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Article 22(5) | Detenu Signing In English Does Not Mean He Has Working Knowledge Of The Language Or Understands Preventive Detention Order: Delhi HC

Nupur Thapliyal
2 Sep 2022 2:00 PM GMT
Article 22(5) | Detenu Signing In English Does Not Mean He Has Working Knowledge Of The Language Or Understands Preventive Detention Order: Delhi HC
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The Delhi High Court has held that simply putting signatures in English language does not "by any stretch of imagination" show that the detenue understands English language and as a consequence understood the grounds of detention and the documents relied upon.A division bench comprising of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar observed:"…the mere signing of documents in...

The Delhi High Court has held that simply putting signatures in English language does not "by any stretch of imagination" show that the detenue understands English language and as a consequence understood the grounds of detention and the documents relied upon.

A division bench comprising of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar observed:

"…the mere signing of documents in English does not automatically translate to the detenue having a working knowledge of English so as to fulfill the mandate of Article 22(5)."

The Court made the observation while quashing two detention orders issued by Joint Secretary, Govt. of India under sec. 3(1) of the Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1988 and by Deputy Secretary, Govt. of India confirming the detention order qua petitioner for a period of one year along with supporting affidavit.

The acknowledgment on the list of relied documents supplied by the respondents authorities to the petitioner detenue bore a stamp followed with an inscription on each page in English language reading as "I have seen, read and Understood the contents of the Grounds of Detention as well as Relied upon Documents/Detention order issued under F.No. 11011/07/2021 PITNDPS 01.04.2021. All these Documents are Clear and Legible."

Looking at the stamped acknowledgments, the Court was of the view that the signatures of the detenue were obtained in a very casual, routine and mechanical manner.

"There is not even a whisper in these acknowledgments obtained that the detention order/relied upon documents have been understood by the detenue in the language known to him i.e Hindi or explained to him in vernacular. Simply because the detenue has put his signatures in English does not by any stretch of imagination go to show that he understands English and as a consequence understood the grounds of detention and relied upon document," the Court said.

It also said that the manner in which the signatures of the detenue were obtained left no doubt that the contents of the detention order were not explained to the detenue in vernacular language that the detenue understood, i.e., Hindi.

The Bench also added that simply because the detenue had put his signatures in English language did not mean that he was proficient in the same or could understand the contents of the documents which were in English.

"In our view, if the detenue knew or understood English then nothing would prevent him from giving acknowledgment in English, rather he gave acknowledgment in Hindi and signed in English. Signing in English and writing and understanding English are two different things and it cannot be said that if one signs in English, therefore he has full understanding of the language," the Court said.

The Court also observed that the detaining authority was under an obligation to communicate to the detenue the grounds of detention effectively and fully in Hindi language which the detenue understood even if that entailed the translation of the grounds to the language known to him.

"Where a detenue is illiterate, it has been held by the Hon‟ble Supreme Court that the mandate of Article 22(5) would be served only if the grounds of detention are explained to the detenue in a language that he understands, so as to enable him to avail the fundamental right of making an effective representation," the Bench added.

The Court thus quashed the two impugned orders and allowed the plea.

Case Title: SHARAFAT SHEIKH @ MD. AYUB v. UNION OF INDIA & ANR.

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 833

Click Here To Read Order 


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