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Needs of Society as Important as Personal Liberty, Says SC in Ruling on Preventive Detention

The court order came as it set aside a judgment of the Bombay High Court, which had quashed detention orders against Nisar Aliyar, alleged kingpin of one of the biggest gold smuggling syndicates, and his aide Happy Dhakad.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:July 28, 2019, 9:15 AM IST
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Needs of Society as Important as Personal Liberty, Says SC in Ruling on Preventive Detention
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New Delhi: In a ruling on preventive detention, the Supreme Court has held that liberty of an individual cannot be the exclusive concern of courts and that this liberty has to be commensurate with the "needs of society".

A bench headed by Justice R Banumathi said there has to be a balance between the interests of the society and personal liberty to arrive at a finding whether an order of preventive detention is tenable or not.

“Insofar as the contention that the courts should lean in favour of upholding the personal liberty, we are conscious that the Constitution and the Supreme Court are very zealous of upholding the personal liberty of an individual. But the liberty of an individual has to be subordinated within reasonable bounds to the good of the people," said the bench.

It emphasised: “Order of detention is clearly a preventive measure and devised to afford protection to the society. When the preventive detention is aimed to protect the safety and security of the nation, balance has to be struck between liberty of an individual and the needs of the society."

The court order came as it set aside a judgment of the Bombay High Court, which had quashed detention orders against Nisar Aliyar, alleged kingpin of one of the biggest gold smuggling syndicates, and his aide Happy Dhakad.

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) had detained Aliyar and Dhakad, along with 13 others, under COFEPOSA in connection with the alleged smuggling of 3,396 kilograms of gold worth over Rs 1,000 crore between July 2018 and March 2019.

On their petitions, the Bombay High Court quashed the detention orders last month, and maintained that there was no application of mind by the Detaining Authority in passing the detention orders.

The DRI came to the apex court in appeal and presented the grounds of the detaining orders, besides the fact that they wanted detention order against Aliyar, who was already in custody, to prevent his walking off with the propensity to commit the crime again.

The top court too noted: "In the present case, huge volume of gold had been smuggled into the country unabatedly for the last three years and about 3396 kgs of the gold has been brought into India during the period from July 2018 to March, 2019 camouflaging it with brass metal scrap."

The DRI contended that Aliyar had floated two companies registered in somebody else's name for exporting metal scrap to India, which is alleged to cover cargo to smuggle gold.

The top court thus restored detention orders, stating as: "Based on the documents and the materials placed before the detaining authority and considering the individual role of the detenues, the detaining authority satisfied itself as to the detenues’ continued propensity and their inclination to indulge in acts of smuggling in a planned manner to the detriment of the economic security of the country that there is a need to prevent the detenues from smuggling goods. The High Court erred in interfering with the satisfaction of the detaining authority and the impugned judgment cannot be sustained and is liable to be set aside."

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