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Article 22(5) in The Constitution Of India 1949
the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974
Shiv Ratan Makim S/O Nandlal Makim vs Union Of India And Ors on 16 December, 1985
Gora vs The State Of West Bengal on 11 December, 1974
Section 108 in the Customs Act, 1962
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M. Karuppayi And Another vs State Of Tamil Nadu on 25 October, 1990
Abdul Rehman vs . State on 19 November, 2011
Ankit Gulati vs Uoi & Anr. on 26 September, 2012
Amit Rakesh Janbandhu vs State Of Maharashtra And Anr. on 20 March, 2002
Mohandas (Sic) Khemani vs The State Of Maharashtra Through ... on 12 March, 2003

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Supreme Court of India
T.A. Abdul Rahman vs State Of Kerala And Ors on 23 August, 1989
Equivalent citations: 1990 AIR 225, 1989 SCR (3) 945
Author: S Pandian
Bench: Pandian, S.R. (J)
           PETITIONER:
T.A. ABDUL RAHMAN

	Vs.

RESPONDENT:
STATE OF KERALA AND ORS.

DATE OF JUDGMENT23/08/1989

BENCH:
PANDIAN, S.R. (J)
BENCH:
PANDIAN, S.R. (J)
RAY, B.C. (J)

CITATION:
 1990 AIR  225		  1989 SCR  (3) 945
 1989 SCC  (4) 741	  JT 1989 (3)	444
 1989 SCALE  (2)388
 CITATOR INFO :
 R	    1990 SC 231	 (18)
 D	    1990 SC1446	 (15)
 R	    1990 SC1597	 (16)


ACT:
    Conservation  of  Foreign  Exchange	 and  Prevention  of
Smuggling   Activities	 Act,  1974--Section   3(1)(iii)   &
3(1)(iv)--Detention  order-Time lag between the	 passing  of
the  detention order and the actual arrest--Whether  affects
the    subjective    satisfaction    of	   the	   detaining
authority--Legality of such detention order--Challenged.



