Updated: October 1, 2021 8:09:04 am
The Delhi High Court Thursday said a preventive detention order is unsustainable on “stale or illusory grounds” which have “no real nexus” with past prejudicial activity.
“Preventive detention being drastic State action based only upon suspicion arising from a person’s past activity, can be allowed, as the settled legal position mandates, only if there is a live, causal link between a person’s past activities and the need for passing of a preventive detention order,” said the division bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Anup Jairam Bhambhani.
The court made the observations while setting aside a detention order passed under Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974, against Naveen Kasera, alias Naveen Agarwal, in January 2021 by the Ministry of Finance.
Agarwal, who was taken from his home in Delhi, has remained in a Kolkata jail since the order was passed against him for allegedly “controlling a syndicate involved in effecting fraudulent exports and imports in order to evade customs duty and earn undue export benefits including IGST refunds” through dummy firms.
The bench said that though it is alleged that the petitioner indulged repeatedly in “prejudicial activity” by way of 133 shipping bills issued by various business entities connected with him, “there is no reference to a single shipping bill other than the one dated 11.12.2018”.
It said that there is not a single reference to any other or further business or transaction that the petitioner may have indulged in between December 11, 2018 and January 15, 2021—when the detention order was passed—that may be termed as ‘prejudicial activity’.
“Since, as the record discloses, the last act which the petitioner undertook, and which may amount to prejudicial activity, was on 11.12.2018, but the detention order was passed more than 02 years later on 15.01.2021, it is evident that the live-link or causal connection between the petitioner‟s preventive detention, meant to forestall the petitioner from indulging in any prejudicial activity, can surely be said to have snapped,” reads the order.
Quashing the detention order, the court further said the ground for detention is stale and illusory. “A gap of more than 02 years between the last alleged prejudicial activity undertaken by the petitioner cannot be the basis for a justifiable apprehension that the petitioner would indulge again in similar prejudicial activity, to prevent which he should be preventively detained,” it said.
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