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Saturday, August 3, 2013

constitutional validity of number of provisions of the Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986 (Act 7 of 1986) (for short “the Act”) being violative of Articles 14, 21, 22(4) and 300A of the Constitution of India and further prayed for issue of a writ of certiorari for quashment of the First Information Report dated 2.5.2010 giving rise to Crime No. 100 of 2010 registered at Police Station Ramala, District Baghpat .= In view of the aforesaid analysis, we uphold the constitutional validity of Section 12 of the Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986 as it does not infringe any of the facets of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India. Ex- consequenti, the writ petition, being devoid of merit, stands dismissed.

                      published in


                    WRIT PETITION (CRL.) NO. 100 OF 2010

Dharmendra Kirthal                                 ... Petitioner


State of U.P. and another                        ... Respondents

                               J U D G M E N T

Dipak Misra, J.

      In this writ petition preferred under Article 32 of  the  Constitution
of India, the petitioner who is undergoing trial before the learned  Special
Judge, District Baghpat, U.P., has called  
in  question  the  constitutional
validity of number of provisions of the Uttar Pradesh  Gangsters  and  Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986 (Act 7 of  1986)  (for  short  “the Act”)  being  violative  of  Articles  14,  21,  22(4)  and  300A   of   the Constitution of India and further prayed for issue of a writ  of  certiorari for quashment of the First Information Report dated 2.5.2010 giving rise  to
Crime No.  100  of  2010  registered  at  Police  Station  Ramala,  District Baghpat.

   2. At the very outset, it is imperative to state that this Court, on 20th
      September, 2010, while issuing notice, had passed the following order:

      “Issue notice in regard to the validity of  Section  12  of  the  U.P.
      Gangster & Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986.”

      Regard being had to the aforesaid, we shall only dwell upon and  delve
into the constitutional validity of the section 12 of the Act.

   3. It is necessary to state here that the validity of the Act was  called
      in question before the High Court of Judicature  at  Allahabad  and  a
      Full Bench of the High Court in Ashok Kumar Dixit v. State of U.P. and
      another[1] upheld the constitutional validity and dismissed  the  writ
      petition.  The assail to the constitutional validity travelled to this
      Court in Subhash Yadav v. State of U.P. and another[2] and a two-Judge
      Bench of this Court referred the matter to the Constitution  Bench  by
      stating thus: -

      “Heard learned counsel for the parties at some length.

      We are informed that the question of vires of the  Terrorist  Affected
      Areas (Special Courts Act) 1984,  is  pending  before  a  Constitution
      Bench.  In the light of this, in our opinion, it would be proper  that
      these matters wherein the constitutional validity  of  U.P.  Gangsters
      and Anti Social Activities  (Prevention)  Act,  1986,  is  challenged,
      should also be heard by the Constitution Bench.”

   4. When the matter was listed before the Constitution  Bench  along  with
      connected matters, the larger  Bench  in  Kartar  Singh  v.  State  of
      Punjab[3] observed as follows: -

      “Though originally, a number of other matters  falling  under  various
      Acts  such  as  the  U.P.   Gangsters   and   Anti-social   Activities
      (Prevention) Act, 1986 (U.P. Act 7 of 1986), the Prevention of Illicit
      Traffic of Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act,  1988  and
      some provisions of the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention
      of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974 (COFEPOSA), were listed for hearing,
      we have fully and conclusively heard only the  matters  pertaining  to
      the Act of 1984, Act of 1985 and Act of 1987 and U.P. Act 16 of 1976.”

   5. Thus, the constitutional validity of the Act was not  decided  by  the
      said Constitution Bench.  Thereafter, the matters relating to this Act
      were placed before another Constitution Bench.  The Court, in  Subhash
      Yadav v. State of U.P. and another[4], took note of the challenge  and
      the decision rendered in Ashok Kumar Dixit (supra) and observed  thus:

      “3.   We had started hearing arguments in the writ petitions when  the
      matters remained part-heard.  We have now been informed  that  Subhash
      Yadav, petitioner  in  Writ  Petition  (Crl.)  No.  317  of  1987  was
      discharged by the trial court as early as on 3-4-1990 while Amar  Mani
      Tripathi, petitioner in Writ Petition  (Crl.)  No.  407  of  1987  was
      acquitted by the  trial  court  on  20-5-1992.   Learned  counsel  for
      Jitender, petitioner in Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 562 of  1987  submits
      that despite numerous attempts made to contact the petitioner and find
      out about the position of the criminal case against him, there  is  no
      response.  Learned counsel has, therefore, reported no instructions to
      pursue the writ petition any further.

      4.    In view of the  developments  which  have  taken  place  by  the
      discharge of petitioner Subhash Yadav and acquittal of petitioner Amar
      Mani Tripathi and no instructions having been reported  on  behalf  of
      petitioner Jitender, nothing survives for consideration in these  writ
      petitions, as the exercise to determine the constitutional validity of
      the Act, would now be only of an academic interest  insofar  as  these
      cases are concerned.  Writ Petitions (Crl.) Nos. 317 and 407  of  1987
      are, therefore, dismissed as infructuous while  Writ  Petition  (Crl.)
      No. 562 of 1987 is dismissed for non-prosecution.”