HEADNOTE:
    This appeal has been filed by the brother of the  detenu
T.A.  Sirajudeen  who was detained pursuant to an  order  of
detention  passed  by  the first  respondent  under  Section
3(1)(iii)  and 3(1)(iv) of the Conservation of	Foreign	 Ex-
change	and  Smuggling Activities Act, 1974 with a  view  to
preventing  the	 said detenu to take part in  the  smuggling
activities of Gold. The circumstances under which the deten-
tion order in question was passed may now be stated.
    On 30.11.1986, Superintendent of Central Excise, Manjeri
Range  searched the residential premises of the	 detenu	 but
did not discover any contraband goods. However on  question-
ing  the  detenu confessed that he had burried	eleven	gold
biscuits  in the back yard, which were recovered after	dig-
ging the ground and the statement of the detenu was recorded
under Section 108 of the Customs Act, that very day.
    On	9.12.1986 again the Authorities	 concerned  searched
the  residence	of the detenu in the belief that  there	 was
concealment  of	 more  gold. During the	 search	 the  detenu
pointed out to the Superintendent one packet which had	been
placed in the thatched roofing of the house.
    The	 detaining authority taking into  consideration	 the
fact of seizure effected on two occasions and the  statement
of  the detenu admitting his involvement in the	 prejudicial
activities  mentioned  in the grounds of  detention  reached
subjective  satisfaction  and passed the impugned  order  of
detention  on 7.10.87. The detenu was arrested on  18.1.1988
and  detained in Central Prison, Trivandrum  from  19.1.1988
onwards	 Grounds  of detention and other  relevant  material
were  furnished to the detenu on 21.1.1988. The detenu	made
representation	for  revocation of the	detention  order  on
25.1.1988 which was rejected
946
on  11.4.1988. The first respondent made a  reference  under
Section 8  of the Act on 5.5.88 to the Advisory Board  which
reported  that in its opinion sufficient cause	existed	 for
the detention of the detenu.
    The appellant challenged the detention of his brother in
the High Court by means of Writ Petition but, having failed,
he filed this appeal by special leave.
    The	 appellant  primarily urged two	 contentions  before
this Court. It was urged that there was no proximity in time
to provide a rational nexus between the alleged	 prejudicial
activity and the passing of the impugned order of  detention
after 11 months i.e. on 7.10.87 and as there was no reasona-
ble  and satisfactory explanation for the said	long  delay,
the  detention order is liable to be quashed on	 the  ground
that  the credible chain between the grounds of the  alleged
criminal  activities  and  the purpose	of  detention  stood
snapped.  The delay throws doubt on the genuineness  of	 the
subjective satisfaction arrived at by the detaining authori-
ty.  Secondly it was contended that the representation	sub-
mitted	by  the detenu on 25.1.88 challenging  the  impugned
order  clamped on him had been disposed of by a delay of  72
days  i.e.  on	11.4.88 and this long  and  avoidable  delay
vitiates  the detention order being violative of Art.  22(5)
of the Constitution.
    The first respondent in the counter affidavit  explained
the delay and attributed the same to the extensive search of
various	 premises  in different places	and  examination  of
persons	 apart	from departmental delays. It is	 only  after
completing  the necessary investigation customs	 authorities
sponsored the case for detention of the detenu.
Allowing the appeal, this Court,
    HELD:  There  is no denying the fact that  the  impugned
order has been passed after lapse of 11 months from the date
of seizure of the eleven gold biscuits from the back  court-
yard  of the house of the detenu. The test of  proximity  is
not a rigid or mechanical test by merely counting number  of
months	between the offending acts and the order  of  deten-
tion.  However, when there is undue and long  delay  between
the  prejudicial activity and the passing of  the  detention
order,	the  court has to scrutinise whether  the  detaining
authority  has	satisfactionly	examined such  a  delay	 and
afforded a tenable and reasonable explanation as to why such
a delay has occasioned and further the court has to investi-
gate  whether the causal connection has been broken  in	 the
circumstances of each case. No hard and fast rule
947
can precisely be formulated and guidelines can be laid	down
in that behalf. [951G-952A]
    When  there	 is  unsatisfactory  and  unexplained  delay
between	 the date of the order of detention and the date  of
securing the arrest of the detenu, such a delay would  throw
considerable  doubt  on the genuineness	 of  the  subjective
satisfaction of the detaining authority. [954C]
    See	 Gora  v. State of West Bengal, [1975]	2  SCR	996;
Hemlata Kantilal Shah v. State of Maharashtra, [1981] 4	 SCC
647; Golam Hussain @ Gamal v. Commr. of Police of Calcutta &
Ors., [1974] 4 SCC 530; sk Serajul v. State of West  Bengal,
[1975]	2  SCC	78; Rekhaben Virendra Karadia  v.  State  of
Gujarat	 & Ors., [1979] 2 SCR 257; Harnek Singh v. State  of
Punjab, [1982] 1 SCC 116; Shiv Ratan Makin v. Union of India
and  Others, [1986] 1 SCC 401; Smt. K. Aruna Kumari v.	Gov-
ernment	 of  Andhra  Pradesh & Ors., [1988] 1  SCC  296	 and
Rajendra  Kumar Natvarlal Shah v. State of Gujarat  &  Ors.,
[1988] 3 SCC 153.
    The Court in the instant case, noticed from the  Counter
affidavit filed on behalf of the first Respondent, that	 the
detaining authority has attempted to explain the laxity that
has  occasioned in passing the impugned order but  miserably
failed	in explaining the delay of three months in  securing
the  arrest  of the detenu from the date of passing  of	 the
order and keeps stunned silence on that score. Counsel	when
queried	 by the Court whether he could give any	 reason	 for
this  undue  delay in arresting the detenu on  18.1.1988  in
pursuance  of the impugned order made on 7.10.1987,  frankly
admitted  that he could not do so. Under the  circumstances,
the  Court held that leaving apart the question of delay  in
passing	 the order of detention, the fact remains  that	 the
detaining authority has failed to explain the long delay  in
securing the arrest of the detenu after three months of	 the
passing	 of  the detention order  and  this  non-explanation
throws	a considerable doubt on the genuineness of the	sub-
jective	 satisfaction of the detaining	authority  vitiating
the validity of the order of detention. [954E-955A]
    The	 long interval in receipt of the representation	 and
the  comments of the Collector of Customs, Cochin,  indicate
the  casual and indifferent attitude, displayed by  the	 au-
thorities  concerned  dealing with the	representation.	 The
manner	in  which  the representation has  been	 dealt	with
reveals a sorry state of affairs in the consideration of the
representation made by the detenu. [955G-956A]
948
    The Court took firm view that the representation of	 the
detenu has not been given prompt and expeditious  considera-
tion and was allowed to lie without being properly  attended
to.  The  delay of 72 days in the  absence  of	satisfactory
explanation is too long a period for ignoring the  indolence
on  the	 part of the concerned	authority.  The	 unexplained
delay  in  disposal of the representation of the  detenu  is
violative  of  Article 22(5) of the  Constitution  of  India
rendering the order of detention invalid. [956H-957B]
    The	 Court	set aside the judgment of  the	High  Court,
quashed the order of detention and directed that the  detenu
be set at liberty forthwith. [957C]
    Rama  Dhondu Borade v. Shri V.K. Saraf, Commissioner  of
Police & Ors., [1989] 1 Scale 22.



