unreported decision of his Lordship the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court is relied on: "The satisfaction which the law required was the satisfaction of the detaining authority when the order, was made and it was not open to the authority to fall back upon the satisfaction which was valid in 1948. Therefore, on this ground also the petitioners were entitled to succeed." (iii) Lastly, it was argued that the grounds, as supplied, are vague and cannot be held to be sufficient for the satisfaction of the detaining authority.
(3.) Contention No. (i) : It is difficult to say that because the self-same grounds formed the basis of the detaining authority's satisfaction on a subsequent occasion, it would necessarily follow that the mind of the authority concerned did not grapple with particular facts and circumstances of each individual's case. It is not that in one or two cases, new grounds have not been added. It cannot be ruled, as an absolute proposition of law. that once a man is detained under the preventive detention measure on the basis of his prejudicial activities, he cannot, on the expiry of the term, again be detained on the self-same grounds, particularly when there has happened nothing to show that his approach, from the standpoint of his political creed, to the political, social and economical problems of the society has undergone any change. It is not far too wrong to say that a man is to be judged by his association with politically dangerous individuals, or his advocacy of a cause, which, if pursued, involves manifestation of violence, sabotage, chaos and confusion in the present day social, political and economical set up of things, and is, otherwise, subversive of the established Government. His Lordship Chagla C. J. is reported to have said, in his judgment., (assuming that the quotation given in the newspaper "Cross Roads, vol. II, no. 14, dated 4-8-1950" under the column "Difference between Old and New" at p. 8 is correct etc.), while examining the question as to how long past acts would determine the rationality of a fresh order of detention, that "he would refuse to lay down any specific period." We are not inclined to accept unconditionally that the past acts of a man are not safe criteria of his propensities and likely future activities; on the other, hand, if he belongs to a particular group of political agitators whose ideals to subvert the present established Government by producing confusion and chaos in the society for the purpose of unbalancing the same and 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. Besides potential risks from a person's Ananta Charan and Ors. vs. The State (17.08.1950 -ORIHC) Page 3 of 5 activities, granting that he has the definite frame of mind prone to the purpose, have to be determined by the surrounding circumstances including the political climate, both in the national and international spheres. If the members of a particular group of agitators are known to be, as a matter of habit, exploiting the situation, prevailing in the Country, and if their political aims, as judged from their past acts, are not offset by any change in their creed, and if there be no reasonable ground to believe that the particular member concerned's views have undergone fundamental change, it cannot be said that the circumstances do not constitute reasonable grounds for satisfaction of the detaining authorities. Besides, we, in Court, are labouring under the disadvantage's of not being able to investigate the authenticity of the allegations on which the orders of detention are based. As an abstract proposition of law, we are not ready to say that past acts should not be taken into consideration. I would here invite attention to an observation by Roxburgh and Lahiri JJ. of the Calcutta High Court in an unreported case to the effect that "past activity at any rate of reasonably recent date alone might in some circumstance be considered by Government as alone justifying detention." Besides these detention orders are not punitive but preventive, so that if on the self same grounds they are detained from time to time, it does not amount to saying that they are punished twice or several times for the commission of a solitary and specific offence. Reasonableness of the ground involving exercise of executive discretion based on ratiocination rather than arbitrariness is always relatable to social and political atmosphere of a country of which the Executive Government is the best Judge. Grounds which would be insufficient for such satisfaction in one state of things would be over whelmingly sufficient in another state. So long and so far as the conditions justifying necessity for prevention exists, detention order made within the reasonable limits laid down by the Legislature would be quite justifiable. It would, be beyond our power of interference even if it does not fit within judicial strait jacket. The Legislature has entrusted it with the Executive Head' of the State on account of the vantage ground that they occupy from which they can strike a happy balance between personal liberty and social control.;

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