   6. In view of the aforesaid position, the constitutional validity of  the
      Act is still alive, but as a restricted notice was  issued  pertaining
      only to the validity of Section 12 of the Act and the learned  counsel
      for the parties confined their submissions in that regard,  we  would,
      as stated earlier, address ourselves singularly on that point.  Be  it
      noted, Section 12 of the Act provides that the trial under the Act  of
      any offence by special court shall have precedence over the  trial  of
      any other case against the accused in any other  court  and  shall  be
      concluded  in  preference  to  the  trial  of  such  other  case   and
      accordingly trial of such other case shall remain in abeyance.

   7. We have heard Mr. D.K. Garg, learned counsel for the  petitioner,  and
      Mr. Irshad Ahmad, learned Additional Advocate General for the State of

   8. Assailing the validity  of  the  said  provision,  Mr.  Garg,  learned
      counsel for the petitioner, has raised the following contentions: -

a)  The  provision  frustrates  the  basic  tenet  of  Article  21  of   the
   Constitution as has been interpreted by this Court to  encapsulate  in  a
   sacrosanct manner the concept of speedy and fair  trial,  for  the  trial
   before the other courts are kept in abeyance and precedence is  given  to
   the trial before the special courts under this Act as  a  consequence  of
   which the trial in other Court does not take place.

b)  The  precedence  conferred  on  the  cases  before  the  special  courts
   tantamounts to illegal detention of an accused as he is deprived  of  his
   liberty as the trial in other cases are not allowed to  proceed  and  the
   accused is compelled to languish in custody.

c) The detention which is virtually in the nature of a preventive  detention
   violates Article 22(4) of the Constitution.

d) The accused, who is tried by  the  special  courts  under  this  Act,  is
   treated differently because trial in other courts are  kept  in  abeyance
   whereas the accused tried by other courts  gets  the  benefit  of  speedy
   trial.  There is no justification to treat the accused under this Act  in
   such a manner as it violates  the  equal  treatment  before  the  law  as
   envisaged under Article 14 of the Constitution.

   9. Mr. Irshad Ahmad, learned Additional Advocate General for the State of
      U.P., resisting the aforesaid proponements, contended as follows: -

   i) The submission  that  the  fundamental  concept  of  speedy  trial  is
      throttled and stifled is neither correct nor sustainable  as,  on  the
      contrary, the purpose of the legislature is to guarantee speedy  trial
      by providing the precedence of the trial under  this  Act  over  other
      cases and keeping other cases before other courts in  abeyance.   From
      the scanning of the scheme of the Act, the emphasis on speedy trial is
      luminous and, hence, the ground urged on this  score  deserves  to  be

  ii) The liberty of the accused is not jeopardized but schematic canvas and
      conceptual  interpretation  would  reveal  that  the  command  of  the
      legislature is for speedy trial and further there are  provisions  for
      grant of bail.

 iii) The contention that it is in the nature of preventive detention has no
      legs to stand upon as preventive detention and detention in connection
      with the crime under the Act have different connotations altogether.

  iv) The accused in other cases, who is not tried under this Act, stands on
      a  different  footing  altogether  and  such   a   classification   is
      permissible in the constitutional backdrop and, therefore, it does not
      invite the frown of Article 14 of the Constitution.

  10. To appreciate the rival submissions raised at the Bar in their  proper
      perspective, we think it seemly to refer to the Statement  of  Objects
      and reasons of the Act which is as follows: -

      “Gangsterism and anti-social activities were on the  increase  in  the
      State posing threat to lives  and  properties  of  the  citizens.  The
      existing measures were not found effective enough to  cope  with  this
      new menace. With a view to break the gangs by punishing the  gangsters
      and to nip in the bud their conspiratoral designs  it  was  considered
      necessary to make special provisions for the prevention  of,  and  for
      coping with gangsters and anti-social activities in the State.

      Since  the  State  Legislature  was  not  in  session  and   immediate
      legislative action in the matter  was  necessary,  the  Uttar  Pradesh
      Gangsters and Anti-social Activities (Prevention) Ordinance 1986 (U.P.
      Ordinance No. 4 of 1986) was promulgated by the  Governor  on  January
      15, 1986, after obtaining prior instructions of the President.

      The Uttar Pradesh Gangsters  and  Antisocial  Activities  (Prevention)
      Bill,  1986  is  accordingly   introduced   with   certain   necessary
      modifications to replace the aforesaid Ordinance.”

  11. The Preamble of the Act reads as follows: -

      “An Act to make special provisions for  the  prevention  of,  and  for
      coping with gangsters  and  anti-social  activities  and  for  matters
      connected therewith or incidental thereto.”

  12. Reference to the Statement of Objects and Reasons and the Preamble  of
      the Act is meant to appreciate  the  background  and  purpose  of  the
      legislation.  In this context we may refer  with profit to the  dictum
      in Gujarat University and another v. Shri Krishna Ranganath  Mudholkar
      and others[5], where the majority observed as follows: -

      “Statements of Objects and Reasons of  a  Statute  may  and  do  often
      furnish valuable historical material in ascertaining the reasons which
      induced the Legislature to enact a Statute, but  in  interpreting  the
      Statute they must be ignored.”

