Such detention cannot be dubbed as violation of a citizen’s personal liberty, the Supreme Court has ruled.The court has held that such frisking and detaining of passengers by the authorities is in national interest. Otherwise, terrorists and vested interests would carry out their activities unchecked, it said.
The court was hearing a petition from Rajendran Chingaravelu, a computer engineer who was detained at the Chennai airport for several hours while returning from the US in June 2007. He was carrying Rs65 lakh in cash.
Chingaravelu said even though he had established that the money was meant to buy property, the authorities leaked the news of his detention to the media. He charged the authorities with harassing him and maligning him through the media and sought proper guidelines to stop such incidents.
The bench of justices RV Raveendran and KS Radhakrishnan turned down his appeal citing the terror threat to the country.
“The nation is facing a threat from the terrorists. Transportation of large sums of money is associated with distribution of funds for terrorist activities, illegal pay-offs, etc,” it said.
It also expressed concern over the “rampant circulation of black money which is destroying the economy of the country”.
Given this background, the bench said “the officers wanted to fully satisfy themselves that the funds were not intended for any illegal purpose. Such action cannot be termed as highhanded or unreasonable”.
“Some delay and inconvenience (to the passengers) is inevitable in such cases. …The rights and personal liberty of the passengers will have to yield to public interest,” the court held.