JUDGMENT:

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal Appeal No. 3 18 of 1989.

From the Judgment and Order dated 15.6.88 of the Kerala High Court in Original Petition No. 3299 of 1988. R. Sasiprabhu and P.K. Manohar for the Appellant. B. Dutta, Additional Solicitor General, P. Parmeshwaran, Pramod Swarup and T.T. Kunhikannan for the Respondents. The Judgment of the Court was delivered by S. RATNAVEL PANDIAN, J. This appeal under Article 136 of the Constitution of India is preferred by the appellant, Abdul Rahman questioning the validity and correctness of the order of detention passed by the first Respondent on 7.10.1987, in exercise of the powers conferred by section 3(1)(iii) and 3(1)(iv) of the Conservation of Foreign Ex- change and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974 (Central Act 52 of 1974) (hereinafter referred to as the 'Act') whereby detaining the appellant's brother Sri T.A. Sirajudeen @ Siraj (the detenu herein) with a view to pre- venting the detenu from engaging in transporting or conceal- ing or keeping smuggled gold or dealing in smuggled gold otherwise than by engaging in transporting or concealing or keeping smuggled gold.

Though the impugned order was passed on 7.10.1987, the detenu 949 was arrested on 18.1.1988 and detained in the Central pris- on, Trivandrum from 19.1.1988 onwards. The detenu was fur- nished with copies of the grounds of detention and other connected material documents on 21.1.1988. The detenu made a representation to the third Respondent praying for revoca- tion of the detention order on 25.1.1988 which was rejected on 11.4.1988. Meanwhile on 11.2.1988 a declaration by the third Respondent under Section 9(1) of the Act was made, whereby the detenu was ordered to be detained for a contin- ued detention for a further period of 6 months over one year. The first Respondent made a reference under section 8 of the Act on 5.5. 1988 to the Advisory Board which has reported that there is in its opinion sufficient cause for the detention of the detenu. The material facts which neces- sitated the passing of the detention order can be briefly stated thus:

On 30.11.1986, Superintendent of Central Excise, Manjeri Range and party searched the permanent residence of the detenu in his presence which did not result in the seizure of any contraband goods or the recovery of any incriminating documents. But on questioning by the officer, the detenu confessed that he had buried eleven gold biscuits in the backyard of his house. He dug up the spot and produced the relavent gold biscuits which were kept concealed under the ground. Each of the gold biscuits was found wrapped in black carbon paper bearing foreign markings and weighing 10 tolas each with the purity of 24 carats. The total weight of the eleven gold biscuits was 1282.600 gms., the market value of which as on that date was Rs.3,14,237. The contraband goods were seized under a Mahazar. On 30.11.1986 a statement was recorded from the detenu by the Superintendent of the Cen- tral Excise under section 108 of the Customs Act in which the detenu had given a detailed note of his involvement in the smuggling activities. On 9.12.1986 also the Superintend- ent of Central Excise searched the residence of the detenu in the reasonable belief that there was concealment of more smuggled gold in the said house. During this search, the detenu pointed out to the Superintendent one packet which had been placed in the thatched roofing of his house. The Superintendent took out the packet and it was found contain- ing four gold ingots bearing foreign markings weighing 466.400 gms. with 24 carat purity, all to the value of Rs. 1,14,268. The detaining authority taking into consideration of the seizure effected on two occasions and the statement of the detenu admitting his involvement in the prejudicial activities mentioned in the grounds of detention reached its subjective satisfaction of the necessity of passing the impugned order and passed the same on 7.10.1987. The appel- lant filed a Writ Petition under Article 950 226 of the Constitution of India for quashing the impugned order of detention, but was not successful. Hence this appeal.

Of the several grounds urged in the Special Leave Peti- tion, the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appel- lant stressed only the following two contentions seeking to set aside the order of detention.

(1) As there is no proximity in time to provide a rational nexus between the alleged prejudicial activity, that is the seizure of the gold biscuits on 30.11.1986 and the pass- ing of the impugned order of detention after 11 months i.e. on 7.10.1987 and as there is no reasonable and satisfactory explanation given by the first Respondent for this undue and unreasonable delay, the order is liable to be quashed on the ground that the credible chain between the grounds of the alleged criminal activities and the purpose of detention is snapped. Further the unreasonable and unex- plained delay between the date of the order of detention on 7.10.87 and the date of arrest of the detenu after a lapse of 3 months on 18.1.1988 throws considerable doubt on the genuineness of the subjective satisfaction of the detaining authority leading to an infer- ence that there was no real and genuine sub- jective satisfaction as regards the necessity to detain the detenu with a view to preventing him from acting in prejudicial manner.

(2) The representation submitted by the detenu to the third Respondent on 25.1.1988 challenging the impugned order clamped upon him had been disposed of by a delay of 72 days i.e. on 11.4.1988 and this long and avoid-

able delay vitiates the order of detention as being violative of Article 22(5) of the Con- stitution of India.

We shall now deal with the first contention which is referred under ground Nos. II & III of the Grounds in the Special Leave Petition which read thus:

"For that the High Court ought to have seen that the petitioner was detained on the basis of a alleged solitary incident occurred on 30.11.1986 and the detention order was passed after lapse of 11 months, i.e. on 7.10.1987, and the petitioner was arrested and detained on 19.1.1988."
"For that the High Court ought to have seen that there was 951 no proximity between the alleged incident and subsequent detention. The time factor has not been considered by the detaining authority and he has mechanically passed the detention order without paying any attention to the loose grounds and quick sands in the reports of the sponsoring officer."