  13.  In  Shashikant  Laxman  Kale  and  another  v.  Union  of  India  and
      another[6], a three-Judge Bench of this Court has expressed: -

      “For determining the purpose or  object  of  the  legislation,  it  is
      permissible to look into the circumstances which prevailed at the time
      when the law was passed and which necessitated  the  passing  of  that
      law.  For the limited purpose of appreciating the background  and  the
      antecedent  factual  matrix  leading  to  the   legislation,   it   is
      permissible to look into the Statement of Objects and Reasons  of  the
      Bill which actuated the step to provide a remedy for the then existing

  14. In New India Assurance Co. Ltd. v. Asha Rani and others[7], the  Court
      referred to the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Motor Vehicles
      Amendment Act, 1994 to understand the purpose behind the legislation.

  15. The Statement of Objects and Reasons and Preamble make it quite  clear
      that the Legislature felt the compulsion to  make  special  provisions
      against gangsterism and anti-social activities.  While speaking  about
      terrorism, the majority in Kartar Singh (supra) opined that it is much
      more rather a grave emergent  situation  created  either  by  external
      forces particularly at the frontiers  of  this  country  or  by  anti-
      nationals throwing a challenge to the very existence  and  sovereignty
      of the country in its democratic polity.  The learned Judges put it on
      a higher plane than public order disturbing the  “even  tempo  of  the
      life of community of any specified locality” as  has  been  stated  by
      Hidayatullah, C.J., in Arun Ghosh v. State of West Bengal[8].

  16. The present Act deals with gangs and gangsters  to  prevent  organized
      crime.  Section 2 of the Act is the dictionary clause.   Section  2(b)
      defines the term “gang” and we think it apt to quote the relevant part
      which is as follows: -

      ““Gang” means  a  group  of  persons,  who  acting  either  singly  or
      collectively,  by  violence,  or  threat  or  show  of  violence,   or
      intimidation, or coercion or otherwise with the object  of  disturbing
      public order or of gaining any undue temporal, pecuniary, material  or
      other advantage for himself or any  other  person,  indulge  in  anti-
      social activities”

      After so defining, the legislature has stipulated the  offences  which
are punishable under the Act, but they need not be referred to.

  17. The term “gangster” has been defined under Section 2(c)  which  is  as
      follows: -

      ““gangster” means a member or  leader  or  organizer  of  a  gang  and
      includes any person who abets or assists in the activities of  a  gang
      enumerated in clause (b), whether before or after  the  commission  of
      such activities or harbours  any  person  who  has  indulged  in  such

  18. Section 3 of the Act deals with penalty.  It is apt to  reproduce  the
      same : -

      “3. Penalty. – (1) A gangster, shall be punished with imprisonment  of
      either description for a term which shall not be less than  two  years
      and which may extend to ten years and also with fine which  shall  not
      be less than five thousand rupees:

            Provided that a gangster who  commits  an  offence  against  the
      person of a public servant or the person of a member of the family  of
      a public  servant  shall  be  punished  with  imprisonment  of  either
      description for a term which shall not be less than  three  years  and
      also with fine which shall not be less than five thousand rupees.

      (2)   Whoever being a public  servant  renders  any  illegal  help  or
      support in any manner to a  gangster,  whether  before  or  after  the
      commission of any offence by  the  gangster  (whether  by  himself  or
      through  others)  or  abstains  from   taking   lawful   measures   or
      intentionally avoids to carry out the directions of any  Court  or  of
      his superior  officers,  in  this  respect,  shall  be  punished  with
      imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to  ten
      years but shall not be less than three years and also with fine.”

  19. Section 5 of the Act  deals  with  Special  Courts  and  Section  5(1)
      provides that for the interest of speedy trial of offences under  this
      Act, the State Government may, if it considers  necessary,  constitute
      one or more special courts.  Section 7 deals with the jurisdiction  of
      the  Special  Courts.   Section  7(1)  provides  that  notwithstanding
      anything contained in  the  Code,  where  a  Special  Court  has  been
      constituted for any local area, every  offence  punishable  under  any
      provision of this Act or any rule made  thereunder  shall  be  triable
      only by the Special Court  within  whose  local  jurisdiction  it  was
      committed, whether before or after the constitution  of  such  Special
      Court.  Sub-section (2) of Section 7 lays the postulate that all cases
      triable by a Special Court, which immediately before the  constitution
      of such Special Court were pending before any court, shall on creation
      of such Special Court  having  jurisdiction  over  such  cases,  stand
      transferred to it.

  20. Section 8 deals with the power of Special Courts with respect to other
      offences which reads as follows: -

      “8. Power of Special Courts with respect to other offences. – (1) When
      trying any offence punishable under this Act a Special Court may  also
      try any other offence with which the accused may, under any other  law
      for the time being in force, be charged at the same trial.

