Write a critical note on Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, AIR 1978 SC 597

By | June 27, 2021
Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series

Question: Write a critical note on Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, AIR 1978 SC 597. [UPJS 2012]

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [Write a critical note on Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, AIR 1978 SC 597.]

Answer

In the present Maneka Gandhi Case, the petitioner, Maneka Gandhi was a journalist whose passport was issued on June 1, 1976, under the Passport Act 1967. The regional passport officer, New Delhi issued a letter dated July 7, 1977, addressed to Maneka Gandhi in which she was asked to surrender her passport under Section 10(3)(c) [4] of the Act in the public interest within 7 days from the date of receipt of the letter. As soon as the petitioner got the notice of such impound, she responded to the authorities asking for specific detailed reasons as to why her passport shall be impounded as provided in Section 10(5) [5] of the Passport Act.

The authorities, however, answered that the reasons are not to be specified in the “interest of the general public”. In response, the petitioner filed a writ petition under Art 32 for violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution alleging that Section 10(3)(c) of the Act was ultra vires the constitution.

With regards to Article 21, the court held even though the phrase used in Article 21 is “procedure established by law” instead of “due process of law” as found in the American constitution, the procedure must be free from arbitrariness and irrationality.

Even though the Constitution makers must be respected, but they never intended to plant such a self – a destructive bomb in the heart of the Constitution. They were never of the mind that the procedure need not necessarily be reasonable, just, and fair. They drafted this Constitution for the protection of the “people of India” and such interpretation of Article 21 will be counter-productive to the protection offered by the Constitution.

The court widened the scope of the “personal liberty” clause under Article 21. It was held that the scope of “personal liberty” is not be construed in a narrow and stricter sense. The court said that personal liberty has to be understood in the broader and liberal sense. Therefore, Article 21 was given an expansive interpretation. The court obligated the future courts to expand the horizons of Article 21 to cover all the Fundamental Rights and avoid construing it in a narrower sense.

Finally, it held that the right to travel abroad is within the scope of guarantees mentioned under Article 21 and Section 10(3)(c) & 10(5) is an administrative order, therefore, open to challenge on the grounds of mala fide, unreasonable, denial of natural justice and ultra vires to the provisions of Constitution.


Important Mains Questions Series for Judiciary, APO & University Exams

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  3. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-II
  4. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-IV
  5. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-V
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  10. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-X

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