The Bombay High Court recently upheld a preventive detention order against a man — for abusing people in his locality and disturbing them — under the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities (MPDA) Act, stating that “since public order is tempo of life of the community in a particular locality, in the present case the situation created by the detenu cannot be termed as only breach of law and order” as claimed by him but was also a breach of public order.
The petition, filed by Iqbal Sayyed of Hadapsar in Pune, who is lodged in Nashik Road Central Prison, claimed that there was no sufficient material on the basis of which his activities amounted to breach of public order. He sought to demonstrate that there is a distinction between “public order” and “law and order”, and sought quashing of the detention order, as the MPDA Act is applicable to breach of public order.
The public prosecutor maintained that Sayyed is a habitual criminal and the offences he indulged in affected public order. A division bench of Justice S C Dharmadhikari and Justice Bharathi Dangre observed that, “The term ‘public order’ is synonymous with public peace, public safety and tranquility and qualitatively the acts that affect law and order are not different from acts that affect public order. Every kind of disorder or contravention of law and order affects that orderly tranquility and the distinction between the two being only of degree or extent of impact on society. Both have the potential to disturb the even tempo of life and community, which make it prejudicial to the maintenance of public order….” said the Bench.
The court said that Sayyed’s activities affected the people of the locality and disturbed public tranquility in the area as people had to confine themselves to their houses as his acts of hurling abuses, and extracting money created panic and disturbed the even flow of life in the locality. “We, therefore, do not agree with the submissions of the petitioner’s counsel that the act of the detenu was breach of law and order only and not public order as per the requirement of the Act,” added the High Court.
Pointing out that the Act aimed at detaining dangerous persons to prevent dangerous activities, the Bench said that what is termed as a breach of public order is supposed to be assessed by the authority that “safeguards life and property of the community.”