Naravan Dass Indurakhya Vs. State of
Madhya Pradesh  INSC 123 (27 April 1972)
REDDY, P. JAGANMOHAN
CITATION: 1972 AIR 2086 1973 SCR (1) 392 1972
SCC (3) 676
Criminal Law Amendment Act (23 of 1961), ss.
2 and 4(i)- 'Stating the grounds of its opinion', in s. 4(i)-Scope of.
The appellant published a book with respect
to which the State Government passed an order that, as the book questions the
territorial integrity and frontiers of India in a manner which is likely to be
prejudicial to the interest of the safety and security of India and thus
contains matter the publication of which is punishable under s. 2 of the Criminal
Law Amendment Act, 1961, it was forfeited in favour of the Government under s.
4(1) of the Act. The appellant challenged the order under s. 5, that the
grounds for the opinion of the State Government, which hid to be stated under
s. 4 of the Act, were not given in the order. The' State Government filed a
counter affidavit stating that the book contained erroneous maps of India with
incorrect external boundaries and omitting integral parts of India altogether.
The High Court dismissed the petition.
Allowing the appeal to this Court,
HELD : (1) The word 'ground' occurring in the
section means 'base', foundation, motive, valid reasons.' The grounds must be
distinguished from the opinion of the Government. The grounds of the opinion
must mean the conclusion of facts on which the opinion is based. [396E-F] (2)
What the State Government did in this case, in the opening paragraph of the
order, was merely to quote a portion of the words of s. 2, namely , that 'the
book questioned the territorial integrity and frontiers of India in a "Manner
'Which is likely to be prejudicial to the interest of the safety or security of
India'. The order gave no indication of the facts or the statements or the
representations contained in the book which, according to the State Government,
offended s. 2. In the order itself there was no reference to any map or text in
the book which would come within the mischief of the section. [396A-C] Mohomed
Ali, In re : 41 Calcutta 466, Arun Ranjan Ghose v.
State of West Pengal, 59 C.W.N. 495,
Harnam Das v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 
2 S.C.R. 487, Naresh Chandra Ganguli v. The State of West Bengal and others,,
 1 S.C.R. 411, 421, State of Bombay v. Atma Ram Sridhar Vaidya,  1
S.C.R. 167, referred to.
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal Appeal
No. 236 of 1969.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
Order dated March 13, 1969 of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in Miscella- neous
Criminal Case No. 268 of 1967.
Ram Punjwani and P. C. Bhartari, for the
R. P. Kapur and I. N. Shroff, for the
393 The Judgment of the Court was delivered
by Mitter J., This appeal by special from a judgment and order of the High
Court of Madhya, Pradesh dismissing the' writ petition of the appellant
challenging the, order of the State Government under s. 5 of the Criminal Law
Amendment Act (Act XXIII of 1961) forfeiting the copies of a book published by
the appellant under S. 4(1) of the Act, can be disposed of on the short ground
that the order did not- disclose the grounds of the opinion formed by the State
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1961
(hereinafter referred to as the 'Act') empowered the State Governments by s. 4
to make order declaring any newspaper or book as defined in the Press and
Registration of Books Act, 1867 or any other document wherever printed, to be
forfeited to the Government if it appeared to the Government that the said book
questioned the territorial integrity or
frontiers of India in a manner which was or was likely to be prejudicial to the
interests of the safety or security of India. The relevant provisions of the
Act are as follows :- " S. 2. Whoever by words either spoken or written,
or by signs, or by visible representation or otherwise, questions the
territorial integrity or frontiers of India in a manner which is, or is likely
to be prejudicial to the interests of the safety or security of India, shall be
punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or
with fine, or with both.
4. (1) Where any newspaper or book as defined
in the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867, or another document,_
wherever printed, appears to the State Government to contain an matter the
publication of which Is punishable under section 2 or sub-section (2) of
section 3, the State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette,
stating the grounds of its opinion, declare every copy of the issue of the
newspaper containing such matter and every copy of such book or other document
to be forfeited to the Government, and thereupon any police officer may seize
the same wherever found and any Magistrate may, by warrant authorise any police
officer not below the rank of Sub-Inspector to enter upon and search for the
same in any premises where any copy of such issue or any copy of such book or
other document may be or may be reasonably suspected to be.
5. (1) Any person having any interest in any
news book or other document in respect of which an forfeiture has been made
under section 4 may, within two months from the date of such order, apply to
394 the High Court to set aside such order on the ground that the issue of the
newspaper, or the book or other document in respect of which the order was made
did not contain any matter of such a nature) as is referred to in sub- section
(1) of section 4.
