1998 ALL MR (Cri) 601
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY

A.V. SAVANT AND S. RADHAKRISHNAN, JJ.

Zahoor Ahmed Peshimam Vs. The Union Of India And Ors.

Criminal W.P. No.1212 of 1996,Criminal W.P. No.1385 of 1996

10th October, 1997

Petitioner Counsel: Shri MAQSOOD KHAN with Smt.A.M.Z. ANSARI
Respondent Counsel: Shri R. M. AGRAWAL, Shri D. G. BAGWE
Other Counsel: Shri SHIRISH GUPTE with Shri PRAKASH NAIK,

(A) Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (1974) S.3 - Detention order - Application of mind - Process initiated on 18.4.1996 when 2272 pages material was sent by sponsoring authority to its head office in Delhi - 29 more pages were sent on different dates after 18.4.1996 - Offending incident occuring on 27.11.1995 and order of detention was passed on 3.9.1996 - Held detaining authority had ample time to apply its mind to the question of necessity of passing order of detention - Order cannot be faulted on ground of non-application of mind. (Para 37)

(B) Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (1974) S.3 - Delay in passing order of detention - Detenu absconding - Delay duly explained - Order, held, was not vitiated by delay.

AIR 1975 SC 473, AIR 1988 SC 1255 Rel.on. (Para 51)

(C) Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (1974) S.3 - Subjective satisfaction - Accused involved in illegal foreign exchange transactions - Detaining Authority was of opinion that detention will prevent prejudicial acts in future - Held, order could not be said to be mala fide. (Para 52)

Cases Cited:
AIR 1974 SC 2154 [Para 14]
AIR 1986 SC 687 [Para 15]
AIR 1994 SC 165 [Para 16]
AIR 1951 SC 174 [Para 20]
AIR 1963 SC 816 [Para 21]
Cri.A.No.878 of 1985 Dt.20th December, 1985 [Para 22]
Cri.A.No.397 of 1992 Dt.22nd April, 1992 [Para 23]
Cri.W.P.No.991 of 1992 Dt.23rd October, 1992 [Para 24]
Cri.W.P.No.55 of 1992 Dt.29th April, 1992 [Para 25]
1982 Cri.L.J. 53 [Para 26]
1992 Cri.L.J. 3616 [Para 26]
Cri.W.P.No.1416 of 1989 Dt.14th & 15th March, 1990 [Para 27]
Cri.W.P.No.1497 of 1992 Dt.6th April, 1993 [Para 28]
Cri.W.P.No.627 of 1992 Dt.7th July, 1992 [Para 28]
Cri.W.P.No.82 of 1993 Dt.27th July, 1993 [Para 29,35]
1996(2) ALL MR 551=Cri.W.P.No.86 of 1995 Dt.28th August, 1995 [Para 29,35]
1996 II L.J. 205 = Cri.W.P.No.703 of 1995 Dt.10th/11th July, 1996 [Para 30,35]
Cri.W.P.No.1416 of 1989 Dt.9th November, 1989 [Para 40]
AIR 1988 SC 1255 [Para 43,47,51]
AIR 1990 SC 225 [Para 46,47]
AIR 1982 SC 8 [Para 46,47]
Cri.W.P.No.80 of 1991 Dt.1st August, 1991 [Para 48]
Cri.W.P.No.261 of 1991 Dt.22nd August, 1991 [Para 48]
Cri.W.P.No.1039 of 1991 Dt.16th October, 1991 [Para 49]
1997 ALL MR (Cri) 1374=Cri.W.P.No.429 of 1996 Dt.17th June 1997 [Para 49]
Cri.W.P.No.350 of 1997 Dt.29th Aug. & 1st Sept; 1997 [Para 51]
AIR 1975 SC 473 [Para 51]
1982 Cri.L.J. 1729 [Para 51]
AIR 1990 SC 1446 [Para 51]


JUDGMENT

A. V. SAVANT, J. :- By consent of all the learned Counsel, these two Petitions were taken up for hearing and final disposal together. Since the facts are common and identical contentions have been raised before us, we find it convenient to dispose of both the Petitions by this common Judgment & Order.

2. Writ Petition No.1212 of 1996 is filed by Zahoor Ahmed Peshimam, father of the detenu, Sajid Ahmed Peshimam. He was an employee of Al Samit International Travels & Tours Pvt. Ltd. (for short "Al Samit I T & T"). Writ Petition No.1385 of 1996, is filed by Smt.Hussaina Kasim Dhorajiwala, wife of the detenu, Kasim Dhorajiwala. He is a partner of the firm Travel Fuel Exchange Bureau, (for short T.F.E.B.) which is a full fledged money changer firm, licensed under the provisions of Section 73 of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1973 (F.E.R.A.) In respect of both the detenus, separate orders have been issued on 3rd September 1996 by the detaining authority Shri K. L. Verma, Joint Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Finance Department of Revenue (COFEPOSA Unit). The said orders dated 3-09-1996 have been issued in exercise of the powers conferred upon him by Section 3(1) of the Conservation of Foreign Exchange & Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974 (COFEPOSA). The detaining authority was satisfied with respect to the said detenus -Sajid Ahmed and Kasim Dhorajiwala that with a view to preventing them in future from acting in any manner prejudicial to the conservation of foreign exchange, it was necessary to make an order of detention. Both the orders of detention were served on the detenus on September 20, 1996.

3. It may be mentioned that two more petitions have been filed viz. Criminal Writ Petition No.1402 of 1996 filed by Madan Singh, claiming to be a friend and employee of the detenu Dhirajlal Visharia and Criminal Writ Petition no.134 of 1997 filed by Smt.Rehana Imtiaz Dholkawala, wife of the detenu Imtiaz Dholkawala. Dhirajlal Visharia is alleged to be indulging in the business of illegal purchase and sale of foreign exchange at Kamathipura, Central Mumbai. Imtiaz Dholkawala, senior partner of Travel Fuel Exchange Bureau (T.F.E.B.) which, as referred to above, is a full-fledged licensed money changer. However, since the Counsel appearing in these two petitions relating to Dhiraj Visharia and Imtiaz Dholkawala stated that they would like to argue their petitions on separate grounds of challenge, we are not dealing with the said two petitions in this Judgment. This Judgment is, therefore, confined to Writ Petition No.1212 of 1996 and Writ Petition No.1385 of 1996.

4. The grounds of detention dated 3rd September 1996, on the basis of which the orders of detention dated 3rd September 1996 have been issued, set out the facts in details which can be briefly summarised as under. A specific information was received by the Enforcement Directorate, Mumbai, that M/s. Travel Fuel Exchange Bureau, Mumbai (T.F.E.B.) was purchasing bulk foreign exchange under Basic Transfer Quota, (B.T.Q.) Business Promotion Quota and Basic Quota from authorised dealers at the official rate and selling the same in the open market at a much higher rate against fabricated B.T.Q. forms illegally. Further specific information was received on 27-11-1995 which revealed that a person of the said TFEB was likely to deliver illegally acquired foreign currency to Dhirajlal Visharia at his business premises at Kamathipura, Central Mumbai. Accordingly, the business premises of Dhirajlal Visharia were searched, as a result of which Indian currency of Rs.2,70,000/- Foreign currency viz. US$ 56/- U.A.E. Dirhams 1000/-, Korun 1170/-, Saudi Riyals 100/ and U.K.$ 795/-, alongwith documents were recovered and seized. As a follow-up action, business premises of TFEB at 66, Pakmodia street, Mumbai-3 were searched on 27th November 1995 by the officers of the Enforcement Directorate, Mumbai as a result of which, certain documents, office computers and two floppies, as per the details given in the panchanama were seized. Statements of Imtiyaz Dholkawala, who is the detenu in Criminal W.P.No.134/97 and a partner of TFEB were recorded on several dates between 27th November and 19th December 1995. Several documents were seized as a result of the said statements, which have been grouped into separate files marked A, B, C & D. It is not necessary here to refer to the details of the statement of Imtiyaz Dholkawala. Suffice it to say that, he admits dealings in foreign exchange where Kasim, the detenu in Writ Petition No.1385 of 1996 was involved. Imtiyaz attributes specific roles to both the detenus with whom we are dealing viz. Kasim and Sajid Peshimam. The sale and purchase of foreign exchange amounting to several lacs of US dollars has been referred to in the statements of Imtiyaz. In the course of his statements, Imtiyaz has given details of the purchase of foreign exchange from (1) M/s. Thomas Cook (India) Limited, and (2) M/s. Wall Street Finance Limited - the two dealers in foreign exchange, authorised by the Reserve Bank of India in accordance with the provisions of Section 6 of the FERA. Between 27th October and 27th November 1995 TFEB purchased foreign currency from M/s. Thomas Cook (India) Ltd., D.N. Road Branch, Mumbai amounting to U.S. $ 6,85,000/- U.K. Sterling pounds 13,000/- and U.A.E.Dirhams 10,000/-. Similarly, from 28th October to 27th November 1995 TFEB purchased foreign exchange from M/s. Wall Street Finance Limited, Mohammad Ali road Branch, Mumbai, amounting to US $ 5,25,000/- and U.K. Sterling pound 5000/-. This foreign exchange was purchased from the dealers on the basis of bogus and fabricated BTQ forms submitted by the TFEB. Sajid Peshimam being an employee of Al Samit (I.T. & T.) was able to furnish names and numbers of passports of passengers, who were supposed to have travelled abroad and on the basis of their needing a certain quantity of foreign exchange, bogus and fabricated BTQ forms were prepared and whereas none of them had availed of the said foreign exchange for travelling abroad and the foreign exchange purchased from authorised dealers were sold at a premium illegally. Statement of Dhirajlal, the detenu in Criminal Writ Petition No.1402 of 1996 was also recorded, which shows that he was illegally dealing in purchase and sale of foreign exchange. However, it is not necessary in this Judgment to refer to the details of the said statement.

