By:- Tejas Patel
|IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA|
|NAME OF THE CASE:||MANEKA GANDHI VS UNION OF INDIA|
|CITATION:||1978 AIR 597, 1978 SCR (2) 621|
|DATE OPF THE CASE:||25 January, 1978|
|RESPONDENT:||UNION OF INDIA|
|BENCH/JUDGES:||BEG, M. HAMEEDULLAH (CJ) CHANDRACHUD, Y.V. BHAGWATI, P.N. KRISHNAIYER, V.R. UNTWALIA, N.L. FAZALALI, SYED MURTAZA KAILASAM, P.S.|
|STATUTES/ CONSTITUTION INVOLVED:||ARTICLE 19, 19(1), 19(1)(A), 21 OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION, 1949 AND SECTION 10(3) OF THE PASSPORTS ACT, 1967|
The ‘people as a sovereign body’ protects against abuses of individual liberty and tyrannical authority through publicly approved rules that relate to a shared set of public limits. Individuals are deprived of this protection when there is no such centralized organization. Individuals must follow without liberty in such situations, while those in authority command under a license. The ‘people as a sovereign body’ protects against abuses of individual liberty and tyrannical authority through publicly approved rules that relate to a shared set of public limits. Individuals are deprived of this protection when there is no such centralized organization.
The Supreme Court ruled in Satwant Singh that the freedom to go abroad is covered by Article 21. To address the above-mentioned law, Parliament adopted the Passports Act of 1967. The Passport Act of 1967 authorizes authorities to seize a person’s passport if it is required in the interests of India’s sovereignty and integrity, security, or friendship. The reasons for such impoundment must also be informed to the affected party, though these reasons might be suppressed in the public interest. The historic judgement in Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India, which stands as a bastion of Article 21 of the Constitution’s Right to Personal Liberty, began when the petitioner’s passport was detained by the authorities under the terms of the Passport Act.
FACTS OF THE CASE:
- Maneka Gandhi received her passport on July 1, 1976, under the old Passport Act 1967. After three days, she got a letter from the Passport Officer nominally in charge in Delhi, dated July 2, 1977, informing her that the Union government had chosen to confiscate her passport under Section 10(3) of the Passport Act 1967 “in the public good.” The minister was given one week to surrender her passport after receiving the letter.
- Maneka Gandhi wrote to the Regional Passport Officer, requesting a copy of the reasons for sending the order under the act. On the 6th of July 1977, the Union Government’s Ministry of Affairs responded, indicating that the reason for impounding the passport was “in the interest of the general public” and declining to release a copy of the list of grounds for the impoundment.
- Maneka Gandhi, as a result, filed a writ petition under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, alleging that the seizure of her passport was a violation of her fundamental rights, specifically Article 14 (Right to Equality), Article 19 (Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression), and Article 21 (Right to Life and Liberty).
- Whether the right to go abroad is a part of right to personal liberty under Article 21?
- Whether the Passport Act prescribes a ‘procedure’ as required by Article 21 before depriving a person from the right guaranteed under the said article?
- Whether section 10(3)(c) of the Passport Act is violative of Article 14,19(1) (a)(g) and 21 of the constitution?
- Whether the impugned order of the Regional passport officer is in contravention of the principle of natural justice?
ARGUMENTS OF THE PETITIONER:
- The ‘Right to Travel Abroad’ is a derivation of the ‘Right to Personal Liberty,’ and no citizen may be denied this right until he or she follows the legal procedure. Furthermore, the Passports Act of 1967 makes no provision for the confiscation, revocation, or impoundment of a passport’s bearer. As a result, it is irrational and arbitrary.
- The assailed order is made in defiance of the norms of natural justice and is, thus, invalid, and invalid. The challenged order has the effect of restricting the petitioner’s right to free speech and expression under Article 19(1) (a), as well as his freedom to practice journalism under Article 19 (1). (g).
- Insofar as it breaches Article 21’s right to life and personal liberty, Section 10(3)(c) of the Passport Act is unconstitutional.
- For a passport to be seized under section 10 (3) (c) of the Passports Act 1967, public interest must be present at the time of impoundment, and the mere possibility of public interest appearing in the future is insufficient.
- The right to be heard, or Audi Altrem Partem, is universally recognised as a crucial component of natural justice principles. Even if these natural justice principles are not explicitly stated in any of the Constitution’s clauses, the spirit of Fundamental Rights conveys the essence of these ideas.
ARGUMENTS OF THE RESPONDENTS:
- The passport was taken, according to the respondent, because the petitioner had to appear before a government committee for a hearing.
- The Passport Law was not enacted with the intention of eroding fundamental rights in any way. Furthermore, the government should not be forced to explain why it is detaining or impounding someone’s passport for the public interest and national security. As a result, even if the statute violated Article 19, it should not be stricken down.
