Allahabad High Court imposes Rs. 5 lakhs cost for misuse of Goondas Act

The court noted that the Gorakhpur district administration abused the law and harassed the petitioner

Allahabad HC

Pointing towards the misuse and abuse of law in implementing the Goondas Act, the Allahabad High Court imposed a penalty of Rs. 5 lakhs in cost upon the district administration of Gorakhpur. The bench of Justices Suneet Kumar and Syed Waiz Mian observed that the proceedings against the petitioner, declaring him as a “goonda” were malicious and a bid to harass him.

The petitioner submitted that this is not only a case of malicious prosecution to by-pass the civil decree but at the same time to coerce the petitioner to release the property in dispute in favour of the district administration. He also asserted that he does not fit into the definition of “goonda” as per the Uttar Pradesh Control of Goondas Act, 1970 (for short ‘Goondas Act’), and thus the proceedings could not have been initiated merely on lodging of a single case.

The background of the case is that the petitioner got possession of a certain property after multiple rounds of all levels of court and after he was in peaceful possession, he started construction on said property. He claimed that the District administration was not satisfied that the petitioner had obtained/purchased the property in dispute which is on prime location and filed a suit for cancellation of freehold deed which was in the petitioner’s favour. During the pendency of the suit, an FIR was lodged against him by the Deputy Commissioner (Administration) Trade Tax Department Gorakhpur alleging that after recording his statement in the court while returning, petitioner threatened him. Th petitioner was however, given protection by the court against coercive action. Yet, about 10-12 police officers visited his house and threatened him to come out or else they will kill him in a fake encounter. The very next day notice was issued to him under the Goondas Act.

The court was also informed that the state government had directed the District Magistrate, Gorakhpur to withdraw the suit filed against the petitioner and yet the same was not withdrawn.

“The undisputed facts reflect high handedness and gross misuse of the power by the District Magistrate. The conduct of the District Magistrate in not complying the repeated orders of the State Government to withdraw the suit against the petitioner tantamounts to gross indiscipline and insubordination,” the court said.

The petitioner relied, among other case, upon the Allahabad High Court decision in Suresh Tewari Versus State of U.P. and others, 2018 (5) ALJ 1 which held thus,

19………..The requirement of applicability of the clause (i) is that Goonda means that a person who either by himself or as a member or leader of a gang, habitually commits or attempts to commit, or abets the commission of offences punishable referred to in the said clause. In the impugned show cause notice there is a description of only one criminal case against the petitioner while as per the definition and the law settled by this Court as well by the Hon’ble Apex Court, one cannot be treated to be a habitual offender unless and until there is recurrence of offences. Since there is a reference of one stray incident only in the notice, the petitioner could not be deemed to be a habitual offender on the basis of that single incident only and so the notice fails to satisfy the legal requirement

Further, in Vijay Narain Singh versus State of Bihar and others (1984) 3 SCC 14 the Supreme court held that it is essential to refer to at least two incidents of commission of crime for applicability of Clause (i) of section 2(b) of the Act.

“Having regard to the facts and circumstance of the case, prima facie, we are convinced that the proceedings initiated against the petitioner is not only malicious but to harass the petitioner in respect of the property in dispute which admittedly vests with the petitioner lawfully. Further, the conduct of the respondent, in particular, the second respondent, District Magistrate, Gorakhpur, clearly demonstrates that he has no respect for the rule and law and has become law unto himself,” the court said.

The court observed that the district administration invoked the Goondas Act against the petitioner misusing the forum of criminal administration. The court thus quashed the notice issued under Goondas act and imposed a cost of Rs. 5 lakhs to be deposited with the High Court Legal Services Committee and also directed the State’s Home Department to initiate disciplinary enquiry against the then District Magistrate, Gorakhpur.

The judgment may be read here:



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