5. The premises of Al Samit I.T. & T. behind Paradise Cinema, Mahim, Mumbai, were searched on 18th December 1995. As stated earlier, the detenu Sajid Peshimam is an employee of Al Samit I.T. & T. Indian currency of Rs.11,30,000/- was recovered as detailed in the panchanama dated 18-12-1995. Statements of Sajid were recorded on 18th and 19th December 1995 where be admitted that he was working as a Manager of the said firm and was dealing in ticketing for different Airlines and, at times, he had introduced himself as Sadique. Since he was dealing with the job of ticketing for his Travels and Tours firm (Al Samit I.T.&T.), he was involved in fabricating the BTQ forms supplied to Kasim Dhorjiwala, the detenu in Criminal Writ Petition No.1385 of 1996, who was a partner in TFEB. The grounds of detention show that there was perfect collusion between Al Samit I.T.& T. represented by Sajid Peshimam and TFEB, represented by Kasim. One was a firm supposed to be dealing in Travels and Tours and the other a licensed money changer - Sajid Peshimam was to get commission of Rs.100/- per passenger for supplying bogus and fabricated BTQ Forms mentioning various names and passport numbers and fictitious air-ticket numbers. Detenu, Kasim was not available for interrogation. However, Kasim has been clearly implicated in the statements of the other detenus and several persons, as also the documents recovered during the course of searches and seizures.

6. The grounds of detention further set out the details of the foreign exchange purchased from time to time as per the documents in the four files A, B, C & D. It appears that 124 forged and fabricated BTQ applications were used for the purchase of US $ 550/- in the name of each passenger and the foreign exchange so acquired from the authorised dealers was sold in the open market at a much higher rate. Several BTQ application forms have been seized. The said BTQ forms were kept handy with T.F.E.B. to justify their possessing substantial amount of foreign exchange. The sponsoring authority viz. the Enforcement Directorate, Mumbai, entered into correspondence with the concerned Airlines to ascertain the genuineness of the names of passengers who were supposed to have travelled on Air India, Royal Nepal Airlines, International Airlines of the United Arab Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Alitalia and Kuwait Airways. 980 Directives were issued in the names of the passengers whose names had been mentioned in the bogus and fabricated BTQ application forms. However, it transpired that none of the passengers had availed of any foreign exchange for travelling abroad. None of the airlines with whom the sponsoring authority had entered into correspondence, confirmed that the passengers whose names were mentioned in the BTQ application forms had in fact flown.

7. The detaining authority considered the entire material that was placed before it by the sponsoring authority from time to time, considered the retraction statements, the allegations made in various letters, the bail applications and the orders passed thereon and came to the conclusion that both the detenus were engaged in unauthorised transactions in violation of the provisions of the FERA. The detaining authority, therefore, came to the conclusion that the unauthorised transactions indulged into by the detenus had affected the foreign exchange resources of the country adversely. It further recorded its satisfaction that unless the detenus were detained, they were likely to continue to engage in the aforesaid prejudicial activities in future also and, therefore, it was necessary to detain them under the COFEPOSA with a view to preventing them in future from acting in any manner prejudicial to the conservation of country's foreign exchange resources.

8. As stated earlier, the orders of detention issued on the 3rd September 1996 were served on both the detenus on September 20, 1996 and on completion of the period of detention both the detenus have been released on 19th September 1997. It is, however, brought to our notice that proceedings under the Smugglers And Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture of Property) Act (SAFEMA) have been initiated against both the detenus and hence, it is necessary to hear and decide the present Petitions.

9. Both the learned Counsel; Shri Khan and Shri Gupte have raised identical contentions before us which can be considered together. The first contention is regarding the paucity of time available to the detaining authority for considering the entire material running into as many as 2301 pages before passing the order of detention on 3rd September 1996. As stated earlier, the main incident occurred on the 27th November 1995 when the shop premises of Dhirajlal Visharia and TFEB were raided. Statements of various persons were recorded and on 18th December 1995 the premises of Al Samit, I.T.& T. were searched and documents were seized. The statements of detenu Sajid Peshimam were recorded on 18th and 19th December 1995. The contention urged before us is that having regard to the voluminous documents, the detaining authority did not have sufficient time for considering the said material before issuing the order of detention and as a result of paucity of time, there is non-application of mind on the part of the detaining authority which has mechanically adopted the proposal of the sponsoring authority in issuing the orders of detention.

9A. The second contention is that there is unexplained delay in issuing the orders of detention inasmuch as the main incident had occurred on 27th November 1995. The detenus were arrested soon thereafter and investigation must have ended in December 1995 and hence, there is un-explained delay in issuing the order of detention on the 3rd September, 1996. The third contention is that there was no further incident after 27th November 1995 and there was no act or omission on the part of the detenus thereafter which necessitated the passing of the orders of detention. In the absence of any prejudicial activity between 27th November 1995 and 3rd September 1996, the satisfaction recorded by the detaining authority is vitiated. Hence, the order is malafide, null and void-say both the Counsel.

10. In reply to these contentions, Shri R. M. Agarwal for the contesting respondents has invited our attention to two affidavits filed in each of the two petitions. In Writ Petition No.1212 of 1996 the detaining authority Shri Verma himself has filed the affidavit-in-reply. He has stated that the material in support of the grounds of detention was received from the sponsoring authority from time to time; the spade work and preliminary work was undertaken from time to time. Thereafter, the grounds of detention were formulated and the orders of detention were issued contemporaneously. Shri Verma has set out the various dates on which the proposal and documents, additional documents and material was received by him from the sponsoring authority. There is also an affidavit filed by Shri S. K. Agarwal, Assistant Director of Enforcement Directorate, FERA, Mumbai, which is the sponsoring authority. He has set out the different dates on which the material was sent by the sponsoring authority in Mumbai to its head office in Delhi from where it was immediately forwarded to the detaining authority in Delhi itself. Both the authorities have their head offices in Delhi and they function under the same Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue.

11. As far as Writ Petition No.1385 of 1996 is concerned, it is true that since the detaining authority Shri Verma was not available for filing the affidavit, his successor in office, Shri Somnath Pal, Joint Secretary (COFEPOSA) has filed the affidavit dated 2nd May 1997. He has also dealt with the contention of paucity of time and denied the same. An affidavit has also been filed by Shri S. K. Agarwal on the same lines as in the first Petition.

12. On the second contention of unexplained delay between 27th November 1995 and 3rd September 1996, these affidavits set out the various steps taken from 27th November 1995 till 30th August 1996 when the last piece of information was furnished by the sponsoring authority in Mumbai to its Headquarters in Delhi, which forwarded the same to the detaining authority on the same day viz. 30th August 1996. The orders have been issued on 3rd September 1996. It is, therefore, contended by both the authorities in Mumbai that there is no unexplained delay between 27th November 1995 and 3rd September 1996. The time spent has been satisfactorily explained having regard to the magnitude of investigation.

13. Regarding the third contention that there was no act or omission between 27th November 1995 and 3rd September 1996 on the part of the detenus which necessitated the passing of the orders of detention, it is contended that the order of detention is based on a reasonable prognosis as to the future conduct of a person based on his past conduct, as reflected in the grounds of detention. The grounds of detention set out the details of the illegal transactions in foreign exchange purchase and sale spread over a substantial period involving a number of persons and a large number of documents. It was a continuous course of conduct, as reflected from a series of transactions on the basis of which a satisfaction has been reached that the unauthorised transactions indulged in by the detenus had affected the foreign exchange resources of the country adversely. On the basis of this, subjective satisfaction has been recorded that unless the detenus were detained, they were likely to engage in the aforesaid prejudicial activities in future also and, therefore, it was necessary to detain them under the COFEPOSA with a view to preventing them in future from acting in any manner prejudicial to the conservation of country's foreign exchange resources. The orders of detention record the fact that the nexus between the incident and the passing of the order of detention existed and it was necessary to pass the order of detention. We will deal with these contentions in the light of the settled legal position.

14. However, before we come to the contentions, it is necessary to bear in mind that while passing the orders of preventive detention, the authorities act on the basis of the material placed before them on which a subjective satisfaction is arrived at justifying the passing of an order of detention. It is not for the Courts to sit in Judgment over the subjective satisfaction recorded by the detaining authority unless, of course, the satisfaction recorded is illusory or so perverse that no prudent person could have arrived at the same on the basis of the material placed before him. It is also well-settled that sufficiency of material is not for the Courts to go into in a petition for a Writ in the nature of Habeas Corpus. The Constitution Bench of the Apex Court in Haradhan Saha Vs. The State of West Bengal and others (A.I.R. 1974, S.C. 2154), observed in Para 19 of the Judgment, at page 2157 as under:-

"19. The essential concept of preventive detention is that the detention of a person is not to punish him for some thing he has done but to prevent him from doing it. The basis of detention is the satisfaction of the executive of a reasonable probability of the likelihood of the detenu acting in a manner similar to his past acts and preventing him by detention from doing the same. A criminal conviction on the other hand is for an act already done which can only be possible by a trial and legal evidence. There is no parallel between prosecution in a Court of law and a detention order under the Act. One is a punitive action and the other is a preventive act."