      (2)   If in the course of any trial under this Act of any offence,  it
      is found that the accused has committed any other offence  under  this
      Act or any rule thereunder or under any other law, the  Special  Court
      may convict such person of such other offence and  pass  any  sentence
      authorised by this Act or such rule or, as the case may be, such other
      law, for the punishment thereof.”

  21. Section 10 provides the procedure and powers  of  Special  Courts  and
      Section 11 provides for protection  of  witnesses.   Section  12,  the
      validity of which is under attack, is as follows: -

      “12. Trial by Special Courts to have precedence.  –  The  trial  under
      this Act of any offence by Special Court shall  have  precedence  over
      the trial of any other case against the accused  in  any  other  Court
      (not being a Special Court) and shall be concluded  in  preference  to
      the trial of such other case and accordingly the trial of  such  other
      case shall remain in abeyance.”

  22. At this juncture, we may profitably recapitulate that it is  the  duty
      of the Court to uphold the constitutional validity of  a  statute  and
      that  there   is   always   the   presumption   in   favour   of   the
      constitutionality of an enactment.  In this context, we may fruitfully
      refer to the decision in Charanjit Lal Chowdhury v. The Union of India
      and others[9] wherein it has been ruled thus: -

      “It is the accepted doctrine of American Courts, which I  consider  to
      be well founded on principle, that the presumption is always in favour
      of the constitutionality of an enactment, and the burden is  upon  him
      who attacks it to show that there has been a  clear  transgression  of
      the constitutional principles.”

  23. In Ram Krishna Dalmia v. Shri Justice S.R. Tendolkar  and  others[10],
      this Court had ruled that there is always a presumption in  favour  of
      the constitutionality of an enactment and the burden  is  on  him  who
      challenges the same to show that there has been a clear  transgression
      of the constitutional principles and it is the duty of  the  Court  to
      sustain that there is a presumption of constitutionality and in  doing
      so, the Court may take into consideration matters of common knowledge,
      matters of common report, the history of  the  times  and  may  assume
      every state of facts which can be conceived existing at  the  time  of
      the legislations.

  24. In State of Bihar and others v. Bihar Distillery Limited[11], the said
      principle was reiterated.

  25. In Burrakur Coal Co.  Ltd.  v.  Union  of  India[12],  Mudholkar,  J.,
      speaking for the Constitution Bench, observed: -

      “Where the validity of a  law  made  by  a  competent  legislature  is
      challenged in a court of law, that court is bound to presume in favour
      of its validity.  Further, while considering the validity of  the  law
      the court will not consider itself restricted to the pleadings of  the
      State and would be free to satisfy itself whether under any  provision
      of the Constitution the law can be sustained.”

  26. In Pathumma and others v. State of Kerala and others[13],  the  seven-
      Judge Bench has opined thus: -

      “The judicial approach should be dynamic rather than static, pragmatic
      and not pedantic and elastic rather than rigid.   It  must  take  into
      consideration the changing trends of economic thought, the  temper  of
      the times and the living aspirations and feelings of the people.  This
      Court  while  acting  as  a  sentinel  on  the  qui  vive  to  protect
      fundamental rights guaranteed to the citizens of the country must  try
      to strike a just balance between the fundamental rights and the larger
      and broader interests of society, so that when such  a  right  clashes
      with the larger interest of the country it must yield to the latter.”

Again in the said judgment, it has been ruled thus: -

      “It is obvious that  the  Legislature  is  in  the  best  position  to
      understand and appreciate the needs of the people as enjoined  by  the
      Constitution to bring about social reforms for the upliftment  of  the
      backward  and  the  weaker  sections  of  the  society  and  for   the
      improvement of the lot of poor people.   The  Court  will,  therefore,
      interfere in this process only when the statute is  clearly  violative
      of  the  right  conferred  on  the  citizen  under  Part  III  of  the
      Constitution or when the Act is beyond the legislative  competence  of
      the legislature or such other grounds.”

  27. The said principles have been reiterated by the  majority  in  another
      Constitution Bench in State of Gujarat v. Mirzapur Moti Kureshi Kassab
      Jamat and others[14].

  28. At this juncture, we think it condign to sit in  a  time  machine  and
      refer to the opinion expressed by Krishna Iyer,  J.,  in  R.S.  Joshi,
      Sales Tax Officer, Gujarat  and  others  v.  Ajit  Mills  Limited  and
      another[15]: -

      “A prefatory caveat.  When examining a legislation from the  angle  of
      its vires, the Court has to be resilient, not rigid,  forward-looking,
      not static, liberal, not verbal – in interpreting the organic  law  of
      the nation.  We must  also  remember  the  constitutional  proposition
      enunciated by the U.S. Supreme Court in  Munn  v.  Illinois[16]  viz.,
      ‘that courts do not substitute their social and economic  beliefs  for
      the judgment of legislative bodies’.  Moreover, while trespasses  will
      not be  forgiven,  a  presumption  of  constitutionality  must  colour
      judicial construction.  These factors, recognized by  our  Court,  are
      essential to the modus vivendi between the  judicial  and  legislative
      branches of  the  State,  both  working  beneath  the  canopy  of  the

  29. We have referred to the aforesaid authorities for the sanguine  reason
      that the submissions raised at the Bar are to  be  considered  in  the
      backdrop of the aforesaid “caveat”.  The “Modus Vivendi” which needs a
      purposive  and  constructive  ratiocination  while  engaged   in   the
      viceration of the provision, which draws its strength and stimulus  in
      its variations from the Constitution,  we  have  to  see  whether  the
      provision trespasses the quintessential characteristics of the Organic
      Law and, therefore, should not be allowed to stand.

