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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974, -COFEPOSA - Detention orders passed on sound principles and enquiry - except the administrative compulsory consumption of time no delay was occurred - granting of bail by regular courts was not the criteria to considered while ordering Detention = Apex court too dismissed the appeal = LICIL ANTONY ..... APPELLANT VERSUS STATE OF KERALA & ANR. .... RESPONDENTS = 2014 (April.Part ) http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41416

   Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974, -COFEPOSA  - Detention orders passed on sound principles and enquiry - except the administrative compulsory consumption of time no delay was occurred - granting of bail by regular courts was not the criteria to considered while ordering Detention = Apex court too dismissed the appeal =
declined to quash the order of detention passed  under
    Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities
    Act, 1974, hereinafter referred to as “COFEPOSA”,  =
Prejudicial activity which prompted the
    sponsoring authority to recommend for detention  of  the  detenu  under
    COFEPOSA had taken place on 17th of  November,  2012.   
The  allegation
    related to export of red sanders through International Container Trans-
    shipment Terminal. 
The sponsoring authority took some time to determine
    whether the prejudicial activity of  the  detenu  justifies  detention.
    During the inquiry it transpired that the detenu and  two  others  were
    part of a well-organised gang operating in smuggling of red sanders  in
    India and abroad.  
It is only thereafter  that  on  17th  of  December,
    2012, the sponsoring authority made recommendation for the detention of
    the detenu and two others under Section  3  of  the  COFEPOSA. 
 As  the
    allegation had  international  ramification,  the  time  taken  by  the
    sponsoring authority in making recommendation  cannot  be  said  to  be
    inordinate.  
The proposals of the sponsoring authority were received in
    the office of the detaining authority on 21st of  December,  2012.   As
    detention affects the liberty of a citizen, it has  to  be  scrutinised
    and  evaluated  with  great  care,  caution  and  circumspection.   
The
    detaining authority upon such scrutiny and evaluation decided  on  25th
    of January, 2013 to place the proposals before the screening  committee
    and forwarded the same to it on 1st of February, 2013.   
If one expects
    care and caution in scrutiny and evaluation of the proposals, the  time
    taken by the detaining authority to  place  the  proposals  before  the
    screening committee cannot be said to have been taken after  inordinate
    delay.  
The meeting of the screening committee took  place  on  1st  of
    February, 2013 in which the cases of the detenu and the two others were
    considered.  
The screening committee concurred with the  recommendation
    of the sponsoring authority.  As  stated  by  the  respondents  in  the
    counter  affidavit,  the  record  of  the  sponsoring  authority,   the
    screening committee and other materials consisted of over  1000  pages.
    As the final call was to be taken by the detaining  authority,  it  was
    expected to scrutinise, evaluate  and  analyse  all  the  materials  in
    detail.  
After the said process, the  detaining  authority  decided  on
    15th of April, 2013 to detain the detenu  and  two  others.   The  time
    taken for coming to  the  decision  has  sufficiently  been  explained.
    After the decision to detain the detenu and two others was taken, draft
    grounds were prepared and approved on 19th of April, 2013.  
As  one  of
    the detenue was a Tamilian, the grounds of detention were translated in
    Malyalam and Tamil which  took  some  time  and  ultimately  sufficient
    number of copies and the documents relied on were prepared  by  3rd  of
    May, 2013. 
Thereafter, the order of detention was  passed  on  6th  of
    May, 2013.

           From what we have stated above, it cannot be said that there  is
    undue delay in passing the  order  of  detention  and  the  live  nexus
    between the prejudicial activity has snapped. 
We  cannot  expect  the  detaining
    authority to know each  and  every  detail  concerning  the  detenu  in
    different parts of the country. 
 Not only this, the conditions  imposed
    while granting bail to the detenu which we have reproduced above in  no
    way restrains him from continuing with his prejudicial activity or  the
    consequences, if he continues to indulge.  
We are in agreement with the
    High Court that the bail order passed by  the  trial  court  in  Andhra
    Pradesh is not a crucial and vital document and  the  omission  by  the
    detaining authority to consider the same has, in no  way  affected  its
    subjective satisfaction.

