The Delhi High Court has quashed the detention of an IB officer in connection with a case of gold smuggling at Goa Airport in 2014, and ordered his release, citing “unexplained delay” in execution of the order for detention.
A bench of justices G S Sistani and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal in its June 2 judgement set aside the March, 2015 detention order issued by the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities (COFEPOSA) Unit on the ground that there was “unexplained delay” in execution of the order.
The officer was detained in December 2015, nine months after the detention order was issued, and that too, when he had surrendered before Goa Police despite the fact that he was working in the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB) at Bhubaneshwar, the court noted in its decision.
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“Thus, in our view, the order of detention is liable to be quashed as there is unexplained delay in execution of the impugned detention order,” the bench said.
Another reason cited by the bench for quashing the decision was that the officer was not supplied with the “relevant mechanism” to view the material considered by the authority prior to issuing the detention order.
“In effect, it can safely be said that to form a subjective satisfaction, the detaining authority has relied on the CCTV footage, and thus, the CCTV footage in the 12 CDs are held to be relied upon documents.
“Merely because the CDs provided to the detenue along with the show cause notice or he was shown the CCTV footage at the time of recording of the statement under the Customs Act, in our view cannot take the place of providing the mechanism for viewing the CDs in view of the settled law of the land. On this ground as well, in our view, the order of detention is liable to be quashed,” the court said.
The order came on the petition filed by the wife of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer seeking quashing of the detention order.
As per the petition, the officer had initially joined the Indian Navy as a sailor in July, 1993 and had retired in 2008.
Thereafter, he had joined the IB and was posted at the Goa Airport.
In July, 2014, when he was on duty as wing in-charge in the Immigration Department, four persons were arrested on the allegation of smuggling of 19.4 kg of gold.
On August 2, 2014, he was summoned for an inquiry with regard to the incident and had denied any knowledge of the case.
Another summons was issued to him asking for certain documents such as his posting order, but he informed the IO that they were in possession of the department.
In November, 2014, he was transferred to SIB, Orissa and then in January, 2015, he was issued another notice in which allegations were made against him of assisting the accused.
He denied all the allegations and went on medical leave. Thereafter, he got to know about the publication of the detention order in an English daily in Goa.
He had then moved the Kerala High Court which denied him relief, saying he must first surrender. He went in appeal to the Supreme Court which was also of the same view. He had then surrendered before the Goa Police.