The above two contentions are sought to be answered by the first Respondent in his counter stating that the inves- tigating officer had to question a number of persons and to conduct extensive search of various premises in different places in connection with the information gathered during interrogation and the Superintendent issued summons to the brothers of the detenu, namely, Haneefa and Abdul Rahman for appearance on 10.3.87 and 3.3.87 respectively, but Abdul Rahman was absconding and that on 10.2.87, the statement of C.K. Madhavan referred to in the statement of the detenu was recorded and that on 18.5.1987 show cause notices were issued to persons connected with this case and immediately after completion of the investigation the Customs authori- ties sponsored the proposal for detention of the detenu by their letter dated 26.8.1987 and that the proposal was screened by the Screening Committee on 11.9.1987 and there- after the detention order was passed on 7.10.1987. Coming to the delay in securing the detenu by arrest the explanation is given as follows:

"The detention order was forwarded to the Malappuram Superintendent of Police for its execution by letter dated 9.10. 1987. The Police executed the order on 18.1. 1988. From the above facts it is clear that there is no delay in passing or executing the order of detention as alleged in the petition for Special Leave to Appeal."

There is no denying the fact that the impugned order has been passed after lapse of 11 months from the date of sei- zure of the eleven gold biscuits from the back courtyard of the house of the detenu. As repeatedly pointed out by this court that there is no hard and fast rule that merely be- cause there is a time lag between the offending acts and the date of order of detention, the causal link must be taken to be snapped and the satisfaction reached by the detaining authority should be regarded as unreal, but it all depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case and the nature of the explanation offered by the detaining authority for the delay that had occurred in passing the 952 order. There is a catena of decisions on this point, but we feel that it is not necessary to recapitulate all those decisions except a salient few. This court in Golam Hussain alias Garna v. Commnr. of Police of Calcutta & Ors., [1974] 4 SCC 530 wherein there was a time lag of 6 months between the incident and the date of order of detention while an- swering a similar contention, laid down the ratio of proxim- ity as follows:

"No authority, acting rationally, can be satisfied, subjectively or otherwise, of future mischief merely because long ago the detenu had done something evil. To rule other- wise is to sanction a simulacrum of a statuto- ry requirement. But no mechanical test by counting the months of the interval is sound. It all depends on the nature of the acts relied on, grave and determined or less seri- ous and corrigible, on the length of the gap, short or long, on the reason for the delay in taking preventive action, like information of participation being available only in the course of an investigation. We have to inves- tigate whether the causal connection has been broken in the circumstances of each case. Gora v. State of West Bengal, [1975] 2 SCR 996 has held thus: There is, therefore, no hard and fast rule that merely because there is a time lag of about six months between the 'offending acts' and the date of the order of detention, the causal link must be taken to be broken and the satisfaction claimed to have been arrived at by the District Magistrate must be regarded as sham or unreal. Whether the acts of the detenu forming the basis for arriving at a subjective satisfaction are too remote in point of time to induce any reasonable person to reach such subjective satisfaction must depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. The test of proximity is not a rigid or mechanical test to be blindly applied by merely counting the number of months between the 'offending acts' and the order of deten- tion. It is a subsidiary test evolved by the court for the purpose of determining the main question whether the past activities of the detenu is such that from it a reasonable prognosis can be made as to the future conduct of the detenu and its utility, therefore, lies only in so far as it subserves that purpose and it cannot be allowed to dominate or drawn it. The prejudicial act of the detenu may in a given case be of such a character as to sug- gest that it is a part of an organised opera- tion of a complex of agencies collaborating 953 to clandestinely and secretly carry on such activities and in such a case the detaining authority may reasonably feel satisfied that the prejudicial act of the detenu which has come to light cannot be a solitary or isolated act, but must be part of a course of conduct of such or similar activities clandestinely or secretly carried on by the detenu and it is, therefore, necessary to detain him with a view to preventing him from indulging in such activities in the future."
In Hemlata Kantilal Shah v. State of Maharashtra 1981 4 SCC 647, this Court held: "Delay ipso facto in passing an order of detention is not fatal to the detention of a person, for, in certain cases delay may be unavoidable and reasonable. What is required by law is that the delay must be satisfactori- ly examined by the detaining authority."

