The Gujarat High Court has observed that unless and until, the material is there to make out a case that the person has become a threat and menace to the Society so as to disturb the whole tempo of the society and that all social apparatus is in peril disturbing public order at the instance of such person, it cannot be said that the detenue is a person within the meaning of section 2(b) of the Gujarat Prevention of Anti Social Activities Act, 1985.
The Division Bench of Justice Vipul M. Pancholi and Justice Hemant M. Prachchhak quashed a detention order while allowing a Petition against the order of detention dated 21.11.2022 passed by the respondent – detaining authority in exercise of powers conferred under section 3(2) of the Gujarat Prevention of Anti Social Activities Act, 1985 by detaining the petitioner – detenue as defined under section 2(b) of the Act.
Having heard learned advocates for the parties and considering the facts and circumstances of the case, the Court noted that the subjective satisfaction arrived at by the detaining authority cannot be said to be legal, valid and in accordance with law, inasmuch as the offences alleged in the FIRs cannot have any baring on the public order as required under the Act and other relevant penal laws are sufficient enough to take care of the situation and that the allegations as have been levelled against the detenue cannot be said to be germane for the purpose of bringing the detenue within the meaning of section 2(b) of the Act.
Except general statements, there is no material on record which shows that the detenue is acting in such a manner, which is dangerous to the public order.
In this connection, the High Court referred to a decision of the Supreme Court in Pushker Mukherjee v/s. State of West Bengal [AIR 1970 SC 852], where the distinction between ‘law and order’ and ‘public order’ has been clearly laid down.
The Court observed as follows :
“Does the expression “public order” take in every kind of infraction of order or only some categories thereof ? It is manifest that every act of assault or injury to specific persons does not lead to public disorder. When two people quarrel and fight and assault each other inside a house or in a street, it may be said that there is disorder but not public disorder.
Such cases are dealt with under the powers vested in the executive authorities under the provisions of ordinary criminal law but the culprits cannot be detained on the ground that they were disturbing public order. The contravention of any law always affects order but before it can be said to affect public order, it must affect the community or the public at large. In this connection we must draw a line of demarcation between serious and aggravated forms of disorder which directly affect the community or injure the public interest and the relatively minor breaches of peace of a purely local significance that primarily injure specific individuals and only in a secondary sense public interest. A mere disturbance of law and order leading to disorder is thus not necessarily sufficient for action under the Preventive Detention Act but a disturbance which will affect public order comes within the scope of the Act.”
In the recent decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Shaik Nazeen v/s. State of Telanga and Ors and Syed Sabeena v/s. State of Telangana and Ors. rendered in Criminal Appeal No.908 of 2022 (@ SLP (Crl.) No.4260 of 2022 with Criminal Appeal No.909 of 2022 (@ SLP (Crl.) No.4283 of 2022 dated 22.06.2022, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has made following observations in para 17 and 18 :-
“17. In any case, the State is not without a remedy, as in case the detenu is much a menace to the society as is being alleged, then the prosecution should seek for the cancellation of his bail and/or move an appeal to the Higher Court. But definitely seeking shelter under the preventive detention law is not the proper remedy under the facts and circumstances of the case.
18. In fact, in a recent decision of this Court, the Court had to make an observation regarding the routine and unjustified use of the Preventive Detention Law in the State of Telangana. This has been done in the case of Mallada K. Sri Ram Vs. The State of Telangana & Ors. 2022 6 SCALE 50, it was stated as under: “17.It is also relevant to note, that in the last five years, this Court has quashed over five detention orders under the Telangana Act of 1986 for inter alia incorrectly applying the standard for maintenance of public orderand relying on stale materials while passing the orders of detention. At least ten detention orders under the Telangana Act of 1986 have been set aside by the High Court of Telangana in the last one year itself.
These numbers evince a callous exercise of the exceptional power of preventive detention by the detaining authorities and the respondent state. We direct the respondents to take stock of challenges to detention orders pending before the Advisory Board, High Court and Supreme Court and evaluate the fairness of the detention order against lawful standards.”
In view of above, the High Court was inclined to allow the petition, because simplicitor registration of FIRs by itself cannot have any nexus with the breach of maintenance of public order and the authority cannot have recourse under the Act and no other relevant and cogent material exists for invoking power under section 3(2) of the Act.