Zabrovsky v The General Officer Commanding Palestine: PC 4 Dec 1946

Mr Zabrovsky’s son, Arie Ben Eliezer, a Palestinian citizen, was detained under emergency powers regulations. He was issued with an order requiring him to leave Palestine. He was then transported to a military detention camp in Eritrea. At the time, Eritrea was ‘held’ by the British under the control of a Chief Administrator. Proclamation No 54 issued by the Chief Administrator permitted detention without charge in Eritrea, and the order of the Eritrean Military Government for Eliezer’s detention had been made pursuant to that Proclamation.
An application for habeas corpus was made in the Supreme Court of Palestine against the British Officer commanding Mandate Palestine and the police. That court, sitting as a High Court and exercising English common law rules, discharged a rule nisi on the basis that, although control could be established, the extant detention order had been issued by a state beyond the Supreme Court of Palestine’s jurisdiction.
Held: The detention was lawful.
‘In the troublous times of war and in the chaotic post-war conditions the scope of legal and permissive interference with personal liberty has been extended and restraints have been legalised by the legislature which would not have been accepted as legitimate in normal times. Thus in England, in what are called the Reg 18B cases, Liversidge v Sir John Anderson . . the House of Lords upheld the legality of a detention of the applicants by the Executive without trial and also held that the Executive could not be compelled to give reasons for the detention . . the effect of the decisions is to vest a plenary discretion in the Executive, affecting the liberty of the subject and pro tanto to substitute the judgment of the court, based on ordinary principles of common law right, the discretion of the Executive acting arbitrarily in the sense that it cannot in substance be inquired into by the court.’
The Board distinguished: ‘[O’Brien] was relied upon for two purposes (1) to support an argument that on the facts of the present case the Palestine Government could properly be ordered to produce the body, and (2), that the proper order was not to discharge the order nisi but to make an order nisi which would enable the court, without deciding the question whether the Palestine Government had control of Eliezer, to clear up any doubts there might be as to the facts. In their Lordships’ view, however, O’Brien’s case does not, when carefully considered, afford any help in this appeal. The central feature in that case was that there never was an effective legal order. The order relied on was made by the English Secretary of State for internment of O’Brien in the Irish Free State after the setting up of an Irish constitution and an Irish Executive. The Court of Appeal held that the order was illegal . . The Secretary of State thereupon produced the body of O’Brien, giving as their justification, the order of internment which the court had held to be bad; the court made the order absolute and O’Brien was released . . In the present case the Palestinian court has found itself unable to say that the detention was illegal. They have said that it was beyond their competence to decide on the illegality of the detention in Eritrea. Their Lordships, as they have indicated, agree with this view but offer no opinion as to the further suggestion of that court, that, if the petitioner wishes to question the validity of the order made in Eritrea, he must do so in the courts of Eritrea. The validity and effect of the Eritrean law and order may raise many difficult questions of constitutional or other law. The legality of acts done, or of detention enforced in, that country in pursuance or assumed pursuance of its law or orders is, however, clearly beyond the jurisdiction of the Palestine court and of this Board on appeal.’
Lord Wright, Lord Porter, Lord Uthwatt, Sir Madhavan Nair, Sir John Beaumont
[1947] AC 246, [1946] UKPC 49, 177 LT 369, [1947] LJR 1053
DistinguishedSecretary of State for Home Affairs v O’Brien HL 1923
The Crown has no right of appeal against the grant of a discharge of a prisoner on a writ of habeas corpus.
The Home Secrtary appealed against the issue of a writ of habeas corpus against him in respect of a prisoner held in Mountjoy prison in . .
CitedLiversidge v Sir John Anderson HL 3-Nov-1941
The plaintiff sought damages for false imprisonment. The Secretary of State had refused to disclose certain documents. The question was as to the need for the defendant to justify the use of his powers by disclosing the documents.
Held: The . .

Cited by:
CitedBancoult, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 2) Admn 11-May-2006
The claimant on behalf of himself and other islanders sought a declaration that the 2004 Order was unlawful. The islands had been emptied of people in 1973 and before in order to allow use of the islands as military bases. He had enjoyed a right to . .
CitedSecretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs v Rahmatullah SC 31-Oct-2012
The claimant complained that the UK Armed forces had taken part in his unlawful rendition from Iraq by the US government. He had been detaiined in Iraq and transferred to US Forces. The government became aware that he was to be removed to . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 29 January 2021; Ref: scu.242143