Additional District Magistrate Jabalpur, V/S S. S. Shukla Etc

By – Kritika Chakraborty

  In Supreme Court of India

NAME OF THE CASEAdditional District Magistrate Jabalpur, V/S  S. S. Shukla Etc.
CITATION1976 AIR 1207, 1976 SCR 172
DATE OF THE CASE28 April 1976
APPELLANTAdditional District Magistrate, Jabalpur
RESPONDENTS.S Shukla and others
BENCH/JUDGERay, A.N. (CJ), Khanna, Hans Raj, Beg, M. Hameedullah, Chandrachud, Y.V., Bhagwati, P.N.
STATUTES/CONSTITUTION INVOLVEDThe Constitution Of India 1949 The Indian Evidence Act, 1872  
IMPORTANT ARTICLES/SECTIONSArticle 21 in The Constitution of India 1949, Article 359(1) in The Constitution of India 1949, Article 226 in The Constitution of India 1949, Article 359 in The Constitution of India 1949    

ABSTRACT

The case of A.D.M. Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla is one of the pivotal instances in the context of the Indian legal system since it is one of those cases that cleared the way for further changes in the legal system by revealing current gaps. It’s intriguing to consider that the case is still a sore spot in the legal system and the courts today. Fundamental rights were taken away in the name of personal political gain, and the Union Government operated on its own political whims. The explanation for this is that, in this situation, the courts failed to address and consider the plight of the people of India by completely disregarding the privileges bestowed upon them at birth. Justice H. R. Khanna’s lone dissenting opinion, in which he argued that fundamental rights were better, can be found here. When the judiciary was summoned to hear this critical case, the case of Additional District Magistrate, Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla, and others came to light.

The judgment of this case is considered as one of the most erroneous decisions in the history of Indian democracy. The judgment has been criticized for its narrow and positivist interpretation. It has been suggested that the decision did not analyze the reasons presented in this case by the Rule of Law. The Court made the inherent and inalienable Right of Life dependent on the provisions of the Constitution. During the Emergency, it also curtailed its own power and scope of operation when dealing with issues involving Fundamental Rights, giving the Executive complete control over the country’s affairs, which some say is not only arbitrary but also unlawful.

INTRODUCTION

The 1975 Emergency is considered to be one of the darkest periods in Indian democracy. Fundamental rights were eroded for personal political gain, and the Union Government operated on its whims and fancies. When the judiciary was called upon to adjudicate this serious matter, the case of Additional District Magistrate, Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla and others decided to come up. This case is also well-known for Justice H. R. Khanna’s solitary opposing opinion, in which he argued for the primacy of Fundamental Rights. The remaining judges ruled that fundamental rights will be suspended for the duration of the emergency. Justice Khanna gave the sole dissenting opinion in this case. He disagreed on all aspects of the judgment from the majority opinion. He refused to state that Article 21 is the sole repository of the Right to Life and said that, “Sanctity of life and liberty was not something new when the Constitution has drafted the principle that no one shall be deprived of his life and liberty without the authority of law was not the gift of the Constitution. It was an essential implication of the principle of life and liberty sanctity; it existed and was in power before the Constitution’s ratification. The concept of the integrity of life and liberty, as well as the premise that no one’s life or liberty can be taken away without the authorization of the law, are essentially two facets of the same concept.”

BACKGROUND

It all began with a judgment passed by the Allahabad High Court on June 12, 1975, by Justice Jagmohan Lal Sinha. In the State of Uttar Pradesh v. Raj Narain [1], The petitioner challenged Indira Gandhi’s election to the Lok Sabha and the subsequent win of Rae Bareli in the U.P. She was accused of corruption by Justice Sinha on 12 June and ruled her election void, meaning that she was ineligible to seek an election or hold office for the next six years. She appealed to the Supreme Court and she was only given a conditional stay by the apex court. Due to the Supreme Court’s limitation of her political control, she became dysfunctional in the matter of voting or speaking in Lok Sabha.

She urged the then President Fakruddin Ali Ahmad to declare an Emergency according to Clause (1) of Article 352 of the Indian Constitution, which he did on 26 June 1975, desperate to retain the chair of the Prime Minister. The Government stated that there was a significant emergency whereby Lydia’s stability was at risk of internal disruptions. The 1971 war with Pakistan had just ended, and the 1972 drought was the reason for the government’s proclamation of the Emergency, as economic development was impaired and the nation’s growth was stalled. On 27 June 1975, the exercise of the authority granted by Article 359 of the Constitution, according to Article 359 of the Constitution, was imposed on the citizens of India and foreigners with the right to approach the court to impose Article 14 (Right to Equality), Article 21 and Article 22 (prevention of detention in such cases), the article alluded to above shall be suspended for the period of the Emergency, which is also accessible to foreigners, and all outstanding lawsuits.

