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Hafiz Mohd. Liaqat v/s Delhi Administration and Another

    Crl. Writ No. 148 of 1990

    Decided On, 19 July 1990

    At, High Court of Delhi

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE P.K. BAHRI

    For the Appearing Parties : D.S. Bhardwaj, R.P. Lao, Advocates.



Judgment Text

P.K. BAHRI, J.


1.This petition has been brought under Article 226 of the Constitution of India read with Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure seeking quashment of the detention order dated January 30, 1990, passed under Section 3(1) of the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974, with a view to preventing the petitioner from smuggling goods and also from engaging in transporting, concealing and keeping smuggled goods.


2. The learned Counsel for the petitioner has urged only two points in support of the petition. It has been urged that there has occurred an undue and unexplained delay in passing the order of detention when as a matter of fact the occurrence took place on May 14, 1989, whereas the detention order was actually passed on January 30, 1990 and thus, nexus between the object of passing the detention order and the prejudicial activity of the petitioner stood snapped. He has urged that it was a case of solitary incident and thus, the detaining authority was not right in reaching the subjective satisf

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action that it was a fit case for passing the detention order. In support of his contention the learned Counsel for the petitioner has placed reliance on a judgment of a Division Bench of this Court in Criminal Writ No. 100/84, Suresh Chand Srivastava v. Union of India and Others, passed on November 15, 1984 and a judgment of a Single Bench of this Court in Criminal Writ No. 384/89, Ranjit Singh Gabba v. Union of India and Others, passed on February 2, 1990. In order to appreciate this contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner it is necessary to refer to the facts of the case. The grounds of detention show that the petitioner had arrived from Dubai by air at the IGI Airport on May 14, 1989 and as he was going out of the Customs Arrival Hall he was intercepted by the Customs Officer near the Exit Gate and was asked whether he was carrying any contraband like gold, wrist watches etc. in his baggage or on his person to which the petitioner replied in negative and on suspicion he was detained and in presence of two independent witnesses his baggage and his person were searched and his baggage was also screened through the screening machine which showed, that there had been concealment of some high density metal in knuckles of the handles of the suit-cases and thus, the knuckles of the handles of the said suit-cases of the petitioner were opened with the help of screw driver which resulted in the recovery of 30 cut pieces of gold of different sizes and on weighment the same was found to be 603 grams of 24 carats purity having the market value of Rs. 1, 91, 754. The said gold was seized under Section 110 of the Customs Act and on interrogation the petitioner made a voluntary statement in which he admitted this recovery of gold from his suit-cases and stated that the said gold was concealed in the knuckles of the handles of the suitcases by his brother and he was to utilise all this gold in connection with the marriage of his daughter and a part of the gold was to be given to brother's wife and that he had been to Dubai three or four times earlier also to meet his brother and it was only for the first time that he has brought gold knowing very well that law in India does not permit import of gold in this manner. The scrutiny of the passport of the petitioner indicated that in 1987, he visited Dubai twice for very short period of five days on first occasion and for two days on the second occasion and in 1988 he visited Dubai five times for two to three days each time and in 1989 he had visited Dubai only once for two days.


3. On the basis of the aforesaid facts, the detaining authority reached the conclusion that the petitioner has the inclination in the matter of smuggling goods and also engaging in transporting, concealing and keeping smuggled goods and unless he is detained he is likely to indulge in similar prejudicial activities in future. It is pertinent to mention that the petitioner was released on bail and thereafter the detention order was passed. The bail was granted on June 12, 1989. The detention order was passed on January 30, 1990 and the same was executed on February 8, 1990. In the counter-affidavit filed by Shri A.S. Dagar, Deputy Secretary, Delhi Administration, it has been mentioned that necessary proposal for passing the detention order against the petitioner was received from the Customs Department on 21/24th November 1989 and thereafter it was examined by the Screening Committee on December 20, 1989, along with 18 other proposals sponsored by the Customs Department and thereafter the Screening Committee recommended the detention of the petitioner and also some other persons and thereafter the steps were taken to formulate the draft grounds of detention against all those persons which took some time as translation of some documents were to be carried out. It was also mentioned that some fresh material was also received from the Customs Department vide their letters dated December 21, 1989 and also January 2, 1990, which was also in corporated in the grounds of detention after getting the same translated. It is true that no explanation had been given as to why the Customs Department took about five months in sponsoring the proposal for detention of the petitioner. So, the question which arises for consideration is whether the unexplained delay caused in passing the detention order in the present case vitiates the detention order or not. It is not necessary to refer to earlier judgments of the Supreme Court on this question inasmuch as the law has been now well settled as pronounced in the case of Rajender Kumar Natwarlal Shah v. State of Gujarat and Others, 1988 (94) CRLJ 1775, 1988 AIR(SC) 1255, 1991 (70) CC 549, 1988 (2) Crimes 729, 1988 CrLR(SC) 476, 1988 (2) JT 409, 1988 (1) Scale 915, 1988 (3) SCC 153, 1988 SCC(Cr) 575, 1988 (S1) SCR 287, and reiterated in Abdu Salam v. Union of India, 1990 (48) ELT 162, 1990 AIR(SC) 1446, 1990 (3) Crimes 82, 1990 CAR 189, 1990 (96) CrLJ 1502, 1990 CrLR(SC) 405, 1990 (3) JT 74, 1990 (S1) Scale 31, 1990 (3) SCC 15, 1990 SCC(Cr) 451, 1990 (2) SCR 517, that mere delay in passing the detention order is not fatal unless the court finds that the grounds have become stale or illusory and there is no real nexus between the grounds and the detention. In the case of Suresh Cnavd (supra) the detenu had visited the foreign countries only twice and it was a case of solitary incident. The Division Bench came to the conclusion that from the facts no inference is possible that the detenu had been indulging in prejudicial activities on previous visits also and thus, the detention order was quashed. Facts of that case are distinguishable from the facts of this case.


