A.K. Gopalan v. State of Madras (1950 AIR 27, 1950 SCR 88)
It is one of the most common and known cases. This is the first case held by the apex court in which various articles of the Constitution of India contained in the Chapter on Fundamental Rights and were discussed. The main articles like 19, 21 & 22 were dealt with in this case. Nearly after 30 years of this case, the Apex Court did away with the restrictive view of the rights embrace therein, by Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India. Nevertheless, for the jurisprudence of Fundamental rights in India, it still makes an important part of the evolution. The most conspicuous feature of this case is its dissenting verdict given by Justice Fazl Ali, one of the two dissenting judges in a six judges bench. The dissenting judgment given by him back in 1950, went on to become an example of personal liberty and liberalized viewpoint for the fundamental rights.
In this particular case the petition was made by Mr. A. K. Gopalan under Article 32(1) of the Constitution of India, In pursuance of an order made under the Preventive Detention Act, 1950, a writ of Habeus Corpus was filed against his detention. Mr. A.K. Gopalan was a communist leader, and since December 1947 he had been under detention, as imprisonment under ordinary criminal laws he was convicted & sentenced. However, these convictions were overruled by the court. A.k. Gopalan when detained, on 1st March 1950, was served upon an order by the State Government of Madras, made under section 3 (1) of the particular Act, which confers upon the State or Central Government. After then he challenged in court the legitimacy of the order under the Act on the ground that the Act violates humans fundamental rights as the provisions given under Articles 13, 19 & 21, and the provisions of this Act 4 of 1950 of Madras State are not in conformity with Article 22 of Indian Constitution. Mr. Gopalan also contended that the order issued was malafide.
In the case of A.K. Gopalan v. the State of Madras, it was held by the majority judges that punitive and preventive detention were outside the ambit of Article 19 of the Constitution of India and hence the Preventive Detention Act, 1950 had not violated it. It was also contended by the court that the said article which provides protection to citizens who are free, therefore not the citizen whose freedom is restrained by law, and the question of enforcing Article 19(1) does not arise.
The Preventive Detention Act, 1950 has followed the valid procedure as in the form enacted by the state’s law and therefore the Apex court came upon the argument that it does not infringe upon the rights under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
Various provisions of the Preventive Detention Act, 1950 are covered under Article 22 and those which are not, are added through the aspects of Article 21. The Apex court held that Section 3 of the Act was justified and as it was valid to provide such discretionary powers to the executive, in addition with the majority court also agreed upon the validity of Section 7 and 11 of the Preventive Detention Act, 1950 as under Article 2(7)(b) the parliament has not mandatory power to set a minimum detention period and under Article 22(5) and 22(6) the right of representation which off to be heard verbally are not necessary. Section 14 of the said Act was also declared ultra vires because it contended the court’s right to determine the validity of detention.
It was held by the Supreme Court of India, that any of the sections of the Preventive detention Act, IV of 1950 has infringed the provisions of Part III of the constitution barring Section 14 of the Act, restricting the declaration of the grounds of detention. Section 14 of the Preventive Detention Act, IV of 1950 was declared Ultra Vires, nonetheless the declaration by the court did not affect the validity of the act as a whole.
The important dissent was given by Fazl Ali as he said, the court when analyzing fundamental rights violations needs to coordinately interpret the various Articles under Part III of the Constitution of India and not merely as silos. Further, Section12 and 14 of the Act while contravening Article 22 of the Indian Constitution were also contended to violating freedom and personal liberty of the individual. Moreover, Justice Mahajan differed in his conclusion and holding Section 12 to be ultra-vires while agreeing to the majority judges' interpretation.
The Fundamental rights through the reasoning of procedural by the due process are now read separately, as interpreted in the A.K. Gopalan’s case, which was denounced and the understands the substantive due process which was brought in for the upcoming cases. In the case of Maneka Gandhi v Union of India, the Apex court held that the procedure for Article 21 has to be just, fair and reasonable and also should be in accordance with the principles of equality and freedom under Article 13 and 19 of the Indian Constitution, thus the provisions of fundamental rights were established to be read together.
This is a landmark Judgement contended by the bench of 6 Judges where the majority opinion in the case was that article 21 which covering procedure established by law would simply mean the law established by the state. The meaning of Law in itself is intended upon, and it is contended that it would provide a too wide understanding of reading it within rules of natural justice as the connotations of natural justice leaving them formerly undefined. This verdict progresses from the idea of law and natural morals which are uncleared. Professor Hart, who said that there is a link between law and morals but there is no interdependence. The court in the said case exaggerated this reasoning through the interpretation that there is a specific standard set for law which is the formulation through legislation and legitimizes it.
Furthermore, it is well quoted by the court that law was meant to be understood as “jus” that is, a law in the abstract sense of principles of natural justice and not as “rex” that is, enacted law. The true form of legitimacy for any law is the recognition of the principles of natural justice.