Bombay HC asks govt to act expeditiously in deciding detention cases

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A division bench comprising Justice Abhay Oka and MS Sonak repeatedly questioned senior officials over the delay in making their decision on the plea of a person who has been detailed under the laws of special detention cases. The Bombay High court ordered the government to act effectively and quickly when the liberty of a person is at risk.

Such a delay is completely irrational and unconstitutional, ruled the High Court, ordering immediate release of Jalgaon’s Madhukar Patil.

The HC further pointed out that the authority entrusted with the responsibility of deciding on a plea of a detained person must act expeditiously and any delay made is both unconstitutional and irresponsible. The court added “This right to represent and to have the representation considered at the earliest flows from the constitutional guarantee of the right to personal liberty”.

As per the criminal laws, like the IPC, an arrested person must be produced before a magistrate within a period of 24 hours. However, there are special cases of detention laws that permit the state to put the person in preventive detention for a period of one year. Such laws include the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities, Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Slumlords, Bootleggers, Drug Offenders and Dangerous Persons Act (MPDA).

On February 03, Patil, who was detained under MPDA, filed a representation before the additional chief secretary. The additional chief secretary waited for remarks from the detaining authority and when it finally came, he failed to take any proper action stating that the remarks were completely unsatisfactory.

The HC, setting aside the order of detention of Patil concluded that as there is no consideration, much less disposal of the representation by the detainee, it is sufficient to impair the legal validity of the continued detention of the petitioner.