(2) The provisions of sections 99-C to 99-F
of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, shall apply in relation to an
application under sub- section (1) as they apply in relation to an application
under section 99-B of that Code and the reference in section 99-D to seditious
or other matter of such a nature as is referred to in subsection (1) of section
99-A of that Code shall be construed as reference to any matter of such a
nature as is referred to in sub-section (1) of section 4 of this Act.
(3) No order passed or action taken under
section 4 shall be called in question in any Court otherwise than in accordance
with the provisions of this section." The appellant who was admittedly the
proprietor of the Narmada Printing Works, Jabalpur had published a book under
the name and style of "Madhyamic Bhoogol (Part I for Classes IX and X)
written by C. P. Saxena. On 1St July, 1967 the State Government passed the
order which is impugned in this case:
"Whereas the books specified in the
Schedule below question the territorial integrity and frontiers of India in a
manner which is likely to be prejudicial to the interest of the safety and
security of India;
And whereas it appears to the State
Government that the said three books contain matter the publication of which is
punishable under section 2 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1961 (No. 23 of
Now therefore in exercise of the powers
conferred by, sub-section (1) of section 4 of the Act, the State Government
hereby declares every copy of the said three books and all other documents
containing copies, reprint and repro duction of the said books to be forfeited
in favour of the Government." The second item in the Schedule relates to
the appellant's publication From the communication of the Deputy Secretary to
the Government of Madhya Pradesh dated 5th August 1967 it would appear that the
State Government took objection to pages 138, 147 and 149 of the said book as
containing wrong maps.
395 According, to the said communication :
"These books contain maps of India, part
of India, maps of countries adjacent to India and maps of Asia. All these maps
involve the external boundary of India which has been found to be grossly
incorrect. Besides this, the island territories of 'Laccadive, Minicoy and
Amindivi Islands' which form an integral part of India are omitted together
from every map of India. In some of the maps the territory of Bhutan has been
omitted while in other Indo-Pakistan boundary is ignored." The
communication refers not only to the publication with which we are concerned in
this case but also two other publications both of which appear to be books on
geography- for school students. The appellant filed his writ petition on August
29, 1967 before High Court challenging the order of the 1st July 1967 inter
alia on the ground That the grounds for the opinion of the State Government
which had to be given in terms of s. 4 of the Act were non-existent in the
order. He therefore filed the petition, within two months of the date of the
order forfeiting the book in terms of s. 5 of the Act.
In the counter affidavit of the State the
stand taken was that the State Government was not bound to place details of
information on the basis of which its satisfaction was arrived at. Reference
was however made 'in the counter affidavit to a communication of the Director
of Map Publications to the Director of Public Instruction dated 21st March 1967
in which it was stated with regard to all the three alleged offending books
that "they contain maps of India, part of India, maps of countries
adjacent to India and maps of Asia. All these maps involve the external
boundary of India which has been found to be grossly incorrect. Besides this,
the island territories of 'Laccadive, Minicoy and Amindivi islands' which form
an integral part of India are omitted together from every map of India. In some
of the maps the territory of Bhutan has been omitted while in other
Indo-Pakistan boundary is ignored." The High Court of Madhya Pradesh took
the view that the impugned order could not be said to have omitted to state the
grounds for the opinion of the State Government.
According to the High Court :
"the grounds on which the said opinion
was based were that the books contained matter which questions the territorial
integrity and frontiers of India in a manner which is likely to be prejudicial
to the interest of the safety and security of India." 8-L1286SupCI/72 396
In our view the High Court had clearly gone wrong in this view of the law on
the subject. According to the Oxford Dictionary the meaning of the word
'ground', in this connection must be "base, foundation, motive, valid
reason." what the State Government did in this case in the opening
paragraph of the order was merely to quote a portion of the words of s. 2
namely, that the books "questioned the territorial integrity and frontiers
of India in a manner which is likely to be prejudicial to the interest of the
safety or security of India". The order gives no indication of the facts
or the statements or the representations contained in the book which according
to the State Government offended s. 2. In the order itself there is no
reference to any map or any text in the book which would come within the
mischief of the said section. A book may contain matter questioning the
territorial integrity and frontiers of India in many ways one of which may be a
wrong map which does not show the proper boundaries of India, either by
omitting a portion of the Indian territory there from or by depicting a portion
of what is really Indian territory as belonging to some other State. A book may
also come within the mischief of s. 2 if there is any express reference in the
text containing suggestions based on historical or political or other reasons
that some portion of what is generally known to the public as Indian territory
is not so.
There is a considerable body of statutory
provisions which enable the State to curtail the liberty of the subject in the
interest of the security of the State or forfeit books and documents when in
the opinion of the Government, they promote class hatred, religious
intolerance, disaffection against the State etc. In all such cases, instances
of some whereof are given below the State Government has to give the grounds of
its opinion. Clearly the grounds must be distinguished from the opinion.