4. Similarly, in the case of Ranjit Singh (supra) there were four previous visits of the detenu of short durations. The detenu was found to have brought gold biscuits concealed in his rectum. The court found that there had occurred unexplained delay in passing the detention order, the nexus between the object of passing the detention order and the alleged prejudicial activity of the petitioner stood snapped. It was found as a fact that the detenu had not indulged in any prejudicial activity after being released on bail and from the four previous visits it was not possible to infer that the detenu had been indulging in prejudicial activity on previous visits as well. In the present case it is to be remembered that the petitioner in his statement referred to only three previous visits to Dubai whereas his passport has shown seven such previous visits of short durations. The reason given by the deteun of making so frequent visits to Dubai was on the face of it not convincing that he had been visiting Dubai again and again for short periods only to meet his brother. So, it is a question of fact in each case in order to determine whether a particular detenu has the propensity to indulge in prejudicial activities or not. Here the fact that the gold has been concealed in knuckles of the handles of the suit-cases and the fact that the petitioner has been visiting Dubai quite frequently without giving any good reason for those short visits cumulatively could lead to inference that he had been indulging in prejudicial activity of smuggling gold previously as well. A similar case came up for consideration before this Court in Crl.W. No. 52/90, Joga Singh v. U.O.I., decided on April 6, 1990. That was also a case of solitary incident of recovery of gold pieces concealed in transformer and motor portion of the electric fan. The detenu had visited Singapore 14 times previously for short durations and had not given any good reason for such visits. There had occurred some unexplained delay in passing the detention order and this Court came to the conclusion that the detention order was not vitiated inasmuch as the object for passing the detention order had not become stale or nexus had not snapped. Facts of the present case are somewhat similar to the facts mentioned in the case of Joga Singh (supra). So, I hold that it cannot be said that on account of unexplained delay occurring in passing the detention order the object of passing the detention order has become stale or the nexus has broken. I, hence, negative this contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner.


5. The learned Counsel for the petitioner has then urged there has occurred no-application of mind by the detaining authority inasmuch as one of the documents relied upon by the detaining authority for passing the detention order i.e. sanction granted for filing the complaint under the Customs Act against the petitioner did not bear any date or the signatures of the sanctioning authority. In support of his contention he has placed reliance on Diwan Singh Verma v. U.O.I. and Ors., 1988 (2) Del 197. In the case of Diwan Singh (supra) there was one document which was blank on which the detaining authority has placed reliance and the court came to the conclusion that the same amounted to non-application of mind by the detaining authority which vitiated the detention order. The case a blank document cannot be put at same par with sanction letter which is undated or unsigned. In Criminal Writ No. 346/89, Ravinder Kumar v. Administration of Delhi decied on February 8, 1990, by a Single Bench of this Court, such a contention was negatived when it was found that certain blanks were left in a particular document regarding the weighment of the gold with regard to extent of its purity. In my view, it cannot be held that mere fact that the sanction letter inadvertently was not dated or signed would show non-application of mind by the detaining authority to the material relied upon. Hence, I negative this contention as well.


6. No other point has been urged before me.


7. Hence, I find no merit in this petition which I, hereby dismiss and the rule is discharged
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