          From the conspectus of what we have observed, we do not  find  any
    error in the order of detention and the order passed by the High Court,
    refusing to quash the same.  In the result, we do not find any merit in
    the appeal and the same is dismissed accordingly.

     2014 (April.Part ) http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41416
CHANDRAMAULI KR. PRASAD, PINAKI CHANDRA GHOSE

                                                    REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO._872 OF 2014
               (@SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRL.) No.988 of 2014)


   LICIL ANTONY                         ..... APPELLANT


                                   VERSUS

   STATE OF KERALA & ANR.             .... RESPONDENTS




                               J U D G M E N T





    Chandramauli Kr. Prasad

           Petitioner Licil Antony happens to be the wife of detenu  Antony
    Morris and aggrieved by the order dated 6th of November, 2013 passed by
    a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court in Writ  Petition  (Criminal)
    No. 412 of 2013 declining to quash the order of detention passed  under
    Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities
    Act, 1974, hereinafter referred to as “COFEPOSA”,  has  preferred  this
    special leave petition.




           Leave granted.




           Shorn of unnecessary details, facts giving rise to  the  present
    appeal are that on the allegation that the appellant’s  husband  Antony
    Morris, hereinafter referred to as the detenu, intended to  export  red
    sanders through International Container  Trans-shipment  Terminal,  was
    arrested on 17th of  November,  2012  by  the  Directorate  of  Revenue
    Intelligence and a case was registered against him.  He was released on
    bail by the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate  (Economic  Offences),
    Ernakulam.   The  Directorate  of  Revenue  Intelligence,   hereinafter
    referred to as ‘DRI’, by its letter dated 17th of December,  2012  made
    recommendation for the detenu’s  detention  besides  two  others  under
    Section 3 of the COFEPOSA alleging  that  they  are  part  of  a  well-
    organised gang operating in smuggling  of  red  sanders  in  India  and
    abroad.  The proposals of the  DRI,  hereinafter  referred  to  as  the
    sponsoring authority, were received in  the  office  of  the  detaining
    authority on 21st of December, 2012.   The  detaining  authority  after
    scrutiny and evaluation of the proposals and the documents, decided  on
    25th of January, 2013 to  place  the  proposals  before  the  screening
    committee and forwarded the same to it on 1st of February,  2013.   The
    proposals  of  the  detenu’s  detention  along  with  two  others  were
    considered  by  the  screening  committee  which  concurred  with   the
    recommendation of the sponsoring authority.   The  detaining  authority
    considered the facts and circumstances of the case as also the  reports
    of the sponsoring authority  and  the  screening  committee  and  other
    materials running over 1000 pages and took decision on 15th  of  April,
    2013 to detain the detenu and two others.   Draft grounds for detention
    in English were approved on 19th of April,  2013  and  as  one  of  the
    detenue was a Tamilian, time till  3rd  of  May,  2013  was  taken  for
    translation of the documents relied on in Malyalam and  Tamil  and  for
    preparation of sufficient number of copies.  Ultimately, with a view to
    prevent the detenu  from  engaging  in  the  smuggling  of  goods,  the
    detaining authority passed order of detention dated 6th of  May,  2013.
    It was served on the detenu on 11th of  June,  2013.   The  grounds  of
    detention dated 8th of May, 2013 were made available to  the detenu  on
    13th of June, 2013.  The detenu was produced before the Advisory Board,
    which  found  sufficient  grounds  for  his  continued  detention  and,
    accordingly, the detaining authority issued order dated 24th of August,
    2013, and confirmed the order of detention for a  period  of  one  year
    with effect from 11th of June, 2013, the date of detention.

           It is relevant here to state that detenu was earlier arrested in
    connection with Kallur Police Station FIR No.57 of 2012  under  Section
    29 and 32 of  A.P.  Forest  Act,  1937;  Section  29  of  the  Wildlife
    Protection Act, 1972; Section 55(2) of the  Biological  Diversity  Act,
    2002; Rule 3 of the A.P. Sandalwood and Red Sanders Wood Transit Rules,
    1969 and Section 379 of the Indian  Penal  Code.   Judicial  Magistrate
    (First Class), Pakala by order dated 30th of  November,  2012  released
    him on bail and while doing  so  directed  him  to  appear  before  the
    concerned police station on specified days.




