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The Bombay High Court has upheld an order of a Jalgaon Magistrate detaining an alleged sand smuggler under Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act (MPDA), saying his movements in the society might lead to disruption of public order. MPDA covers bootleggers, slumlords, sand smugglers and certain other categories of offenders whose activities are a threat to public order.
Dismissing a petition challenging detention of Nilesh Dnyaneshwar Desale under MPDA, a bench of Justice Vijaya Tahilramani and Justice Mridula Bhatkar observed that “sand smugglers on the basis of muscle and money power create terror in the vicinity and they are a menace to the public order.”
Jalgaon Magistrate passed the detention order against Desale, a resident of Jalgaon district near Nashik, in March this year on the basis of four criminal cases and two in-camera statements of witnesses. “The 4 CRs in which the detenu is allegedly involved pertain to theft of sand. On account of sand smuggling, the water available is reduced. Ecological balance is disturbed. On account of reduction in water, there is great scarcity of water for drinking purpose and irrigation. There is monetary loss to farmers and citizens in the area,” the court observed.
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“People in the area know about the activities of the detenu and are living in a state of fear. This amounts to disturbance of public order,” the bench said in a recent judgement. “Hence, to protect the interest of the public in such cases, the legislation has amended the definition and incorporated ‘Sand Smugglers’ in section 2 of the Act. The Detaining Authority has rightly considered the situation, the nature of offences and the nature of its effect on public order and has passed the detention order,” the Judges said.
The petition was filed by a friend of the detenu and its counsel Aisha Zuber Ansari argued that the detaining authority had not applied its mind properly by not going through the documents. Ansari further argued that the detention order was issued within two days of the detenu’s arrest and this was not possible to consider more than 200 page documents in such a short time. Hence, the detention order was not fair, unjust and must be quashed.
However, the high court dismissed the petition saying the detention order was fair and totally justified.