The High Court of Bombay passed a judgement on 05 June 2023. In the case of SMT. AJAY RAM THORAT Vs STATE OF MAHARASHTRA AND ORS. IN CRIMINAL WRIT PETITION NO. 1490 OF 2023 which was passed by a single bench comprising of HONOURABLE SHRI JUSTICE S. V. KOTWAL, the court examined a petition challenging an externment order issued by the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone-1, Pimpri Chinchwad. The petitioner was externed from the limits of the Pimpri Chinchwad police Commissionerate, Pune City Police Commissionerate, and Pune Rural for a period of two years. The court carefully analysed the arguments presented by both parties and ultimately decided in favour of the petitioner. The judgment emphasized the importance of recording subjective satisfaction while passing an externment order and highlighted the potential violation of fundamental rights if such satisfaction is not adequately established.
The petitioner received a show-cause notice under Section 59 of the Maharashtra Police Act, which cited several registered offenses from 2009 to 2021. One of the mentioned cases resulted in the petitioner’s acquittal. Subsequently, an externment order was issued by the Deputy Commissioner of Police based on the material presented during the inquiry. The petitioner appealed against this order under Section 60 of the Maharashtra Police Act, but the appeal was dismissed.
THE PETITIONER’S ARGUMENTS
The petitioner’s counsel contended that the externing authority had considered offenses from 2009 and 2015, which were relatively old and irrelevant. Moreover, the petitioner had been acquitted in the 2015 case mentioned in the notice. The counsel argued that there was a significant delay between the issuance of the first notice and the passing of the externment order, suggesting that the order itself was unnecessary. Additionally, reliance was placed on the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Deepak Versus State of Maharashtra and others (2019) 5 SCC 344, emphasizing the requirement for recording subjective satisfaction regarding the necessity of passing an externment order for the maximum period of two years.
THE STATE’S ARGUMENTS
The learned Assistant Public Prosecutor (APP) representing the state relied on the reasons mentioned in the externment order. It was argued that the petitioner’s acts had caused alarm in the public, posing harm and danger to society. Based on these grounds, the externing authority was satisfied that externing the petitioner was necessary for a maximum period of two years.
In order to understand the court’s decision, it is important to consider the relevant laws and judicial precedents involved in externment orders. The Maharashtra Police Act, under which the externment order was issued, provides the framework for maintaining public order and safety in the state. Section 59 of the Act empowers the authorities to issue show-cause notices to individuals to explain why they should not be externed from a particular area. Section 60 allows the aggrieved party to appeal against the externment order.
The court, in this case, referred to the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Deepak Versus State of Maharashtra and others (2019) 5 SCC 344. The Supreme Court had observed that when passing an order of externment for the maximum period of two years, the competent authority must demonstrate an application of mind and record subjective satisfaction regarding the necessity of such an order. Failure to do so may result in the imposition of unreasonable restrictions on the fundamental rights guaranteed under clause (d) of Article 19(1) of the Constitution of India.
COURT’S ANALYSIS AND DECISION
The court carefully considered the arguments presented by both sides and focused on the issue of subjective satisfaction. Referring to the Supreme Court judgment in Deepak’s case, the court observed that an externment order must disclose an application of mind by the competent authority and record its subjective satisfaction regarding the necessity of passing the order for the maximum period of two years, based on the material on record.
Upon examining the externment order in question, the court found no indication of subjective satisfaction or reasons provided by the externing authority for externing the petitioner for the maximum period of two years. Consequently, the court concluded that the order suffered from the vice of imposing unreasonable restrictions without adequate justification. Accordingly, the court allowed the petition, quashed, and set aside the externment order, and disposed of the writ petition.
The recent judgment serves as a reminder of the importance of upholding fundamental rights, even in cases involving externment orders. It emphasizes the necessity for the competent authority to demonstrate an application of mind and record subjective satisfaction when passing an order that restricts an individual’s rights. By scrutinizing the externment order and finding it lacking in justifying the maximum period of two years, the court ensures that unreasonable restrictions are not imposed without proper consideration. This judgment contributes to the ongoing efforts to strike a balance between public safety concerns and the protection of individual liberties, as outlined in the relevant provisions of the Maharashtra Police Act and judicial precedents.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY VETHIKA D PORWAL, BMS COLLEGE OF LAW