           The appellant challenged her husband’s detention before the High
    Court in a writ petition.  By the impugned  order  the  same  has  been
    dismissed.




           Mr. Raghenth Basant, learned counsel for the  appellant  submits
    that there is inordinate delay in passing the order  of  detention  and
    that itself vitiates the same.  He points out that the last prejudicial
    activity which prompted the detaining authority to pass  the  order  of
    detention had taken place on 17th of November, 2012; whereas the  order
    of detention has been passed on 6th of  May,  2013.   He  submits  that
    delay in passing the order has not been explained.




           Mr. M.T. George, learned counsel  appearing  on  behalf  of  the
    respondents  does  not  join  issue  and  admits  that  the  sponsoring
    authority wrote about the necessity  of  preventive  detention  in  its
    letter dated 17th of December, 2012 for the prejudicial activity of the
    detenu which had taken place on 17th of November, 2012 and the order of
    detention  was   passed  on  6th  of  May,  2013  but  this  delay  has
    sufficiently been explained.  He submits that mere delay itself is  not
    sufficient to hold that the order of detention is illegal.




           We  have  given  our  thoughtful  consideration  to  the   rival
    submissions and we have no doubt in our mind that there has to be  live
    link between the prejudicial  activity  and  the  order  of  detention.
    COFEPOSA intends to deal with persons engaged in  smuggling  activities
    who pose a serious threat to the economy and thereby  security  of  the
    nation.  Such persons by virtue of their large resources and  influence
    cause delay in making of an order of detention.  While dealing with the
    question of delay in  making  an  order  of  detention,  the  court  is
    required to be circumspect and has to take a pragmatic view.   No  hard
    and fast formula is possible to be  laid  or  has  been  laid  in  this
    regard.  However, one thing is clear that in case of delay, that has to
    be satisfactorily explained.  After  all,  the  purpose  of  preventive
    detention is to take immediate steps for  preventing  the  detenu  from
    indulging in prejudicial activity.  If there is undue  and  long  delay
    between the prejudicial activity and making of the order  of  detention
    and the delay has not been explained, the order  of  detention  becomes
    vulnerable.   Delay  in  issuing  the  order  of  detention,   if   not
    satisfactorily explained, itself is a ground  to  quash  the  order  of
    detention. No rule with precision has been formulated in  this  regard.
    The test of proximity is not a rigid or a mechanical test.  In case  of
    undue and long delay the court has to investigate whether the  link has
    been broken in the circumstances of each case.

           There are a large number of authorities  which  take  this  view
    and, therefore, it is unnecessary to refer to all of them.  In the case
    of Adishwar Jain v. Union of India   (2006)  11  SCC  339,  this  Court
    observed as follows:

           “8. Indisputably, delay to some extent stands explained. But, we
           fail to understand as to why despite the fact that the  proposal
           for detention was made on 2-12-2004, the order of detention  was
           passed after four months.  We  must  also  notice  that  in  the
           meantime on 20-12-2004, the authorities of the DRI  had  clearly
           stated that transactions after 11-10-2003  were  not  under  the
           scrutiny stating:

              “… In our letter mentioned above, your office  was  requested
              not to issue the DEPB scripts to M/s Girnar Impex Limited and
              M/s Siri  Amar  Exports,  only  in  respect  of  the  pending
              application, if any, filed by these parties up to the date of
              action  i.e.  11-10-2003  as  the  past  exports  were  under
              scrutiny being doubtful as per the intelligence  received  in
              this office. This office never intended to  stop  the  export
              incentives occurring to the parties, after the date of action
              i.e. 11-10-2003. In the civil (sic) your  office  Letter  No.
              B.L.-2/Misc. Am-2003/Ldh dated 17-5-2004  is  being  referred
              to, which is not received in this office. You are, therefore,
              requested to supply photocopy  of  the  said  letter  to  the
              bearer of this letter as this letter is required  for  filing
              reply to the Hon’ble Court.”




