Freedom from ‘errors’


Many history-sheeters and offenders have managed to walk free after being detained under the Goondas Act and other preventive detention laws due to incongruous errors committed by the detaining authorities

On June 7, the Dindigul Collector passed an order of preventive detention against S. Siva of Kodaikanal, who was in jail for raping a minor girl, as he feared that the accused could come out on bail. But one extra alphabet in the detention order has ensured that the 28-year-old sexual offender could soon secure bail. The Madras High Court recently quashed the preventive detention order citing an incongruous error – the Collector instead of mentioning that the accused faced a “case”, wrote it as “cases”. The additional ‘s’ was deemed by the court to be the result of “lack of application of mind” by the detaining authority.

This is not a one-off case where an accused secured freedom citing dubious errors in the detention orders.

In a recent case, the High Court set aside the detention of a history-sheeter in Tirunelveli under the Goondas Act because supporting documents supplied to the detainee stated that his remand in a criminal case was informed to his younger brother but made errors in the latter’s father’s name. “A perusal of the same will make it clear that both are not brothers as their fathers’ names differ. Hence, we are inclined to accept that prejudice was caused by not intimating the arrest of the detenu to his family members who were prevented from making an effective pre-detention representation,” the court held.

Likewise, a preventive detention order passed by the Tuticorin Collector was quashed because while one paragraph of the order referred to the detainee’s bail application pending before a lower court, the subsequent paragraph stated that the preventive detention law was being invoked since there was a “possibility” of him filing a bail application.

An advocate R. Venkatesan says that 99 per cent of the preventive detention orders get set aside by the court due to one error or the other either in the detention order itself or in the bulky booklets supplied to the detainees with supporting documents relied upon to detain them.

Even a single day’s delay in considering the representation made by the detainees to revoke their detention orders is a sufficient ground to quash the orders. “A majority of black marketeers, bootleggers and drug offenders get released on this ground since invariably the detaining authority would have delayed forwarding his remarks to the government,” he adds.

“The Supreme Court as well as the High Court had passed a number of judgments in the last 50 years stressing the importance of error free preventive detention orders. Yet, the executive authorities continue to make mistakes. This is possibly because, they succeed in curtailing the liberty of the detainees for about four to eight months, if not for the full term of 12 months, before the court intervenes and sets aside the detention orders,” says lawyer R. Karunanithi.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 5:14:57 AM |

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