Then in Para 32 of the Judgment at page 2160, the Constitution Bench observed as under:-

"32. The power of preventive detention is qualitatively different from punitive detention. The power of preventive detention is a precautionary power exercised in reasonable anticipation. It may or may not relate to an offence. It is not a parallel proceeding. It does not overlap with prosecution even if it relies on certain facts for which prosecution may be launched or may have been launched. An order of preventive detention may be made before or during prosecution. An order of preventive detention may be made with or without prosecution and in anticipation or after discharge or even acquittal. The pendency of prosecution is no bar to an order of preventive detention. An order of preventive detention is also not a bar to prosecution."

15. In Prakash Chandra Mehta Vs. Commissioner and Secretary, Government of Kerala and others (A.I.R. 1986, S.C. 687), the Apex Court was dealing with the order of detention under Section 3(1) of the COFEPOSA. In para 62 of the Judgment, dealing with the grievance of improper communication of the grounds of detention in a language not understood by the detenu, who said that he only understood Gujarathi and not English, Hindi or Malyalam, the Court observed at page 696 that there was no rule of law that commonsense should be put in cold storage while considering constitutional provisions for safeguards against misuse of powers by authorities though these constitutional provisions should be strictly construed. The detenu was feigning lack of knowledge of English and though the order of detention was issued on 19th June 1984 in English, by 30th June 1984 Hindi translation of the grounds of which he claimed ignorance was furnished to him. The detaining authority came to the conclusion that he knew both Hindi and English and the detenu was merely feigning ignorance of English which view was accepted by the Apex Court.

16. In Mrs. U. Vijayalaskshmi Vs. State of Tamil Nadu and another (A.I.R. 1994, S.C. 165) the Apex Court was considering the validity of the order of detention passed under the Tamil Nadu Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug Offenders, Gundas, Immoral Traffic Offenders, and Slum Grabbers Act, 1982. In the grounds of detention it was alleged that the detenu had indulged in illicit cutting and removal of sandal wood trees from the reserved forest area, thus causing widespread danger to the ecological system and disturbing the delicate equilibrium. This view was founded on the opinion of the District Forest Officer, Vellore. When its correctness was challenged in the detention proceeding, the Apex court observed at the end of para 4 of the Judgment at page 167 as under:-

"Once it is found that the ground of detention is one recognised by sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the Act, it is not for this Court to probe into the correctness of the alleged facts since this Court has a limited role in the matter of examining the validity of the detention order".

17. Bearing in mind the above approach of the Apex Court, we will consider the contentions raised before us. The first contention is regarding paucity of time between receipt of the papers by the detaining authority from the sponsoring authority and passing of the orders of detention on 3rd September 1996. In the grounds of detention in both the petitions, this is the first contention urged. The petitioners have stated that it is not clear as to when was the proposal sent by the sponsoring authority and when did it reach the detaining authority. The material comprises of 88 documents running into as many as 2301 pages. The incident occurred on the 27th November 1995 and the order of detention has been issued on the 3rd September 1996. It is stated in ground (1) in para 4 in both the petitions that looking to the bulky record of 88 documents covering 2301 pages, the detaining authority could not have perused the entire record and could not have formulated the grounds of detention in the short time at its disposal. It, therefore, follows that the detaining authority has adopted the draft grounds verbatim and/or the proposal placed before him by the sponsoring authority and hence, there is non-application of mind on the part of the detaining authority, which renders the orders of detention illegal. Though ground No.1 is extensive, the sum & substance of it is that, having regard to the number of documents and the number of pages, Shri Verma could not have himself perused and scanned all the documents and the material and could not have himself formulated the grounds of detention as he claims to have done.

18. In the affidavit of Shri S. K. Agarwal, the sponsoring authority at Mumbai, the dates of the proposal being forwarded to the head office at Delhi, have been set out. In para 2 of the affidavit it is stated that after collecting the relevant material and on its examination, a joint proposal was sent to the Head office of the Enforcement Directorate, Delhi, on 18th April 1996. It further appears that some queries were received from the Head Office which were replied by the sponsoring authority from Mumbai. The dates of the various letters sent to various persons, Airlines, have been set out in the affidavit in para 4 onwards. Directives were issued to, as many as, 980 passengers, whose names appear in the BTQ forms. In para 17 the sponsoring authority has set out the dates on which the additional material was sent to the head office in Delhi. They are as under:-

4th July 1996, 12th July 1996, 18th July 1996, 25th July 1996, 26th July 1996, 13th August 1996, 23rd August and 30th August 1996.

19. The detaining authority viz. Shri Verma has set out in his affidavit that looking to the bulky material which was received from time to time, the spade work and preliminary work was undertaken from time to time, with the assistance of all concerned. He has mentioned that on 18th April, 1996 the proposal was sent by the sponsoring authority in Mumbai to its head office in Delhi. The additional material was sent thereafter on the dates mentioned above. Then, it is stated that after obtaining clearance from the screening committee (which met on 21st May 1996) and after considering the entire material and having come to the conclusion that the detention of the detenu was warranted, the orders of detention were issued on the 3rd September 1996. The grounds of detention were formulated contemporaneously. In the light of these pleadings, we will consider some of the decisions of the Apex Court and of this court on the question of paucity of time.

20. In Tarapada De and others Vs. The State of West Bengal (A.I.R. 1951, S.C. 174), the Apex Court was considering the question in the light of 100 detention orders issued overnight and the argument was that the fact that large number of orders of detention were passed over-night indicated bad faith on the part of the authorities, for the authorities could not have applied their minds to each individual case. In para 11 of the Judgment, at page 177, the Apex Court rejected the argument observing that-

"The authorities had already applied their minds to the suspected activities of each of the detenus and were satisfied that with a view to prevent them from doing prejudicial act of a particular kind, it was necessary to make an order of detention against them under the local Acts. There being doubt as to the validity of the local Acts & the Preventive Detention Act having been passed in the meantime the question was to make afresh order under the new Act. The minds of the authorities having already been made up as to the expediency of making an order of detention against them, an elaborate application of mind, such as is now suggested, does not appear to me to be necessary at all."

This was a case of detention under the Preventive Detention Act, 1950 where the orders were served on the detenus on 26th February 1950 and the grounds of detention were served on them on 14th March 1950. The Apex Court rejected the argument of bad faith based on the fact that a large number of orders were passed over-night and dismissed the appeal.

21. In A. K. Gopalan and others Vs. Government of India (A.I.R. 1963, S.C. 816), the Constitution Bench considered similar argument where, as many as, 140 orders were passed on the same day and the contention was that there was non-application of mind by the Government of India before, as many as, 140 orders were passed on the same day and this fact itself shows that mind could not have been applied to each individual case before so many orders are passed, all on one day. The Apex Court was considering the petitions under Article 32 of the Constitution for a Writ of Habeas Corpus on behalf of the detenus, who were members of the Left Communist Party and were ordered to be detained alongwith others, in all 140, under Rule 30(1)(b) of the Defence of India Rules. The orders of detention were passed by the Governor of Kerala on December 29, 1964 and in pursuance of those orders, the detenus were arrested on December 30, 1964. In para 7 of the Judgment, at page 818, the Court rejected the contention of non-application of mind based on the fact that 140 orders were passed on the same day, all at once, holding that the reply of the Government was that the question as to the detention of the persons who were ordered to be detained was under consideration of the Government of India for quite some time and that only the detention orders were passed on one day. The affidavit further stated that the Government of India was satisfied with respect to each individual person that his detention was necessary and it was after such satisfaction that the orders were passed, though they happened to have been passed on the same day. The Apex Court, therefore, came to the conclusion that from the simple fact that as many as 140 orders were passed on the same day, it was not possible to hold that there was no satisfaction of the Government of India with regard to each individual case. The Court observed that there was no reason to disbelieve the affidavit filed on behalf of the Government and hence, rejected the contention. The petitions were dismissed by the Apex Court.

22. It is true that in Umesh Chandra Verma Vs. Union of India (Criminal Appeal No.878 of 1985 decided on December 20, 1985), the Apex Court had set aside the order of detention, which was passed on the night of 13th June 1985 when large quantity of contraband gold was recovered from the detenu. The detenu was interrogated almost the whole day on the 13th June, 1985 and at 6-00 P.M. he was formally arrested under Section 104 of the Customs Act. The order of detention was made on the same night. Relying upon the documents, which included the arrest memo prepared at 6-00 P.M., the court came to the conclusion that the documents and the proposal for detention must have been placed before the detaining authority after 6-00 P.M. in which case it would certainly have been difficult for the detaining authority to make the order the same night. It was in these peculiar facts that the court came to the conclusion that the detaining authority could not have possibly applied its mind to the voluminous documentary evidence which was placed before him and, therefore, quashed the order of detention. With respect, we do not think that the ratio of the above decision has any application to the facts of the case before us. We have already indicated earlier, and we will elaborate later, that the proposal had reached the detaining authority along with 2272 out of 2301 pages much earlier. The proposal was sent to the Head Office on 18th April 1996 which consisted of as many as 2272 pages. It was only the additional material in few pages, (in all 29 pages) which was sent on subsequent dates, which, in turn was forwarded by the Head Office of the sponsoring authority to the detaining authority immediately.

