BACKGROUND OF THE CASE
- Banka Ravikanth was detained under the Telangana Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act 1986, by the orders of Cyber Police Commissioner in September 2020.
- This was after he had secured bail in five criminal cases in which he was accused of cheating, criminal breach of trust and criminal intimidation under Sections 420, 406 and 506 under the Indian Penal Code.
- The Telangana Police had given the reasons that Banka Ravikanth’s detention was necessary because there was every possibility that he would commit similar offences, which would again certainly affect public order.
- When this matter went to the Telangana High Court, which ruled on a petition by Ravikanth’s wife Banka Sneha Sheela, the Court agreed with this argument and rejected her petition in March, 2020.
ARGUMENTS BY THE ADVOCATES
- Advocate Gaurav Agarwal, appearing for the petitioner, argued that the detention order was issued in December 2019, which is nine months after the last FIR registered and it shows no proximate connection between the acts complained and the ground for detention.
- Advocate Ranjit Kumar, representing the State Government, submitted that Ravikanth had been a habitual fraudster who likes to create fear amongst the gullible public.
- As there was every possibility that he would he commit similar offences in future, it was important to take necessary steps and preventively detain him as there was no deterrent available under any other law.
ORDER OF THE COURT
- The Court ordered the immediate release of Ravikanth as he has been held for 10 months.
- The Supreme Court held that a person cannot be detained on a possible apprehension of breach of law and order under Preventive Detention Laws.
- The bench headed by Justice RF Nariman stated that mere contravention of law like indulging in cheating or criminal breach of trust certainly affects 'law and order' but it must also affect the community or the public at large, before it can be said to affect 'public order'.
- Justice Hrishikesh Roy while quashing a detention order passed against a person under Telangana Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act, 1986 observed that, a Preventive Detention Order can only be passed if those activities adversely affect or are apprehended to adversely affect the maintenance of public order.
- The Court recalled the definition of public order as it is defined in the Explanation to Section 2(a) of the Telangana Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act, to be harm, danger, alarm, to create a feeling of insecurity among the general public or any grave widespread danger to life or public health.
OBSERVATION OF THE COURT
- Here the Bench observed that the expressions 'law and order', 'public order’, and 'security of state' are entirely different from one another.
- Public disorder results in ‘public order’.
- After a close reading of the Detention Order, it is clear that the reason for the said Order is not any apprehension of widespread public harm, danger or alarm but the fact that the Detenu had got the anticipatory bail/bail from the Courts in each of the previous five FIRs that were against him.
- The Court referred to the judgement of Madhu Limaye v. Sub-Divisional Magistrate, and observed that preventive detention is a necessary evil as it prevents public disorder.
- Explaining its order, the Court said that the reason for not adopting a narrow meaning of 'public order' is because of the expression "in the interests of" which occurs to Article 19(2) to 19(4) and it is taken into consideration only when a law is challenged for being unconstitutional and for being violative of Article 19 of the Indian Constitution.
- Thus, the impugned judgement quashed the detention order, allowed the appeal and freed the Detenue forthwith.
DO YOU THINK THE DETENUE SHOULD HAVE BEEN FREED?