‘Court will not interfere in the issue except in exceptional cases'

In preventive detention cases, the court cannot interfere with the subjective satisfaction reached by the detaining authority (DA) on breach of public order, except in exceptional cases and on extremely limited grounds, the Supreme Court has held.

A Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and J. Chelameswar said, “The court cannot substitute its own opinion for that of the DA when the grounds of detention are precise, pertinent, proximate and relevant, that sufficiency of grounds is not for the court but for the DA to form subjective satisfaction that the detention of a person with a view to preventing him from acting in any manner prejudicial to public order is required and that such satisfaction is subjective and not objective.”

Writing the judgment, Justice Sathasivam said: “The object of the law of preventive detention is not punitive but only preventive and further that the action of the executive in detaining a person being only precautionary, normally, the matter has necessarily to be left to the discretion of the executive authority. It is not practicable to lay down objective rules of conduct in an exhaustive manner. The satisfaction of the DA is, therefore, considered to be of primary importance with certain latitude in the exercise of its discretion.”

In the instant case, the appellant Subramanian of Tiruchirapalli, a habitual offender, was detained by the Tamil Nadu government under the Goondas Act on July 21, 2011 and his preventive detention for one year was upheld by the Madras High Court. The present appeal is directed against the dismissal of his writ petition.

“Habitual offender”

Dismissing the appeal, the Bench said: “We perused the entire grounds of detention. The order shows that there is a compelling necessity to detain the appellant in order to prevent him from indulging in such activities in future which are prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. The details show that the detenu was a habitual offender and as such instances shown are not stale as argued by the appellant's counsel. These aspects have been taken note of by the High Court. All the incidents mentioned in the grounds of detention clearly substantiate the subjective satisfaction arrived at the by the DA as to how the acts of the detenu were prejudicial to the maintenance of public order.”

The appellant's representation to the Advisory Board for reconsideration of his detention had been rejected and the Board had confirmed his detention and there was no delay in considering the representation by the authorities, the Bench noted and dismissed the appeal.

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