- Article 21 is fairly broad, and it includes the requirements of Articles 14 and 19. Any statute, however, can only be declared unconstitutional under Article 21 if it directly violates Articles 14 and 19. As a result, the legislation governing passports is not unconstitutional.
- Reiterating the premise set forth in A.K. Gopalan, the respondent argued that the term “law” as used in Article 21 cannot be understood in light of natural justice’s essential norms.
- Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, 1949
Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech etc
- All citizens shall have the right
- to freedom of speech and expression.
- to assemble peaceably and without arms.
- to form associations or unions.
- to move freely throughout the territory of India.
- to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India, and
- to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business
- Nothing in sub-clause (a) of clause ( 1 ) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.
- Nothing in sub-clause (b) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause.
- Nothing in sub-clause (c) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order or morality, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause.
- Nothing in sub-clauses (d) and (e) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of any of the rights conferred by the said sub-clauses either in the interests of the general public or for the protection of the interests of any Scheduled Tribe.
- Nothing in sub-clause (g) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the general public, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause, and, in particular, nothing in the said sub-clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it relates to, or prevent the State from making any law relating to,
- the professional or technical qualifications necessary for practicing any profession or carrying on any occupation, trade, or business, or
- the carrying on by the State, or by a corporation owned or controlled by the State, of any trade, business, industry, or service, whether to the exclusion, complete or partial, of citizens or otherwise.
- Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, 1949
Protection of life and personal liberty No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law
- Section 10(3) of the Passports Act 1967
The passport authority may impound or cause to be impounded or revoke a passport or travel document, —
(a) if the passport authority is satisfied that the holder of the passport or travel document is in wrongful possession thereof.
(b) If the passport or travel document was obtained by the suppression of material information or on the basis of wrong information provided by the holder of the passport or travel document or any other person on his behalf: 5 [Provided that if the holder of such passport obtains another passport, the passport authority shall also impound or cause to be impounded or revoke such other passport.] 1[Provided that if the holder of such passport obtains another passport, the passport authority shall also impound or cause to be impounded or revoke such other passport.]”
(c) 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.
(d) if the holder of the passport or travel document has, at any time after the issue of the passport or travel document, been convicted by a court in India for any offence involving moral turpitude and sentenced in respect thereof to imprisonment for not less than two years;
(e) if proceedings in respect of an offence alleged to have been committed by the holder of the passport or travel document are pending before a criminal court in India.
(f) if any of the conditions of the passport or travel document has been contravened.
(g) if the holder of the passport or travel document has failed to comply with a notice under sub-section (1) requiring him to deliver up the same.
(h) if it is brought to the notice of the passport authority that a warrant or summons for the appearance, or a warrant for the arrest, of the holder of the passport or travel document, has been issued by a court under any law for the time being in force or if an order prohibiting the departure from India of the holder of the passport or other travel document has been made by any such court and the passport authority is satisfied that a warrant or summons has been so issued or an order has been so made.
- Though the court’s momentous decision changed the complexion of the Constitution, it said that, while the maxim employed in Article 21 is “procedure established by law” rather than “due process of law,” the method indicated must be devoid of the vices of irrationality and arbitrariness.
- The court reversed Gopalan, noting that the provisions of Articles 14, 19, and 21 have a unique connection, and that every statute must pass the criteria set out in those articles. The majority in the Gopalan case previously concluded that these prohibitions are mutually incompatible. As a result, the court determined that these clauses are not mutually exclusive and are reliant on one another, correcting an earlier error.
- Neither Article 21 nor Article 19(1)(a) or 19(1)(b) of the Passport Act of 1967 are violated by Section 10(3)(c) (g). The court went on to say that the 1967 measure was not in violation of Article 14. Because the clause allows for an opportunity to be heard. The petitioner’s claim that the term “in the interests of the general public” is not ambiguous was dismissed by the court.
- Sections 10(3)(c) and 10(5) are administrative orders, according to the court, and thus subject to appeal on the grounds of mala fide, unreasonableness, denial of natural justice, and supra vires.
- The court further advised the government to disclose reasons in every case and to only apply the prerogative of Section 10(5) of the 1967 statute on rare occasions.
The most important component of the ruling was the interconnection it established between the requirements of Articles 19, 14, and 21. The supreme court rendered these clauses inseparable and formed a single entity by tying them together. To be legitimate, any process must now fulfil all the conditions outlined in these three paragraphs. As a result, this decision greatly expanded the extent of human liberty while preserving the basic and constitutional right to life. This decision, in addition to safeguarding individuals from the Executive’s unchecked acts, also safeguarded the integrity of legislative legislation by refusing to strike down Sections 10(3)(c) and 10(4) of the 1967 Act (5).
The Supreme Court’s decision paved the way for the right to clean water, clean air, freedom from noise pollution, standard education, speedy trial, fair trial, right to livelihood, legal aid, right to food, right to clean environment, right to medical care, and other important rights to be included in the scope of Article 21.
- A.K. Gopalan vs The State Of Madras