Godavari Parulekar Vs. State of Bombay
& Ors  INSC 69 (5 December 1952)
SASTRI, M. PATANJALI (CJ) MUKHERJEA, B.K.
AIYAR, N. CHANDRASEKHARA BOSE, VIVIAN HASAN,
CITATION: 1953 AIR 52 1953 SCR 210
Preventive Detention Act, 1950, as amended by
the Preventive Detention (Second Amendment) Act, 1952, s. 11-A-Whether
discriminatory-validity- Constitution of India, 1950, Arts. 14, 22 (7) (b)-"Unless
a shorter period is specified in the order", meaning of.
Section 11-A which was inserted in the Preventive
Detention Act of 1950 by the Preventive Detention (Second Amendment) Act, 1952,
provided that the maximum period for which any person may be detained in
pursuance of any detention order which has been confirmed under section 11
shall be twelve months from the date of detention. But subs. (2) qualified this
by dividing do tensions into two classes: (a) those in which the detention
order was confirmed before the 30th September, 1952, and (b) those in which the
confirmation was after that date, and it provided that in the former case,
unless a shorter period was specified in the order, the detention shall
continue either till the 1st of April, 1953, or for twelve months from the date
of detention, whichever expires later:
I Held, (i) that the section did not
contravene art. 14 or art. 22 (7) (b) of the Constitution merely because it
introduced a fresh classification which divided detentions into those before
the Act and those thereafter, as the classification was a reasonable one. The
section did not involve any discrimination between persons whose detentions
were confirmed before the 30th September, 1952, Merely because, as a result o f
the section, in the case of some persons the period of detention may be longer
and in the case of others it may be shorter; Shamrao Parulekar v. The District
Magistrate, Thana and Others (  S.C.R. 683) followed.
(ii)that a detention order made the 16th
October, 1951, which did not specify any period of detention was not a case
where " a shorter period was specified in the order " within the
meaning of s. 11-A (2) merely because the detention would have expired either '
the 31st March, 1952, or 30th September, 1952, but for the Amendment Act.
ORIGINAL JURISDICTION: Petition No. 399 of
1952. Petition under article 32 of the Constitution of India for a writ in the
nature of habeas corpus, Godavari Parutekar, the petitioner, in person. M. C. Setalvad,
Attorney-General for India, (G.N. Joshi and P. A. Mehta, with him) for the
1952. December 5. The Judgment of the Court
was delivered by BosE J.-This is a habeas corpus petition under article 32 of
The petitioner was detained the, 16th of
October, 1951, under the Preventive Detention Act of 1950 as amended in 1951.
Her detention was actually longer than this but the earlier detentions were
under a different set of orders which are not relevant to the present matter.
The present detention is based an order of the District Magistrate, Thana, and
merely says that the petitioner be detained, without specifying any period. The
order of confirmation was passed the 4th of January, 1952, and there again no
period was specified. The petitioner's case is that as no period was specified
in the order her period of detention expired the 31st of March, 1952, because
of the amending Act of 1951 ; or at the outside the 30th of September, 1952,
because of Act XXXIV of 1952 which effected a further amendment.
The reply behalf of the State of Bombay is
that the Preventive Detention Act of 1950 was again amended by Act LXI of 1952
and that the effect of this amendment was to carry the petitioner's detention
to the 31st of March, 1953, because of section 11-A which was added to the
original Act of 1950.
The petitioner counters by saying that the
new Act does not apply to cases in which the order of detention is not silent
about its duration and so section 11-A does not serve to extend the period of
her detention. She relies the following portion of section II -A (2) "...
every detention order which has been confirmed under section 11 before the
commencement of the Preventive Detention (Second Amendment) Act 1952, shall, unless
a shorter priod is specified in the order, continue to remain in force until
the Ist day of April, 1953..." The petitioner concedes that no shorter
period is specified in her order of detention but contends that as her
detention would have expired either the 31st of March, 1952, or the 30th of
September, 1952, one of those two dates must now be read into the order and
when that is done we have an order which specifies as shorter period, therefore
section 11-A (2) does not serve to extend her detention.
We are unable to accept this contention. The
section is clear and unless a shorter period is specified in the order, section
I 1-A(2) applies. We cannot add the words "or must be deemed to have been
specified by reason of the expiry of the earlier Act" into the section. We
hold therefore-that section 11-A(2) validly extended the period of detention
till the Ist of April, 1953. 1 The petitioner's next point is based articles 14
and 22(i)(b) of the Constitution.' It arises in this way.