Under preventive detention laws, anyone who was perceived to be a political threat to the authorities or someone who could publicly raise his/her political opinion openly was taken into custody without trial. This led to the arrest under MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act) of many opposition politicians, such as Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Morarji Desai, Jay Prakash Narayan, and Lal Krishna Advani, because all these leaders proved to be a political danger to Indira Gandhi.

These persons then lodged petitions in the country in separate High Courts to contest the detention. In favour of these petitions, most of the High Court’s gave their verdicts, which prompted the Indira Gandhi government to move to the supreme court for this matter. This became the Additional District Magistrate Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla case, which is sometimes referred to as the Habeas Corpus (To Produce the Body) Case, and anytime someone is convicted, there is usually a writ filed before the Supreme Court. At the time of the declaration of the Emergency, this decision was not recognized as a constitutional right under Article 21

FACTS

On June 25, 1975, the President, acting under the powers provided by clause (1) of Article 352 (Proclamation of Emergency) of the Constitution, declared a grave emergency in which India’s security was threatened by internal disturbances. On June 27, 1975, the President, in exercising the powers provided by clause (1) of Articles 359, announced that any person, including a foreigner, has the right to petition any court for the execution of the rights conferred by Articles 14, 21, and 22 of the Constitution and all proceedings pending in any court for the enforcement of the aforementioned rights shall be suspended for the duration of the proclamations of emergency issued under clause (1) of Article 352 of the Constitution on December 3rd, 1971 and June 25th, 1975. The Presidential Order of June 27, 1975, also specified that it would be in addition to, not in derogation of, any order made under clause (1) of Article 359 of the Constitution before the date of the aforementioned order. On January 8, 1976, a notification was issued in the authority vested by clause (1) of Article 359 of the Constitution, in which the President declared that any person’s right to petition any court for the protection of these rights conferred by Article 19 of the Constitution, as well as all proceedings pending in any court for the enforcement of the aforementioned rights, would be preserved. Several illegal detentions were then carried out across the country, prompting a slew of writ petitions to be filed. Nine High Courts ruled in favour of detainees, holding that while Article 21 could not be implemented, the order of detention could be challenged on other grounds, such as that it was not following the Act or was malafide. Many petitions were filed before the Supreme Court against these orders. In deciding all of the appeals together, the Supreme Court overturned the decisions of the High Courts that had upheld the declaration. and successive detentions as unlawful, and reaffirmed the declaration and suspension of the aforesaid rights.

ISSUE

The Court emphasised that the High Courts had not decided whether the 38th and 39th Constitution Amendment Acts were valid or whether the Emergency was rational and its continuation was illegal in law, so these questions were not part of the concerns in this case. The following two issues were proposed: Maintainability of any writ petition under Article 226 for the approval of a writ of Habeas Corpus to help ensure personal liberty because the detention order is invalid under the legislation of the Maintenance of Internal Security Act, 1971 (also known as MISA) in conjunction with the President’s orders issued under Article 359 (1). If so, what is the scope of judicial scrutiny concerning the aforementioned Presidential orders?

ARGUMENTS FROM THE APPELLANT SIDE

The Arguments Presented by the Petitioner:

“1. The key argument of the State was that the primary object and purpose of the Emergency provisions of the Constitution was to ensure that the Government had special authority to exercise absolute control over the enforcement of the country’s laws and rights. The explanation for this being that the state’s considerations take prime relevance during an Emergency.

 2. Despite the view of the Advisory Board that there is no sufficient ground for his incarceration and thus holds him in prison in Flagrant breach of the terms of Article 22, the State may not dismiss any discharge; no habeas corpus petition will be maintainable and that will be so even though Article 22 is itself a constitutional right. The President has also revoked the power to transfer a court to impose a right under Article 19 under an order provided under Article 359 (1).

 3. The suspension of a person’s freedom to transfer any court to impose the right to life and personal liberty is achieved under constitutional laws and thus, it cannot be assumed that the lack of the rule of law will mean the ensuing condition.

 4. They emphasized the point that the emergency clauses of Section XVIl of the Indian Constitution, including Article 358, Article 359(1), and Article 359(1A), are constitutional requirements and imperatives of the Constitution as anything else precedes the military and economic stability of the country.

5. The legitimacy of the law as set out in the Presidential Order according to Article 359(1) cannot be questioned on the basis that there has been a breach of a constitutional right suspended in the first instance by the article referred to above.”

