The Bombay High Court on Wednesday quashed a preventive detention order against a city-based jeweller who was earlier arrested by the Mumbai Airport Custom in a gold smuggling case. The jeweller Gaurav Jain had filed a petition stating that the order under Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities (COFEPOSA) Act passed by the Home department of the state government was inordinately delayed by almost a year after the case was registered and that the order was unjustified and unnecessary. The court, while quashing the order, observed that the authority did not discharge its duty with “diligence and commitment”.
On December 7, 2015, an accused Raj Jadhav was arrested by the Mumbai airport customs for allegedly smuggling seven kilogram gold worth Rs 1.6 crore from London and further interrogation revealed that the gold was to be delivered to Jain who was arrested on December 12, 2015 and was granted bail on February 20.
While the showcause notice was issued to Jain on June 1, 2016, the detention order was passed on November 21, 2016. The principal secretary (Appeals and Security), Shree Kanth Singh, in his reply, informed the court that the delay was because of the additional information required by the detaining authority from the sponsoring authority which needed to be scrutinised and verified, apart from a number of holidays that led to loss of time. The petitioner represented by senior advocates Vikram Nankani and Sujay Kantawala had argued against this by pointing at the illegality of the order while referring to various other judgements of the supreme court and the high court.
A division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Anuja Prabhudesai, after going through the chronology of events, observed that the time consumed by the detaining authority to issue the order was because of “bureaucratic red tapism” and “seeking of piecemeal information”. The court, in its judgment, said, “In the instant case, we have no doubt in our mind that the authority did not discharge its duty with diligence and commitment. As regards explanation, apart from highlighting the holidays during this interregnum period, the authority has not given reasonable and acceptable explanation for the inordinate delay in issuing the detention order.”
“The laxity has snapped the live link between the prejudicial activities and the purpose of detention,” the court observed.