  30. Keeping the aforesaid enunciation in view, we shall presently  proceed
      to deal with the stand and  stance  of  both  the  sides.   The  first
      submission which pertains to the  denial  of  speedy  trial  has  been
      interpreted to be a facet of  Article  21  of  the  Constitution.   In
      Kartar Singh (supra), the majority, speaking through  Pandian,J.,  has
      expressed thus: -
      “85. The right to a speedy trial is not only an important safeguard to
      prevent undue and oppressive incarceration, to  minimise  anxiety  and
      concern accompanying the accusation and to limit  the  possibility  of
      impairing the ability of an accused to defend himself but  also  there
      is a societal interest in providing a speedy  trial.  This  right  has
      been actuated in the recent past and  the  courts  have  laid  down  a
      series of decisions opening up new vistas of  fundamental  rights.  In
      fact, lot of cases are  coming  before  the  courts  for  quashing  of
      proceedings on the ground of inordinate and undue delay  stating  that
      the invocation of this right even need not await formal indictment  or

      86. The concept of  speedy  trial  is  read  into  Article  21  as  an
      essential part of the fundamental right to life and liberty guaranteed
      and preserved under our Constitution. The right to speedy trial begins
      with  the  actual  restraint  imposed   by   arrest   and   consequent
      incarceration and continues  at  all  stages,  namely,  the  stage  of
      investigation,  inquiry,  trial,  appeal  and  revision  so  that  any
      possible prejudice that may result from  impermissible  and  avoidable
      delay from  the  time  of  the  commission  of  the  offence  till  it
      consummates into a finality, can be averted. In this context,  it  may
      be noted that the constitutional guarantee of speedy trial is properly
      reflected in Section 309 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.”

  31. Be it  noted,  the  Court  also  referred  to  the  pronouncements  in
      Hussainara Khatoon (I) v. Home Secretary, State  of  Bihar[17],  Sunil
      Batra v. Delhi Administration (I)[18], Hussainara Khatoon (IV) v. Home
      Secretary, State of Bihar, Patna[19], Hussainara Khatoon (VI) v.  Home
      Secretary, State of Bihar, Govt. of Bihar, Patna[20], Kadra Pahadia v.
      State of Bihar (II)[21], T.V. Vatheeswaran v. State of  T.N.[22],  and
      Abdul Rehman Antulay v. R.S. Nayak[23].

  32. The present provision is  to  be  tested  on  the  touchstone  of  the
      aforesaid constitutional principle.  The  provision  clearly  mandates
      that the trial under this Act of any  offence  by  the  Special  Court
      shall have precedence and shall be  concluded  in  preference  to  the
      trial  of  such  other  courts  to  achieve  the  said  purpose.   The
      legislature thought it appropriate to provide that the trial  of  such
      other case shall remain in abeyance.  It is apt to note here that “any
      other case” against the accused in “any other court” does not  include
      the Special Court.  The emphasis is on speedy trial and not denial  of
      it.  The legislature has incorporated such  a  provision  so  that  an
      accused does not face trial in two cases  simultaneously  and  a  case
      before the Special Court does not linger owing to clash  of  dates  in
      trial.  It is also worthy to note that  the  Special  Court  has  been
      conferred jurisdiction under sub-section (1) of Section 8 of  the  Act
      to try any other offences with which the accused may, under any  other
      law for the time being in force, have been charged  and  proceeded  at
      the same trial.

  33. As far as fair trial is concerned, needless to  emphasise,  it  is  an
      integral part of the very soul of  Article  21  of  the  Constitution.
      Fair trial  is  the  quintessentiality  of  apposite  dispensation  of
      criminal justice.  In Zahira Habibulla H. Sheikh and another v.  State
      of Gujarat and others[24], it has been held as follows: -

      “33. The principle of fair trial now informs and energises many  areas
      of the law. It is reflected in numerous rules and practices. It  is  a
      constant, ongoing development process continually adapted to  new  and
      changing circumstances, and exigencies of  the  situation—peculiar  at
      times and related to the nature of crime, persons involved—directly or
      operating behind, social impact and societal needs and  even  so  many
      powerful balancing factors which may come in the way of administration
      of criminal justice system.”