ARGUMENTS FROM THE RESPONDENT

The arguments given by the respondents are:

“1. According to the respondents, the restricted purpose of Article 359(1) is to lift limitations on the authority of the legislature so that it can be able to make laws in violation of the constitutional rights laid down in the Presidential Order during the emergency service

2. The key purpose of Article 359(1) was to bar the Supreme Court from moving to impose those privileges in compliance with Article 32. In compliance with Article 226 of the Constitution, this ban by statute has no bearing on the protection of common law and the statutory privileges of personal liberty in the High Court.

 3. The placed Presidential Orders were applicable only concerning fundamental rights and did not apply to the provisions of natural law, common law, or statutory law.

4. Only to the degree defined by legitimate laws will the Executive act for and against its residents. In no conditions does Article 352 or the declaration of Emergency broaden the scope of the executive powers of the State from what is provided for in Article 162 of the Constitution and nothing more.”

 5. The argument continues that there is a valid statute enacted by the Executive governing preventive detention that must adhere to the requirements prescribed by that legislation.

 6. According to the respondents, Article 21 is not the exclusive repository of the right to life and personal rights.

 7. The Executive Order does not concern non-fundamental civil protections, such as those arising under Articles 256, 265, and 361(3), or natural rights or contractual rights, or the legislative rights of personal liberty. In terms of the statute, constitutional privileges can only be stripped away and not from the executive flat.

 8. The Right to Arrest shall be held by the State and its officers only if the suspected act of detention comes under the scope of Section 3 of the MISA and any requirement found therein is met. The imprisonment is called “beyond the powers” of that act if any provision remains unfulfilled.

RELATED PROVISIONS

  • Article 21 in The Constitution of India 1949

“21. Protection of life and personal liberty No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law1”

  • Article 359(1) in The Constitution of India 1949

“(1) Where a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation, the President may by order declare that the right to move any court for the enforcement of such of the rights conferred by Part III (except Article 20 and 21) as may be mentioned in the order and all proceedings pending in any court for the enforcement of the rights so mentioned shall remain suspended for the period during which the Proclamation is in force or for such shorter period as may be specified in the order

(1A) While an order made under clause ( 1 ) mentioning any of the rights conferred by Part III (except Article 20 and 21) is in operation, nothing in that Part conferring those rights shall restrict the power of the State as defined in the said Part to make any law or to take any executive action which the State would but for the provisions containing in that Part be competent to make or to take, but any law so made shall, to the extent of the in competency, cease to have effect as soon as the order aforesaid ceases to operate, except as respects things done or omitted to be done before the law so ceases to have effect Provided that where a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation only in any part of the territory of India, any such law may be made, or any such executive action may be taken, under this article in relation to or in any State or Union territory in which or in any part of which the Proclamation of Emergency is not in operation, if and in so far as the security of India or any part of the territory thereof is threatened by activities in or in relation to the part of the territory of India in which the Proclamation of Emergency is in operation

(1B) Nothing in clause (1A) shall apply

(a) to any law which does not contain a recital to the effect that such law is about the Proclamation of Emergency in operation when it is made; or

(b) to any executive action taken otherwise than under a law containing such a recital”

  • Article 226 in The Constitution of India 1949

“226. Power of High Courts to issue certain writs

(1) Notwithstanding anything in Article 32 every High Court shall have powers, throughout the territories about which it exercises jurisdiction, to issue to any person or authority, including in appropriate cases, any Government, within those territories directions, orders, or writs, including writs like habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibitions, quo warranto and certiorari, or any of them, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III and for any other purpose

(2) The power conferred by clause ( 1 ) to issue directions, orders or writs to any Government, authority or person may also be exercised by any High Court exercising jurisdiction with the territories within which the cause of action, wholly or in part, arises for the exercise of such power, notwithstanding that the seat of such Government or authority or the residence of such person is not within those territories

(3) Where any party against whom an interim order, whether by way of injunction or stay or in any other manner, is made on, or in any proceedings relating to, a petition under clause (1), without

(a) furnishing to such party copies of such petition and all documents in support of the plea for such interim order; and

(b) giving such party an opportunity of being heard, makes an application to the High Court for the vacation of such order and furnishes a copy of such application to the party in whose favour such order has been made or the counsel of such party, the High Court shall dispose of the application within two weeks from the date on which it is received or from the date on which the copy of such application is so furnished, whichever is later, or where the High Court is closed on the last day of that period, before the expiry of the next day afterwards on which the High Court is open; and if the application is not so disposed of, the interim order shall, on the expiry of that period, or, as the case may be, the expiry of the aid next day, stand vacated

(4) The power conferred on a High Court by this article shall not be in derogation of the power conferred on the Supreme court by clause (2) of Article 32.”

