BENGALURU: Booked for street gambling and let off after paying a fine, a 56-year-old man was later wrongly booked under a stringent act without invoking its provisions, and jailed.
Shridhara Prabhu, who had been illegally detained, walked free from prison following a High Court order and his wife’s untiring efforts. He had been languishing in the Belgaum Central Jail for nearly eight months.
Observing that the police had invoked wrong provisions of a law, the HC on October 31 ordered Prabhu’s release. On four earlier occasions, Prabhu had been booked by the Gowribidanur police (Chikaballapur district) for street gambling under the Karnataka Police Act and let off on payment of a fine. However, to his shock on March 19, 2014, he was arrested by the police and later informed that he had been detained under the stringent law of the Karnataka Gamblers, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders and Slum-Grabbers Act, 1985.
The detention order was passed on the report of Gowribidanur police claiming that he was involved in organised gambling. The order was confirmed by the Deputy Commissioner of Chikaballapur district and the Additional Chief Secretary.
Soon after the detention, Prabhu’s wife Bharthi Prabhu challenged the order before the HC. Meanwhile, she had also approached the Advisory Committee headed by a HC judge. As the case was pending before the Advisory Committee, the HC had dismissed the petition. When the Advisory Committee did not give any relief to Bharthi, she moved the HC again.
While arguing for Prabhu, his advocate Rahamathulla Shariff contended that as per the communication issued to Prabhu by the authorities, he was not involved in any crime punishable under the Indian Penal Code. Shariff said Prabhu was booked only under the Karnataka Police Act and was never booked under the stringent act under which the detention order was passed.
He further contended that Prabhu’s detention was in violation of Article 22 of the Constitution which has provisions for protection against arrest or detention. He argued that the Advisory Committee could not have passed an order detaining him for a period of 12 months at the first instance itself. Citing the Act, he said the detention had to be for 90 days and, if required, could be extended up to 12 months. Hence, Shariff urged that Prabhu be released.
During the hearing, the public prosecutor said that Prabhu was booked under the Karnataka Police Act in the cases registered against him and the provisions of the Karnataka Gamblers Act, 1985 were never invoked.
The division bench of the HC observed that none of the offences under which Prabhu was booked were punishable under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code. It said the detention order was vitiated for invoking a wrong provision of law and the detention order was illegal.