23. Both the learned Counsel Shri Khan and Shri Gupte placed reliance on three un-reported decisions of this Court. In Criminal Writ Petition No.397 of 1992 of Mohd. Ahmed Ibrahim, decided on 22nd April 1992 (Puranik & Chapalgaonkar, JJ.), the proposal consisted of 262 pages. The order of detention was issued by the detaining authority in Delhi on 9th April 1991 though the papers were sent by the sponsoring authority from Mumbai on 9th April 1991 itself, alongwith the documents to Delhi. Some of the documents had come into existence on 9th April 1991 itself. Some documents had come into existence on the 4th and 8th April 1991 and they have been referred to as having taken birth in the week preceding the order of detention. It was in these peculiar facts that this Court came to the conclusion that the material was so voluminous and the time left with the detaining authority was so short that there was non-application of mind on the part of the detaining authority to the material placed before him and, therefore, the order of detention was liable to be struck down. While doing so, this Court made it clear that it did not propose to lay down a general proposition that if the order of detention is passed on the same day on which the proposal was received or immediately thereafter, the order of detention will be bad. On the facts of the case the learned Judges came to the conclusion that the evidence was so voluminous and the time at the disposal of the detaining authority was so short that the only conclusion that could be reached was that there was non-application of mind on the part of the detaining authority. These observations are to be found in para 6 of the Judgment in Mohd. Ahmed Ibrahim's case.

24. In Criminal Writ Petition No.991 of 1992 of Smt.Varsha Vilas Jadhav Vs. 1. The State of Maharashtra and others, decided on 23rd October 1992 (Puranik & DA'Silva JJ.), the order of detention was passed on 15th July, 1992. The proposal consisted of number of documents running into 240 foolscape closely typed pages. The detaining authority received the proposal and the documents at 4-00 P.M. on 15th July 1992 itself and the order of detention was passed at 7-00 P.M. on the same day. It was in these pecular facts that looking into the voluminous record of the case, running into 240 foolscape closely typed pages, including several documents in vernacular, this Court came to the conclusion that it would not have been possible for the detaining authority to go through the entire documents, apply its mind to them, formulate the grounds of detention and issue the orders of detention and get it typed and sign the same - all within three hours as contended. It was, therefore, that the order of detention was held to suffer from non-application of mind and was, therefore, set aside. These findings are to be found in para 14 of the Judgment.

25. In Criminal Writ Petition No.55 of 1992 of Smt.Ayesha Shaikh, decided by the Aurangabad Bench - A. D. Mane and M. S. Vaidya, JJ. -- on 29th April 1992, the order of detention was issued on the 31st January 1992. The proposal consisted of 586 pages. Many documents were received by the detaining authority on 31st January 1992 itself and even the final revised proposal was submitted to the detaining authority on 31st January 1992 itself. There was nothing to show as to when exactly the detaining authority had received the earlier papers and had started scanning them. It was in these facts that the Court came to the conclusion that the detaining authority could not have himself processed, and scanned the voluminous bulky record and documents and considered the material and at the same he could not have himself formulated the grounds of detention within a short span of time. It was, therefore, manifest that the detaining authority had failed to apply his mind to all the material placed before him for arriving at the subjective satisfaction. These conclusions are to be found in Para 5 of the Judgment. Apart from these infirmities, the Aurangabad Bench found several other infirmities in the order of detention, such as, non-supply of some of the documents to the detenu which was held to be a serious infirmity in the order of detention; piecemeal consideration of the documents by the detaining authority which was also held to be impermissible. It was in these peculiar facts that the order of detention was set aside. We do not think that the ratio of any of the three decisions of this Court referred to in paras 23 to 25 has any application to the facts of the two cases before us.

26. Our attention has also been invited to the decision of this Court in Mohmood Abubakar Marwadi Vs. Union of India (1982 Cri.L.J. 53). This Court was considering the validity of the order of detention issued under Sec.3 of COFEPOSA against one Yusuf Abdulla Patel. In para 10 of the judgment at page 57 of the report, the Court observed that it is not enough that there is material with the concerned authority. The existence of the material is one thing, sifting and scanning thereof is altogether different. After sifting and scanning, drawing and formulating conclusions therefrom is again a different process and since the person's liberty is to be circumscribed, each stage is important. Formulation, framing and signing of the grounds by detaining authority at about the time of making the order of detention is an important assurance and safeguard on the question that there was material on the basis of which the conclusions were drawn and grounds were formulated at the relevant time. Reliance is also placed on the judgment of the Karnataka High Court in Anwar Abdulla Vs. The Union of India and others (1992 Criminal Law Journal 3616) where the Court was dealing with the orders of detention issued by the Karnataka Govt. on 7th March, 1991 under Sec.3(1) of the COFEPOSA. The offending incident had occurred on 21st February 1991 when an Arab Dhow which was moving in a suspicious manner in the Customs waters was asked to stop with signals given therefor and was later on chased by the Coast Guard Ship and apprehended by the Coast Guard. When apprehended, contraband silver was recovered from the Arab Dhow. On the basis of the movement of the file on 7th March, 1981 itself, a contention was raised about the paucity of time. The proposal consisted of 260 foolscape closely typed pages and it was held by the Court that, having regard to the paucity of time at the fag end of the office hours on 7th March, 1991, which was available to the detaining authority to apply its mind to the proposal, and the urgency shown by the sponsoring authority in getting the detention order made by the State Govt., the detaining authority could not have possibly applied its mind at all in arriving at its satisfaction under sub-sec.(1) of Sec.3 of the COFEPOSA. These conclusions are to be found in para 21 of the judgment at page 3632-33 of the report. We do not think that the ratio of the two cases discussed in this para can have any application to the facts of the cases before us.

27. In Smt.Bhanumati Arvind Patel Vs. The Union of India and others, Cri.W.P.No.1416 of 1989 decided by the Division Bench of M. L. Pendse and D. J. Moharir, JJ. on 14th and 15th March, 1990, this Court was dealing with an order of detention issued on 9th November, 1989 under Sec.3(1) of the Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1988. The detenu had obtained a bail from this Court on 9th October, 1989 itself and order releasing the detenu on bail was passed by this Court at about 3.30 p.m. on that day. It was thereafter that a proposal for detention was moved and order of detention was passed the same evening. It was, in these facts, that the contention was advanced that there was paucity of time resulting in non application of mind. This Court rejected the said contention and complimented the detaining authority for having acted with speed and in an exemplary manner had issued the order of detention on 9th October, 1989 itself. In the result, the petition was rejected.

28. In Criminal Writ Petition No.1497 of 1992 of Smt.Razia w/o Sayyed Ali Shaikh Vs. Shri A. S. Samara and others decided by V. A. Mohta and A. P. Shah JJ. on 6th April, 1993, the order of detention was passed on 25th September, 1992 under the National Security Act, 1980. The proposal contained 251 pages and it was received by the detaining authority on 25th September, 1992 itself. Argument was that there was no time for the detaining authority to apply its mind. This Court referred to the Apex Court decisions in Tarapada De and A. K. Gopalan's cases (supra) and came to the conclusion that the mere fact that large number of orders are passed on a single day was not, by itself sufficient to declare the order of detention as invalid. The Court referred to some of the judgments of this Court where, on facts, a view was expressed that there was paucity of time making it impossible for the Detaining Authority to apply its mind. Reliance was also placed on the decision of S. P. Kurdukar J. (as he then was) and W. M. Sambre J. in Smt.Reshma Sudhakar Hegde Vs. State of Maharashtra and others (Criminal Writ Petition No.878 of 1992 decided on 7th July 1992). This was a case where the co-detenu Smt.Ayesha Shaikh was released by the Aurangabad bench by its order dated 29th April, 1992 in Criminal Writ Petition No.55 of 1992 which judgment we have discussed in para 25 above. The Division Bench of S. P. Kurdukar and W. M. Sambre JJ. distinguished the case of the co-detenu before it and did not agree with the view expressed by the Aurangabad bench on the question of non application of mind on account of paucity of time. The Division Bench of S. P. Kurdukar and W. M. Sambre JJ. expressed the view that process of applying mind to the documents produced by the sponsoring authority had started earlier from 13th December, 1991 and had continued till 31st January 1992 when the Detaining Authority had passed the order of detention. In para 25 above, we have already referred to the facts in Smt.Ayesha Shaikh's case while dealing with the judgment of Aurangabad Bench in Criminal Writ Petition No.55 of 1992. The Division Bench of Mohta and Shah JJ. preferred to follow the ratio of the decision in Smt.Reshma Sudhakar Hegde's case decided by Kurdukar and Sambre JJ. (Crim.W.P.No.627 of 1992), though her co-detenu Smt.Ayesha Shaikh had been released by the Aurangabad Bench. In the result, the petition was dismissed by Mohta and Shah JJ. on 6th April, 1993.

29. In Criminal Writ Petition No.82 of 1993 of Shaikh Anwar s/o Shaikh Umar Vs. The Union of India and others decided by V. P. Tipnis and M. L. Dudhat JJ. on 27th July, 1993 the order of detention under Sec.3(1) of COFEPOSA was issued on 8th October, 1992. The papers were sent to the Detaining Authority in several instalments, as has happened in the cases before us. The last batch of papers was sent on 29th September, 1992 and this conclusion was arrived at by the Division Bench after perusing the file. The order of detention was issued on 8th October, 1992. The papers had travelled from the Sponsoring Authority in Mumbai to its head office at Delhi and then to the Detaining Authority in Delhi as is the case before us. Both the authorities function under the Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue. The Screening Committee had cleared the proposal on 16th September, 1992. This Court held that the argument of paucity of time and non application of mind was not acceptable and hence rejected the writ petition. In Smt.Shobha V. Kawade Vs. The Union of India - Crim.W.P.No.86 of 1995 decided by the same bench of Tipnis and Dudhat JJ. on 28th August, 1995 and reported at 1996(2) ALL MR 551, the proposal consisted of 526 pages. The last document was received on Saturday, 17th December 1994 and the order of detention was issued on Tuesday, 20th December 1994. The Court considered the fact that the proposal had earlier reached the Detaining Authority and additional information was supplied from time to time. In the result the argument of paucity of time and non application of mind was rejected. In this case also the Court perused the original file which was made available and which indicated that the proposal had moved from the Sponsoring Authority in Mumbai to its head office in Delhi which had forwarded the same to the detaining authority in Delhi as is the case before us.

