The Indian Supreme Court heard the A.K. Gopalan V. State of Madras
case on 15th December, 1950. This case is also known as the Preventive Detention
case. It is a landmark case in Indian Constitution law deal with the
interpretation of key fundamental rights under Article 19 and 21 of the Indian
Constitution .As it established a precedent for the protection of individuals'
rights under Preventive Detention laws .This was the first case after
independence of India.
Background of the Case:
A K Gopalan, commonly known as AKG, was a prominent communist leader for many
years he was detained by the state of the madras (now Tamil Nadu) under the
Preventative Detention Act, 1950. He claims that he has been imprisoned since
1947 without being put on trial. He challenged his detention on several grounds,
primarily arguing that it violated his Fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19,
and 21 of the Indian Constitution. He stated that he was not given a fair
hearing and the rules of natural justice didn't apply in his case.
Fact of the Case:
In 1950, he was again detained under the Preventive Detention Act, 1950. Then
Mr. Gopalan files a Writ petition under article 32(1) of the Indian Constitution
known as Habeas Corpus Writ. He argued that the order violated his fundamental
rights under Article 19 and Article 21. He said that the order against him was
done by mala fide intention. He also stated that Article 21's definition of
"procedure established by law" means due process of law. In his case the law was
not followed, which is a breach of article 21 of the Indian constitution.
Issue Raised Before The Court:
There are several issues in this case:
- Whether the Prevention Detention Act of 1950 violated the Indian
constitutions Article 14, 19, and 21?
- What is the scope of interpretation of the words-'procedure established
by law' as laid down in article 21 of the constitution?
- Is there relation between the article 19 and 21?
The Supreme Court of India's constitutional bench of Six heard the case and
delivered a decision on May 19, 1950.
Six judges name- M.H. Kania (CJI), Justice Saiyid Fazl Ali, Justice M. Patanjali
Sastri, Justice Mehr Chand Mahajan, Justice B.K. Mukherjee and Justice S.R. Das.
By the Petitioner:
The petitioner challenged the validity of the Preventive Detention Act, under
which he was detained, on the grounds that the Act passed by Parliament was not
in accordance with the standard of 'procedure established by law' prescribed
under Article 21 and was violative of constitutional protections under that
By the Respondent:
It was argued by the respondent State that the term 'procedure established by
law' means only any procedure established or prescribed by law made by the
State, whereas the petitioner argued that the expression procedure established
by law has to be interpreted in a wider sense. Needed Procedural due process was
understood in American constitutional law.
Ratio of the Court:
Six members of the Supreme Court's constitutional bench rendered a 5:1 majority
decision in this case. Justice Fazl Ali gave the dissenting opinion.
According to Justice Fazl Ali, It is permissible to
interpret the expression 'procedural established by law' as meaning what
American writers have read into the words "procedural due process", an
expression which does not exclude certain fundamental principles of justice. He
stated that this act should be struck down as unconstitutional as it violated
the basic principles of natural justice and human rights.
AK Gopalan judgment was delivered by a bench of six judges where the majority
opinion in the matter was that Article 21 which covered procedure established by
law would simply mean to established by the state. The Supreme Court determined
that there is no relation between Article 21 and 19 of the constitution. The
court also declared that in this case the natural justices were not violated.
The Supreme Court finally dismissed Mr. Gopalan writ petition which also upheld
the constitutionality of the Preventive Detention Act of 1950 held that it did
not violate the basic rights of the citizen under Article 19(1) (d) and 21 of
the Indian Constitution.
The case of A.K. Gopalan V. State of Madras
is one of the most important
case in which apex court of India interpreted the provision of Indian
constitution. It is a landmark case in the legal history of India. This case is
also important because it was one of the first cases in India where the natural
justice concepts were put into practice. This case is also important because it
established the principle that the Indian Constitution is a living document and
can be interpreted in the light of changing times and circumstances.
The Supreme Court interpreted Article 21's meaning in A.K. Gopalan V. State
of madras, restricted it by disregarding its true significance, and decided in
the government's favor.
After several years, the Supreme Court reversed this decision and upheld Justice
Fazl Ali's conclusion in Maneka Gandhi V. Union of India, 1978.
Conclusion of the Case:
In the A.K. Gopalan case, the court restricted the scope of Article 21 such that
it only refers to the freedom of individual's body and nothing else. It sparked
debate and future legal development that expanded the protection of personal
freedom and basic rights under Indian Constitution.
A.K. Gopalan and the State of madras is an important case in the history of
Indian law. The court case set essential precedents for Indian individual's
fundamental rights. It also explains the concept of 'Due processes in India. The
case created and clarified the doctrine of natural justice which states that the
government cannot act arbitrarily. This concept of natural justice is talks
about fairness and justice.
The case continues to be a significant turning point in the development of
Indian constitutional law and the harmony between personal freedoms and national