“Subjective satisfaction of detaining authority is enough”

The Supreme Court has held that in the matter of preventive detention, once the detaining authority is subjectively satisfied about the various offences labelled against the detenu, habituality in continuing the same, difficulty in controlling him under normal circumstances, he is free to pass appropriate order to detain him.

Giving this ruling, a Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and B.S. Chauhan said: “The law is clear that as far as subjective satisfaction is concerned, it should either be reflected in the detention order or in the affidavit justifying the detention order.”

Writing the judgment, Justice Sathasivam said: “The essential concept of preventive detention is that the detention of a person is not to punish him for something he has done, but to prevent him from doing it.”

The Bench pointed out that even as early as in 1975, a Constitution Bench of this court considered the procedures to be followed in view of Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution, and had laid down various guidelines to be followed in preventive detention, viz., registration of first information reports or the fact that the accused was already in jail, would not prevent the detaining authority from passing preventive detention orders.

In the instant case, appellant G. Reddeiah was detained under the Andhra Pradesh Goondas Act for one year in November 2010. According to the prosecution, the detenu was found to be involved in felling, transporting, smuggling of red-sanders trees and committing theft of forest wealth on eight occasions in one year. The Andhra Pradesh High Court upheld the detention order, and the present appeal is directed against this judgment.

Dismissing the appeal, the Bench said: “The grounds of detention also show that the Detaining Authority, after scrutinising all the details including various orders of arrest and release, bail on various dates and noting that he is habitually indulging in trespass in forest area, illicit cutting, felling, smuggling and transporting red-sanders from the reserved forest owned by the State, arrived at a definite conclusion that the provisions of normal law were not sufficient in the ordinary course to deal firmly because of his habitual nature.”

The Bench said: “A reading of the grounds of detention clearly indicates that the detenu had been indulging in various activities in felling and smuggling red-sanders and he was habitually committing the same and was unmindful of wastage of national forest wealth and public order. It also shows that it was not a solitary or stray incident but continuously maintaining his activities in destroying the forest wealth. It clearly shows that he is habitually committing these offences. We hold that the Detaining Authority is well within its powers in passing the impugned order of detention.”

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