The State of Rajasthan & Ors Vs.
Thakur Pratap Singh  INSC 126 (18 August 1960)
AYYANGAR, N. RAJAGOPALA DAS, S.K.
GUPTA, K.C. DAS SHAH, J.C.
CITATION: 1960 AIR 1208
CITATOR INFO :
NF 1976 SC 490 (182)
Discrimination on grounds of caste and
religion-Government notification exempting Harijans and Muslims from payment of
additional police cost-Validity-Constitution of India, Art. 15(1)-Police Act,
1861 (V of 1861), s. 15.
By para 4 of a notification issued under s.
15 of the Police Act the Rajasthan Government exempted the Harijan and Muslim
inhabitants of certain villages from payment of the cost of additional police
force stationed therein. The notification was challenged as being violative of
the guarantee contained in Art. 15(i) of the Constitution of India.
Held, that since para 4 of the notification
had discriminated against the law-abiding members of other communities and in
favour of the Muslims and Harijans on the grounds of caste and religion, it was
directly hit by the provision of Art. 15(i) of the Constitution and as such
must be declared to be invalid.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 231 of 1956.
Appeal from the judgment and order dated
September 11, 1953, of the Rajasthan High Court (Jaipur Bench) at Jaipur in
Writ Application No. 141 of 1952.
M. S. K. Sastri and T. M. Sen, for the
The respondent did not appear.
1960. August 18. The Judgment of the Court
was delivered by RAJAGOPALA AYYANGAR, J.-This appeal raises for consideration
the constitutional validity of one paragraph of a notification issued by the
State of Rajasthan under s. 15 of the Police Act, 1861 (V of 1861), under which
" the Harijan " and " Muslim " inhabitants of the villages,
in which an additional police force was stationed, were exempted from the
obligation to bear any portion of the cost of that force.
It is stated that the inhabitants of certain
villages 223 in the district of Jhunjhunu in the State of Rajasthan, harboured
dacoits and receivers of stolen property, and were besides creating trouble
between landlords and tenants as a result of which there were serious riots in
the locality in the course of which some persons lost their lives. The State
Government therefore took action under s. 15 of the Police Act. This Section
" Quartering of additional police in
disturbed or dangerous districts(1) It shall be lawful for the State Government,
by proclamation to be notified in the official Gazette, and in such other
manner as the State Government shall direct, to declare that any area subject
to its authority has been found to be in a disturbed or dangerous state, or
that, from the conduct of the inhabitants of such area, or of any class or
section of them, it is expedient to increase the number of police.
(2) It shall thereupon be lawful for the
Inspector-General of Police, or other officer authorised by the State
Government in this behalf, with the sanction of the State Government, to employ
any police-force in addition to the ordinary fixed complement to be quartered
in the areas specified in such proclamation as aforesaid.
(3) Subject to the provisions of sub-section
(5) of this section, the cost of such additional police-force shall be borne by
the inhabitants of such area described in the proclamation.
(4) The Magistrate of the district, after
such enquiry as he may deem necessary, shall apportion such cost among the
inhabitants who are, as aforesaid, liable to bear the same and who shall not
have been exempted under the next succeeding sub-section. Such apportionment
shall be made according to the Magistrate's judgment of the respective means
within such area of such inhabitants.
(5) It shall be lawful for the State
Government by order to exempt any persons or class or section of such
inhabitants from liability to bear any portion of such cost." Sub-section
(6) is omitted as not relevant.
224 The notification by which these provisions
were invoked and which is impugned in these proceedings was in these terms:"
Whereas the Rajpramukh is satisfied that the area shown in the schedule annexed
hereto has been found to be in a disturbed and dangerous state;
Now, therefore, in the exercise of the
authority vested in him under Section 15(1) of the Police Act (V of 1861), the
Rajpramukh is pleased to declare that the 24 villages included in the said
schedule shall be deemed to be disturbed area for a period of six months from
the date of this notification.