Section 3 (1) (a) of the Preventive Detention
Act of 1950 classifies grounds of permissible detention into three categories.
Article 22 (7) (b) empowers Parliament to prescribe the maximum period for
which any person may "in any class or classes of cases" be detained.
The petitioner argues that this permits only one maximum for each class and
that if different maxima are provided for "equals" within a class it
offends not only article 22 (7) (b) but also article 14 as interpreted by the
decisions of this Court, She next argues that section 11-A, now introduced by
the second amending Act of 1952 (Act LXI of 1952), does just that and so is
ultra vires. Her point is put as follows.
Sub-section (1) of section 11-A states that
the maximum period for which any person may be detained in pursuance of any
detention order- which has been confirmed under section 1 1 shall be twelve
months from the date of detention. But sub- section (2) qualifies this by
dividing detentions into two classes;
213 (a) those in which the detention order
was confirmed before 30th of September, 1952, and (b) those in which the
confirmation was after that date, and it provides that. in the former case,
unless a shorter period is specified in the order, the detention shall continue
either till the 1st of April, 1953, or for twelve months from the date of
detention, whichever expires later. This, she says, introduces a fresh
classification which divides detentions into those before the Act and those
after. That, she says, is ultra vires, first, because it introduces a
discriminatory classification in the class to which she belongs under section 3
of the Act and, second, because it entails discrimination even in the fresh
class into which she has been thrown by the new sub-division, made by the
second amending Act of 1952.
As regards the first point, the ratio
decidendi in Shamrao V. Parulekar v. The District Magistrate, Thana, and
Others(1) applies here. In that case, detentions were divided into those which
had already been considered by an Advisory Board and those which had not. This
The dividing line here is different, namely a
certain date, but the principle is the same and its reasonableness is apparent
from a consideration of the various amendments which have been made from time
The life of the Act of 1950, which was the
principal Act, was extended till the 1st of October, 1952, by section 2 of the
amending Act (Act XXXIV of 1952), and the effect of section 3 was to prolong
the' life of all-detentions in force on 14th of March 1952, (provided they had
been confirmed before that date) for so long as the principal Act was in force.
At that date this meant till the 1st of October, 1952. But the second amending
Act of 1952 extended the life of the principal Act till the 31st of
December,1954. Therefore, in the absence of section 11-A all those detentions
would have been extended till that date. But section 11-A modified that and put
1st of April,1953, as the latest date for these old detentions, (1) 
S.C.R. 683 at 691 and 693.
214 It therefore conferred a benefit and
cannot be deemed unreasonable. Sub-section (3) of 'section 11-A shows that that
was the object.
But the petitioner attacked the provisions on
the ground of discrimination. She said that even assuming the new
classification of detentions into those before and after the 30th of September,
1952, to be good, section 11-A is nevertheless discriminatory because it
discriminates amongst those in her class,, namely those whose detentions were
made and confirmed before the 30th of September. She put it in this way.
Taking the case of her own detention, she
pointed, out that if section II- A is good, it will continue till the 1st of
April, 1953, that is to say, her detention will have been for a period of
17-1/2 months from the 16th of October, 1951, till the 1st of April, 1953. 'On
the other hand, a person detained after her on, say, the last of September,
1952, would also be due for release on the 1st of April, 1953, and so would
have had only six months' detention.
This, in our opinion, is not discrimination
within the meaning of article 14. A maximum can be fixed, either by specifying
a particular period, such as twelve months, or by setting an outside limit, land
it is inevitable in such a case that the length of detention will vary in each
individual case. Those taken into detention at a later date are bound to be
detained for a shorter time. Government is not bound to detain everybody for
the same length of time., It has a discretion. Moreover, the appropriate
Government has boon left power to revoke or modify the detention order at any
earlier time. This point was considered in Shamrao V. Parulekar v. The District
Magistrate, Thana, & Others (1) and was decided against the detenu.
The petitioner endeavoured to have her
application reopened on the merits contending again that the grounds of
detention are vague. She relies on Shamrao V. Parulekar v. The State, of Bombay (2) where (1)  S.C.R. 683 at 691 at 693. (2) Petition No. 86 of 1952.
215 another detenu was released by another
Bench of this Court in circumstances which., according to her, are very
We are unable to allow this as her petition
has already been rejected on the merits. She was only allowed to appear on
constitutional points. We understand that in the other petition this fact was
not brought to the notice of the Court.
The application is dismissed.
Agent for the respondents: G. H.