AK Gopalan v. State of Madras [AIR 1950 SC 27]

AK Gopalan v. State of Madras [AIR 1950 SC 27]

Case Summary

Bench – Hiralal Kania, Saiyid Fazl Ali, M. P. Shastri, Meher Chand Mahajan, B. K. Mukherjee, S.R. Das.

Facts – In this case, the petitioner had been detained under the provisions of the Preventive Detention Act of 1950. The said Act enabled the authorities to take action for the prevention of a possible offence by an individual. Therefore, the action of preventive detention was taken on the grounds of ‘suspicion of wrongdoing’ by a certain individual concerned. As a response to this, the petitioner approached the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution for the purpose of his release from the said detention. Contended on the basis of Article 13, 19, 21 as well as 22 of the Constitution for establishing that his detention was illegal since the Act is in contravention to said Articles and hence is ultra vires.

Issues – Whether Preventive Detention Act of 1950 is in violation to the fundamental rights under Article 13, 19, 21 and 22 including protection against preventive detention, right to freedom and personal liberty?

Judgment – It was ruled by the court that the Act does not violate the provisions of Article 19, 21 and 22 which are also mutually exclusive. It was held that a provision of law which affects life and personal liberty of an individual cannot be held as unconstitutional solely on the basis that it does not follow \’due process\’ of natural justice. Furthermore, it was adjudged by the court that Article 21 has no protection against a legislative action under Article 22. Article 22 bestows the power to the Parliament regarding legislation on the subject of preventive detention. As per clauses 4, 5, 6 and 7 of Article 22 there are certain limitations to preventive detention. The court stated that any procedure which has been prescribed under a duly established Act of Parliament cannot be termed as void or invalid until and unless it is in contravention to Article 22. 

The court also further ruled that the words \’procedure established by law’ under Article 21 are that of different nature from the words used in the United States Constitution of’ due processes. The court further de-linked Article 19 from 21 on the basis that Article 19 gives rights solely to citizens while Article 21 is that of a general nature.

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