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Mansoor Shah Khan & Others v/s The State of Telangana rep. by its Principal Secretary Home Department, Secretariat, Hyderabad & Others


Company & Directors' Information:- R J SHAH AND COMPANY LIMITED [Active] CIN = L45202MH1957PLC010986

Company & Directors' Information:- B. B. SHAH PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U17117RJ1984PTC002922

Company & Directors' Information:- D M SHAH & COMPANY PVT LTD [Active] CIN = U29244WB1988PTC045183

Company & Directors' Information:- S B SHAH AND COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U51496DL1991PTC045040

Company & Directors' Information:- H B SHAH PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U36100MH1947PTC005536

Company & Directors' Information:- A H SHAH AND CO PVT LTD [Active] CIN = U51311MH1949PTC007019

Company & Directors' Information:- SHAH AND SHAH PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U33112WB1980PTC032838

Company & Directors' Information:- A D SHAH PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U51909MH1972PTC015715

Company & Directors' Information:- B. SHAH AND COMPANY LIMITED [Dissolved] CIN = U99999MH1952PLC008789

    Writ Petition No. 22980 of 2020

    Decided On, 01 June 2021

    At, High Court of for the State of Telangana

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE K. LAKSHMAN

    For the Petitioners: Valdimeer Khatoon, Advocate. For the Respondents: Learned Government Pleader for Home.



