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Maneka Gandhi v Union of India

Maneka Gandhi v Union of India

By Vasundhara Kaushik


Maneka Gandhi


Union of India




Hameedullah Beg (CJI), Y.V.Chandrachud, P.N Bhagwati, V.R. Krishna Iyer, N.L.Untwalia,

S.M. Fazal Ali& P.S.Kailasam



As indicated by Dicey, "The right to personal liberty as comprehended in England implies in substance a person’s right not to be exposed to detainment, capture, or other physical compulsions in any way that does not concede to lawful justification." at the end of the day, „personal liberty‟ implies freedom from any kind of physical restraint and forms of coercion which isn't approved by law.  Article 21 of the Constitution of India says, "No individual shall be denied of his life or personal liberty aside from as indicated by the procedure established by law.[1]"

Maneka Gandhi’s case isn't just a milestone case for a better understanding of Article 21 but it likewise gave a completely new perspective to take a gander at the Chapter III of the Constitution of India. Preceding Maneka Gandhi’s decision, Article 21 ensured the right to life and personal liberty just against the subjective activity of the official and not from the administrative activity. Extensively, what this case did was expand this security against administrative activity as well.


On the fourth of July, 1977, Smt. Maneka Gandhi got a letter from the Regional Passport Office, Delhi, requesting that her present her identification (No. K-869668) inside seven days from the day on which she had gotten such letter, i.e before eleventh July 1977. The letter expressed that it had been the decision of the Government of India to appropriate her international ID under Section 10(3)(c) of the Passport Act[2]. The reason for such an appropriating, as advised to her, was "public interest."

Smt. Maneka Gandhi quickly sent a letter to the Regional Passport Officer, asking about the grounds on which her international ID (passport) had been seized. She additionally asked for him to give a duplicate of the 'Statement of Reasons' for creation of such an order. The answer sent by the Ministry of External Affairs was that it was the order of the Government of India to appropriate the identification in light of a legitimate concern for the general public i.e. in the public interest. Additionally, there were requests to not issue her a duplicate of the Statement of Reasons. Smt. Maneka Gandhi accordingly moved toward Supreme Court u/a 32 of the Constitution of India for the authorization or enforcement of Fundamental Right referenced u/a 14 of the Constitution of India against the discretionary activity of the authorities. The petition was additionally amended and implementation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India that is Protection of Life and Personal Liberty, Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India that is Right to speak freely (freedom of speech and expression) and Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India which is,  Right to freedom of Movement. Among the significant reasons contended for the documenting or filing of such petition, the applicant fought that the reviled request is void as it removed the candidate's right to be given a reasonable hearing to display her defence.



1.     Is there any nexus between the provisions mentioned under Articles 14, 19 &21?

2.     Scope of the word “Procedure Established by Law.”

3.     Whether right to travel abroad resides in Article 21 or not.

4.     Whether a legislative law that takes away Right to life is reasonable.


1. By the administrative order of impoundment of the international ID (passport) on fourth July 1977 the respondent has encroached Petitioner's Fundamental Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression, Right to travel abroad, Right to life and personal liberty and Right to freedom of movement.

2. The provisions of Article 14, 19 and 21 are to be perused in synchronization and they are not totally unrelated. These provisions in itself however not expressly comprises in itself standards of natural justice. A joined perusing of the three articles will offer an impact to the soul of the constitution and to the makers of the Indian Constitution.

3. Even however India has not embraced American "due process of law" in its constitution, the system or the procedure built up by law must be sensible, reasonable and simply free from any kind of discretion.

4. Section 10(3)(c) is violative of Article 21 of the constitution in the way as it damages the right to life and personal liberty ensured under the said protected provision. By the goodness of this provision, the petitioner was restrained from voyaging abroad. These controls on the petitioner were unlawful since it was commonly acknowledged that the right to travel abroad was within that the scope of the right to life and personal liberty u/a 21.