              9. Furthermore, as noticed hereinbefore, the  authorities  of
           the DRI by a  letter  dated  28-2-2005  requested  the  bank  to
           defreeze the bank accounts of the appellant.

              10. The said documents, in our opinion, were material.

              11. It was, therefore, difficult to appreciate why  order  of
           detention could not be passed on  the  basis  of  the  materials
           gathered by them.

              12. It is no doubt true that if  the  delay  is  sufficiently
           explained, the same would not be a ground for quashing an  order
           of detention under COFEPOSA, but as in this case a major part of
           delay remains unexplained.”




           Further, this Court had the occasion to consider  this  question
    in the case of Rajinder Arora v. Union of India, (2006) 4  SCC  796  in
    which it has been held as follows:

              “20. Furthermore no explanation whatsoever has  been  offered
           by the respondent as to why the  order  of  detention  has  been
           issued after such a long time. The said question  has  also  not
           been examined by the Authorities before  issuing  the  order  of
           detention.




              21. The question as regards delay in  issuing  the  order  of
           detention has been held to be a valid  ground  for  quashing  an
           order of detention by this Court in T.A. Abdul Rahman  v.  State
           of Kerala (1989) 4 SCC 741 stating: (SCC pp. 748-49,  paras  10-
           11)

                  “10.  The  conspectus  of  the  above  decisions  can  be
               summarised  thus:  The  question  whether  the   prejudicial
               activities of a person necessitating to  pass  an  order  of
               detention is proximate to the time when the order is made or
               the live-link between the  prejudicial  activities  and  the
               purpose of detention is snapped depends  on  the  facts  and
               circumstances of each case. No  hard-and-fast  rule  can  be
               precisely formulated that  would  be  applicable  under  all
               circumstances and no exhaustive guidelines can be laid  down
               in that behalf. It follows that the test of proximity is not
               a rigid or mechanical test  by  merely  counting  number  of
               months  between  the  offending  acts  and  the   order   of
               detention. However, when  there  is  undue  and  long  delay
               between  the  prejudicial  activities  and  the  passing  of
               detention order, the court has  to  scrutinise  whether  the
               detaining authority has satisfactorily examined such a delay
               and afforded a tenable and reasonable explanation as to  why
               such a delay has occasioned, when called upon to answer  and
               further the court has  to  investigate  whether  the  causal
               connection has been broken  in  the  circumstances  of  each
               case.




                  11.  Similarly   when   there   is   unsatisfactory   and
               unexplained delay between the date of order of detention and
               the date of securing the arrest of the detenu, such a  delay
               would throw considerable doubt on  the  genuineness  of  the
               subjective satisfaction of the detaining  authority  leading
               to a legitimate inference that the detaining  authority  was
               not really and genuinely satisfied as regards the  necessity
               for detaining the detenu with a view to preventing him  from
               acting in a prejudicial manner.”

              22. The delay caused in this case in  issuing  the  order  of
           detention has not been explained. In fact,  no  reason  in  that
           behalf whatsoever has been assigned at all.”