Judgment Text

1. This writ petition is filed to declare the action of the respondents in opening Rowdy Sheet Nos.1284, 1285, 1286 and 1287/RS/ACP-BH/2019 dated 11.12.2019 and continuing the same against the petitioners as illegal and for a consequential direction to the respondents to close the rowdy sheets against the petitioners and not to call them to the police station.2. There are four petitioners in the present writ petition. According to them, they were involved in two cases i.e. Crime No.331 of 2015 pending on the file of Banjara Hills Police Station, Hyderabad for the offences under Sections 447, 427 and 506 read with 34 IPC. The police, after completion of investigation, filed a charge sheet against the petitioners herein for the aforesaid offences and the same was taken on file vide C.C.No.650 of 2017. The said proceedings in C.C.No.650 of 2017 ended in acquittal vide judgment dated 22.02.2018 passed by the learned II Special Magistrate, Hyderabad. No appeal is filed challenging the said judgment and therefore, the said judgment attained finality. The other case is Crime No.926 of 2019 pending on the file of Banjara Hills Police Station for the offences under Sections 307, 448, 147, 148, 506 read with 149 of IPC. The police, after completion of investigation, have filed a charge sheet vide PRC.No.307 of 2020. The same is pending.3. Ms. Vladimeer Khatoon, learned counsel for the petitioners, referring to the said proceedings, would submit that proceedings in C.C.No.650 of 2017 (arising out of Crime No.331 of 2015) ended in acquittal by the learned Special Magistrate Court, Hyderabad. The said judgment attained finality. The petitioners herein are also accused in P.R.C.No.307 of 2020 (arising out of Crime No.926 of 2019) for the offences under Sections 307, 448, 147, 148, 506 read with 149 of IPC, which is pending. As on today, there is only one case pending against the petitioners herein. However, without considering the said fact and also the procedure laid down under the A.P.Police Manual, the respondents have issued the above said rowdy sheets against the petitioners herein and they are continuing the same which is arbitrary, illegal and also contrary to the principles laid down by the Hon’ble Apex Court and this Court in catena of decisions. Learned counsel would further submit that under the guise of opening and continuation of rowdy sheets, the respondents/police are calling the petitioners to the police station and harassing them by making them to wait in the police station for hours together. With the said submissions, learned counsel for the petitioners sought a direction to the respondents to close the above said rowdy sheets opened against the petitioners on 11.12.2019. She has relied on the principles laid down by this Court in the judgments in WP.No.12845 of 2014 dated 27.09.2019 and W.P.No.15050 of 2020 dated 03.11.2020.4. On the other hand, learned Government Pleader for Home referring to the contents of the counter filed by respondent No.5 i.e Station House Officer, Banjara Hills Police Station, would submit that the petitioners were involved in Crime No.331 of 2015 and Crime No.926 of 2019 for the aforesaid offences. However, Crime No.331 of 2015 (arising out of C.C.No.650 of 2017) ended in acquittal. In Crime No.926 of 2019, the police after completion of investigation have filed charge sheet against the petitioners herein vide PRC.No.307 of 2020. The same is pending.5. Learned Government Pleader would further submit that the petitioners herein indulged in criminal trespass with mischief causing damage and threatening and attempt to murder case, thereby created terror in the minds of people and havoc in the area. To curb and curtail the unlawful activities in the vicinity of Banjara Hills Police Station, Hyderabad, after obtaining permission from the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Banjara Hills Division, Hyderabad, respective rowdy sheets have been opened vide Rowdy Sheet Nos.1284, 1285, 1286 and 1287/RS/ACP-BH/2019 dated 11.12.20219 and the same are being continued and renewed from time to time. Referring to Standing Order Nos.601 and 602(2) of the A.P.Police Manual, learned Government Pleader would submit that there is no illegality or irregularity in opening the rowdy sheets against the petitioners herein by respondent No.5. He would further submit that respondent No.5 never called the petitioners to police station during odd hours as alleged in the writ affidavit. The police were patrolling in the areas, including the area where the petitioners reside, since three murders were taken place in the said area. The petitioners are not innocents and they were involved in the above said two crimes. Unless and until a close watch is being maintained to curtail their unlawful activities in the vicinity of Banjara Hills Police Station, Hyderabad City, there is every chance that they may repeat the offences. Except continuation of rowdy sheets as per the Police Manual, respondent No.5 never harassed the petitioners as alleged in the writ affidavit. With the said submissions, learned Government Pleader sought to dismiss the present writ petition.6. In view of the said rival submissions, it is opt to refer to the relevant clauses of the A.P. Police Manual. Maintenance of rowdy sheets is governed by Standing Order 601 of the A.P.Police Manual, Part-I, Volume II which reads as under:-“601. The following persons may be classified as rowdies and Rowdy Sheets (Form 80) may be opened for them under the orders of the SP/DCP and ACP/SDPO.A. Persons who habitually commit, attempt to commit or abet the commission of offences involving a breach of the peace, disturbance to public order and security.B. Persons bound over under Sections 106, 107, 108(1) (i) and 110(e) and (g) of Cr.P.C.C. Persons who have been convicted more than once in two consecutive years under sections 59 and 70 of the Hyderabad City Police Act or under section 3, clause 12, of the AP Towns Nuisances Act.D. Persons who habitually tease women and girls and pass indecent remarks.F. Persons who intimidate by threats or use of physical violence or other unlawful means to part with movable or immovable properties or in the habit of collecting money by extortion from shopkeepers, traders and other residents.G. Persons who incite and instigate communal/caste or political riots.H. Persons detained under the “AP Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Dacoits, Drug Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders and Land-Grabbers Act, 1986” for a period of 6 months or more.I. Persons who are convicted for offences under the Representatives of the Peoples’ Act for rigging and carrying away ballot paper, Boxes and other polling material”’Likewise, the period of retention of history sheets of suspects/rowdies is governed by Standing Order 602, which reads as follows:-“602-1. History Sheets of suspects shall be