"Citizens' Freedom At Stake; Need To Educate Officers Where State's Territory Ends": Gujarat High Court Raps SDM For Exceeding Jurisdiction
The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday came down heavily on the State's authorities for encroaching upon the liberty of citizens by externing people from the Union territories (outside the Gujarat State's Jurisdiction), upon which they do not have any jurisdiction. The Bench of Justice Paresh Upadhyay was hearing a challenge to the order passed by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate,...
The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday came down heavily on the State's authorities for encroaching upon the liberty of citizens by externing people from the Union territories (outside the Gujarat State's Jurisdiction), upon which they do not have any jurisdiction.
The Bench of Justice Paresh Upadhyay was hearing a challenge to the order passed by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Navsari, externing petitioner, one Sagar Bhamare, for a period of two years from several Districts of Gujarat and also from the Union Territories of Daman and Dadra Nagar Haveli.
The impugned externment order had been passed in exercise of powers under Section 56(b) of the Gujarat Police Act, 1951 based on the FIRs starting from the year 2015.
In this backdrop, the Court noted thus:
"The Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Navsari has passed the impugned order of externment of the petitioner from even the Union Territories of Daman and Dadra Nagar Haveli, over which, not only the concerned Sub-Division Magistrate can not have any jurisdiction, even the Act can not be made applicable."
Reply of the concerned Sub-Divisional Magistrate
Importantly, the Court also perused the Affidavit in reply filed by the concerned Sub-Divisional Magistrate, justifying the externment order which said that various orders had been passed in last 10 years by Sub Divisional Magistrates of Navsari and in most of the order, bootleggers were externed from the contentious Districts including Union Territories.
It was also stated that such an order was passed keeping in view the fact that if during the externment period, the petitioner stays in nearby Union Territories then the petitioner could supply illegal liquor and make stronger connections with local breweries and liquor seller, which could worsen the situation and therefore, it was essential that even the petitioner ought not to have stayed within the contentious Union Territories.
However, it was also added a communication had been forwarded by the office of the Director-General and Inspector General of Police, under which it had been clarified that provisions of Sections 56 and 57 of the Gujarat Police Act should be exercised for within the territory of Gujarat only.
It further averred that for other nearby States and Union Territories, concerned Superintendent of Police has to send the details of externing person to the concerned Superintendent of Police of neighbouring States or Union Territories about the criminal cases pending against him and the geographical area in which the person is active, etc.
Expressing unhappiness over the fact that the Authorities are encroaching upon the liberty of the citizen casually and unauthorisedly, the Court also remarked thus:
"…circulars are required to be issued by the State Authorities to educate the Officers working as Sub-Divisional Magistrates, where the territory of the State of Gujarat ends and further where the powers can not be exercised by the Sub-Divisional Magistrates. The freedom of the citizen is at stake because of such exercise of powers. This is the state of affairs and this is how the defences are taken before the Court."
In totality, the Court added, not the only cost needs to be imposed against the State, the State Authorities also need to take corrective / punitive measures in this regard.
In this backdrop, the petition was allowed and the impugned externment order was quashed and set aside.
The respondent Authorities were directed to pay cost of Rs.10,000/- to the petitioner and The State Authorities were further directed to take appropriate actions against the erring Officer.
Case title - Sagarbhai Sadashiv Bhamare Versus State Of Gujarat