      In the said case, emphasis  was  laid  on  the  triangulation  of  the
interest of the accused, the victim and the society and stress  was  further
laid on the fact that it is the community that acts through  the  State  and
the prosecuting agencies and the interests of the  society  are  not  to  be
treated completely with disdain and as persona non grata.  In paragraphs  39
and 40 of the said judgment, it has been ruled thus: -
      “39. Failure to accord fair hearing  either  to  the  accused  or  the
      prosecution violates even minimum standards of due process of law.  It
      is inherent in the concept of due process of  law,  that  condemnation
      should be rendered only after the trial in which the hearing is a real
      one, not sham or a mere farce and pretence.  Since  the  fair  hearing
      requires an opportunity to preserve the process, it  may  be  vitiated
      and violated by an overhasty,  stage-managed,  tailored  and  partisan

      40. The fair trial  for  a  criminal  offence  consists  not  only  in
      technical observance of the frame  and  forms  of  law,  but  also  in
      recognition and just application of its principles  in  substance,  to
      find out the truth and prevent miscarriage of justice.”

  34. In Mohd. Hussain alias Julfikar Ali v. State  (Government  of  NCT  of
      Delhi)[25], this Court observed that “speedy trial” and  “fair  trial”
      to a person accused of a crime are integral part of Article 21.  There
      is, however, qualitative difference between the right to speedy  trial
      and the right of the accused to fair trial.  Unlike the right  of  the
      accused to fair trial, deprivation of the right to speedy  trial  does
      not per se prejudice the accused in defending himself.

  35. Same principle was reiterated in  Niranjan  Hemchandra  Sashittal  and
      another v. State of Maharashtra[26].

  36. On a careful scrutiny of the provision, it is  quite  vivid  that  the
      trial is not hampered as the trial in other courts  is  to  remain  in
      abeyance  by  the  legislative  command.   Thus,   the   question   of
      procrastination of trial does not arise.  As the trial under  the  Act
      would be in progress, the accused would have the  fullest  opportunity
      to defend himself and there cannot be denial of fair trial.  Thus,  in
      our considered opinion, the aforesaid provision does not frustrate the
      concept of fair and speedy trial which are the  imperative  facets  of
      Article 21 of the Constitution.

  37. The next limb of attack pertains to scuttling of liberty of the person
      who is made an accused for an offence under the Act.  There can  never
      be any shadow of doubt that sans liberty, the human dignity is  likely
      to be comatosed.  The liberty of an individual cannot  be  allowed  to
      live on the support of a  ventilator.   Long  back  in  the  glory  of
      liberty, Henry Patrick, had to say this: -

      “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of
      chains and slavery? – Forbid it, Almighty  God!  –  I  know  not  what
      course others may take, but, as for me, give me  liberty  or  give  me

  38. When the liberty of an individual is atrophied, there is a feeling  of
      winter of discontent.  Personal liberty has its own glory and is to be
      put on a pedestal in trial to try offenders, it is controlled  by  the
      concept of “rational liberty”.  In essence, liberty of  an  individual
      should not be allowed  to  be  eroded  but  every  individual  has  an
      obligation to see that he does not violate the laws  of  the  land  or
      affect others’ lawful liberty to lose his own.  The cry of liberty  is
      not to be confused with or misunderstood as unconcerned  senile  shout
      for freedom.  It may be apt to add here that  the  protection  of  the
      collective is the bone marrow and that is why liberty in  a  civilized
      society cannot be absolute.  It is the duty of the  courts  to  uphold
      the dignity of personal liberty.  It is also the duty of the court  to
      see whether the individual crosses the “Lakshman Rekha” that is carved
      out by law is dealt with  appropriately.   In  this  context,  we  may
      profitably reproduce a passage from the judgment in  Ash  Mohammad  v.
      Shiv Raj Singh alias Lalla Babu and another[28]: -
      “17. We are absolutely conscious that liberty of a person  should  not
      be lightly dealt with, for deprivation of  liberty  of  a  person  has
      immense impact on the  mind  of  a  person.  Incarceration  creates  a
      concavity in the personality of an individual. Sometimes it  causes  a
      sense of vacuum. Needless to emphasise, the sacrosanctity  of  liberty
      is paramount in a civilised society. However,  in  a  democratic  body
      polity which is wedded to the rule of law an individual is expected to
      grow within the social restrictions sanctioned by law. The  individual
      liberty is restricted by larger social interest  and  its  deprivation
      must have due sanction of law. In an orderly society an individual  is
      expected to live with dignity having respect for law and  also  giving
      due respect to others’ rights. It is a  well-accepted  principle  that
      the concept of liberty is not in the realm  of  absolutism  but  is  a
      restricted one. The cry of the collective for justice, its desire  for
      peace and harmony and its necessity for security cannot be allowed  to
      be trivialised. The life of an individual living in a society governed
      by the rule of law has to be regulated and such regulations which  are
      the source in law subserve  the  social  balance  and  function  as  a
      significant instrument for protection of human rights and security  of
      the collective. It is because fundamentally laws are  made  for  their
      obedience so that every member of the society lives  peacefully  in  a
      society to achieve his individual as well as social interest. That  is
      why Edmond  Burke  while  discussing  about  liberty  opined,  “it  is
      regulated freedom”.

