In a single judge bench judgement of the Allahabad High Court comprising of Justice JJ Munir, the orders made by the District Magistrate was set aside. The order was one externing the petitioner under the provisions of Sec. 3(3) of the Uttar Pradesh Control of Goondas Act, 1970. An appellate approval of such externment order as had been passed by the Commissioner of Agra Division was also challenged in the petition of the case Pawan Kumar v. State of UP and Ors.
Such petition was allowed by the Hon’ble High Court of Allahabad and consequently, the impugned order of the District Magistrate and the Commissioner was quashed.
In arriving at such award of judgement, the Court kept in mind the consequence of the declaration of a person as a Goonda by a judicial forum and how it might affect the social stand of the person in question.
The petitioner, who is a businessman by profession had a single case registered against him under various sections of the Indian Penal Code viz., Section 364A (Kidnapping for ransom, etc.), 302 (Punishment for murder), Section 404 (Dishonest misappropriation of property possessed by deceased person at the time of his death), Section 201(Causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender) and Section120B (Punishment of criminal conspiracy).
The date of registration of such case was the 24th of August, 2016, when he was also booked by implicating him in a consequential case under the provisions of Section 2 and 3 of The Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986.
After the first hearing which was conducted on the 11th of June, 2019, the case was adjourned to the 4th of July, 2019 when the Court granted to the State a time period of four weeks to file a counter affidavit, which turned out to be a failure on the part of the State. After a cycle of grant of time period to file such counter affidavits to justify their stance of opposition to the allowing of such petition to the Court.
The State claimed such petition to be infructuous, as well the externment order (an order to restrict a person to reside in a place of their choice) which was ordered by the Hon’ble Court to be in operation for a period of six weeks.
The Court supported the concerns raised by the petitioner in the argument and considered the detrimental impact that the declaration by the Court that a person is a Goonda might have on his fame, repute and social stand. The Court also referred to the landmark case of Subramanian Swamy v. Union of India, Ministry of Law & Others (2016) 7 SCC 221, in the judgement of which it was held that the Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India enveloped the Right to Reputation, which might be hampered in case the repute of a person is defiled.
The Court consequently held that “A goonda is the anti-thesis of what a respectable or honourable man is. An externment order, which, thus, works as an innate declaration about the man externed being a goonda, is irreversibly ruinous of his reputation. It has been said time over again that reputation once lost can never been redeemed. The physical consequences of an externment order that last only for a period of six months, with the limited effect of abridgment of some liberty, are trivial when compared to the timeless consequence of ruining a reputation, that can perhaps never be regained.”
The Court noticed that the petitioner in this case has not been convicted of any offence under any laws, and therefore quashed the impugned order.
The Court observed, “every man has a right to his reputation and good name in society. Every person is presumed to be an honourable and respectable man, unless that presumption is dislodged in accordance with law. Therefore, dubbing some citizen as a goonda and externing him under the Act of 1970, is an act that would afford a cause of action to the person who suffers that order, which enures beyond its physical consequences. In the opinion of this Court, it would not be a sound legal proposition to say that a man may suffer the slur of being called a goonda, because he could not bring the order of externment passed against him to test within the term of its life. In the opinion of this Court, the petitioner is entitled to question the externment order, notwithstanding that order outrunning its life.”
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