Rejection of one ground will not affect the detention order passed on multiple grounds under COFEPOSA

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: In the matter relating to supply of the ‘grounds’ of detention to the detenue when the Court has passed the order of detention under Section 3 of the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974, the Court said that neither Section 3 of the Act use the term ‘grounds’ nor any other provision in the Act defines ‘grounds’. However, Section 3(3) deals with communication of the detention order and states that ‘grounds’ on which the order has been made shall be communicated to the detenue as soon as the order of detention is passed and fixes the time limit within which such detention order is to be passed. It is here the expression ‘grounds’ is used and it is for this reason that detailed grounds on which the detention order is passed are supplied to the detenue.

Explaining further, the Court said that these grounds are the ‘basic facts’ on which conclusions are founded and these are different from subsidiary facts or further particulars of these basic facts. There is only one purpose of the Act, namely, preventing smuggling and all other grounds, whether there are one or more would be relatable to the various activities of smuggling. Hence, different instances would be treated as different ‘grounds’ as they constitute basic facts making them essentially factual constituents of the ‘grounds’ and the further particulars which are given in respect of those instances are the subsidiary details.

In the present case, the High Court of Delhi had said that there various grounds which formed the basis of the detention order and even if the documents pertaining to one particular ground were not furnished, that ground could be ignored applying the principle of segregation of grounds enumerated in Section 5A of the Act and on remaining grounds the detention order was still sustainable. Agreeing with the view taken by the High Court, the bench of Dr. A.K. Sikri and Abhay Manohar Sapre, JJ said that once it is found that the detention order contains many grounds, even if one of them is to be rejected, principle of segregation contained in Section 5A gets attracted. [Gautam Jain v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 16, decided on 04.01.2017]

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