Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India case gave the landmark judgement which changed the dimension of expression “personal liberty” rooted in Article 21 of the Constitution of India and also increased the scope of it.
CITATION: 1978 SCR (2) 621
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 25th January 1978
BENCH: M.H Beg (CJ), P.N Bhagwati, Y.V Chandrachud, V.R Krishna Iyer, N.L Untwalia, S. Murtaza Ali.
RELEVANT PROVISIONS: Article 21 of Constitution of India
FACTS OF MANEKA GANDHI CASE:
- The petitioner was issued a passport under the Passport Act, 1967.
- By a letter dated 2.7.1977 she was asked to surrender her passport by the Regional Passport Officer under section 10(3) (c) of the Passport Act, 1967 in the public interest.
- After obtaining the letter, the petitioner wrote to Regional Passport Officer inquiring the reason behind such an order.
- The Regional Passport Officer failed to provide any reason for the surrender order.
- Therefore, the petitioner filed the writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India challenging the abovementioned order.
LEGAL ISSUES FRAMED:
- Whether the right to travel abroad is within the ambit of “personal liberty” asserted in Article 21?
- Whether any “procedure prescribed by law” which strips personal liberty under Article21 is arbitrary and against the principle of natural justice or not?
- Whether Section 10(3) of the Passport Act, 1967 violates Article 14, 19, and 21?
- Whether the order passed by Regional Passport Officer contravenes the principle of natural justice?
- Reliance was placed on the decision of A.D.M Jabalpur and Satwant Singh Sawhney v. D. Ramaratham Assistant Passport Officer Government of India.
- The bench opined that “personal liberty” protected and guaranteed by Article 21 is very wide and comprehensive and it includes the right to travel abroad within the ambit of personal liberty.
- While dealing with the issues of the grant, suspension, impounding, or cancellation of passport of an individual, many aspects need to be considered, the dealing of the particular individual with the authorities of other states, the activities which he has undertaken some concerns regarding national security also arises.
- Therefore, the grant of discretionary powers to the executive cannot be considered arbitrary and is an important power in the hands of the state to protect integrity.
- The orders passed under section 10(3) of the act should be established on some material ground even reasonable apprehension originating from creditable sources is sufficient cause.
- It is a well-settled principle it is the right of an individual to have a reasonable opportunity to be heard.
- The bench opined that the Central government was entirely unjustified when they withheld the explanations of the order from the petitioner and additionally was in breach of statuary provision.
- They even did not provide the petitioner the reasonable opportunity to be heard violating the principle of natural justice embedded in audi alteram partem.
- When any action of the executive deprives or restricts the fundamental rights of any entity, it is the responsibility to execute to proceed in such a manner which is not arbitrary, unreasonable or unfair.
DECISION IN MANEKA GANDHI CASE:
- The right to travel abroad is protected within Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
- Section 10(3) of the Passport Act, 1967 does not violate fundamental rights under the Constitution of India.
- The order passed by the Regional Passport Officer was quashed and Passport Authority was directed to return the passport of the petitioner.
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