Grounds of the opinion must mean the conclusion of facts on which the opinion
There can be no conclusion of fact which has
no reference to or is not ex facie based on any fact.
The provisions of the Act have a close
parallel in s. 99-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 in which a large
number of matters are mentioned which according to the Government may lead it
to form the opinion that the publication offended the said section. There are
also decisions under the Indian Press Act which illustrate what the grounds in
a case like this must be. In re. Mahomed Ali(1), a case of an order of forfeiture
of a pamphlet under the Press Act of 1910, the order of Government went to show
that the pamphlet "Come over to Macedonia and help us" contained
words of the nature described in s. 4 sub-s. (1) of the (1) 41 Calcutta 466.
397 Indian Press Act, 19 1 0 inasmuch as they
are likely to bring into hatred or contempt certain classes of His Majesty's
subjects in British India. According to Jenkins C.J. (p. 476):
"Those responsible for this Act foresaw
this, and so they specifically provided that the forfeiting notification should
state the grounds of the Local Government's opinion.
But when we turn to the notification no such
grounds are stated; nothing in the nature of a fact is set forth, there is
merely a citation of those words of the section which are invoked....
But the repetition of an opinion cannot be
its grounds, and yet that is all that the notification furnishes in the shape
of grounds. This is obviously insufficient and not a compliance with the terms
of the Act." According to the other learned Judge Stephen, J. (p. 487)
"The ground of an opinion must in this case, if not always, be a fact or
facts, and no fact is disclosed merely by a specific relation of the elements
that the law requires to be present in order for legal consequence to follow."
In Arun Ranjan Ghose v. State of West Bengal(1) a case under ss. 99-A and 99-D
of the Code of Criminal Procedure it was stated by Chakravartti, C.J. (p. 497):
"It is useful to consider here what is
meant by grounds of opinion. The formation of an opinion by Government is
undoubtedly the ground for the action taken by them, but the grounds for the
opinion are obviously different. The opinion, after it has been formed,
furnishes a ground to Government for taking action contemplated, but the
grounds on which the opinion itself is formed are and must be other grounds'
Those grounds must necessarily be the import or the effect or the tendency of
matters contained in the offending publication, either as a whole or in
portions of it, as illustrated by passages which Government may choose."
In Harnam Das v. State of Uttar Pradesh (2 ) the order under s. 99-A of the
Code of Criminal Procedure which was made went to show that the State
Government declared the books forfeited on the ground that the said books contained
matter the publication of which was Punishable under s. 153--A and 295-A of the
Penal Code. The two sections of the Indian Penal Code have little in common
inasmuch as s. 153-A relates to an offence of (1) 59 C. W.N. 495.
(2)  2 S.C.R. 487.
398 promotion or attempt to promote feelings
of enmity or hatred between different classes of citizens of India and s. 295-A
relates to an offence maliciously intended to outrage he religious feelings of
any such class by insulting the religion or the religious belief of that class.
The order which was considered by the court in that case gave no indication
which formed the reason for Government taking the view that the book should be
forfeited. The Court held that the order did not as it should have stated the rounds
of opinion. It is not known which communities were alienated from each other or
whose religious beliefs were wounded.
We may also refer to Art. 22(5) of the
Constitution which lays down that when any person is detained in pursuance of
an order made under any law providing for preventive detention, the authority
making the order shall, as soon as may be, communicate to such person the
grounds on which the order has been made and shall afford him the earliest
opportunity of making a representation against the order.
In considering the question as to what the
grounds of detention meant when an order under Preventive Detention Act was
made this Court said in Naresh Chanra, Ganguli v. The State of West Bengal
" . . the grounds for making an order of
detention, which have to be communicated to the detenu as soon as practicable,
are conclusions of facts, and those conclusions of facts have to be
communicated to the detenu as soon as may be." We may also refer to the
judgment of this Court in State of Bombay v. Atma Ram Sridhar Vaidya(2), a case
under the Pre- ventive Detention Act, Kania C.J. said (p. 178):
"By their very nature the grounds are
conclusions of facts and not a complete detailed recital of all the facts . . .
These conclusions are the "grounds"
and they must be supplied.'-' All the above decisions in our opinion clearly
show what the requirements of the Criminal Law Amendment Act are and it appears
to us that the State Government merely gave it's opinion and not the grounds
for its opinion. As such the judgment of the High Court must be set aside and
the order of Government dated July 1, 1967 must be quashed. The appellant will
be entitled to return of all the books forfeited.
V.P.S. Appeal allowed.
(1)  1 S.C.R. 411 at 421.
(2)  S.C.R. 167.