30. In Smt.Sharifa Abubaker Zariwala Vs. The Union of India (1996 II L.J. 205) - Crim.W.P.No.703 of 1995 decided on 10th/11th July 1996 - by a Bench to which one of us (Savant J.) is a party, the detention order was issued on 26th June, 1995. Prior to that, order releasing the detenu on bail was passed on 23rd June, 1995. 24th June, was Saturday and 25th June, 1995 was Sunday and were, therefore, holidays. The same argument was advanced regarding the paucity of time and non application of mind since the documents consisted of 234 pages. The Sponsoring Authority was in Mumbai and the Detaining Authority was in Delhi. Relying upon the decision of the Apex Court in Tarpada De and A. K. Gopalan's case and other decisions to which we have referred above, this Court rejected the argument of paucity of time and non application of mind and the petition was dismissed.

31. In the light of the above legal position, and the affidavits filed before us by the Sponsoring Authority in Mumbai and Detaining Authority in Delhi, we had requested Shri Agarwal appearing for the Union of India to produce the files for our perusal. We have perused the same. It is true that the entire material consists of 2301 pages. However, it is necessary to peruse the list "list of documents relied upon" which is Annexure C in Writ Petition No.1212 of 1996. The list runs into 6 foolscape typed pages covering 88 documents. Documents at Sr.Nos.1 to 4 are panchanamas dated 27th November 1995 and run into 10 pages. The fourth document viz. panchanama dated 27th November 1995 refers to the seizure of the Basic Travel Quota (BTQ) application forms from the business premises of T.F.E.B. They are printed forms in the format prescribed by the Reserve Bank of India under the FERA. The forms contain some names of the passengers and the passport numbers. The pages covered by the four files "A to D" which were seized under the panchanama dated 27th November, 1995 are from 11 to 1039. Each BTQ form is of one page only. We have perused the same. It would only need a glance at the application form where some names and passport numbers and basic details are mentioned. The total number of application forms recovered from the premises of T.F.E.B. are over 1000. The modus operandi adopted by T.F.E.B. was to keep the printed forms handy in case the officers of Enforcement Directorate or the Reserve Bank of India were to visit the premises and question the T.F.E.B. possessing large amount of foreign exchange purchased from the authorised dealers like M/s Thomas Cook Ltd. or M/s Walls Street Finance Ltd., as referred to in the earlier part of the judgment. Each form bears the name and other details such as age, occupation and address of the passenger with the Air Line ticket number, passport number and date of its issue. The air-line ticket numbers are fictitious. None of the said persons had actually availed of any foreign exchange for travelling abroad.

32. Documents 5 to 11 in the list at Annexure C are the summonses issued to various persons alongwith their statements recorded on different dates. They are from pages 1040 to 1463. In that, document no.11 at pages 1127 to 1463 includes enclosures and extracts furnished by M/s Wall Street Finance Ltd. in respect of their having sold foreign exchange to various parties. Document no.12 (pages 1464 - 1568) relates to similar transactions entered into by M/s Thomas Cook Ltd. alongwith enclosures. Documents 13 to 19 (at pages 1569 to 1654) are letters issued by the Enforcement Directorate and Reserve Bank of India. They also include number of charts. Documents no.20 and 21 at pages 1655 to 1668 are the replies received to them. Document no.22 (page 1669) is one page circular issued by Reserve Bank of India. Document no.23 (at pages 1670 to 1685) is an arrest memo. Document no.24 (pages 1686-1699) is an application for bail by co-detenu Imtiaz. Document no.25 at pages 1700 to 1716 are medical reports of Imtiaz and retraction application filed. No.26 (page 1717 to 1751) is the panchanama dated 18th December, 1995 in respect of search of the premises of M/s Al Samit - IT.& T. No.27 (pages 1752 to 1759) is the summons issued to Sajid and his statement recorded on 18th and 19th November, 1995. Document no.28 (1760-1846) is the summons issued to Gulam Mohammed Peshimam (cousin of the detenu Sajid) and his statement recorded on 22nd December 1995 along with the copy of the cash book of M/s Al Samit I.T.& T. Document no.29 (pages 1847 to 1852) is the copy of the arrest memo dated 19th December 1995 alongwith a remand application in respect of the detenu Sajid Ahmed and the order passed by C.M.M. on 20th December and 22nd December, 1995. This document is only of 16 pages.

33. Documents at Sr.Nos.30 to 40 (pages 1853 to 1954) are the copies of the letters issued by the Deputy Director of Enforcement Directorate, Mumbai to certain persons, airlines and authorised dealers in foreign exchange and replies received from them. Document at Sr.No.41 to 79 (pages 1955 to 2278) are the directives issued by the Asstt. Director, Enforcement Directorate, Mumbai to several persons whose names appeared in the B.T.Q. forms. The directives are in the form of an order under Sec.33(2) of the FERA requesting the concerned person to furnish information about his having purchased the foreign exchange from T.F.E.B., the date of his travel abroad, name of the airlines, ticket number etc. The directives are in the cyclostyled form and none of 980 persons to whom directives were addressed confirmed his or her having travelled or availed of the foreign exchange as mentioned in the bogus B.T.Q. application form. After some directives, replies of the concerned persons have been annexed. Document no.80 dated 25.5.1996 (pages 2279 to 2282) is an order passed by the Directorate of Enforcement under Sec.41 of the FERA authorising retention of the documents seized, beyond the period of six months since investigation was not complete. Documents at no.81 to 84 (pages 2283 to 2291) are the letters of M/s Al Samit to the Deputy Director of Enforcement and correspondence exchanged between some other persons during 20.6.96 and 25.7.96. Document no.85 (page 2292) is a free English translation of page 2165 forming part of document no.68 namely replies to the directives. Document no.86 (pages 2293 to 2299) are the legible copies of pages no.1865, 1866, 1867, 1873 and 1874. Document no.87 (pages 2300) is a letter dated 14.5.96 from the Deputy Director to Gulam Peshimam and the last document no.88 (2301) is the letter dated 2nd May, 1996 of Deputy Director to detenu Kasim.

34. A further affidavit has been filed before us by Shri Prabhat Kumar, Zonal Deputy Director of Enforcement Directorate, Mumbai setting out the dates on which papers were sent from the Sponsoring Authority Mumbai to the head office in Delhi from where they were forwarded to the Detaining Authority. We have also perused the files of the Sponsoring Authority in Mumbai, head office of the Sponsoring Authority in Delhi as also of the Detaining Authority in Delhi. Since, we did not find any specific reference to any outward and inward register nor to any forwarding letter from the head office of the Sponsoring Authority in Delhi to the Detaining Authority, we enquired with Shri Agarwal as to whether any such practice existed and he stated that no such practice existed. With a view to ensuring speedy disposal and secrecy, the papers were carried personally by the concerned officers from one wing of the Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue to the other wing, namely from the Sponsoring Authority to the Detaining Authority. In para 4 of his affidavit, Shri Prabhat Kumar has referred to this aspect of the matter It reads as under:

"It is also submitted that after such processing from time to time, the matter is reported and brought to the notice of the Detaining Authority, who thereafter issues necessary instructions deemed fit and the necessary directions are sought from the Jt.Secretary, viz. Detaining Authority, and thus since these all Departments are part and parcel of the same Wing of the Ministry of Finance, it is a team work, and is undertaken without entering into formal correspondence to ensure expeditious disposal of the matters as well as to ensure secrecy and to do away with red tapism."

Again in para 8 of the affidavit Shri Prabhat Kumar has stated as under:

"It is submitted that it is a matter of team work of the staff of COFEPOSA Cell of Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue, who are directly under the Jt.Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue, who is the Detaining Authority, as well as the COFEPOSA Cell staff of the Enforcement Directorate, New Delhi. Similarly, from time to time, the officials from the respective offices of the Enforcement Directorate, who are required to visit New Delhi either to the Head Office or to the Jt.Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue, for necessary instructions and/or guidance and/or clarifications, as and when called for, are also supposed to keep track of their pending matters, and seek necessary instructions, clarifications, directions etc. if any."

35. Our attention was also invited to the fact that in several matters decided by this Court, this practice has been approved and on perusal of the original files, the explanation offered has been accepted. We have already referred to in para 29 above the decision in Crim.Writ Petition No.82 of 1993 of Shaikh Anwar s/o Shaikh Umar decided on 27th July 1993 by Tipnis and Dudhat JJ. where the Sponsoring Authority from Mumbai had forwarded the proposal to its head office in Delhi which, in turn, had forwarded the proposal to the Detaining Authority in Delhi. Similar was the practice in the case of Smt.Shobha Kawade (Crim.W.P.No.86 of 1995 decided by Tipnis and Dudhat JJ. on 28th August 1995 = 1996(2) ALL MR 551) where the papers consisted of 526 pages. The last document was dated Saturday the 17th December 1994 and the order of detention was issued on Tuesday the 20th December, 1994 (para 29 above). Similar was the position in Smt.Sharifa Abubaker Zariwala's case being Crim.W.P.No.703 of 1995 (para 30 above). These cases relate to the proposal made by the Sponsoring Authority namely the Directorate of Enforcement in Mumbai to its head office in Delhi from where the papers were forwarded to the Detaining Authority, in Delhi. There was no evidence in the nature of outward or inward register or covering letter showing the movement of the files from the head office of the Enforcement Directorate in Delhi to the Detaining Authority in Delhi. However, on perusal of the original files this Court accepted the explanation offered by the Sponsoring Authority and Detaining Authority.