5. Audi Altrem Partem chance to be heard is generally perceived as a basic element of standards of principles of natural justice. These standards of natural justice locate no express spot in any constitutional provisions. Be that as it may, the soul of Fundamental Rights comprises in itself the embodiment of these standards. Further, Article 32 gives a chance to the influenced or affected parties to straightforwardly approach Apex Court in the event that there is any infringement of Part III provisions. This provision of Article 32 was instituted as Heart and Soul of the Constitution is proportional to Audi Altrem Partem. Thusly, it can't be said that the Principle of Natural Justice are independent and selective to the Constitution.


1. The respondent argued under the watchful eye of the court that the international ID (passport) was appropriated on the grounds that the petitioner was required to show up before some councils for inquiry. The Attorney General additionally guaranteed the court to get rid of the considerable number of appearances in the said advisory committee at the earliest opportunity.

2. The respondent repeating the guideline set down in A.K. Gopalan v. State of Madras[3] argued that the word law u/a 21 can't be appreciated in the light central principles of natural justice.

3. The respondent further argued that the standards of natural justice are ambiguous and loaded with ambiguities. Subsequently, the constitution ought not to read such unclear and equivocal provisions as a piece of it.

4. The ambit of Article 21 is extremely wide and it, for the most part, contains the arrangements of Articles 14 and 19. Be that as it may, any law must be named illegal to Article 21 when it specifically encroaches Article 14 and 19.

5. Article 21 in its language contains "procedure established by law" and such technique need not breeze through the trial of reasonability. Further the said arrangement need not really be in congruity with the Articles 14 and 19.

6. The constitution creators while drafting this constitution had bantered at length on American "due process of law" and British "procedure set up by law". The prominent nonappearance of fair treatment of law from the Constitutional provisions mirrors the mind of designers of this constitution. The mind and soul of the designers must be safeguarded and acknowledged.




This milestone judgment came on 25th January 1978 and changed the image of the Constitution of India. This judgment extended the extent of Article 21 exponentially and this judgment genuinely and truly made India a welfare state as guaranteed in the Preamble. The seven-judge bench gave a unanimous ruling with the exception of a few judges agreeing on a few points. It was held that Section 10(3)(c) of the Passport Act gives dubious and indistinct power on the identification authorities, it is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution since it doesn't accommodate an open door for the wronged party to be heard. It was additionally held violative of Article 21 since it doesn't conform to "procedure" as referenced in the provision, and the present procedure performed was the most exceedingly bad conceivable one. The Court, in any case, avoided passing any formal answer on the issue and decided that the visa would stay with the authorities until they consider it fit.

One of the critical elucidation for this case is the revelation of the interrelation between the three Articles-Article 14, 19 and 21. This a law which endorses a methodology for denying an individual of "personal liberty" needs to satisfy the prerequisites of Articles 14 and 19 too. It was at long last held by the court that the right to travel and go outside the nation is incorporated into the right to personal liberty ensured under Article 21. The Court decided that the simple presence of an empowering law was insufficient to control individual freedom. Such a law should likewise be "just, reasonable and fair".


1. Section 10(3)(c) of the Passport Act is violative of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution-

Section 10(3)(c) of the Passports Act  1967 – “if the passport authority deems it necessary so to do in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of India, friendly relations of India with any foreign country, or in the interests of the general public;”

Section 10(3)(c) of the Passports Act presents boundless powers on the passport authorities. Since it is unclear in its wordings, the use of such a provision has not been obviously characterized in the Act. Along these lines, this leaves a great deal of extension for the official to decipher it in however manner they want or need, and consequently pull off a ton of arbitrary activities under the appearance of varied translation. The provision additionally prompts intervention in the activities of the official. The intervention originates from the way that it is totally in the hands of the passport officials or authorities to choose whether or not, and how to continue in a specific case. The words 'considers it essential' give the passport authorities complete opportunity to act in whichever way they need, and in whichever cases they need. Along these lines, there is no consistency or sensibility in the actions of the international ID (passport) authorities, and their activities could contrast from case to case.

