Mumbai: Observing that principles of natural justice were not followed, the Bombay High Court has quashed and set aside orders of police and home department externing a resident from the limits of Thane city for allegedly creating terror in the locality he resided.
Justices Mridula Bhatkar and PV Hardas observed in a recent order that in both the cases, principles of natural justice were not followed as the petitioner had not been given details about the dates on which statements of in-camera witnesses were recorded.
"If he does not have the details, how can he defend himself in response to the show cause notice issued to him regarding his externment?" the judges asked.
Accordingly, the judges set aside the order of Thane police externing Akash Suresh Chavan from Thane`s Kopri colony and also quashed an order of Principal Home Secretary to Maharashtra Government rejecting his (Chavan`s) appeal against the externment order.
Thane Additional Commissioner of Police had passed an order of externment on August 17 last year under the Bombay Police Act externing Chavan from the limits of Thane. Being aggrieved, Chavan filed an appeal which, too, was rejected by the Principal Home Secretary on February 12 this year.
Chavan was prosecuted by Thane Police in three different cases. He was charged for assault with weapons like sticks and iron rod. According to police, he was creating terror in the area and forcibly extorting money from people and abusing them. Police charged him for offences punishable under IPC sections such as assault and criminal intimidation.
The Deputy Commissioner of Police, Wagle Estate, Thane, therefore, issued a show cause notice on February 21, 2012 to Chavan under section 59(1) of Bombay Police Act.
Pursuant to the notice, the impugned order of the externment was passed against Chavan and the same order was maintained by the appellate authority (Principal Home Secretary).
Chavan`s Counsel UN Tripathi argued that in the notice issued under Section 59(1) of the Bombay Police Act, the authorities did not mention the dates on which the statements of in-camera witnesses were recorded, so the petitioner was not well informed about the period of imputation he was supposed to face while answering the notice.
He further pointed out that in the orders, there was a mention of three cases registered against the petitioner. However, the petitioner was subsequently acquitted from one of the cases and thus, on the date when the appellate authority passed the order only two cases were pending.
The counsel submitted that the order passed by the appellate authority was factually wrong and illegal and should be quashed and set aside.
In reply, public prosecutor PS Hingorani, defended the orders passed by the State on the ground that the petitioner was a terror in the locality and if remained in Thane District, the witnesses will not come forward and this will affect the investigation adversely.
The High Court felt that it was necessary on the part of police to inform the petitioner the details of the allegations on which the threat perception to the witnesses was based.
"The principles of natural justice demand that unless the information in respect of the alleged prejudicial activities of the petitioner are communicated to him, he is not in a position to answer the show cause notice," the judges said while setting aside the externment order.