See also SK Serajul v. State of West Bengal, [1975] 2 SCC 78; Rekhaben Virendra Karadia v. State of Gujarat & Ors., [1979] 2 SCR 257; Harnek Singh v. State of Punjab, [1982] 1 SCC 116: Shiv Ratan Makin v. Union of India and Others, [1986] 1 SCC 40l; Smt. K. Aruna Kumari v. Government of Andhra Pradesh and Ors., [1988] 1 SCC 296 and Rajendra Kumar Natvarlal Shah v. State of Gujarat and Others, [1988] 3 SCC 153.

In a recent decision in Yogendra Murari v. State of U.P. and Others 1988 (4) SCC 559, this Court has reiterated the earlier view consistently taken by this Court observing:

"......... it is not right to assume that an order of detention has to be mechanically struck down if passed after some delay ............ It is necessary to con- sider the circumstances in each individual case to find out whether the delay has been satisfactorily explained or not."

The conspectus of the above decisions can be summarised thus: The question whether the prejudicial activities of a person necessitating to pass an order of detention is proxi- mate to the time when the order is made or the live-link between the prejudicial activities and the purpose of deten- tion is snapped depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. No hard and fast rule can be precisely formulated that would be applicable under all circumstances and no exhaustive 954 guidelines can be laid down in that behalf. It follows that the test of proximity is not a rigid or mechanical test by merely counting number of months between the offending acts and the order of detention. However, when there is undue and long delay between the prejudicial activities and the pass- ing of detention order, the Court has to scrutinise whether the detaining authority has satisfactorily examined such a delay and afforded a tenable and reasonable explanation as to why such a delay has occasioned, when called upon to answer and further the Court has to investigate whether the causal connection has been broken in the circumstances of each case.

Similarly when there is unsatisfactory and unexplained delay between the date of order of detention and the date of securing the arrest of the detenu, such a delay would throw considerable doubt on the genuineness of the subjective satisfaction of the detaining authority leading to a legiti- mate inference that the detaining authority was not really and genuinely satisfied as regards the necessity for detain- ing the detenu with a view to preventing him from acting in a prejudicial manner.

In the light of the above proposition of law, we shall now examine the first contention which has been raised for the first time before this Court. From the reading of the counter affidavit filed on behalf of the first Respondent, it is seen that the detaining authority has attempted to explain the laxity that has occasioned in passing the im- pugned order, but miserably failed in explaining the delay of three months in securing the arrest of the detenu from the date of the passing of the order, and keeps stunned silence on that score. The learned counsel appearing for the first respondent when queried by this Court whether he could give any reason for this undue delay in arresting the detenu on 18.1.1988 in pursuance of the impugned order of detention made on 7.10.1987, he has frankly admitted that he could not do so--rightly so in our view--in the absence of any expla- nation in the counter affidavit. The Superintendent of Police, Malapurram to whom the detention order was forwarded for execution has not filed any supporting affidavit ex- plaining the delay in securing the arrest of the detenu. Under these circumstances, we hold that leaving apart the question of delay in passing the order of detention from the date of the seizure of the gold, the fact remains that the detaining authority has failed to explain the long delay in securing the arrest of the detenu after three months from the date of the passing of the detention order and this non-explanation in our view throws a considerable doubt on the genuineness of the subjective satisfaction of the de- taining authority 955 vitiating the validity of the order of detention. The next contention stressed by the learned counsel for the appellant is with regard to the delay of 72 days in the disposal of the representation made by the appellant to the third respondent on 25.1. 1988. This contention is raised in ground Nos. VIII and IX of the Grounds in the Special Leave Petition. This is resisted by the third respondent in para- graph 8 of his counter stating that a representation dated 2.2.1988 was received in the COFEPOSA Section of Ministry of Finance on 16.2.1988 with a letter dated 5.2.1988 from the Government of Kerala; that as certain information was not available with the Central Government, the Collector of Customs, was asked to get a copy of the representation from the State Government and to send his comments; that Collec- tor of Customs, informed the Central Government by a telex message dated 1.3.1988 which was received in the COFEPOSA Section on 8.3.1988 informing that the representation was not available with the Home Department; that thereafter a copy of the representation was forwarded to the Collector of Customs by post on 8.3.1988; that the comments of the Col- lector were received back on 28.3.1988; that then the repre- sentation along with the comments were placed before the Joint Secretary, COFEPOSA Section on 30.3.88, who forwarded the same to the Minister of State for Revenue on the same day and on 4.4.88 the Minister of State forwarded his com- ments to the Finance Minister who considered and rejected the representation on 8.4.88. According to the third Re- spondent, the representation was considered expeditiously and as such there is no violation of Article 22(5) of the Constitution of India.