E.P Royappa v. Province of Tamil Nadu and Another[4], was the judgment connected by the Supreme Court to additionally legitimize their perspectives. It was held for this situation that Article 14 is one of the mainstays of the Indian Constitution and thus can't be bound by a tight and resolute elucidation. Article 14 should in this manner be given the broadest translation conceivable, which additionally incorporates reasonability and mediation of specific provisions of the enactments.

In light of these perceptions the Court held Section 10(3)(c) of The Passport Act violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.

2. Violation of the Principles of Natural Justice: The Audi Alteram Partem Rule –  

The audi alteram partem rule is one of the three standards of natural justice, and structures a critical part in characterizing the legality and fairness of any procedure. The strict interpretation of audi alteram partem is "hear the opposite side". In a layman's language it fundamentally implies that both the sides ought to be allowed the chance to display their case before a decision is passed for the case. In the present case, Maneka Gandhi was denied explanations behind the appropriating of her visa, which is uncalled for since each individual has the right to know the grounds on which any official step is being taken against him/her. Likewise, she was never allowed to show her very own case before the specialists. The rule of audi alteram partem requires that before the last request for the appropriating of her passport was passed, Smt. Maneka Gandhi should have been allowed to approach the officials and to present her piece of the story with the goal that the request for appropriating of the passport would have been just. In the present case, amid the Court procedures itself, the visa experts eventually surrendered to the way that they had been off-base in not giving Smt. Maneka Gandhi an opportunity to exhibit her case. Subsequently, they, at last, consented to retain the request and allow her to display her case before the concerned authorities. In any case, what is critical to note is that the authorities had been held wrong in any case, and just to moderate the fault had they acknowledged to give her present her a chance to the case. The last change in occasions kept them from being held at risk. Else, they were certainly in the wrong and even the Court had held that their activity had been discretionary and as opposed to the principles of natural justice.

3. Section 10(3)(c) not Violative of Article 19(1)(a) and Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution –  Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution discusses the freedom of speech and expression ensured to all residents of the nation. Article 19(1)(g), then again, discusses the opportunity to do any trade and profession. Smt. Maneka Gandhi had asserted that the request to seize her identification likewise damages these two privileges of hers. As indicated by her, the right to freedom of speech and expression additionally incorporated the right to travel to another country to blend with individuals, to complete a trade of thoughts, to almost certainly talk with the general population of different countries, and in this manner to most likely openly talk and convey what needs be outside India too. She said that since she was a columnist or journalist, it was a piece of her very profession to venture out to various parts of the world, to cover news issues. Consequently, by denying her the chance to travel abroad, the visa specialists had disregarded her directly of trade and occupation. It was held by the Court that despite the fact that the previously mentioned conflicts were right and that such a request would in actuality add up to infringement of Article 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(g), there was nothing to demonstrate that Ms. Gandhi was planned to go on an official visit at the time the reviled order was passed and her passport was appropriated. Nor was there anything to demonstrate that she had some sincere need to travel abroad towards the acknowledgment of her right to expression under article 19(1), for e.g. Open discussions, moving, writing, craftsmanship, and so on. Along these lines this contention was rejected and the request was not held to be violative of Articles 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(g).

In any case, the Court went on to elucidate that if at any point of time later on she was denied her visa from the administration when she required or needed to go abroad to practice both of the two rights under 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(g) and the administration denied such rights it is viewed as an encroachment of these two major rights.

4. The request is violative of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

On account of Satwant Singh Sawhney v D. Ramarathnam, Assistant Passport Officer, Government of India, New Delhi and Ors[5], the Supreme Court held by a larger part judgment that the articulation 'individual freedom' in Article 21 takes morally justified of movement and travel abroad, and under Article 21 no individual can be denied of his entitlement to travel to another country aside from as indicated by the strategy set up by law. This choice was acknowledged by the Parliament and the illness called attention to buy it was set directly by the enactment of the Passports Act, 1967. Smt. Maneka Gandhi affirmed that her entitlement to travel abroad had been damaged by the passport authorities or officials. Likewise, the condition discussing 'procedure set up by law' was argued in that the method received for this situation was arbitrary and unfair. It was likewise violative of her essential rights since she was being denied the right to travel abroad under Article 21, without being given legitimate explanations behind the same.

