Telangana HC | Can a sexual offender be taken into preventive detention? Read the case of ‘detenu’ who committed intercourse with minor in secluded place and let her off next day

Telangana High Court

Telangana High Court: The Division Bench of A. Rajasheker Reddy and Dr Shameem Akhter, JJ.,  while addressing the matter has shed some light on the distinction between “Public Order” and “Law & Order”.

Petitioner filed the present petition on behalf of his son challenging the detention order passed by the Police Commissioner, respondent 3.

Respondent 3 submitted that detenu is a ‘Sexual Offender’ as defined in clause (V) of Section 2 of the Telangana Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Dacoits, Drug offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders, Land-Grabbers, Spurious Seed Offenders, Insecticide Offenders, Fertiliser Offenders, Food Adulteration Offenders, Fake Document Offenders, Scheduled Commodities Offenders, Forest Offenders, Gaming Offenders, Sexual Offenders, Explosive Substances Offenders, Arms Offenders, Cyber Crime Offenders and White Collar or Financial Offenders Act, 1986 (Act 1 of 1986).

Further, it was submitted that the detenu had committed penetrative aggravated sexual assault on a minor, three times. Subsequently, detention order was passed. Hence the present petition.

Issue for determination:

Whether the detention order passed by respondent 3 and the confirmation order passed by the Principal Secretary to Government, General Administration (Spl. Law and Order) Department, Government of Telangana are liable to be set aside?

Analysis and Decision

[Law & Order v. Public Order]

Supreme Court in several decisions had clearly expressed that there is a vast difference between “law and order” and “public order”.

The offences which are committed against a particular individual fall within the ambit of “law and order”. It is only when the public at large is adversely affected by the criminal activities of a person, is the conduct of a person said to disturb the
“public order”.

Individual cases can be dealt with by the criminal justice system, hence there is no need for detaining authority to invoke the draconian preventive detentions laws against an individual.

Supreme Court in its decision of Ram Manohar Lohia v. State of Bihar, AIR 1966 SC 740, had deprecated the invoking of the preventive law in order to tackle a law and order problem.

In Kanu Biswas v. State of West Bengal, (1972) 3 SC 831, following was the Supreme Court’s opinion:

The question whether a man has only committed a breach  of law and order or has acted in a manner likely to cause a  disturbance of the public order is a question of degree and the extent of the reach of the act upon the society. Public order is what the French call ‘order publique’ and is something more than ordinary maintenance of law and order. The test to be adopted in determining whether an  act affects law and order or public order, as laid down in  the above case, is: Does it lead to disturbance of the  current of life of the community so as to amount to a disturbance of the public order or does it affect merely an  individual leaving the tranquility of the society undisturbed?”

Further, Court relied on the decision of Vijay Narain Singh v. State of Bihar, (1984) 3 SCC 14,  wherein it was held that a single act or omission cannot be characterised as a habitual act or omission because, the idea of ‘habit’ involves an element of persistence and a tendency to repeat the acts or omissions of the same class or kind, if the acts or omission in question are not of the same kind or even if they are of the same kind when they are committed with a long interval of time between them, they cannot be treated as habitual ones.

Bench observed that in the present atter, the detenu was being prosecuted for committing a heinous offence of penetrative aggravated sexual assault on a girl aged 13 years. He was granted bail by the Court of Session on conditions.

If the State was aggrieved with the bail of detenu, they should have approached the Higher Court to seek cancellation Bail, they instead passed the impugned detention order.

All the cases under POCSO Act are being put on the fast track. It is brought to the notice of this Court that no charge- sheet had been filed.

In Court’s opinion, the bald statement made, wherein it was stated that: considering the detenu’s involvement in heinous activities and his release from prison on bail, there is imminent possibility of his indulging in similar shameful and inhuman acts of sexual assault on minor girls and women exploiting their innocence in a deceptive manner which are detrimental to public order, would not justify the impugned detention order.

Hence, the detaining authority failed to demonstrate the necessity to pass the impugned detention order invoking the draconian preventive detention laws.

Colourable Exercise of Power

Bench noted that due to the acquaintance/friendship, the detenu took the victim girl to a secluded place where he committed sexual intercourse and thus fulfilled his sexual desire and on the next day morning,  he let off the victim girl.

Therefore, it cannot be held that the detenu would indulge in similar prejudicial activities in future. Under these circumstances, the detaining authority is not justified in passing the order of detention, which tantamount to colourable exercise of power.

Was there any disturbance to ‘Public Order’?

High Court in view of the facts and circumstances of the case expressed that grave as the offence may be, it relates to penetrative aggravated sexual assault on a minor girl. So, no inference of disturbance of public order could be drawn.

Therefore, the present case falls under the ambit of “law and order”.

In view of the above discussion, present petition was allowed. [Charakonda Chinna Chennaiah v. State of Telangana, 2021 SCC OnLine TS 261, decided on 23-02-2021]


Advocates who appeared before the Court:

Counsel for the Petitioner: Dr. B. Karthik Navayan

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