BAKHTAWAR SINGH Vs. THE STATE
LAWS(P&H)-1950-7-15
HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA
Decided on July 04,1950

BAKHTAWAR SINGH Appellant
VERSUS
THE STATE Respondents

JUDGEMENT

Falshaw, J. - (1.) THIS judgment will deal with five petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and Section 491, Criminal P.C., filed by relatives on behalf of Kirpal Singh son of Mota Singh of Rangarh, Kirpal Singh son of Jalmeja Singh of Burj, Ajit Singh of Khem Karan, Mangal Singh of Chhina Bidhi Chand and Kartar Singh of the same village. All these villages are in the district of Amritsar, and all the detenus except Kirpal Singh son of Mota Singh, who was arrested on 1st June, were arrested on 2 -6 -1950 under the orders of the District Magistrate of Amritsar, under the provisions of Section 3, Preventive Detention Act, 1950, the District Magistrate further ordering the detention of all of them for a period of two months, which in the case of Kirpal Singh son of Mota Singh was up to 31 -8 -1950 and in the case of the others up to 1 -9 -1950. In each case the order of detention specified that the detenu was to be committed to the custody of the Senior Superintendent of Police, Amritsar, for 15 days i. e., upto 15th June in the case of Kirpal Singh, son of Mota Singh and upto 16th June in the other cases, and thereafter he was to be committed to the custody of the Inspector General of Prisons for the remainder of the period of detention. Although there are points for discussion arising in the case of each individual there are also a number of points which are common to all the petitions. In each case the copy of the grounds of detention required by the provisions of Section 7 (1) of the Act to be supplied as early as possible to the detenu was not supplied in these cases until 14th or 15th June and in each case the grounds communicated were identical. They read as follows: That you were engaged in the smuggling of cloth and other supplies, the maintenance of which Is essential to the community, and in furtherance of that object indulged in activities prejudicial to the security of the State and the maintenance of public order, Your detention has therefore been ordered to ensure the maintenance of supplies and public order.
(2.) ALTHOUGH the allegations in the different petitions naturally differ somewhat in detail, there is a general denial that the detenus have in fact been connected with any smuggling activities and a general allegation that their detention has been ordered -mala -fide owing to various quarrels with the local police, and in all the cases the objection is taken that the grounds communicated to the detenus are vague and indefinite and that their detention is illegal on that ground. It is also alleged in each of the petitions that the detenu instead of being sent to any jail has been kept at some police station in the district of Amritsar and was so being kept when the petitions were filed which was from the 33rd to 26th June. Three of the petitions were admitted by my Lord the Chief Justice on 27th June and the other two on the 28th June, and in each case he ordered that the detenu should be produced in this Court on 3rd July. Actually the petitions could not be heard until 4th of July and it was then stated by the learned Counsel representing the various petitioners that the detenus had been brought to Simla from various police stations where they were still being kept upto the date on which the order for their production was communicated to the authorities. On this point, although affidavits of the learned District Magistrate have been filed in each of the petitions, these affidavits are conspicuously silent regarding the alleged detention of the detenus in these police stations long after the date on which they were supposed to have been sent to regular jails, and it was conceded by the learned Assistant Advocate -General that the silence of the affidavits on this point amounted to an admission of the allegations. There is -one other point which is common to all the petitions which relates to the affidavits of the learned District Magistrate. Although these affidavits differ to some extent in details, as might be expected, since they are intended partly at least to be replies to the allegations made in the various petitions, there is one paragraph which is common to all of them which reads: The smuggling activities are very dangerous at the border as many a time firing is resorted to by the police on both sides of the border which involves loss of lives and danger of misunderstanding and bad relations between the two countries. By this paragraph the learned District Magistrate apparently intended to support the second of the grounds on which he had ordered the detention of the detenus, namely, the maintenance of public order. It is, however, contended, by the learned Counsel for the petitioners that; this paragraph in fact raises as altogether fresh ground of detention covered by the words of Section 3 (1)(a)(i) of the Act which reads: the defence of India, the relations of India with foreign powers, or the security of India. which is not one of the grounds on which a District Magistrate or other officers specified in Section 3 (2) could order the detention of any person, an order by the State or Central Government in this behalf being necessary. The points which arise for consideration in all the petitions are: (1) Whether the grounds of detention communicated to the detenus are so vague and indefinite as not to justify the order for their detention and if so whether their immediate release should be ordered on this ground alone, or whether the authorities should be ordered to communicate to the detenus the further particulars contained in the affidavits of the District Magistrate, if it is found that those particulars are sufficient to remove the vagueness and the indefiniteness of the grounds originally supplied, with a view to their submitting the representations contemplated by Section 7 (1) of the Act: (2) Whether on the assumption of the general truth of the allegations that the detenus have been connected with the smuggling of cloth and other supplies the orders of detention can be justified on the ground that they were necessary either for the maintenance of public order (Section 3 (1)(a)(ii)) or for the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community (Section 3 (1)(a)(iii)): (3) What is the effect on the legality of the orders of detention of the inclusion of the paragraph cited above in the affidavits of the learned District Magistrate Sled in all the petitions: (4) What is the effect on the legality of the detention of the detenus of the fact that they were still being detained in various police stations more than a fortnight after they ought to have been committed to the custody of the Inspector General of Prisons for detention in a jail, in accordance with the terms of the orders of the learned District Magistrate for their detention.
(3.) TO come to the first of these questions, I do not think there is any doubt that the criticisms of the learned Counsel for the petitioners directed against the grounds of detention originally communicated to the detenus on the score of vagueness and indefiniteness are fully justified, since apart from the omission of any particulars regarding dates or whether the smuggling had been taking place recently or a long time ago, the grounds do not contain any particulars which would indicate whether the alleged smuggling had been into or out of India, or even between which countries the alleged smuggling was taking place. It may be obvious to the learned Assistant Advocate General that the other country involved in the matter besides India is Pakistan, but there is no obvious reason why this should not have been clearly stated in the grounds, since other countries such as Tibet also touch the borders of India, and for all that the grounds reveal the smuggling although organised in Amritsar District might have been between India and some other country. In any case, smuggling is a two -way traffic and there should certainly have been some indication in the grounds of what kind of smuggling the detenus were alleged to have been engaged in. In the circumstances, I am of the opinion that the grounds communicated to the detenus were hastily and carelessly drawn up and that they must be held to be vague and indefinite.;


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