The Supreme Court has held that the power of the State to pass an externment order or a direction barring certain people entry to specified areas should be exercised only in “exceptional cases”.
The rights to free movement and residence across India cannot be curtailed on flimsy grounds, a Bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and V. Ramasubramanian held in a judgment.
“A person cannot be denied his fundamental right to reside anywhere in the country or to move freely throughout the country on flimsy grounds,“ Justice Banerjee observed in the recent judgment.
The court said externment orders have their use in maintaining law and order. However, they cannot be employed as a vindictive or retaliatory measure.
“The drastic action of externment should only be taken in exceptional cases, to maintain law and order in a locality and/or prevent breach of public tranquillity and peace,” the apex court noted.
Complaints against madrasas
The judgment was based on an appeal filed by a journalist, Rahmat Khan, who was at the receiving end of an externment order passed by the Maharashtra police. He was banned from entering Amravati City or Amravati rural district for a year.
Mr. Khan argued that he was banned because of his complaints against some madrasas and persons connected to them. FIRs had been lodged against him.
The court said the FIRs were clearly vindictive, retaliatory and aimed to teach a lesson to the appellant (Mr. Khan) and stifle his voice. It said the externment was “patently arbitrary, mala fide, unsustainable in law and liable to be set aside”.