The Supreme Court Friday told the high courts to pronounce their verdicts as expeditiously as possible in the cases involving the personal liberty of a person and more so when total detention period is not more than one year or less.
“We remind all the High Courts that in a matter of this nature affecting the personal liberty of a citizen, it is the duty of the Courts to take all endeavours and efforts for an early decision,” said a bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
Pronouncing the judgment, Justice Sathasivam said: “We request all the High Courts to give priority for the disposal of the matters relating to personal liberty of a citizen, particularly, when the detention period is for one year or less than a year and, more so, after hearing the parties, the decision must be known to the affected party without unreasonable delay.”
The court said this while rejecting an appeal by Baby Devassy Chully alias Bobby who had challenged the March 16, 2006, order of Bombay High Court by which it had rejected his petition challenging his detention order. Bobby had moved the high court on June 2, 2005.
Bobby had challenged the May 3, 2005, order by a joint secretary directing his detention under Section 3(1) of the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974.
The detention order was passed taking note of Bobby’s “high propensity and potentiality to indulge in prejudicial activities and with a view to prevent him from abetting the smuggling of goods in future”.
Bobby was accused of being engaged in the smuggling of the diesel oil for sale in India.
His name was revealed to the Mumbai Zonal Unity of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence by Sayyed Hussain Madar alias Chand who was to purchase to the smuggled oil brought to Mumbai from Muscat (Oman).
The court said that in the case on hand, “we feel that keeping the writ petition pending after hearing the parties and compelling the detenu to wait for 5 months to know the result of his petition, cannot be accepted”.
The top court said this on the plea by Bobby’s counsel that the appeal before the high court was filed on June 3, 2005, and it, after hearing all the parties, reserved its order Oct 24, 2005 but pronounced it March 16, 2006 – nearly five months after reserving its order.
Bobby’s counsel contended that because of this “the detenu could not know the fate of his petition for a period of five months when the detention period was for one year”.