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Telangana High Court Upholds Preventive Detention Of Man Accused Of Duping Poor Farmers

Shrutika Pandey
5 July 2021 11:45 AM GMT
Telangana High Court Upholds Preventive Detention Of Man Accused Of Duping Poor Farmers
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Observing that white-collar crimes against poor farmers should be dealt with an "iron hand" and not leniency, the Telangana High Court upheld preventive detention of a man accused of duping farmers of their hard-earned agricultural produce."Majority of the farmers in our country are illiterate/rustic and have no resources and cannot afford indulging into litigation and they shall not lose...

Observing that white-collar crimes against poor farmers should be dealt with an "iron hand" and not leniency, the Telangana High Court upheld preventive detention of a man accused of duping farmers of their hard-earned agricultural produce.

"Majority of the farmers in our country are illiterate/rustic and have no resources and cannot afford indulging into litigation and they shall not lose their agricultural produce in such a manner. This inability of farmers is being used by the people like the detenu to dupe them and make money on their hard earned agricultural produce, which the farmers get after working hard in the fields, sustaining all kinds of weather and hardship," observed a division bench of Justices A. Rajasheker Reddy and Shameem Akther.

The Court was of the opinion that all the law enforcing agencies should show sensitivity towards the farmers whose agricultural produce is being purchased by third persons/middlemen and payments are not being made.

"Knocking away the hard earned agricultural produce of the farmers by taking advantage of their innocence and thereby duping them, in any event, is not acceptable; and, any leniency shown towards the persons indulging in such acts would put the country's agricultural economy to peril," the order stated.

Accordingly, preventive detention of the detenue-accused under the Telangana Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act, 1986 (PD Act) was upheld.

Background

Advocate G.Malla Reddy, for the respondents, argued that the detenu was involved in eight cases of offences of cheating farmers, avoiding payment and misappropriation of money for personal use. Of the said 8 cases, the detention orders were passed only in three, committed over three successive months. It was also stated that the amount involved in these crimes is sufficient to affect "the even tempo of the society and create a feeling of insecurity in the minds of the people at large, especially poor farmers".

Advocate Sujatha Kurapati, appearing for the detenue's wife, denied the allegations of cheating the public. It was claimed that the detenue is involved in paddy business and he was not able to collect the amounts from his purchasers and pay to the farmers due to Lockdown.

It was further stated that since the detenu is alleged to be a 'White Collar Offender', he can certainly be tried and convicted under the Penal Code and there was no need for the detaining authority to invoke the draconian preventive detention laws.

Findings

From the material placed on record, the Court found that the detenu had been indulging in series of offences such as dishonestly cheating the farmers by purchasing paddy and cotton and avoiding the payments by issuing simple receipts and misappropriated huge amounts for his personal use and lavish life.

"Thus, it appears that the detenu, with a dishonest and fraudulent intention, duped the innocent farmers by knocking away their agricultural produce, with false promises and amassed huge amount for his personal use and lavish life. It is apt to state that these instances are increasing day by day in our country," the Court observed at the outset.

It added,

"It is apt to state that white collar offences can have a large impact on the society. It is also called as a socioeconomic crime, because it has a direct impact on the society at large, particularly over the living conditions of poor farmers, which is far more costly than the ordinary crime. These white collar crimes, by nature, are such that injury and damage is caused to the farmers at large. Notwithstanding stringent legislations made to curb this evil, it has not been possible to eradicate the same. Therefore, any leniency in economic offence will send a wrong signal to the society at large. On the contrary, a message must reach to such offenders that there shall not be any leniency shown with respect to such activities/offences and the same shall be dealt with Iron hand."

The Court said that it is satisfied that the activities of the detenu are prejudicial to the maintenance of public order, and that ordinary law may not be an effective deterrent to prevent the detenu from indulging in further prejudicial activities.

It also rejected the Petitioner's argument that criminal law has already been set into motion and there is no need to detain the accused. The order stated,

"The power of preventive detention is a precautionary power exercised in reasonable anticipation. It may or may not relate to an offence. It is not a parallel proceeding. It does not overlap with prosecution, even if it relies on certain facts for which prosecution may be launched or may have been launched. An order of preventive detention may be made before or during prosecution and in anticipation or after discharge or even acquittal. The pendency of prosecution is no bar to an order of preventive detention. An order of preventive detention is also not a bar to prosecution."

Case Title: Donthula Anitha v. State of Telangana

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