  • Article 359 in The Constitution of India 1949

359. Suspension of the enforcement of the rights conferred by Part III during emergencies

“(1) Where a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation, the President may by order declare that the right to move any court for the enforcement of such of the rights conferred by Part III (except Article 20 and 21) as may be mentioned in the order and all proceedings pending in any court for the enforcement of the rights so mentioned shall remain suspended for the period during which the Proclamation is in force or for such shorter period as may be specified in the order

(1A) While an order made under clause ( 1 ) mentioning any of the rights conferred by Part III (except Article 20 and 21) is in operation, nothing in that Part conferring those rights shall restrict the power of the State as defined in the said Part to make any law or to take any executive action which the State would but for the provisions containing in that Part be competent to make or to take, but any law so made shall, to the extent of the in competency, cease to have effect as soon as the order aforesaid ceases to operate, except as respects things done or omitted to be done before the law so ceases to have effect Provided that where a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation only in any part of the territory of India, any such law may be made, or any such executive action may be taken, under this article in relation to or in any State or Union territory in which or in any part of which the Proclamation of Emergency is not in operation, if and in so far as the security of India or any part of the territory thereof is threatened by activities in or in relation to the part of the territory of India in which the Proclamation of Emergency is in operation

(1B) Nothing in clause (1A) shall apply

(a) to any law which does not contain a recital to the effect that such law is about the Proclamation of Emergency in operation when it is made; or

(b) to any executive action taken otherwise than under a law containing such a recital

(2) An order made as aforesaid may extend to the whole or any part of the territory of India: Provided that where a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation only in a part of the territory of India, any such order shall not extend to any other part of the territory of India unless the President, being satisfied that the security of India or any part of the territory thereof is threatened by activities in or concerning the part of the territory of India in which the Proclamation of Emergency is in operation, considers such extension to be necessary

(3) Every order made under clause (1) shall, as soon maybe after it is made, be laid before each House of Parliament.”

JUDGEMENT

The decision was made by a majority of 4:1. The Court held that no person can move the High Court asking for any writ to enforce any fundamental right detained under MISA, as a claim to the writ of Habeas corpus is enforcement of Right to Life and Personal Liberty under Article 21 which is barred by the Presidential Order.  The majority agreed with all the contentions made by the appellants. To justify the suspension of Fundamental Rights the Court said, “In the period of public danger or apprehension the protective law which gives every man security and confidence in times of tranquillity has to give way to interests of the State.” It was also stated that “Liberty is itself the gift of the law and may by the law be forfeited or abridged,” when the question about the status of Article 21 was raised.

Marking the black day of Indian legal history, the Supreme Court rejected the argument of the Respondents and held that Article 21 of the Constitution was the sole repository of the right to life and liberty and therefore, the suspension of it implied that all the remedies protecting this right under any other law shall also be suspended. The Court while construing Article 21 as the sole repository Because any challenge to the restraining order for the implementation of the right to personal liberty under Article 21 could not be brought because of the presidential order suspending it, the detainee was denied all available remedies. The majority also concluded that the detention order could not be appealed on any other grounds, even if it was issued in bad faith, leaving the detainee with little recourse even in the instance of unlawful imprisonment. Therefore, the Court declared, “because of the Presidential Order dated June 27th, 1975 no person has any locus standi to move any writ petition under Article 226 before a High Court for habeas corpus or any other writ, order, or instruction to contest the legitimacy of a detention order on the basis that the order is unconstitutional not under or in compliance with the Act or is illegal or is vitiated by mala fides factual or legal or is based on extraneous considerations”, closing its doors to any kind of relief to anyone who is being held in an illegal detention centre.

CONCLUSION

The Habeas Corpus Case, also known as ADM Jabalpur vs. Shivkant Shukla, has been widely criticized for favouring the state over individual liberty. Immediately after the emergency ended, the Apex Court reversed its position by imbuing Article 21 with permanent status and linking it to Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution. The Supreme Court of India overturned this case in the landmark Puttaswamy Case (Right to Privacy Case) in 2017.

The verdict, labelled “a scar on Indian Judiciary,” showed the Constitution’s perils (read: absolute anarchy) if the judicial branch was hesitant to stand up and contemptuous of constitutional mandate violations. However, Justice Khanna, who delivered the dissenting opinion, was hailed for his duty to bring justice and his integrity. After the following government took office, the Constitution was changed to state that Article 21 could not have been suspended at any time, even in an emergency. Thus, a Constitutional Amendment has been enacted to prevent a recurrence of such a catastrophe, stating that the right to life and personal liberty cannot be suspended in any circumstance.