23 Aug 2023 1:49 PM GMT
Observing that the provisions of Uttar Pradesh Control of Goondas Act, 1970 are being rampantly missed, the Allahabad High Court has directed the State Government to form uniform guidelines by October 31 regarding the applicability of this Act The bench of Justice Rahul Chaturvedi and Justice Mohd. Azhar Husain Idrisi ordered thus as it observed that in the state of UP, there is no uniformity...
Observing that the provisions of Uttar Pradesh Control of Goondas Act, 1970 are being rampantly missed, the Allahabad High Court has directed the State Government to form uniform guidelines by October 31 regarding the applicability of this Act
The bench of Justice Rahul Chaturvedi and Justice Mohd. Azhar Husain Idrisi ordered thus as it observed that in the state of UP, there is no uniformity in the executive authorities of the districts of UP regarding the applicability of this "deterrent" enactment causing "unwarranted piling up of the cases", challenging the notices under this Act etc.
The Court was essentially dealing with a writ petition filed by one Govardhan challenging the issuance of a notice issued to him under Section 3 of the UP 'Goondas Act' (externment). The said notice was issued by the Additional District Magistrate (Finance & Revenue), Aligarh after finding him to a 'habitual offender' or involved in the cases mentioned in Section 2(b) of the Uttar Pradesh Control of Goondas Act, 1970.
For context, a person who is branded as “Goonda” under the Act has to be ousted from the municipal limits of the city as a preventive measure by the executive authorities of the district by passing an externment order under Section 3. It has to be ascertained that the person either himself or as a member or leader of a gang, who habitually commits the offences mentioned in the Section 2(b) of the Act or has the tendency to commit the offence time and again.
Before the Court, his counsel argued that in the notice issued to him, there is a description of only one criminal case and one beat report against the petitioner while as per the definition and law settled by the Court "one" cannot be treated to be a 'habitual offender' unless and until there is a tendency of recurrence of the offence.
It was further argued that on the instant case, there is a solitary case to the credit of the petitioner, in which he has been granted anticipatory bail till the conclusion of the trial.
At the outset, the Court noted that the indiscreet exercise of provisions of the Goondas Act and sending the notices to the persons is not based on executive authorities' sweet will or choice and when such notices are issued on the basis of a solitary case, it become quite irritating.
"In the instant case there is the solitary case and solely on this basis no executive authority can justify that we find that this notice is nothing, but a sheer abuse of power vested in the executive authorities of the district," the Court observed.
Further, the Court also emphasised that it is a fundamental right of every citizen to reside peacefully and profess his business, however, the Court added, if the executive authorities are issuing notice under this deterrent law, then they must be doubly sure about the individual's past image, his past credentials, his family, social educational back ground.
"...after assessing all these factors if the executive authorities come to the conclusion that individual is a “Goonda” or a potential threat to society at large and should be thrown out from the municipal limits, then only by well-reasoned order, after applying his own independent judicial mind pass a well-reasoned order for externment of that individual or even issue notice to that individual calling upon him to justify his past conduct," the Court remarked.
"The public perception regarding the individuals' image carries weight. If the individual is enjoying a bad reputation and name in the area and coupled with the fact that he has got a chequered past then executive authorities are well within their right to issue notice to that individual or to pass an externment order for that individual. Trivial and insignificant offences having one or two in number would not make the person branded as a “Goonda”. This adjective “Goonda” itself carries bundle load of bad name, and the executive authorities casually and irresponsibly brand a person as a Goonda, goes without saying, that his entire future and reputation would go to dogs and cause irreparable damage to his name and reputation of his family," the Court further said.
However, with regard to the instant case, the Court found that the notice was issued without any application of mind on a "prescribed printed proforma" by the executive authorities. Not only this, the Court said, except for the enumeration of the pending solitary case and a beat report, there is a total lack of any judicial mind spelling out the general nature of material allegations against the petitioner, making the entire impugned notice per se defective and cannot be acted upon any further.
In view of this, the Court also recorded its strong displeasure over such type of routine pasting of such provisions of the Uttar Pradesh Control of Goondas Act, 1970 and Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986 in a "most capricious and casual way".
Consequently, directing the state government to form uniform guidelines for the invocation of the Goondas Act, the Court allowed the writ plea.
Case title - Govardhan vs. State of U.P. 2023 LiveLaw (AB) 278 [CRIMINAL MISC. WRIT PETITION No. - 12619 of 2023]
Case Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (AB) 278
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