Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has struck down a top-ranking police officer’s order externing a 29-year- old person from the limits of Mumbai and adjoining districts of Thane and Raigad, terming it as “excessive”.
A Bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and Gautam Patel, in a recent judgement, also quashed the order passed by the appellate authority confirming the externment proceedings against Krishna alias Gotia Bajarang Chikne, a resident of Govandi in Northeast Mumbai who faces several criminal cases.
On March 11 this year, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Chembur, issued a show-cause notice to Krishna,proposing his externment from the districts of Greater Mumbai, Mumbai Suburban, Thane and Raigad for two years.
Thereafter, on June 11, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone VI), Mumbai, issued an externment order against Krishna under the Bombay Police Act in terms of the notice. He filed an appeal which was dismissed by the appellate authority on August 28. Krishna then moved the HC against the order.
The petitioner’s lawyer, U N Tripathi, argued that the order was clearly excessive as it externed his client from a vast area covering Mumbai, Mumbai Suburban, Thane and Raigad districts.
The Judges noted, “in our view, this submission (that order was excessive) is well-founded.”
The Bench noted that the externment order and the show cause notice referred to a number of criminal cases registered against the petitioner. However, all of these are within the local limits of Shivaji Nagar and Deonar Police Stations.
“There is no material whatsoever, in either the externment order or the Appellate Order, justifying the externment of the petitioner from such a vast geographical area,” the Judges remarked.
When this point about the order being too harsh was argued before the appellate authority, the latter dealt with it in a most cursory manner, they noted. “We find this to be entirely unsatisfactory, and incorrect in law.”
It is ordinarily for the authorities to decide what is the area from which a person should be externed and for how long, the Bench said.
“However, any order of the externment must be non- arbitrary and cannot be excessive. It cannot be more than the situation demands. In this case, the petitioner has been externed for a period of two years, and that too from a vast geographical area.”
“In the absence of any material justifying the action and its duration, we find that the both externment order and the appellate order suffer from the vice of being excessive and, therefore, cannot be sustained. In itself, this is sufficient to strike down both orders,” the Judges said.
The Bench noted the show-cause notice and externment order refer to as many as 13 cases registered against the petitioner. These cases date back as far as 2001. “We are unable to understand how cases of such antiquity can have any possible bearing on externment proceedings in 2013.”
“We have repeatedly said that in externment matters, references to previous cases separated by large gaps in time are insufficient as a foundation for externment proceedings.
In other words, there has to be some live link between criminal activities attributed to the externee and the proposed externment,” said the Bench.
The Judges noted that in at least three of these 13 cases, the petitioner had admittedly been acquitted.
How those cases, in which the petitioner has been acquitted, could have been referred either in the show-cause notice or in the externment order remains unclear, said the Bench.