Madras High Court Observes Unexplained Delay in Procedural Safeguards, Quashes Detention Through Writ Petition

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A Writ Petition was filed under Article 226 to issue a writ of Habeas Corpus. The petitioner P. Lakshmi, called for records of the District Collector and Magistrate concerning her husband  Sudhakar’s detention. The matter was heard by the bench of Justice M.M. Sundresh and Justice D. Krishnakumar. 

Facts of the Case

The petitioner is the wife of Sudhakar, the detenu. He had been detained by the District Collector and District Magistrate holding him to be a “Goonda” under the Tamil Nadu Act 14 of 1982. The present petition challenges the order of detention of Mr. Sudhakar.

Arguments Before the Court

The counsel for the petitioner argued that there is a gross violation of procedural safeguards. This would impair the detention, the counsel submitted. The counsel further placed authorities and submitted that the representation was made by Mrs Lakshmi. It was not considered on time and there was an unreasonable and unexplained delay. 

The Additional Public Prosecutor submitted that even though there has been a delay in representation, that alone can not be the ground for quashing the order. It was further argued that the detenu Mr Sudhakar has not been subjected to any bias. There has been no violation of Articles 21 and 22 of the Indian Constitution. 

Court’s Observations

The Detention Order was passed on 14th February 2020. The petitioner made a representation. Thereafter, remarks were called form the Detaining Authority and it was received after almost six months. The authorities then considered the matter and passed the order rejecting the petitioner’s representation. 

The Court cited Rekha vs. State of Tamil Nadu (2011 (5) SCC 244), Sumaiya vs. The Secretary to Government (2007 (2) MWN (Cr.) 145), Tara Chand vs. State of Rajasthan and Ors. (1980 (2) SCC 321), and held that inordinate/ unexplained delay in the proceedings on the part of the Government renders the detention illegal. 

The Court further observed that in the present case, there has been a delay of 16 days in submitting the remarks by the Detaining Authority and unexplained delay of 18 days in considering the representation by the Hon’ble Minister for Electricity, Prohibition and Excise Department.

Court’s Decision

The Court allowed the Writ of Habeas Corpus and quashed the impugned order. The Court directed that the detenu, Mr Sudhakar, may be released unless his detention is required in connection with any other case. 

 To view the original judgment, click here.


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