Threatening to return borrowed loan, riding a motorcycle during lockdown not sufficient to detain individual, rules HC

Threatening an individual to return the loan amount borrowed would not pose any threat to public order, held the Bombay High Court recently while quashing a detention order issued against a 54 year old man. The HC further held that breach of prohibitory orders owing to pandemic, would also not call for a detention order.

A bench of Justices Sambhaji Shinde and Makarand Karnik was seized with an application filed by one Lakshman Jadhav, a resident of Solapur challenging the detention orders passed against him by the city's Commissioner of Police.

The HC noted that Jadhav was served with the detention orders on limited grounds, the very first being an application sent to Solapur's top cop through speed post, alleging that the applicant (Jadhav) has threatened to kill the Principal Judge of the district and also the commissioner of police.

The bench, however, took into account the fact that apart from the application sent to the top cop there was no other material to prove that Jadhav indeed issued any such threats.

As far as other grounds on which the authorities sought to detain Jadhav are concerned, the bench noted two FIRs highlighted by the police department.

While one FIR pertained to an abetment to suicide case filed against Jadhav, wherein, he was accused of threatening a person to repay a loan amount of Rs 70 lakh. The other FIR was with regards to the breach of prohibitory orders wherein he was booked for riding a motorcycle amid the pandemic curfew.

Having considered the contentions, the judges said, "We find that Jadhav's conduct in threatening the deceased to return the money which he had borrowed may be reprehensible but it does not add up to the situation where it can be said that the community at large was being disturbed or in other words there is a disturbance of public order or likelihood of breach of public order."

"Even so far as the breach of prohibitory orders of the district collector are concerned, Jadhav was found riding a motorcycle during the pandemic for which an offence against him has been registered and for the breach thereof normal laws of land are suffcient to take care of," the judges held.

The bench further opined that both these FIRs "are not enough to justify such a harsh action of detention."

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