39.   From the aforesaid, it is quite  clear  that  no  individual  has  any
right to hazard others’ liberty.  The body polity governed by  Rule  of  law
does not permit anti-social acts that lead to a disorderly society.  Keeping
the aforesaid perspective in view, the submission  of  the  learned  counsel
for the petitioner and the argument advanced in oppugnation by  the  learned
counsel for the respondent are to be  appreciated.   It  is  urged  that  an
accused tried under this Act suffers detention as the trial in  other  cases
are not allowed to proceed.  As far as other cases are concerned,  there  is
no prohibition to move an application taking  recourse  to  the  appropriate
provision under the Code of Criminal Procedure for grant of bail.   What  is
stipulated under Section 12 of the Act is that the trial in  other  case  is
to be kept in abeyance.  Special courts have been conferred with  the  power
to try any other offence with which the accused under the Act is charged  at
the same trial.  Quite apart from the above, the Act  empowers  the  special
courts to grant bail to an accused under the Act  though  the  provision  is
rigorous.  Sections 19(4) and  19(5)  deal  with  the  same.   They  are  as
follows: -

      “19. Modified application of certain provisions of the Code –

      (4)   Notwithstanding  anything  contained  in  the  Code,  no  person
      accused of an offence punishable under  this  Act  or  any  rule  made
      thereunder shall, if in custody, be released on bail  or  on  his  own
      bond unless:

      (a)   the Public Prosecutor has been given an  opportunity  to  oppose
           the application for such release, and

      (b)   where the Public Prosecutor opposes the application,  the  Court
           is satisfied that there are  reasonable  grounds  for  believing
           that he is not guilty of such offence and that he is not  likely
           to commit any offence while on bail.

      (5)   The limitations on granting of bail specified in sub-section (4)
      are in addition to the limitations under the Code.”

40.   The said provisions are akin to the provisions  contained  in  Section
37 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

41.    The  provision  under  Section  37  of  the  NDPS  Act,  though  lays
conditions precedent and they are in addition to what  has  been  stipulated
in the Code of Criminal Procedure, yet there is no deprivation  of  liberty.
Be it noted, a more stringent provision is contained in MCOCA under  Section
21 (5).  It reads as under:-

      “21(5)   Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code,  the  accused
      shall not be granted bail if it is noticed by the court that he was on
      bail in an offence under this Act, or under any other Act, on the date
      of the offence in question.”

      A three-Judge Bench in State of Maharashtra v. Bharat Shanti Lal  Shah
and Others[29] dealing with said facet has opined thus:-

      “63.  As discussed above  the  object  of  MCOCA  is  to  prevent  the
      organized  crime  and,  therefore,  there  could  be  reason  to  deny
      consideration of grant of bail if one has committed a similar  offence
      once again after being released on bail  but  the  same  consideration
      cannot be extended to a person who commits an offence under some other
      Act, for commission of an offence under some other Act would not be in
      any case in consonance with the object of the Act which is enacted  in
      order to prevent only organized crime.”

Thereafter, the learned judges observed that the expression  “or  under  any
other Act” in the provision being discriminatory was violative  of  Articles
14 and 21 of the Constitution.  Such a provision is absent in Section 19  of
the  Act.   Thus,  there  being  a  provision  for  grant  of  bail,  though
restricted,  we are disposed to think that the contention that  the  accused
is compelled to languish in custody because of detention under the Act  does
not deserve acceptation and is, accordingly, negatived.

42. The next submission of the learned counsel is that it is in  the  nature
   of preventive detention as is understood  under  Article  22(4)  of  the
   Constitution of India.  The said contention is to be taken note of  only
   to be rejected, for the concept of  preventive  detention  is  not  even
   remotely attracted to the arrest and detention for an offence under  the

43. The next proponement,  as  noted,  pertains  to  the  violation  of  the
   equality clause as enshrined under Article 14 of the Constitution.   Mr.
   Garg has endeavoured to impress upon us that the  accused  who  is  only
   tried by other courts gets the  benefit  of  speedy  trial  whereas  the
   accused tried under this Act has to suffer because trial in other courts
   are kept in abeyance.  We have  already  expressed  our  view  that  the
   concept of speedy and fair trial is neither smothered nor scuttled  when
   the trial in other courts are kept in abeyance.  As far as Article 14 is
   concerned, we do not perceive that the procedure  provided  in  the  Act
   tantamounts to denial of fundamental fairness in  trial.   It  does  not
   really shock the judicial conscience and by no stretch  of  imagination,
   it can be said to be an anathema to the sense of justice.  It is neither
   unfair nor arbitrary.  It is apposite to  note  here  that  there  is  a
   distinction between an accused who faces trial in other courts  and  the
   accused in the special courts because the accused herein is tried by the
   Special Court as he is a gangster as defined under Section 2(c)  of  the
   Act and is  involved  in  anti-social  activities  with  the  object  of
   disturbing public order or of gaining  any  undue  temporal,  pecuniary,
   material or other advantage for himself or any other person.