           Bearing in mind the principles aforesaid, we proceed to  examine
    the facts of the present case.  Prejudicial activity which prompted the
    sponsoring authority to recommend for detention  of  the  detenu  under
    COFEPOSA had taken place on 17th of  November,  2012.   The  allegation
    related to export of red sanders through International Container Trans-
    shipment Terminal. The sponsoring authority took some time to determine
    whether the prejudicial activity of  the  detenu  justifies  detention.
    During the inquiry it transpired that the detenu and  two  others  were
    part of a well-organised gang operating in smuggling of red sanders  in
    India and abroad.  It is only thereafter  that  on  17th  of  December,
    2012, the sponsoring authority made recommendation for the detention of
    the detenu and two others under Section  3  of  the  COFEPOSA.  As  the
    allegation had  international  ramification,  the  time  taken  by  the
    sponsoring authority in making recommendation  cannot  be  said  to  be
    inordinate.  The proposals of the sponsoring authority were received in
    the office of the detaining authority on 21st of  December,  2012.   As
    detention affects the liberty of a citizen, it has  to  be  scrutinised
    and  evaluated  with  great  care,  caution  and  circumspection.   The
    detaining authority upon such scrutiny and evaluation decided  on  25th
    of January, 2013 to place the proposals before the screening  committee
    and forwarded the same to it on 1st of February, 2013.   If one expects
    care and caution in scrutiny and evaluation of the proposals, the  time
    taken by the detaining authority to  place  the  proposals  before  the
    screening committee cannot be said to have been taken after  inordinate
    delay.  The meeting of the screening committee took  place  on  1st  of
    February, 2013 in which the cases of the detenu and the two others were
    considered.  The screening committee concurred with the  recommendation
    of the sponsoring authority.  As  stated  by  the  respondents  in  the
    counter  affidavit,  the  record  of  the  sponsoring  authority,   the
    screening committee and other materials consisted of over  1000  pages.
    As the final call was to be taken by the detaining  authority,  it  was
    expected to scrutinise, evaluate  and  analyse  all  the  materials  in
    detail.  After the said process, the  detaining  authority  decided  on
    15th of April, 2013 to detain the detenu  and  two  others.   The  time
    taken for coming to  the  decision  has  sufficiently  been  explained.
    After the decision to detain the detenu and two others was taken, draft
    grounds were prepared and approved on 19th of April, 2013.  As  one  of
    the detenue was a Tamilian, the grounds of detention were translated in
    Malyalam and Tamil which  took  some  time  and  ultimately  sufficient
    number of copies and the documents relied on were prepared  by  3rd  of
    May, 2013.  Thereafter, the order of detention was  passed  on  6th  of
    May, 2013.

           From what we have stated above, it cannot be said that there  is
    undue delay in passing the  order  of  detention  and  the  live  nexus
    between the prejudicial activity has snapped.  As observed earlier, the
    question whether the prejudicial activity of a person necessitating  to
    pass an order of detention is proximate to the time when the  order  is
    made or the live link between the prejudicial activity and the  purpose
    of detention is snapped depends on the facts and circumstances of  each
    case.  Even in a case of undue or long delay  between  the  prejudicial
    activity  and  the  passing  of  detention  order,  if  the   same   is
    satisfactorily explained and a tenable and  reasonable  explanation  is
    offered, the order of detention is not vitiated.  We must bear in  mind
    that distinction exists between the delay in  making  of  an  order  of
    detention under a law relating to preventive  detention  like  COFEPOSA
    and the delay in complying with procedural safeguards  enshrined  under
    Article 22(5) of the Constitution.  In view of the factual scenario  as
    aforesaid, we are of the opinion that the order of detention is not fit
    to be quashed on  the  ground  of  delay  in  passing  the  same.   The
    conclusion which we have reached is in tune with what has been observed
    by this Court in the case of M. Ahamedkutty v. Union of India, (1990) 2
    SCC 1. It reads as follows:

           “10........ Mere delay in making of an order of detention  under
           a law like the COFEPOSA Act enacted for the purpose  of  dealing
           effectively  with  persons  engaged  in  smuggling  and  foreign
           exchange racketeering who, owing to their  large  resources  and
           influence, have been posing a serious threat to the economy  and
           thereby to the security of the nation,  the  courts  should  not
           merely on account  of  the  delay  in  making  of  an  order  of
           detention  assume  that  such  delay,  if   not   satisfactorily
           explained, must necessarily give rise to an inference that there
           was no sufficient material for the  subjective  satisfaction  of
           the detaining authority or that such subjective satisfaction was
           not genuinely reached. Taking  of  such  a  view  would  not  be
           warranted unless the court finds that the grounds are  stale  or
           illusory or that there was no real nexus between the grounds and
           the impugned order of detention. In  that  case,  there  was  no
           explanation for the delay between February 2, and May 28,  1987,
           yet it could not give rise  to  legitimate  inference  that  the
           subjective satisfaction arrived at by  the  District  Magistrate
           was not genuine or that the grounds were stale  or  illusory  or
           that there was no rational connection between  the  grounds  and
           the order of detention.”