maintained from the date of registration up to the end of December, after which the orders of a gazetted officer as to their discontinuance or retention for a further period shall be obtained.2. Merely because a suspect/rowdy, having a history sheet, is not figuring as accused in the previous 5 years after the last case in which he was involved, it should not preclude the SP/DCP/CP to continue his history sheet if SP/DCP/CP is of the considered view that his activities are prejudicial to the maintenance of public order or one affecting peace and tranquillity in the area or the victims are not coming forward to give complaint against him on account of threat from him.”Standing Order 742 of A.P. Police Standing Orders deals with the situation as to classification of rowdies and opening of rowdy sheets, which is extracted below:-“742. Rowdies:- (1) The following persons may be classified as rowdies and Rowdy Sheets (Form 88) may be opened for them under the order of the Superintendent of Police or Sub-divisional Officer:(a) persons who habitually commit, attempt to commit or abet the commission of, offences involving a breach of the peace;(b) persons bound over under Sections 106, 107, 108(c) and 110(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Act No.2 of 1974);(c) persons who have been convicted more than once in two consecutive years under Section 75 of the Madras City Police Act or under Section 3, clause 12, of the Towns Nuisances Act;(d) persons who habitually tease women and girls by passing indecent remarks or otherwise; and(e) in the case of rowdies residing in an area under one Police Station but are found to be frequently visiting the area under one or more other Police Stations their rowdy sheets can be maintained at all such Police Stations;(G.O. Ms. No. 656, Home (Police-D) Dept. Dt. 8-4-1971)(2) Instructions in Order 735 regarding discontinuance of History Sheets shall also apply to Rowdy Sheets.”7. According to respondent No.5, the above said proceedings in C.C.No.650 of 2017 ended in acquittal and no appeal is filed against the said judgment and thus, the said judgment attained finality. At present, the proceedings in PRC.No.307 of 2020 alone are pending against all the four petitioners herein. As per Standing Order 601 of the A.P. Police Manual, rowdy sheet can be maintained against persons who habitually commit, attempt to commit or abet the commission of offences involving a breach of peace, disturbance to public order and security.8. The Hon’ble Apex Court had an occasion to deal with the opening of history sheets, continuation of the same and also right to privacy in Kharak Singh v. The State Of U. P. & Others (AIR 1963 SC 1295). In the said case, rowdy sheet was opened against the petitioner therein and the same was continued. Under the guise of surveillance, the police started visiting the house of the petitioner therein against whom rowdy sheet was opened and pending during night hours and they used to torture him. The Hon’ble Apex Court declared the domiciliary visits at night hours as unconstitutional.9. In the case of Vijay Narain Singh v. State of Bihar (AIR 1984 SC 1334), a three Judge Bench of the Hon’ble Apex Court had an occasion to deal with the expression ‘habitually’ and held that the expression ‘habitually’ would mean ‘repeatedly’ or ‘persistently’ implying a thread of continuity, stringing together similar repetitive acts, and a single act or omission would not characterize an act as ‘habitual’. The Hon’ble Apex Court was of the opinion that to qualify as a ‘habit’, a person must have grown accustomed to leading a life of crime, whereby it would be a force of habit, inherent or latent, in an individual with a criminal instinct, with a criminal disposition of mind, that makes him dangerous to society in general.10. In another case of Dhanji Ram Sharma v. Superintendent of Police, North District, Delhi Police (AIR 1966 SC 1766), a three Judge Bench of the Hon’ble Apex Court held that the condition precedent for opening of a history sheet is that such person should be reasonably believed to be habitually addicted to crime or to be an aider or abettor of crime. In order to justify the opening of a history sheet, the Hon’ble Supreme Court opined that the police officer must have a reasonable belief based on reasonable grounds.11. In Sunkara Satyanarayana v. State of Andhra Pradesh (2000(1) ALD (Crl.) 117 (AP) a learned Single Judge was concerned with the maintenance of history sheets/rowdy sheets for considerably long periods of time and held that the same would not only violate the right of privacy but also other fundamental rights of such persons under Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution of India. Orders for opening or retention of history sheets/rowdy sheets should be passed under administrative instructions and guidelines and if such orders are challenged, the competent authority has to place the reasons before the Court justifying the opening/retention of such history sheets/rowdy sheets. It would be better for the police officer concerned to record his own reasons for opening/retention of history sheets/rowdy sheets.12. In B. Satyanarayana Reddy v. State of Andhra Pradesh (2004(1) ALD (Crl.) 387 (AP), a Division Bench held that the expressions ‘habitually commit’, ‘attempt to commit’ and ‘abet the commission’ of offences indicate the requirement that atleast ‘two or more cases’ have bee been registered against the person concerned to characterize him as a person who habitually commits, attempts to or abets the commission of offences. It was further held that involvement of a person in a solitary case would not be enough to classify such person as ‘habitually’ committing offences. With the said finding, the Division Bench held that solitary instance in which the appellant therein was alleged to be involved in could not constitute the basis to classify him as a ‘rowdy.’13. In another case in Majid Babu v. Government of A.P. (1987(2) ALT 904), it was held that two instances of involvement in criminal cases would not make a person a ‘habitual offender’ and that atleast more than two instances should be present before a person can be described as a habitual offender.14. In Kamma Bapuji v. Station House Officer, Brahmasamudram (1997 (6) ALD 583), wherein the persons in whose names rowdy sheets were opened were involved in two cases but they were acquitted in both, it was sought to be contended on behalf of the police authorities that the rowdy sheets were opened during the pendency of the cases and that acquittal therein would be of no consequence thereafter. While dealing with the said facts of the said case, the learned Judge rejected the said contention and held that rowdy sheets could not be opened in a casual and mechanical manner and a person could not be dubbed a ‘habitual offender’ merely because he was involved in two criminal cases.15. In Puttagunta Pasi v. Commissioner of Police, Vijayawada (1998(3) ALT 55 (DB), a Division Bench confirmed the said principle holding that a rowdy sheet could not be opened against an individual in a casual and mechanical manner and due care and caution should be taken by the police before characterizing a person as a rowdy. The Division Bench expressed agreement with the view taken by the learned Single Judge in Kamma Bapuji’s case (7 supra) that figuring as an accused in two crimes would not be sufficient to categorise a person as a ‘habitual offender’.16. In Mohammed Quadeer v. Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad (1999(3) ALD 60), it was held that A.P.Police Standing Orders were not statutory in nature and were only a compilation of government orders issued from time to time and they therefore did not invest the police officers with any powers of arrest, detention, investigation of crimes etc. not specifically conferred under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, or other enactments. As regards retention of a rowdy sheet, it was held that opening of a rowdy sheet against a citizen was undoubtedly fraught with serious consequences and the right to reputation under Article 21 of the Constitution could not be deprived except in accordance with the procedure established by law. The law which authorizes the police to open rowdy sheets and exercise surveillance would have to be very strictly construed.17. In Yerramsetti Venugopal Rao v. State of Andhra Pradesh and others (2020(2) ALD (Crl.) 1048 (AP), a learned Single Judge of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh at Amaravathi referring to the above said provisions of the A.P.Police Manual and the principles laid down in the above said judgments held that history sheet of a rowdy can be continued (i) if his activities are prejudicial to the maintenance of public order or affecting peace and tranquility in the area; and (ii) the victims are not coming forward to give complaint against him on account of threat from him.18. In W.P.No.19194 of 2012 dated 24.08.2015, by referring to the above said provisions of the A.P. Police Manual and also the principles laid down in the aforesaid judgments, it was held that the requirement of involvement in atleast more than two cases for inferring that he was a habitual offender was not established. The opening of the rowdy sheet in the name of the petitioner therein was therefore tainted in law in its very inception. Therefore, continuation of the said rowdy sheet by the police authorities ignoring the law laid down by this Court as well as the Supreme Court cannot be sustained. Accordingly, with the said finding, the respondents therein were directed to close the rowdy sheet being maintained in the name of the petitioner therein.19. In another judgment in W.P.No.18364 of 2020 dated 03.12.2020, a learned Judge of this Court, after referring to the principle laid down by the Hon’ble Apex Court in Vijay Narain Singh’s case (2 supra) and also referring to the Police Standing Orders supra, it was held that it is impermissible to the police to open a rowdy sheet if police are of the view that the petitioner is habitually committing offences/abetting commission of offence involving breach of peace, disturbance to the public order and security. In the said case, the petitioner has involved in five cases and he has been facing trial in the said cases Referring to the facts of the said case, it was held that it cannot be said that the action of the police in opening rowdy sheet amounts to abuse or misuse of power and authority, and cannot be said as one made in illegal exercise of power and without application of mind.20. In W.P.No.12845 of 2014 dated 27.09.2019, wherein the petitioner has involved in only one case for the offence under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC and by relying on the principles laid down by the Hon’ble Apex Court and this Court in catenae of decisions, it was held that opening of rowdy sheet and continuation of the same thereafter was in violation of the life and liberty as guaranteed to the petitioner therein under the provisions of the Constitution of India as well as contrary to the law laid down by this Court and the Hon’ble Apex Court.21. Learned Government Pleader for Home, referring to the principle laid down by the Madras High Court in the case of G.Raman Alias Ramachandran v. The Superintendent Of Police, Karur District and others (2013 Crl.LJ 2746) wherein it was held that in public interest, the Police has got a right to disseminate information, concerning law and order, and crime. Display or publication of a photograph of a History Sheeted Rowdy, may be contended to infringe upon a person's right, in so far as it affects his identity, reputation in the minds of others, but at the same time, public interest would prevail over private interest, would submit that respondent No.5 has rightly opened the rowdy sheets against the petitioners and is continuing the same in the interest of public. According to him, there is no illegality.22. In view of the law laid down by this Court and the Hon’ble Apex Court in the above said judgments, coming to the facts on hand, as discussed supra, admittedly, the petitioners herein were involved in the above said two cases. C.C.No.650 of 2017 (arising out of Crime No.331 of 2015) for offences under Sections 447, 427, 506 read with 34 IPC ended in acquittal. No appeal was filed against the said judgment. Thus, the said judgment attained finality. Another case i.e PRC.No.307 of 2020 (arising out of Crime No.926 of 2019) for offences under Sections 307, 448, 147, 148, 506 read with 149 IPC is pending against the petitioners herein. Thus, as on today, only one case is pending against the petitioners herein. According to respondent No.5, to curb and curtail the unlawful activities of the petitioners herein in the vicinity of Banjara Hills Police Station, Hyderabad, after obtaining permission from the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Banjara Hills Division, Hyderabad, the above said rowdy sheets were opened against the petitioners herein and the same are being continued in view of public interest.23. As stated above, as per Standing Order 601 of the A.P. Police Manual, for opening and maintenance of rowdy sheet, a person against whom the same was issued should habitually commit, attempt to commit or abet the commission of offences involving a breach of peace, disturbance to public order and security. Further, as held by the Hon’ble Apex Court in Vijay Narain Singh’s case (2 supra), the expression ‘habitually’ would mean ‘repeatedly’ or ‘persistently’ implying a thread of continuity, stringing together similar repetitive acts, and a single act or omission would not characterize an act as ‘habitual’. The Hon’ble Apex Court was of the opinion that to qualify as a ‘habit’, a person must have grown accustomed to leading a life

