Gujarat HC: Not Wearing a Mask and Getting Into an Altercation With Police Doesn’t Constitute an Act Against Public Order

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A petition was filed by a man detained (detenue) as a “dangerous person” under the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act, 1985 (PASA) against the order of the District Magistrate. Gujarat High Court allowed the petition and demanded the release of the detained person.

Facts of the Case

A petition was filed against the order of detention passed by the District Magistrate under Section 2(c) PASA against a man. As per the FIR report, the petitioner/detenue was not wearing a mask and upon confrontation entered into an altercation with the police personnel. Subsequently, an order of detention was passed, and the man was detained. The present petition has been filed against this aforesaid order of detention.

Petitioner’s Submissions

The petitioner submitted that the registration of the solitary offences in the FIR under Sections 332, 353, 186, 188, 504, and 114 of the Indian Penal Code by itself could not bring a case against the detenue under Section 2(c) PASA. Moreover, the alleged illegal activity said to be carried out by the detenue cannot be said to be a breach of law or disruption of public order. Besides, the witness statements, there exists no other material on record which connects the alleged anti-social activity with a breach of public order. Based on the present matter at hand, it cannot be concluded that the alleged illegal activity of the detenue caused a disorder in society. The petitioner, therefore, submitted that the order of detention passed in the present petition must be quashed and set aside.

Respondent’s Submissions

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The respondent rejected the contentions put forth by the petitioner and supported the detention order passed by the authority. The respondent submitted that during the investigation, sufficient material and evidence had been obtained. Such evidence was also given to the detenue to indicate that he is indulging in activities defined under Section 2(c) PASA. Therefore, the detention order was rightly passed and deserved to be upheld by the Court.

Court’s Observations

The Court observed that the conclusion arrived at by the legal authority is not legal and in accordance with the law. The offences alleged in the FIR have no nexus to disruption of public order. Further, there are other relevant penal laws better suited to handle the present situation. Unless there is enough material to prove that the actions of a person caused threat and menace to the society and disrupted public order, no action can be brought under Section 2(c) PASA. The Court observed that other than general witness statements, there was no material on record to prove that the detenue had disrupted public order. The Court also referred to a decision passed by the Supreme Court in Pushker Mukherjee v. State of West Bengal where the distinction between disruption of law and order, public order, and general order had been clarified.

The Court noted that the word “dangerous person” under Section 2(c) PASA, refers to a person who habitually commits or attempts to commit or abets the commissions of any offence under Chapter XVI or XVII of the Indian Penal Code or Chapter V of the Arms Act, 1959. As per the Court, what stands out here is that the offence must be repeatedly or continuously committed. In the present case, however, the offence is solitary, and the detaining authority has failed to consider the aforesaid aspect.

Court’s Decision

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After taking into consideration the submissions by both parties in light of the facts and contentions made, the Court allowed the present petition. The Court said that registration of FIR in the absence of relevant material is not enough to conclude that there has been a disruption of public order. The Court thus quashed the order of detainment passed by the respondent and directed that the detenue be set free.


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