Fundamental Right To Reside Anywhere In/Move Throughout The Country Cannot Be Denied On Flimsy Grounds: Supreme Court on Rahmat Khan vs Deputy Commissioner of Police

In overturning an extremist order against a journalist the Supreme Court stated that a person’s fundamental freedom to reside anywhere in the country and move freely within the government could not be denied on insufficient grounds. Section 56 of the Maharashtra Police Act deals with removing persons about to commit an offence on the movements of the ground, or acts of any person are causing or calculated to cause alarm, danger or harm to person or property. In the matter of Rahmat Khan Rammu Bismillah Versus Deputy Commissioner of Police LL 2021 SC 404, the Court commented on the Fundamental Right to Reside Anywhere In/Move Throughout The Country. The bench, which included Justices Indira Banerjee and V. Ramasubramanian, stated that expulsion should only be used in extreme circumstances to maintain law and order in a community and avoid a breach of public quiet and peace.

In this case, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone-1, Amravati City, issued an order under Section 56(1)(a)(b) of the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951, prohibiting Rahmat Khan @ Rammu Bismillah from entering or returning to Amravati City or Amravati Rural District for one year from the date on which he leaves or is taken out of Amravati City and Amravati Rural District. Khan said before the Supreme Court that he lodged complaints with the government after learning of anomalies in the operation of Madrasas, including misappropriation of public funds provided to Madrasas in Amravati District. On the 13th of October, 2017, he urged that the Collector and the police investigate Madrasas’ theft of government funds in conjunction with government personnel. He also filed a public interest lawsuit in this matter with the High Court. Following that, he was subjected to externment proceedings, which culminated in the contested order.

The Court noted that the Appellant’s extrenment order resulted from the journalist’s accusations against government officials, some Madarasas, and those associated with such Madarasas. The latter afterwards filed FIRs against the Appellant. The FIRs are vengeful and punitive, and they are intended to harm people. The Court observed,

“The deplorable allegation of demand for ransom by threat, prima facie, appears to have been concocted to give the complaint a colour of intense gravity. Mr Patil argued that the Appellant had been extorting money under threat of exposing the illegal activities of certain officials and certain Madrasas or educational institutions. Even assuming that there was substance in the allegation, which appears to be doubtful, an order of externment was unwarranted. There was no reason for the complainants who lodged the FIRs to get terrorized by the alleged threats, allegedly meted out by the Appellant, for if those complainants had not indulged in unlawful acts, they had nothing to fear. Even otherwise, a threat to lodge a complaint cannot possibly be a ground for passing an order of 18 externment under Section 56 of the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951, more so, when the responses of government authorities to queries raised by the Appellant under the Right to Information Act clearly indicate that the complaints are not frivolous ones, without substance. A person cannot be denied his fundamental right to reside anywhere in the country or to move freely throughout the country, on flimsy grounds.”

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