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of crime, whereby it would be a force of habit, inherent or latent, in an individual with a criminal instinct, with a criminal disposition of mind, that makes him dangerous to society in general. In Majid Babu’s case (6 supra), by referring to Standing Order No.742, it was held that two instances of involvement in criminal cases would not make a person a ‘habitual offender’ and that atleast more than two instances should be present before a person can be described as a habitual offender. Rowdy sheet could not be opened against an individual in a casual and mechanical manner and due care and caution should be taken by the police before characterizing a person as a rowdy. Figuring as an accused in two cases would not be sufficient to characterize a person as a habitual offender.24. In view of the above said law laid down and in view of the above said discussion, the petitioners herein were involved in the above said two crimes. One crime has ended in acquittal. As on today, only one case i.e PRC.No.307 of 2020 is pending against the petitioners herein. Thus, the requirement of involvement of in atleast more than two cases for inferring that the petitioners were habitual offenders was not established. Thus opening of rowdy sheets in the name of the petitioners is therefore contrary to the procedure laid down under A.P. Police Manual and procedure laid down in the Judgments supra.25. As held in Yerramsetti Venugopal Rao’s case (supra), rowdy sheet can be continued (i) if his activities are prejudicial to the maintenance of public order or affecting peace and tranquility in the area; and (ii) the victims are not coming forward to give complaint against him on account of threat from him. In the counter filed by respondent No.5, lacks the said grounds. Therefore, continuation of the said rowdy sheets by the police authorities ignoring the law laid down by this Court as well as the Hon’ble Apex Court in the judgments cited supra cannot be sustained.26. Therefore, the writ petition is allowed and the respondents are directed to close the rowdy sheets being maintained in the names of the petitioners on the file of Banjara Hills Police Station, Hyderabad. There shall be no order as to costs.27. As a sequel, the miscellaneous petitions pending, if any, shall stand closed.
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