Difference between maintenance of law and order & public order discussed

High Court of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana: The detention of one Chirraboina Krishna Yadav under the Telangana Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Dacoits, Drug-Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders and Land Grabbers Act, 1986 was questioned by his wife in a writ petition before a Division Bench comprising of C.V. Nagarjuna Reddy and J. Uma Devi, JJ. The writ petition was allowed and the detention order was quashed.

The contention of the respondent State was that the detenu had been involved in as many as 26 offences between 1989 and 2012; externed from Hyderabad for six months; and detained for a period of one year. However, he had been accused of five more offences since his release and in order to protect the family of one of the complainants in the two criminal cases that the respondents relied on and also to maintain public order, it was necessary to detain the detenu.

Accepting the arguments forwarded by the petitioner, the Court relying on a plethora of landmark judgments of the Supreme Court and on various decisions of High Courts, discussed the difference between ‘law and order’ and ‘public order’. Since the accusations against the detenu centred on only one family and did not involve the public at large, the concern was regarding disturbing law and order and not public order.

It was held that “preventive detention of a person is an extreme measure resorted to by the State when ordinary criminal law is found not adequate to control his activities which cause disturbance to public order.” The Court also noted that the prosecution had failed to show as to out of the 31 cases the detenu had been accused in, how many resulted in a conviction and in how many he was acquitted. The Court also observed that the law enforcement, investigation and prosecution agencies needed to “overhaul the whole criminal law enforcement system by plugging the huge gaping holes.” [C. Neela v. State of Telangana, 2017 SCC OnLine Hyd 224, decided on  27.06.2017]

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