36. Since paucity of time is the main contention urged before us in the two petitions, it is necessary to appreciate the volume of the material sent from time to time by the sponsoring authority in Mumbai to its head office in Delhi from where it was immediately forwarded to the Detaining Authority in Delhi. The chart prepared on the basis of the original file discloses the following facts.


 
i)

The proposal sent to H.Qrs. alongwith basic documents
Date
18.04.96
Pages 2272
ii)


Additional material sent (a copy of letter dated 20.6.96 from Al Samit International and reply dated 3.7.96)


04.07.96


3
iii)


Additional material sent (copy of letter dtd.3.7.96 received from Al Samit International reply dt.8.7.96)


12.07.96


2
iv)

Replies sent to H.Qrs. to their letters of Al Samit International dt.20.6.96 and 3.7.96

18.07.96

3
v)






Additional material viz. Representation dated 18.6.96 of Kasim H. Dhorajiwala, reply dt.18.7.96 by Enforcement Directorate representation dated 3.7.96 of Al Samit International and reply dt.8.7.96 and letter dt.20.6.96 of Al Samit International and reply dated 3.7.96






25.07.96






9
vi)

Clarification sent to H.Qrs. to their letter dt.26.7.96

26.07.96

1
vii)

Reply dt.2.8.96 regarding their letter dated 30.7.96

13.08.96

1
viii) Clarification sent to H.Qrs.
23.08.96
1

 

37. The above movement of the papers from the Sponsoring Authority in Mumbai to its head office in Delhi and then immediately from head office to the Detaining Authority would clearly show that the Detaining Authority had ample time to apply its mind to the question of expediency of making an order of detention. As is clear from the approach of the Apex Court in (i) Tarpada De and (ii) A. K. Gopalan (supra), the question of passing the order of detention can be under consideration of the Govt. for quite some time when the govt. applies its mind to the material before it and then finally formulates the grounds and issues the order of detention. It is not as if the entire exercise of sifting and scanning material, drawing the conclusions therefrom and formulation of the grounds takes place on one and the same day. In this case the process had been initiated much earlier when the papers were sent by the Sponsoring Authority in Mumbai to its head office in Delhi on 18th April, 1996 which consisted of as many as 2272 pages out of the total pages of 2301. It is only a few pages, namely 29 pages, (2301-2272) that were sent after 18th April, 1996, that too on different dates as set out in the affidavit of Shri S. K. Agarwal, the Sponsoring Authority in Mumbai. Even these 29 pages were not sent on one day or the last day. They were sent on different dates starting from 4th July, 1996 and ending with 30th August, 1996. Thereafter the orders of detention was issued on 3rd September, 1996.

38. It is true that in the affidavit of Shri Somnath Pal, in Criminal Writ Petition No.1385 of 1996, there is a statement in para 6 that "on receipt of the replies from the air lines and from the passengers, the whole material was sent to the Detaining Authority on 30.8.1996.". Shri Verma who is the Detaining Authority in both the cases has categorically stated in his affidavit in Crim.W.P.No.1212 of 1996 that bulky material was received from time to time and spade work and preliminary work was undertaken from time to time. In the affidavit of Shri S. A. Agarwal, specific dates have been mentioned commencing with 18th April, 1996 when the joint proposal was first sent to the head office of the Directorate of Enforcement, Delhi. Relying upon an incorrect statement in the affidavit of Shri Somnath Pal, an attempt was made to contend that the entire record of 2301 pages must have travelled for the first time on 30th August, 1996 from the Sponsoring Authority in Mumbai to its head office in Delhi and thereafter to the Detaining Authority. We have perused the files of the Sponsoring Authority in Mumbai, its head office in Delhi as also that of the Detaining Authority and we are satisfied that the proposal alongwith 2272 pages was initially sent from Mumbai to Delhi on 18th April, 1996 and only some additional information and material, in all running into 29 pages, was sent on different dates between 4th July and 30th August, 1996. As indicated earlier, the Central Screening Committee in its meeting held on 21st May, 1996 at Delhi had cleared the proposal. In this state of affairs reflected from the original file, statement in the affidavit of Shri Pal that the material was sent to the Detaining Authority on 30th August, 1996 must be understood as referring to the whole material which had then remained to be sent. At any rate, the statement appears to us to be inaccurate and having perused the files, we are satisfied that the joint proposal with 2272 pages was initially sent to Delhi as far back as on 18th April, 1996 and subsequent information was sent from time to time between 4th July and 30th August, 1996. The chart reproduced in para 36 clearly shows the correct position.

39. Having perused the original files of (i) the Sponsoring Authority in Mumbai, (ii) its Head Office in Delhi and (iii) the Detaining Authority in Delhi, we find that the proposal was cleared by screening committee as far back as on 21st May, 1996 when it met in the chambers of the Director General of Revenue (Intelligence) Delhi at 4 p.m. Whatever action was taken by the Sponsoring Authority in Mumbai, it informed the head office in Delhi immediately and if any additional documents were forwarded from Mumbai to Delhi, the same were further forwarded to the Detaining Authority soon after they were received by the head office of the Sponsoring Authority in Delhi. In this view of the matter, it is not possible for us to accept the contention of both the learned Counsel Shri Khan and Shri Gupte that merely because the 88 documents run into 2301 pages, there was paucity of time at the disposal of the Detaining Authority before passing the order of detention on 3rd September, 1996 and it must, therefore, follow that the order of detention has been issued without application of mind. On a perusal of the original files, we find that the proposal of the sponsoring authority is quite brief whereas the detaining authority has satisfactorily elaborated the same with a lot of details and particulars, which also negatives the contention of paucity of time.

40. We have indicated the approach of the Apex Court in these matters as reflected in the two cases of (i) Tarapada De and (ii) A. K. Gopalan (supra). We have also referred to the Division Bench decisions of this Court where, in similar facts, the Court looked into the original files of the Sponsoring Authority in Mumbai, its Head Office in Delhi and the file of the Detaining Authority in Delhi and came to the conclusion that despite the number of pages being many or the record being bulky, there was enough time at the disposal of the Detaining Authority to apply its mind before passing the order of detention. In fact, in Criminal Writ Petition No.1416 of 1989 of Smt.Bhanumti Arvind Patel decided by Pendse and Moharir JJ. there was only one day's time for finalising all the steps before issuing the order of detention on 9th November 1989. Thus in view of the law laid down by the Apex Court, we do not think that the ratio of the decisions on which Shri Khan and Shri Gupte have placed reliance can have any application to the facts of the cases before us. Those cases were decided on their own peculiar facts, where on the material that was placed before this Court, a clear finding has been recorded that the detaining authority had no sufficient time to apply its mind before passing the order of detention. That is certainly not the case before us. We have, therefore, no hesitation in rejecting the first contention.

41. The second contention urged before us is about the alleged unexplained delay between the date of the incident 27th November 1995 and 3rd September 1996 the date on which the orders of detention were issued. In this behalf, it is contended that as far as detenu Sajid Ahmed is concerned, he was arrested on 19-12-1995 and was released on bail on the 4th January 1996. As far as detenu Kasim is concerned, he was not arrested at all. It is contended that since the investigation had ended in December 1995, there was no reason to delay the passing of the orders of detention till 3rd September 1996.

42. Reply to this contention is to be found in para 3 of the affidavit of Shri Verma as also in the affidavit of Shri Agrawal in the first petition relating to Sajid Ahmed. As far as the second petition relating to Kasim is concerned, the reply to the contention of delay is to be found in para 6 of the affidavit of Shri Pal, as well as in the affidavit of Shri Agarwal. As far as detenu Kasim is concerned, there is a reference to the additional feature that he was absconding. Relying upon these affidavits, the learned Counsel Shri Agrawal contended that the orders of detention have been issued not merely on the basis of the development upto the arrest or release of a detenu, but they include subsequent developments such as investigation into the foreign exchange dealings, ascertaining the genuineness of the passengers and the flights supposed to have been taken by them. As many as 980 directives were issued to the passengers whose names figure in the bogus and fabricated BTQ forms. Several directives were issued to the several Airlines for obtaining the details of the Air-tickets on which the passengers were supposed to have travelled abroad. Correspondence was entered into with the Reserve Bank of India, as also the two authorised dealers in foreign exchange viz. M/s. Thomas Cook Limited and M/s. Wall Street Finance Limited. Additional information was sent from Mumbai to Delhi on different dates such as 4th July, 13th August, 23rd August and finally, 30th August, 1996. This is clear from the four affidavits filed in the two petitions. In response to the 980 directives issued to persons who were supposed to have travelled abroad and availed of the foreign exchange, it transpired that none had confirmed having received the foreign exchange for travelling abroad as alleged. Having regard to the magnitude of the transactions in foreign exchange, the nature of the activities of the detenu, the time taken in correspondence with various persons, Airlines and authorities, it is contended that the time-lag between 27th November 1995 and 3rd September 1996 has been properly explained in the affidavits. There is, therefore, no unexplained delay, says the Counsel.