44. It is a crime of a different nature.   Apart  from  normal  criminality,
   the accused is also involved in organized crime for a different  purpose
   and motive.  The accused persons under the Act belong  to  altogether  a
   different category.  The legislature has felt that they are to be  dealt
   with in a different manner and, accordingly, the trial is mandated to be
   held by the special courts in an expeditious manner.  The  intention  of
   the legislature is to curb such kind  of  organized  crimes  which  have
   become epidemic in the society.  In Kartar Singh (supra),  the  majority
   has said, “Legislation begins where Evil begins”.  The  legislature,  as
   it seems to us, being guided by  its  sacrosanct  duty  to  protect  the
   individual members of society to enjoy their rights without fear and see
   that some people do not become a menace to the society in a singular  or
   collective manner, has enacted such a provision.   In this  context,  we
   may refer with profit to the authority in  The  Works  Manager,  Central
   Railway Workshop, Jhansi v. Vishwanath and others[30], wherein a  three-
   Judge Bench, though in a different context, has  observed  that  certain
   types of enactments are more responsive to some  urgent  social  demands
   and also have more immediate and  visible  impact  on  social  vices  by
   operating more directly to achieve social reforms.  We have referred  to
   the said observations only to highlight how the legislature in a welfare
   State immediately steps in for social reforms to eradicate social vices.
    Similarly, sometimes it is compelled  to  take  steps  to  control  the
   frenzied criminal action of some anti-social people.   In  the  case  at
   hand it can be stated with certitude that the legislature has felt  that
   there should be curtailment of the  activities  of  the  gangsters  and,
   accordingly, provided for stern  delineation  with  such  activities  to
   establish stability in society where citizens  can  live  in  peace  and
   enjoy a secured life.  It has to be kept uppermost in mind that  control
   of crime by making appropriate legislation is the most important duty of
   the legislature in a democratic polity, for it is necessary  to  scuttle
   serious  threats  to  the  safety  of  the  citizens.   Therefore,   the
   legislature has, in actuality, responded  to  the  actual  feelings  and
   requirements of the collective.

45. Thus, the accused under the Act  is  in  a  distinct  category  and  the
   differentiation between the two, namely, a person arrayed as an  accused
   in respect of offences under other Acts and an accused under the Act  is
   a rational one.  It cannot be said to be arbitrary.  It does not  defeat
   the concept of permissible classification.  The majority in Kartar Singh
   (supra) has expressed thus: -

      “218. The principle  of  legislative  classification  is  an  accepted
      principle whereunder persons may be classified into  groups  and  such
      groups may differently be treated if there is a reasonable  basis  for
      such difference or distinction.  The rule of differentiation  is  that
      in enacting laws differentiating between different persons  or  things
      in different circumstances which govern one set of persons or  objects
      such laws may not necessarily be the same as those  governing  another
      set of persons or objects so that the question  of  unequal  treatment
      does not really arise between persons governed by different conditions
      and different set of circumstances.”

46.  Tested  on  the  touchstone  of   the   abovestated   principles,   the
   irresistible conclusion is that the classification is in the permissible
   realm of Article 14 of the Constitution.  Therefore, the submission that
   Section 12 invites the wrath of Article 14 of the Constitution  is  sans
   substratum and, accordingly, we have no hesitation in repelling the same
   and we so do.

47. In  view  of  the  aforesaid  analysis,  we  uphold  the  constitutional validity of Section 12 of the Uttar Pradesh  Gangsters  and  Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986 as it does not  infringe  any  of  the facets of Articles  14  and  21  of  the  Constitution  of  India.   Ex- consequenti, the writ petition, being devoid of merit, stands dismissed.

                                 [H.L. Gokhale]

                                                             [Dipak Misra]

New Delhi;
August 02, 2013

[1]    AIR 1987 All 235
[2]    Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 317 of 1987 dt. 9.12.1987
[3]    (1994) 3 SCC 569
[4]    (2000) 10 SCC 145
[5]    AIR 1963 SC 703
[6]    AIR 1990 SC 2114
[7]    (2003) 2 SCC 223
[8]    (1970) 1 SCC 98
[9]    AIR 1951 SC 41
[10]   AIR 1958 SC 538
[11]   AIR 1997 SC 1511
[12]   AIR 1961 SC 954
[13]   (1978) 2 SCC 1
[14]   (2005) 8 SCC 534
[15]   (1977) 4 SCC 98
[16]   (1876) 94 US 113 (quoted in Labor Board v. Jones & Laughlin, 391 US
1, 33-34-Corwin, Constitution of the USA, Introduction, p. XXXI)
[17]   (1980) 1 SCC 81
[18]   (1978) 4 SCC 494
[19]   (1980) 1 SCC 98
[20]   (1980) 1 SCC 115
[21]   (1983) 2 SCC 104
[22]   (1983) 2 SCC 68
[23]   (1992) 1 SCC 225
[24]   (2004) 4 SCC 158
[25]   (2012) 9 SCC 408
[26]   (2013) 4 SCC 642
[27]   HENRY, Patrick, Speech in the Virginia Revoluntionary Council,
Richmond, 1175 in Henry, William Writ, Patrick Henry: Life Correspondence
and Speeches (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1891), Vol. 1, p.268.
[28]   (2012) 9 SCC 446
[29]   (2008) 13 SCC 5
[30]   (1969) 3 SCC 95


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