The learned counsel for the appellant has explained that the representation was submitted originally on 25.1.1988, but was got back and resubmitted on 2.2.1988. According to him, it is surprising that the said representation was received by the third respondent only on 16.2.1988 after a considerable delay of two weeks and thenceforth there was a considerable delay from 16.2.88 to 28.3.88 in receiving the comments of the Collector of Customs, and again there was a delay of 7 days in forwarding the representation to the Minister of State for Revenue with the comments of the Joint Secretary, COFEPOSA Section. The long interval in receipt of the representation and the comments of the Collector of Customs, Cochin indicate the casual and indifferent attitude displayed by the authorities concerned dealing with the representation.

In our opinion, the manner in which the representation has been 956 dealt with reveals a sorry state of affair in the matter of consideration of the representation made by the detenu. Further we fail to understand why such a long delay from 16.2.88 to 28.3.88 had occasioned in getting the comments from the Collector of Customs. The only futile explanation now offered by the third respondent is that this delay had occasioned because the Collector of Customs was not able to get a copy of the representation from the Home Department, Kerala and thereafter the Collector got a copy of the repre- sentation on being forwarded by the third respondent on 8.3. 1988. Even then there is a delay of 20 days in getting the comments of the Collector and that delay is not at all explained.

This Court in Rama Dhondu Borade v. Shri V.K. Saraf Commissioner of Police & Ors., [1989] I Scale Vol. 4 22 after referring to various decisions, has observed thus:

"The detenu has an independent constitutional right to make his representation under Article 22(5) of the Constitution of India. Corre- spondingly, there is a constitutional mandate commanding the concerned authority to whom the detenu forwards his representation questioning the correctness of the detention order clamped upon him and requesting for his release, to consider the said representation with reasona- ble dispatch and to dispose the same as expe- ditiously as possible. This constitutional requirement must be satisfied with respect but if this constitutional imperative is observed in breach, it would amount to negation of the constitutional obligation rendering the con- tinued detention constitutionally impermissi- ble and illegal, since such a breach would defeat the very concept of liberty--the highly cherished right--which is enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution."
" ....... What is reasonable dispatch de- pends on the facts and circumstances of each case and no hard and fast rule can be laid down in that regard. However, in case the gap between the receipt of the representation and its consideration by the authority is so unreasonably long and the explanation offered by the authority is so unsatisfactory, such delay could vitiate the order of detention."

Bearing in mind the above principle when we approach the facts of the present case, we are of the firm view that the representation of 957 the detenu has not been given prompt and expeditious consid- eration, and was allowed to lie without being properly attended to. The explanation now offered by the third re- spondent that the delay has occurred in seeking the comments of the Collector of Customs etc. is not a convincing and acceptable explanation. In our view the delay in 72 days in the absence of satisfactory explanation is too long a period for ignoring the indolence on the part of the concerned authority. Hence we hold that the unexplained delay in disposal of the representation of the detenu is violative of Article 22(5) of the Constitution of India, rendering the order of detention invalid.

For all the above mentioned reasons, we allow this criminal appeal by setting aside the judgment of the High Court, quash the impugned order of detention and direct the detenu to set at liberty forthwith.

Y. Lal				       Appeal allowed.
958