43. While considering the plea of delay in issuing the orders of preventive detention under the COFEPOSA, we must bear in mind the approach indicated by the Apex Court in Rajendrakumar Natvarlal Shah Vs. State of Gujarat (A.I.R. 1988, S.C., 1255). The Apex Court was dealing with an order of detention made on 28th May 1987, by the Dist. Magistrate, Godhra, under Section 3(2) of the Gujarat Prevention of Anti-social Activities Act, 1985. The incident had occurred on the night between 29th and 30th December 1986 when the detenu's truck was found to be carrying 77 sealed cases containing 2040 bottles of different brands of scotch whisky, beer etc. The detenu had purchased the liquor from the Wine Merchants of Vanswada. On the question of delay in making the order of detention the Court emphasised the difficulties faced by the sponsoring authority in making a thorough investigation into the foreign exchange racketeering in determining the identity of persons engaged in these operations which have a deleterious effect on the national economy. The court observed that quite often these activities are carried on by persons forming a syndicate and having a wide network. In para 9 of the Judgment, at page 1260 of the report, the following observations have been made.

"9. In the enforcement of a law relating to preventive detention like the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974 there is apt to be some delay, between the prejudicial activities complained of under Section 3(1) of the Act and the making of an order of detention. When a person is detected in the act of smuggling or foreign exchange racketeering the Directorate of Enforcement has to make a thorough investigation into all the facts with a view to determine the identity of the persons engaged in these operations which have a deleterious effect on the national economy. Quite often these activities are carried on by persons forming a syndicate or having a wide network and, therefore, this includes recording of statements of persons involved, examination of their books of accounts and other related documents. Effective administration and realisation of the purposes of the Act is often rendered difficult by reason of the clandestine manner in which the persons engaged in such operations carry on their activities and the consequent difficulties in securing sufficient evidence to comply with the rigid standards, insisted upon by the Courts. Sometimes such investigation has to be carried on for months together due to be magnitude of the operations. Apart from taking various other measures i.e. launching of prosecution of the persons involved for contravention of the various provisions of the Acts in question and initiation of the adjudication proceedings, the Directorate has also to consider whether there was necessity in the public interest to direct the detention of such person or persons under S.3(1) of the Act with a view to preventing them from acting in any manner prejudicial to the conservation and augmentation of foreign exchange or with a view to preventing them from engaging in smuggling of goods etc. The proposal has to be cleared at the highest quarter and is then placed before a Screening Committee. For ought we know, the Screening Committee may meet once or twice a month. If the Screening Committee approves of the proposal, it would place the same before the detaining authority. Being conscious that the requirements of Art.22(5) would not be satisfied unless the 'basic facts and materials' which weighed with him in reaching his subjective satisfaction, are communicated to the detenu and the likelihood that the Court would examine the grounds specified in the order of detention to see whether they were relevant to the circumstances under which the impugned order was passed, the detaining authority would necessarily insist upon sufficiency of the grounds which would justify the taking of the drastic measure of preventively detaining the person."

(Emphasis supplied)

44. After making the above observations, a caution has been sounded in para 10 of the Judgment in Rajendra Kumar Shah's case (supra) for guidance of the High Courts that a distinction must be drawn between the delay in making an order of detention under the COFEPOSA and the delay in complying with the procedural safeguards under Article 22(5) of the Constitution. The rule as to unexplained delay in taking action is not an inflexible rule. In para 10 of the Judgment, this is what the Apex Court observed at page 1260:-

"10. Viewed from this perspective, we wish to emphasise and make it clear for the guidance of the different High Courts that a distinction must be drawn between the delay in making of an order of detention under a law relating to preventive detention like the Conservation of Foreign Exchange & Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974 and the delay in complying with the procedural safeguards of Art.22(5) of the Constitution. It has been laid down by this Court in a series of decisions that the rule as to unexplained delay in taking action is not inflexible. Quite obviously, in cases of mere delay in, making of an order of detention under a law like the Conservation of Foreign Exchange & Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974 enacted for the purpose of dealing effectively with persons engaged in smuggling and foreign exchange racketeering who, owing to their large resources and influence have been posing a serious threat to the economy and thereby to the security of the nation, the Courts should not merely on account of delay in making of an order of detention assume that such delay, if not satisfactorily explained, must necessarily give rise to an inference that there was no sufficient material for the subjective satisfaction of the detaining authority or that such subjective satisfaction was not genuinely reached. Taking of such a view would not be warranted unless the Court finds that the grounds are 'stale' or illusory or that there is no real nexus between the grounds and the impugned order of detention".

(Emphasis supplied)

45. It would, therefore, appear from the above propositions that one cannot merely count the number of months and days between the offending incident and the making of the order of detention. It would depend upon the facts of each case. It would also depend upon the nature of the prejudicial activities and the question as to whether the nexus between those activities and the need for making the order existed at the time of passing the order of detention. It cannot be said in every case that merely because some period had elapsed between the offending incident and making an order of detention, the incident has necessarily become stale so as to snap the live link. It would depend upon the facts of each case and, particularly, the nature of the prejudicial activities. In the light of the above approach and the law laid down by the Apex Court, we will consider some of the decisions, to which our attention was invited by both the learned Counsel; Shri Khan and Shri Gupte.

46. In T. A. Abdul Rahman Vs. State of Kerala and others (A.I.R. 1990, S.C., 225), the order of detention was made on 7th October 1987 under Section 3(1) of the COFEPOSA on the basis of the offending incident which had taken place on 30th November, 1986. There was, thus, a delay of 11 months in making the order of detention. There was also a delay of more than three months in the arrest of the detenu viz. from 7th October 1987 to 18th January 1988. In para 8 of the Judgment, at page 229, the Court referred to its earlier decision in Hemlata Kantilal Shah Vs. State of Maharashtra (A.I.R. 1982, S.C., 8), where it was held that "Delay ipso facto in passing an order of detention is not fatal to the detention of a person, for, in certain cases, delay may be unavoidable and reasonable. What is required by law is that the delay must be satisfactorily explained by the detaining authority". In para 9 of the Judgment, the Court has referred to its earlier decisions, including the decision in Rajendrakumar Natvarlal Shah's case (supra). In para 11 of the Judgment, at page 229 of the report, the Apex Court concluded that "no hard and fast rule can be precisely formulated that would be applicable under all circumstances and no exhaustive guidelines can be laid down in that behalf. It follows that the test of proximity is not rigid or mechanical test by merely counting number of months between the offending acts and the order of detention. However, when there is undue and long delay between the prejudicial activities and the passing of detention order, the Court has to scrutinise whether the detaining authority has satisfactorily explained such a delay and afforded a tenable and reasonable explanation as to why such delay has occasioned, when called upon to answer and further the Court has to investigate whether the causal connection has been broken in the circumstances of each case". However, the Court was not satisfied about the unexplained delay in securing the arrest of the detenu, as observed in para 13 of the Judgment, at page 230. Similarly, the Court was not satisfied that the explanation offered for the delay of 72 days in considering the representation which was held to be violative of Article 22(5) of the Constitution, as observed in para 18 of the Judgment, at page 231. It was on these grounds that the order of detention was set aside. With respect, we do not think that the ratio of this decision can have any application to the facts of the cases before us.

47. In Pradeep Nilkanth Paturkar Vs. S. Ramamurthi and others (A.I.R. 1994, S.C., 656), the order of detention was passed under Section 3 of the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Slumlords, Bootleggers and Drug Offenders Act (55 of 1981), on 6th August, 1981. This was done on the basis of five incidents in which the detenu was involved, resulting in five criminal cases registered against him under the provisions of the Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949. The five incidents were of 02-10-1990, 11-11-1990, 22-11-1990, 05-01-1991 and 26-02-1991. The Court considered its earlier decisions in (i) Hemlata Kantilal Shah Vs. State of Maharashtra - AIR 1982 SC 8; (ii) Rajendrakumar Natvarlal Shah Vs. State of Gujarat - AIR 1988 SC 1255 and (iii) T. A. Abdul Rahman Vs. State of Kerala - AIR 1990 SC 225 and, on facts, came to the conclusion that the delay of more than five months from the date of registration of the last case was not satisfactorily explained. It was held that the delay was unexplained. In the circumstances, the order of detention was set aside. We have already indicated above the steps taken in the two cases before us. The nature of the activities before us show an organised foreign exchange racket where, as observed by the Supreme Court in Rajendrakumar Shah's case the investigation is bound to take some time. Indeed, the affidavits before us show that even after the papers were sent to Delhi, initially on 18th April 1996 by the sponsoring authority from Mumbai, additional information and material was sent on different dates from 4th July 1996 to 30th August 1996. This is, therefore, not at all a case of unexplained delay. We are, therefore, of the view that the ratio of the decision in Pradeep Nilkanth Paturkar's case can have no application to the cases before us.