Under sub-section 2 of the said section 15 of
the Police Act (V of 1861), the Rajpramukh is pleased to authorise the
Inspector-General of Police to employ, at the cost of the inhabitants of the
said area any Police force in addition to the ordinary fixed complement
Under sub-section 5 of section 15 of the said
Act the Rajpramukh is further pleased to exempt the Harijan and Muslim
inhabitants of these villages from liability to bear any portion of the cost on
account of the posting of the additional Police force." Then followed the
names of the 24 villages.
The respondent-Thakur Pratap Singh being an
inhabitant of Baragaon-one of these 24 villages, moved the High Court of
Rajasthan for the issue of a writ or direction under Act.
226 of the Constitution impugning the
validity of s. 15 of the Police Act and in particular of sub-s. 5 thereof and
of the notification and praying for appropriate reliefs. The High Court
repelled the wider contentions urged regarding the invalidity of s. 15 of the Police
Act in general as also of the powers conferred on the State Government to order
the exemption of " any person or classes or sections of such inhabitants
" from liability to bear the cost of the additional police force. But the
learned Judges hold that Para 4 of the notification which exempted "
Harijan and Muslim inhabitants of the villages " from the levy, was
violative of the guarantee in Art. 15(1) of the Constitution against
discrimination on the ground of caste or religion etc. which reads.
225 " The State shall not discriminate
against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of
birth or any of them." and struck it down as unconstitutional.
The State of Rajasthan who felt aggrieved by
this order applied to the High Court for a certificate under Art.
132(1) to enable it to file an appeal to this
court and this having been granted, the appeal is now before us.
Learned Counsel for the State made a
strenuous effort to show that the exemption of the Harijan & Muslim
inhabitants of the villages, was, in the impugned notification, not based
" only " on the ground of 'caste or religion' or the other criteria
set out in Art. 15(1), but on the ground that persons belonging to these two
communities were found by the State not to have been guilty of the conduct
which necessitated the stationing of the additional police force.
It was the same argument as was addressed to
the High Court and was rejected by the learned Judges who observed :
" Now this is a very strange argument
that only persons of a certain community or caste were law-abiding citizens,
while the members of other communities were not.
Disturbing elements may be found among
members of any community or religion just as much as there may be saner
elements among members of that community or religion." The view here
expressed by the learned Judges is, in our opinion, correct. Even if it be that
the bulk of the members of the communities exempted or even all of them were
law-abiding, it was not contended on behalf of the State that there were no
peaceful and law-abiding persons in these 24 villages belonging to the other communities
on whom the punitive levy had been directed to be made. In para 5(f) of the
petition filed before the High Court the respondent had averred :
" That the aforesaid Notification is
ultra vires of the Constitution of India as it discriminates amongst the
Citizens of a village on the basis of religion, race or caste, in as much as it
makes a distinction between 29 226 persons professing the Mohammadan religion
and others and also between persons who are Muslims and Harijans by caste and
the rest. It, therefore, contravenes the provisions of Article 15 of the
Constitution of India." The answer to this by the State was in these
" The Harijan and Muslim inhabitants of
these villages have been exempted from liability to bear any portion of the cost
of the additional force not because of their religion, race or caste but
because they were found to be peace-loving and law-abiding citizens, in the 24
villages additional force has been posted." It would be seen that it is
not the case of the State, even at the stage of the petition before the High
Court that there were no persons belonging to the other communities who were
peace-loving and law-abiding, though it might very well be, that according to
the State, a great majority of these other communities were inclined the other
way. If so, it follows that the notification has discriminated against the
law-abiding members of the other communities and in favour of the Muslim and
Harijan communities, (assuming that every one of them was "peace-loving
and law-abiding") on the basis only of " caste " or
"religion ". If there were other grounds they ought to have been
stated in the notification.
It is plain that the notification is directly
contrary to the terms of Art. 15(1) and that para 4 of the notification has
incurred condemnation as violating a specific constitutional prohibition. In
our opinion, the learned Judges of the High Court were clearly right in
striking down this paragraph of the notification.
The appeal fails and is dismissed. As the
respondent has not appeared there will be no order as to costs.