Madras High Court set aside detention order passed by District Magistrate, due to undue and unexplained delay of 14 days in considering representation

Madras High Court

   

Madras High Court: In a habeas corpus petition filed calling for the records pertaining to the order of detention passed by the District Magistrate and to set aside the same and directing the police to produce the petitioner’s father (detenu) confined in the central prison, the division bench of P.N. Prakash* and RMT. Teekaa Raman, JJ. has held that there was an inordinate and unexplained delay of 14 days in considering the representation by the said Minister, thus, impugned detention order is liable to be quashed.

The District Collector passed the detention order holding the detenu to be a “Drug Offender” under Section 2(e) of Tamil Nadu Act 14 of 1982. The Petitioner submitted that there is gross violation of procedural safeguards, which would vitiate the detention, as the representation made on behalf of the detenu was not considered in time and there was an inordinate and unexplained delay.

The Additional Public Prosecutor submitted that though there was a delay in considering the representation, but only based on that, the impugned detention order cannot be quashed. It was also submitted that no prejudice has been caused to the detenu and thus, there is no violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 21 and 22 of the Constitution of India.

The petitioner contended that there was a delay of 18 days in considering the representation by the Minister for Home, Prohibition and Excise Department after the Deputy Secretary dealt with it, of which, 4 days were government holidays, hence, there was an inordinate delay of 14 days in considering the representation.

The Court relied on Rekha v. State of T.N., (2011) 5 SCC 244, wherein it was held that the procedural safeguards are required to be zealously watched and enforced by the Courts of law and their rigour cannot be allowed to be diluted based on the nature of the alleged activities undertaken by the detenu’, and further relied on Sumaiya v. Secy. to Government, Prohibition & Excise Department, 2007 SCC OnLine Mad 700 and Tara Chand v. State of Rajasthan, (1980) 2 SCC 321 wherein it was held any inordinate and unexplained delay on the part of the Government in considering the representation renders the very detention illegal.

Thus, the Court held that there was an inordinate and unexplained delay of 14 days in considering the representation by the said Minister, thus, it quashed the impugned detention order and directed the authorities to release the detenu.

[Lilly Pushpam v. Additional Chief Secretary, 2022 SCC OnLine Mad 5174, decided on 02-11-2022]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

S. Nirmal Aditya, Advocate, for the Petitioner;

R. Muniyapparaj, Additional Public Prosecutor, for the Respondents.


*Apoorva Goel, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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