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Case Note, Maneka Gandhi V/S Uoi

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Case Note, Maneka Gandhi V/S Uoi
Case brief for maneka Gandhi
Date of judgment-25/01/1978
Bench:
BEG, M. HAMEEDULLAH (CJ), CHANDRACHUD, Y.V, BHAGWATI, P.N., KRISHNAIYER, V.R., UNTWALIA, N.L., FAZALALI, SYED MURTAZA, KAILASAM, P.S. (7 judges)
Citation: 1978 SCC (1) 248
The factual summary of Maneka Gandhi case is as follows;
Maneka Gandhi was issued a passport on 1/06/1976 under the Passport Act 1967. The regional passport officer , New Delhi issued a letter dated 2/7/1977 addressed to Maneka Gandhi , in which she was asked to surrender her passport under section 10(3)(c ) of the Act in public interest, within 7 days from the date of receipt of the letter. Maneka Gandhi immediately wrote a letter to the Regional passport officer New Delhi seeking in return a copy of the statement of reasons for such order. However the government of India, Ministry of External Affairs refused to produce any such reason in the interest of general public.
Maneka Gandhi then filed a writ petition under Article 32 of the constitution in the Supreme Court challenging the order of the government of India as violating her fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the constitution. The main issues before the court in this case were as follows;
–whether 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) and 21 of the constitution.
–Whether the impugned order of the regional passport officer is in contravention of the principles of natural justice.
Respondant argues • The words "in the interests of the general public" have a clearly well defined meaning.
• Section 10(3)(c) is not wider than the constitutional provision in Article 19(5) of the Constitution. • The Passport authority is required to record in writing a brief statement of reasons for impounding the passport and, save in certain exceptional circumstances, to supply a copy of such statement to the person affected,
• The power is exercised by the Central Government itself. So, it can safely be assumed that the Central Government will exercise the power in a reasonable and responsible manner. * Is Section 10(3)(c) of the Passport Act 1967 , violates the Article 19(1)(a) or (g) of the Indian Constitution?
Article 19. (1) All citizens shall have the right— – (a) to freedom of speech and expression; – (g) to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business. The right, which is sought to be restricted by Section 10(3)(c) and the order, is the right to go abroad and that is not named as a fundamental right. But the argument of the petitioner was that the right to go abroad is an integral part of the freedom of speech and expression and whenever State action, be it law or executive fiat, restricts or interferes with the right to go abroad, it necessarily involves curtailment of freedom of speech and expression.

* The right to go abroad could not possibly be comprehended within freedom of speech and expression, because the right of free speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) was exercisable only within the territory of India and the guarantee of its exercise did not extend outside the country and hence State action restricting or preventing exercises of the right to go abroad could not be said to be violative of freedom of speech and expression * Is Freedom of Speech and expression confined to the territory of India ?
The Union of India challenged that it was the basic propose of the Constitution that the fundamental rights guaranteed by it were available only within the territory of India, for it could never have been the intention of the constitution-makers to confer rights which the authority of the State could not enforce. Arguments of the Petitioner • These rights were conceived by the Constitution-makers not in a narrow limited since but in their widest sweep, for the aim and objective was to build a new social order where man will not be a mere plaything in the hands of the State or a few privileged persons but there will be full scope and opportunity for him to achieve the maximum development of his personality and the dignity of the individual will be fully assured. • Could the constitution-makers have intended that a citizen should have this freedom in India but not outside ? • Freedom of speech and expression carries with it the right to gather information as also to speak and express oneself at home and abroad and to exchange thoughts and ideas with others not only in India but also outside. • The words \"in the territory of India\" could have been added at the end of Article 19(1)(a). But it was deliberately refrained from using any words of limitation.
• While the constitutional debate was going on, the UDHR was adopted and most of the fundamental rights which is included in Part III were recognised and adopted by the U N as the inalienable rights of man in the UDHR. • Article 13 of the UDHR declared that \"every one has right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and import information and ideas …\". • This was the glorious declaration of the fundamental freedom of speech and expression - noble in conception and universal in scope - which was before them when the constitution-makers enacted Article 19(1)(a). * Is the right to go abroad covered by article 19(a) or (g) of the Indian Constitution?
The right of free speech and expression and right to profession can have meaningful content and its exercise can be effective only if the right to travel abroad is ensured and without it, the former rights would be limited by geographical constraints and restrains. * Whether the impugned order is intra vires Section 10(3)(c) of the Passport Act 1967? The responded claims the order was according to the stated sec. But the petitioner claims that the order was violating the section, because according to the section the authority should give the reason. But the responded hadn’t. so, .. * Is the impugned order Constitutionally valid?
A gross violation of the natural justice embodied in the maxim audi alteram partem. Therefore, null and void. * It would be entirely for the Commission of Inquiry to decide whether her presence is necessary or not . But the impugned order was on the basis of a mere opinion by the Central Government that the petitioner is likely to be required in connection with the proceeding before the Commission of Inquiry was, in the circumstance, clearly unreasonable * It is also violative of the Art. 19(2)(6) (The tests of validity of restrictions imposed upon the rights covered by Article 19(1) will be found in clauses (2) to (6) of Article 19.) Judgment (1) To the extent to which Section 10(3)(c) of the Passports Act, 1967 authorises the passport authority to impound a passport \"in the interests of the general public\", it is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution since it confers vague and undefined power on the passport authority; (2) Section 10(3)(c) is void as conferring an arbitrary power since it does not provide for a hearing to the holder of the passport before the passport is impounded; (3) Section 10(3)(c) is violative of Article 21 of the Constitution since it does not prescribe 'procedure' within the meaning of that article and the procedure practised is worst. • (4) Section 10(3)(c) is against Articles 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(g) since it permits restrictions to be imposed on the rights guaranteed by these articles even though such restrictions cannot be imposed under Articles 19(2) and 19(6). • A new doctrine of Post decisional theory was evolved.
Conclusion:
The Supreme Court in this case reiterated the proposition that the fundamental rights under the constitution of India are not mutually exclusive but are interrelated. According to Justice K. Iyer, ‘a fundamental right is not an island in itself’. The expression “personal liberty” in Article 21 was interpreted broadly to engulf a variety of rights within itself. The court further observed that the fundamental rights should be interpreted in such a manner so as to expand its reach and ambit rather than to concentrate its meaning and content by judicial construction. Article 21 provides that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except in accordance with procedure established by law but that does not mean that a mere semblance of procedure provided by law will satisfy the Article , the procedure should be just , fair and reasonable. The principles of natural justice are implicit in Article 21 and hence the statutory law must not condemn anyone unheard. A reasonable opportunity of defense or hearing should be given to the person before affecting him, and in the absence of which the law will be an arbitrary one.
One of the significant interpretation in this case is the discovery of inter connections between Article 14, 19 and 21. Thus a law which prescribes a procedure for depriving a person of “personal liberty” has to fulfill the requirements of Article 14 and 19 also. Moreover the ‘procedure established by law’ as required under Article 21 must satisfy the test of reasonableness in order to conform with Article 14.
Justice Krishna Iyer in this case observed that, “the spirit of man is at the root of Article 21”, “personal liberty makes for the worth of the human person” and “travel makes liberty worthwhile”. The court finally held that the right to travel and go outside the country is included in the right to personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21. Section 10(3) (c) of the Passport Act is not violative of Article 21 as it is implied in the provision that the principles of natural justice would be applicable in the exercise of the power of impounding a passport . The defect of the order was removed and the order was passed in accordance with procedure established by law.

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