Edited By: Pathikrit Sen Gupta
Last Updated: February 17, 2023, 17:14 IST
The petitoner’s counsel argued before the High Court that a stale incident of 2020 became the reason for passing the order of detention and that the media clippings had been made as the sole proof of disruption of public order as there were no witnesses to the incident on record. (Representational Photo)
The High Court noted that while passing the detention order, much emphasis was made on a murder case involving the detainee/petitioner and media clippings had been made as proof of disruption of public order
While allowing a plea filed against a detention order passed under the National Security Act, the Allahabad High Court recently observed that a newspaper report is not “legal evidence”.
The division bench comprising Justice Mahesh Chandra Tripathi and Justice Nalin Kumar Srivastava noted that while passing the impugned detention order, much emphasis was made on a murder case involving the detainee/petitioner and media clippings had been made as proof of disruption of public order.
The court said, “The newspaper report by itself does not constitute an evidence of the contents. The reports are moreover hearsay evidence. The newspaper reports are at best secondary evidence and not admissible in evidence without proper proof of its content under the Indian Evidence Act, 1872″.
The HC added that a newspaper report is not “legal evidence” which can be examined in support of the complainant and it is a trite law that there has to be legal evidence in support of the allegations levelled against a person.
Therefore, observing that in the present case, the only evidence relied upon was the newspaper reporting and nothing else, the court quashed the impugned detention order and the consequential orders.
The HC was dealing with a Habeas Corpus petition filed by one Saud Akhtar and another person. Through the plea, the petitioners sought direction in the nature of certiorari quashing the detention order passed by the District Magistrate, Kanpur Nagar, on March 31, 2022, under Section 3 (2) of the National Security Act, 1980 against Saud Akhtar.
While passing the detention order, the DM had based her satisfaction for invocation of proceedings under NSA essentially on the criminal history of Akhtar. Akhtar was involved in a total of 34 criminal cases including a murder case of 2020.
When the proceedings for the detention order against Akhtar were initiated, he was already in jail in connection with the murder case. Later, Akhtar availed bail in the case in February 2022. However, owing to the detention order, he remained confined.
Akhtar’s counsel argued before the High Court that a stale incident of 2020 became the reason for passing the order of detention and that the media clippings had been made as the sole proof of disruption of public order as there were no witnesses to the incident on record.
He contended that while passing the detention order, the DM had not applied her mind and had passed it in a routine manner on the report submitted to her by the police authorities.
The plea was opposed by the government counsel who submitted that due to the concerned murder case, the public order and tranquillity of the locality were disturbed and also there was immense possibility of release of Akhtar as his bail application was pending before the court, therefore, proceedings for the detention order were initiated.
The court, however, noted that there was no live nexus between the incident of 2020 and the action for which the detention order was passed.
“The order of detention indicated cases relating to law and order situation and had nothing to do with maintenance of public order and was stale to be considered relevant for the purpose of detention,” the HC said.
Moreover, the court stated that the DM had not recorded her satisfaction in the impugned order that there was a real possibility of Akhtar being released on bail. “(this) omission in our opinion has totally vitiated the impugned order,” court opined.
Accordingly, the HC quashed the impugned order and ordered Akhtar to be set at liberty.
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Originally published at www.news18.com