48. We may now refer to some of the decisions of this Court, on which reliance was placed by Shri Khan and Shri Gupte. In Criminal Writ Petition No.80 of 1991 of Manharlal Karsandas Dattani, decided on 1st August 1991, the order of detention was passed on 15th December 1990 and it transpired from the pleadings that though the Screening Committee had cleared the proposal on 29th June 1990, it was forwarded by the sponsoring authority to the detaining authority as late as on 16th October 1990. Reference was made to some of the decisions of the Apex court and it was held in para 12 of the Judgment that it is the duty of the court to examine the explanation offered for delay in each matter and though it may be possible to excuse a longer period of delay while the investigations were actually in progress, depending upon the complexity of the case and its ramifications, when it comes to unexplained delay which is caused purely due to tardiness of the authorities, the Court ought to be vigilant and strict. The Division Bench held that the delays at different stages were not satisfactorily explained and, hence, the order of detention was set aside. In Criminal Writ Petition No.261 of 1991 of Smt.Hafisa Mohd. Hanif Ilahi, decided on 22nd August 1991, the order of detention was passed on 19-02-1991 on the basis of an incident which had occurred on 11th July 1990. The Screening Committee had cleared the proposal on 27th September 1990. On the facts revealed, this Court came to the conclusion that an order of detention cannot be passed at the convenience and leisure of the detaining authority and it was held that the powers were exercised after considerable delay.

49. In Criminal Writ Petition No.1039 of 1991 of Miss Sikwani Dilnawaz Joosab, decided on 16th October 1991, the order of detention was passed on 22nd March 1991. The offending incident had occurred on 10th August 1990. The Screening Committee had cleared the proposal on 16th November 1990. The explanation offered by the detaining authority for the time spent thereafter was not accepted by the Court. It was held that there was lack of sense of urgency which had vitiated the order of detention. In Criminal Writ Petition No.429 of 1996 of Shri Shakeel Sait, s/o. Mustafa Ahmed Ali Merchant, decided on 17th June 1997 (now reported in 1997 ALL MR (Cri) 1374), the order of detention was passed on 16th February 1996 in respect of an incident which had occurred on 29th August 1995. It was contended that no explanation was given by the detaining authority for the delay of three months at his level before issuing the order of detention, which was issued more than five months after the offending incident. It was, therefore, contended that the live link had snapped and the ground had become stale. The Court accepted this contention that because of the indolence on the part of the detaining authority by causing three months inordinate and unexplained delay in issuing the order of detention, the live link between the alleged activities of the detenu and the order of detention had been snapped. This conclusion is to be found in para 24 of the Judgment. In the result, the order of detention was set aside.

50. We do not think that the ratio of any of the above four decisions of this Court has any application to the facts of the present cases. We have already set out the pleadings before us. A bunch of 2272 pages was initially sent by the sponsoring authority from Mumbai to its Head Office in Delhi on 18th April 1996. The investigation related to unearthing a foreign exchange racket. More than a thousand bogus and fabricated Basic Travel Quota (BTQ) application forms were seized from the premises of Travel Fuel Exchange Bureau (TFEB). Statements of the detenus and number of persons were recorded. The premises of Al Samit International Travels & Tours were raided on 18th December, 1995. Indian currency worth Rs.11,30,000/- was recovered from the premises of Al Samit I.T.& T. The TFEB had purchased foreign exchange of US $ 6,85,000/-, 13,000/- U.K.Sterling Pounds and 10,000/U.A.E.Dirhams from M/s.Thomas Cook & Company during the one month from 27th October 1995 to 27th November 1995. The TFEB had also purchased foreign exchange of 5,25,000/US $ and 5000/- U.K. Sterling Pounds from M/s.Wall Street Finance Limited during the one month from 28th October 1995 to 27th November 1995. Directives were sent to 980 passengers. It transpired that none of them had for travelling abroad availed of any foreign exchange, though it was so claimed in the bogus and fabricated BTQ application forms. Correspondence had to be carried out with several Airlines, R.B.I. and the authorised dealers in foreign exchange like M/s.Thomas Cook Limited and M/s.Wall Street Finance. Queries were raised by the Head Office in Delhi which had to be answered by the sponsoring authority in Mumbai and additional information was sent from time to time between 4th July 1996 to 30th August 1996. It is in these circumstances that, on receipt of the last piece of information on 30th August 1996, the orders of detention have been issued against the detenus on 3rd September, 1996. We do not think that there is any delay, much less unexplained delay, in the two cases before us. We are at a loss to appreciate how a contention of paucity of time at the disposal of the detaining authority and that of unexplained delay on the part of the detaining authority can be urged in the same petitions. In the facts of the cases before us, the two contentions are clearly inconsistent and, indeed, are mutually exclusive. In the light of the ratio laid down by the Apex Court in Rajendrakumar Natvarlal Shah's case, we have no hesitation in holding that there is no delay whatsoever in the facts of the present case.

51. Recently, we have considered a similar contention raised before us in Criminal Writ Petition No.350 of 1997 of Nazir Ahmed Abdul Hamid, decided by us on 29th August & 1st September 1997. The order of detention was passed on 11th November 1996 on the basis of an offending incident which had occurred on 15th December 1995 when 1,12,267 Russian-made ball-bearings and 4770 kg. of heavy metal scrap, totally valued at 11.61,145 F.O.B., which at the prevailing market value, was worth Rs.82,89,622, was smuggled. The contention of delay has been discussed in para 18 onwards of our Judgment where the argument was that there was a delay in making the order of detention on 11th November 1996 in respect of the incident of 15th December 1995. We have referred to some of the decisions of the Apex Court like:-

(i) Gora Vs. State of West Bengal (AIR 1975 Supreme Court 473), (ii) Ashok Narain Vs. Union of India (1982 Cri.L.J. 1729), (iii) Rajendrakumar Natvarlal Shah Vs. State of Gujarat (A.I.R. 1988 Supreme Court 1255) and (iv) Abdul Salam Vs. Union of India (A.I.R. 1990 Supreme Court 1446).

In each of these four cases, the Apex Court has rejected the argument of delay vitiating the order of detention. In the facts of Nazir Ahmed's case we have taken a similar view in para 23 of our Judgment that the delay had been satisfactorily explained and the live link had not snapped. In this view of the matter, we reject the second contention regarding delay.

52. The third contention is about the absence of any prejudicial act or omission on the part of the detenus after 27th November 1995, in view of which, it is contended, that there was no nexus between the date of the incident and the passing of the order of detention and hence, the order is malafide. In reply, it is contended that the nature of the activities and the various transactions in purchase and sale of foreign exchange clearly indicated the prejudicial nature of the activities of the detenu which were prejudicial to the conservation of foreign exchange resources of the country. In the affidavit filed by the detaining authority, it is contended that subjective satisfaction based even on a solitary incident is enough to manifest the future potentialities of the detenu indulging in similar prejudicial activities. In the instant case, we have a series of transactions spread over a period involving number of persons who were regularly operating the foreign exchange racket. Bogus and fabricated BTQ application forms were prepared for obtaining foreign exchange from authorised dealers like M/s.Thomas Cook Limited and M/s.Wall Street Finance Limited in the names of passengers, who had never availed of any foreign exchange for travelling abroad and most of them had not even travelled abroad. Detenu Sajid Ahmed claimed to be the Manager of Al Samit International Travels and Tours Pvt. Ltd. He had taken the active role in preparing the bogus and fabricated BTQ application forms showing fictitious Air-ticket numbers. Detenu Kasim, partner of TFEB, a full-fledged licensed money changer firm, was fully authorised to purchase foreign exchange from the authorised dealers. There are several violations of the provisions of FERA and according to Shri R. M. Agrawal, each violation can be the basis of a separate order of detention. It is well-settled that if the conduct of the detenu, as reflected from his past action, suggests reasonable prognosis about his future conduct, an order of detention can be passed even on the basis of a single incident. Here, we have cases where there is a well organised foreign exchange racket in which the two detenus were involved. In the circumstances, it is not possible for us to hold that merely because there was no further act or omission on the part of the detenus after 27-11-1995 there was no need to pass the orders of detention. The detaining authority has recorded its subjective satisfaction in the grounds of detention that the unauthorised transactions indulged into by the detenus affected the foreign exchange resources of the country adversely. The detaining authority was further satisfied that unless the detenus were detained, they were likely to continue to engage in the aforesaid prejudicial activities in future also and, therefore, it was necessary to detain them under the COFEPOSA with a view to preventing them, in future, from acting in any manner prejudicial to the conservation of the country's foreign exchange resources. Further satisfaction is recorded that the nexus between the date of the incident, as well as the object of detention had been maintained. This subjective satisfaction has not been questioned before us on any valid ground. In the circumstances, we do not find any merit in this contention as well.

53. An additional contention urged by Shri Khan was about the sufficiency of the material for coming to the conclusion that detenu Sajid Ahmed was required to be detained. We have referred to the role of the detenu Sajid Ahmed, Manager of Al Samit International Tours and Travels. He was the one who was actively involved in preparing the bogus and fabricated BTQ Forms containing fictitious numbers of Air tickets, none of them had availed of any foreign exchange for travelling abroad though 980 directives were issued with a view to ascertaining the genuineness of the names appearing in the BTQ application forms. It is not for this Court to sit in judgment over the sufficiency of material on the basis of which the detaining authority has recorded its subjective satisfaction. That is not the scope of these writ petitions. In the circumstances, the contention is rejected.

54. In view of the above discussion, our conclusions are that there is no substance in any of the contentions, namely, (i) paucity of time at the disposal of the detaining authority; (ii) unexplained delay on the part of the detaining authority; (iii) absence of any prejudicial act or omission on the part of either of the detenus between 27th November, 1995 and 3rd September, 1996 resulting in the link being snapped or (v) insufficiency of the material for passing the order of detention against Sajid Ahmed - the detenu in Writ Petition No.1212 of 1996.

55. In view of the above, we do not find any merit in any of the contentions raised before us. The petitions are, therefore, dismissed. Rule in both the petitions stands discharged.

Petitions dismissed.