          Mr. Basant, then assails the order of detention on the  ground  of
    its delayed execution.  He points out that the order of  detention  was
    passed on 6th of May, 2013 whereas it was served on the detenu on  11th
    of June, 2013.  He submits that had the  detenu  been  absconding,  the
    appropriate Government ought to have taken recourse to Section 7 of the
    COFEPOSA.  Section 7 of the COFEPOSA confers  power  on  the  detaining
    authority to make a report to a competent Magistrate in relation to  an
    absconding person so as to apply the provisions of Section 82,  83,  84
    and 85 of  the  Code  of  Criminal  Procedure.  It  also  provides  for
    publication of an order in the Official Gazette, directing  the  detenu
    to appear.   It  is  an  admitted  position  that  no  such  report  or
    publication was made.  Accordingly, Mr. Basant submits that  the  order
    of detention is vitiated on the ground of delay in its execution  also.
    In support of the submission he has placed reliance on a  large  number
    of authorities.  We are entirely in  agreement  with  Mr.  Basant  that
    undue and unexplained delay in execution  of  the  order  of  detention
    vitiates it, but in the facts of the present case, it  cannot  be  said
    that such  delay  has  occurred.   As  stated  earlier,  the  order  of
    detention dated 6th of May, 2013 was served on the detenu  on  11th  of
    June, 2013.  It is expected of the detaining authority to take recourse
    to ordinary process at the first instance for service of the  order  of
    detention on a detenu and it is only after the order  of  detention  is
    not served through the said process that recourse to the modes provided
    under Section 7 of the COFEPOSA are  to  be  resorted.   Here,  in  the
    present case, that occasion did not arise as the order of detention was
    served on the detenu on 11th of June, 2013.  Therefore, in our opinion,
    the order of detention cannot be said to have  been  vitiated  on  this
    ground also.

          Lastly, Mr. Basant submits that the detenu was arrested in a  case
    at Andhra Pradesh and while granting bail, the trial  court  at  Andhra
    Pradesh put following conditions:

           “7) The petitioner/accused No.4 shall appear and sign before the
           concerned Station House Officer in between 10.30 AM to  2.00  PM
           on the first week Wednesday of  every  succeeding  month  for  a
           period till the date of filing of charge sheet or until  further
           orders and co-operate with the Investigating Officer.




           8)  The  petitioner/accused  No.4  shall  not  tamper  with  the
           evidence of prosecution witnesses in any way.”




          Mr. Basant submits that the order granting bail to the detenu  and
    the conditions put have not been considered by the detaining authority,
    while passing the order of detention.  He  submits  that  an  order  of
    preventive detention deprives a citizen  of  his  precious  fundamental
    right of liberty and as such, the detaining authority erred in  passing
    the order of detention  without  considering  the  same.   Mr.  George,
    however, submits that as the said order was passed by the  trial  court
    at Andhra Pradesh, it was not within the  knowledge  of  the  detaining
    authority. In any view of the matter, according to him, the same has no
    relevance in decision making process and, therefore,  the  omission  to
    consider that will not render the order of detention  unconstitutional.
    On thoughtful consideration of the  rival  submissions,  the  plea  put
    forth by Mr. George  commends  us.   We  cannot  expect  the  detaining
    authority to know each  and  every  detail  concerning  the  detenu  in
    different parts of the country.  Not only this, the conditions  imposed
    while granting bail to the detenu which we have reproduced above in  no
    way restrains him from continuing with his prejudicial activity or  the
    consequences, if he continues to indulge.  We are in agreement with the
    High Court that the bail order passed by  the  trial  court  in  Andhra
    Pradesh is not a crucial and vital document and  the  omission  by  the
    detaining authority to consider the same has, in no  way  affected  its
    subjective satisfaction.

          From the conspectus of what we have observed, we do not  find  any
    error in the order of detention and the order passed by the High Court,
    refusing to quash the same.  In the result, we do not find any merit in
    the appeal and the same is dismissed accordingly.




                                                  ………………………………………………………………J.



                               (CHANDRAMAULI KR. PRASAD)




                           ………………………………………………………………J.

                                    (PINAKI CHANDRA GHOSE)




    NEW DELHI,
    APRIL 15, 2014.
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