Decided on November 09,1949

CROWN Respondents


- (1.) THIS judgment will deal with three petitions under Section 491, Criminal P. C. , Or. Misc. nos. 252, 253 and 254 of 1949. All the three petitions have been filed by one person, Mr. Virendra Kumar Tripathi, on behalf of three different persona who have been placed under detention by the Delhi authorities, namely, Mr. Mohammad Yamin, his wife Mrs. Sara Yamin, and Professor Yag Datt Sharma. All these persons were originally arrested and placed under detention by orders of the Deputy Commissioner of Delhi under Section 3, Punjab Public Safety Act of 1947 as extended to the Province of Delhi and the period of their detention has been subsequently extended by the Chief Commissioner of Delhi under Section 3, East Punjab Public Safety Act of 1949 which has also been extended to the Province of Delhi. In each case the petitioner has alleged that the detention of these persona is illegal on various grounds. In none of the petitions has Mr. Virendra Kumar Tripathi disclosed that he has any connection of any kind with or any sort of authority to act on behalf of any of the persona on whose behalf he has filed the petitions and when they came up for hearing on 23/9/949 before Soni, J. , the learned Advocate-General raised the preliminary objection in all the petitions that the petitioner was merely a busy body interfering in other peoples' affairs and that he had no locus standi to file these petitions on behalf of the detenus. In this connection, he relied on certain observations of Achhru Ram J. in the case reported as In re Hardial Singh A. I. R. (36) 1949 E. p. 130 : 50 Cr. L. J. 370 and also some English decisions cited under para. 1229 at p. 721 in vol. 9 of Edn. 2 of Halsbury's Laws of England. In the circumstances, Soni J. decided that the question should be referred to a larger Bench and the petitions have accordingly been referred to us for disposal.
(2.) SECTION 491, Criminal P. C. , itself does not appear to place any restrictions at all on the method by which the High Court is to be invoked to use its powers under the section, since the opening words of Sub-section (1) are : "any High Court may, whenever it thinks fit, direct. " It is contended by the learned Counsel for the petitioner that no language could be wider than this and that as far as the section itself goes the High Court can be moved to act under the section by anybody whatsoever and he has drawn our attention to the difference between the language in Section 491 and that used in the sections of the Code under which the High Court is to be moved in matters of appeal, revision and transfer. Section 419 deals with appeals and clearly provides that every appeal shall be made in the form of a petition in writing presented by the appellant or his pleader. The language used in Section 435 regarding revisions is wider, the relevant words being: The High Court. . . . may call for and examine the record of any proceedings, before an; inferior criminal Court. . . . for the purpose of satisfying itself as to the correctness, legality or propriety of any finding, sentence or order. . . In Section 526 relating to transfers the relevant Sub-section is (3) which reads: The High Court may act either on the report of the lower Court, or on the application of a party interested, or on its own initiative. It is also contended that such oases as deal specifically with Section 491 of the Code also support the right of the present petitioner to bring the petitions.
(3.) IN Ramji Lal v. The Crown 1948-60 P. L. B. 325 : A. I. R. (86) 1949 E. P. 67 : 50 Cr. L. J. 971 F. B. the question of who can present a petition under Section 491, Criminal P. C. , was not among the questions referred to the Full Bench consisting of Mehr Chand Mahajan, Teja Singh and Khosla JJ , but at p. 234 Mahajan J. , who wrote the main judgment observed as follows: By the very nature of the jurisdiction and the purpose for which it exists it is apparent that a writ could be issued whenever it became necessary to set at liberty a person who had been illegally detained and in exercising this jurisdiction the Judge could not bo hampered by rules of practice however sound and salutary they may be, 'whatever may be the state of English Law on the subject so far as Section 491, Criminal P. C. is concerned, it has been very widely worded and confers jurisdiction on the Court to issue directions whenever it thinks fit. The Court may be moved by the prisoner or by some relation of his, or it may act sun motu if it acquires knowledge that a certain person baa been Illegally detained. The mode and manner in which the Judge has to be satisfied cannot affect the jurisdiction conferred on him under Section 491, Criminal P. C. ;

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