Critical Analysis of State of West Bengal V. Anwar Ali

Topics: Law, Court, United States Constitution Pages: 7 (2785 words) Published: November 4, 2012
The case being dealt with in this paper is State of West Bengal v. Anwar Ali Sarkar. This case deals mainly with the applicability of Article 14 of the Constitution of India on the West Bengal Special Courts Act, 1950 and the Court was to decide on whether the Act was unconstitutional or valid. I am going to analyze the judgment given by the Supreme Court in this regard.

The respondent and 49 other persons were charged with various offences alleged to have been committed by them in the course of their raid as an armed gang on a certain factory known as the Jessop Factory at Dum Dum, Calcutta and they were convicted and sentenced to varying terms of imprisonment by the Special Court to which the case was sent for trial by the Governor of West Bengal by a notification dated 26th January, 1950, in exercise of the powers conferred by section 5 (1) of the Act. Thereupon the respondent applied to the High Court under article 226 of the Constitution for the issue of a writ of certiorari quashing the conviction and sentence on the ground that the Special Court had no jurisdiction to try the case inasmuch as section 5 (1), under which it was sent to that Court for trial, was unconstitutional and void under article 13(2) as it denied to the respondent the equal protection of the laws enjoined by article 14. Under the West Bengal Special Courts Act, 1950:

Section 3 of the Act empowers the State Government, by a Notification in the official gazette to constitute special courts of criminal jurisdiction for such areas and to sit at such places as may be specified in the notification and more than one Special Court may be constituted for the same area or to sit at the same place. Section 4 empowers the State Government to appoint special judges to preside over such Special Courts and the classifications for such appointments are set out in the section. Following this appears Section 5 which is the section which has been mainly the subject-matter of attack in this case. Clause 1 of the Section says A Special Court shall try such offences or classes of offences or cases or classes of cases, as the State Government may, by general or special order in writing, direct. Sections 6 to 15 prescribe the special procedure which the court has to follow in the trial of cases referred to it.

The main issue in this case was whether the West Bengal Special courts Act, 1950 constituting special courts and empowering State Government to refer to such courts “cases” or “offences” or “classes of cases” or “classes of offences is constitutional or not. And whether the object and effect of the law go hand in hand or not as per the intensions of the legislature.

The judgment in this case, was given by a seven judge bench constituting of, Chief Justice Patanjali Shastri, Justice Fazl Ali, Justice Mehr Chand Mahajan, Justice Mukherjee, Justice C.R. Das, Justice Chandrashekhara Ayyar, Justice Vivian Bose. There were three opnion in this case with the Chief Justice, Patanjali Shastri gaving his Minority opinion in this case, and Justice Das came up with a balancing opnion. The rest of the judges, forming the majority, held the West Bengal Act unconstitutional and dismissed the appeal. According to the minority opinion of Chief Justice Patanjali Shastri, it is a guiding principle of administrative law and mere conferment of discretion on the executive ipso facto does not amount of presumption that the law would be misused or abused. Mere arbitrariness should not be presumed as there should be definite proof of such arbitrariness of executive which is run by rational humans thus their judgment should not be considered worthless. Where there may be a clear violation of right to equality, and its ipso facto not proved, such an assumption that power has been misused is wrong. The object test and the effect test have to be followed. That is when misuse is being proved first the object and then the effect of...
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