Decided on July 10,1950

HARI SINGH Appellant
THE STATE Respondents


Passey, J. - (1.) BY his order dated 19th of April 1950, the learned Chief Justice referred the following two points of law, (1) whether the Preventive Detention Act of 1950 (No. IV [4] of 1950) is intra vires of the Indian Parliament and (ii) whether it is open to a detaining authority to make an order of detention on the ground that the person sought to be detained has committed an offence, to this Bench, as it was deemed necessary to do so in view of their importance and of the conflict in pronouncements by different High Courts in India and of the fact that they have been raised in several cases and are likely to arise in future.
(2.) HARI Singh Petitioner was arrested on the 27th of Magher, 2006 under Section 3 of the Patiala & East Punjab States Union Public Safety Ordinance of 2006 (No. VII [7] of 2006) because he was harbouring dacoits, providing them with meals and information of contemplated police raids and of thus facilitating the commission of dacoities and frustrating police efforts to arrest the dacoits. On 29 -9 -2006, he moved this Court under Section 491, Code of Criminal Procedure contending that his detention was outside the purview of the provisions of Section 3 and that no report of his arrest and detention had been made to the State Government and that he had not been informed of his right to make a representation. It was also urged by him that the order of his detention was vindictive and had no bona fides behind it. These allegations were being investigated and on 30 -12 -1949 he was enlarged on bail. On 3 -12 -2006 the Court was informed that fresh orders for the arrest and detention of Hari Singh under Section 3 of the Preventive Detention Act of 1950 had been made by His Highness the Raj Pramukh on 28 -2 -1950. In view of that order the application became infructuous and was, therefore, dismissed. A fresh application under Section 491, Code of Criminal Procedure containing a prayer for a writ of habeas corpus upon the State so that the applicant who is alleged to be unlawfully detained in the Patiala Central Jail may be set at liberty, was submitted on his behalf on 3 -12 -2006 and the validity of the order under Section 3 of the Preventive Detention Act of 1950 was impugned. The reference has arisen out of that application and the same points are also involved in Misc. Application No. 201 of 2006 (Munshi v. State) and No. 202 of 2006 (Kaur Singh v. State). In view of the judgment of the Supreme Court of India in A.K. Gopalan v. State of Madras decided on the 19th of May 1950, no decision of the question as to whether the Indian Legislature could validly enact the Preventive Detention Act of 1950 should not be called for as the law declared by that Court is binding on all Courts within the territory of India. It has been held by the Supreme Court in the case above mentioned that Act IV [4] of 1950 except Section 14 thereof is not outside the constitutional powers of the Parliament and is, therefore, a valid law of the country.
(3.) THE Preamble of the Act (No. 1950) and its nomenclature indicate that the object with which this law was passed was to provide for preventive detention in certain cases and matters connected therewith. Section 3 confers powers on the Central Government or the State Government, to direct a person to be detained in case it is satisfied that with a view to preventing him from acting in any manner that may be prejudicial to: (i) The defence of India, the relations of India with foreign powers or the security of India, or (ii) the security of the State or the maintenance of Public order, or (iii) the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community; it is necessary so to do. Detention under orders of the same authority is also permitted if that authority is satisfied that with a view to regulating his continued presence in India or with a view to making arrangements for his expulsion from India it is necessary to detain a person who is a foreigner within the meaning of the Foreigners Act, 1946 (XXXI [31] of 1946). Powers conferred by Sub -section (1) are exercisable in cases covered by Sub -clauses (ii) and (iii) of Clause (a) also by District Magistrates, Sub -Divisional Magistrates and Commissioners of Police in Presidency Towns. The Legislature in making this law has conferred upon the Central Government, the State Governments and the officers mentioned in Clause (2) of Section 3, the discretion in appropriate cases, falling within their competency, to enforce it. Section 3 does not prescribe or set out any hard or fast rules providing a guide to Courts to determine whether the order of detention is in conformity with what the section contemplates and the words 'if satisfied appear to grant an unfettered discretion to the competent authority to exercise the powers conferred by the section if he is satisfied of the necessity of making an order of detention. So far as the 'satisfaction' of the detaining authority goes, it need not be based on legal or admissible evidence and it may not be based on as abundant or credible a material as would ordinarily be required to be produced before a Court when a person is put up for judicial trial. Even meagre or hearsay information or strong suspicion can suffice to be an adequate ground for satisfaction but the basis of the satisfaction at the hands of the detaining authority must not be such that no reasonable person or person of ordinary prudence would be satisfied that the person sought to be detained, would act in a manner prejudicial to public safety or Public tranquillity. In the latter class of cases there would be justification for inferring want of good faith on the part of the Government and Courts would not hesitate to declare the detention illegal.;

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