To the extent the procedural disparity was concerned, the lawyer for the government acknowledged the way that the activities had been discretionary and henceforth she was allowed to advance her conflicts. Along these lines that peculiarity was dealt with. To the extent the topic of her central rights was concerned, it was held that true her basic right had been abused, yet it was in light of a legitimate concern for the overall population or the general public. The Court has received a liberal understanding of Article 21 for the situation, and extended its ambit significantly. Be that as it may, the Court has refrained itself from out properly remarking on this issue in this specific case.


1. Freedom of Speech and Expression {Article 19(1)(a)} is not bound only to the national territories of India – This was a landmark judgment of the Court and one that was profoundly celebrated by the whole nation. The Court throughout this case opined that the right to speak freely and express one's opinion, as ensured to every one of the residents of the nation, was boundless in that it had given to the citizens countless regardless of whether they were in India or abroad. The Court held that if the Constitution producers had proposed this right to be bound by the domains of the nation, at that point they would have explicitly referenced so as they have improved the situation different rights, for example, the right to settle down unreservedly, or the right to amass or assemble openly and freely. In any case, since no such words had been included toward the end of these provisions, the Court felt that it was its obligation to give it the most extensive understanding conceivable.

Likewise, supporting this view was the way that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was embraced by the General Assembly of the United Nations on tenth December, 1948 and the majority of the essential rights which we find incorporated into Part III were perceived and received by the United Nations as the unavoidable privileges of man in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

2. Article 21 isn't to be perused in confinement; all infringement and procedural prerequisite under Article 21 are to be tried for Article 14 and Article 19 too- The Supreme Court in the present case had embraced the most stretched out conceivable elucidation of the right to life and individual freedom, ensured under Article 21 of the Constitution. Bhagwati, J. observed:

The expression ‘personal liberty’ in Article 21 is of widest amplitude and it covers a variety of rights which go to constitute the personal liberty of man and some of them have raised to the status of distinct fundamental rights and given additional protection under Article 19.”

Additionally, as for the connection between Article 19 and Article 21, the Court held that Article 21 is constrained by Article 19, i.e., it must fulfil the necessity of Article 19. The Court observed: "The law should along these lines presently be settled that Article 21 does not prohibit Article 19 and that regardless of whether there is a law endorsing a method for denying an individual of individual freedom, and there is thus no encroachment of the basic right given by Article 21 such a law in so far as it shortens or removes any basic right under Article 19 would need to address the difficulties of that Article. Thus a law "denying an individual of 'personal liberty' has not exclusively to stand the test" of Article 21, yet it must stand the trial of Article 19 and Article 14 of the Constitution also.          


The Maneka Gandhi judgment was a reasonable judgment and is a standout amongst the best decisions that Indian Supreme Court has ever given. The judgment's most prominent element was the interlinking it set up between the provisions of Article 14, 19 and 21. By the righteousness of this interconnection, the court made these provisions indistinguishable and a solitary element. Presently any strategy to be substantial needs to meet every one of the prerequisites referenced under Article 14, 19 and 21. Accordingly, it extended the extent of individual freedom exponentially and secured the constitutional and fundamental right to life all things considered.

The judgment while protected the nationals from undeniable and unquestionable actions of Executive additionally saved the sacredness of Parliamentary law when it didn't strike down Section 10(3)(c) and 10(5) of 1967 Act. The court likewise reminded the authorities to just once in a while utilize the privilege of area 10(5) in order to fulfil that their activities were reasonable and well thought. The court held that Section 10(3)(c) and 10(5) is an administrative order hence, open to be tested on the grounds of mala fide, absurd, denial of natural justice and ultra vires.        



[1] Dicey, The Law of the Constitution

[2] 1967.

[3] A.I.R. 1950 S.C. 27

[4] [1974] 2 SCR 348

[5] (1967) 3 S.C.R. 525.

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