Maneka Gandhi v Union of India : A Case Analysis

Applicant (Maneka Gandhi) was a reporter whose passport was issued under Passport Act 1967 on June 1, 1976. Later, on July 2, 1977, a letter was sent from the New Delhi Regional Pass Officer instructing the submission of her passport. When asked about the reasons for the seizure of passports, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not disclose because of ‘public interest’ reasons. As a result, the applicant (Maneka Gandhi) submitted an application in accordance with Article 32 of the Constitution of India, claiming that the confiscation of the passport violated the basic rights, namely Article 14 (Equality before the Law), Article 19 (Freedom Speech of Expression) and Article 21 (Right to Life and Freedom) of the Indian Constitution.

Citation: 1978 AIR 597, 1978 SCR (2) 621


  • If basic rights are absolute or conditional and by what extent these Fundamental Rights are provided to people by The Constitution Of India?
  • Does the article include “right to travel abroad”?
  • What is the relationship between the rights guaranteed in the Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution?
  • Do the provisions of Section 10.3 (c) of the Passport Act of 1967 violate basic rights?
  • Does the controversial local passport inspector’s order violate the standards of natural justice?

Contentions of parties

Petitioner’s Contention

1- “Overseas Travel Rights” arise from the rights granted under “Personal Freedom” and, in addition to following the procedures stipulated by law, this right cannot be deprived. In addition, The Passport Act 1967 does not require a procedure to capture, or cancel a passport from the holder. Therefore, it is absurd and arbitrary.

2- Moreover, unlike Article 21 of the Constitution of India, the central government has made it impossible to hear the opinions of applicants. Therefore, it is important to determine the true meaning of Article 21 and its nature and safety.

3- All laws developed under the law must not allow arbitrariness and must adhere to the principles of natural justice.

4-To support the purpose of the Constitution and to carry out its spirit, fundamental rights must be taken into account together, in which case the articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India must be read together.

5-Due to the fact that they are individuals, the basic rights are owned by each individual and are guaranteed against the exploitation of the state. Therefore, these basic rights must be broad and detailed to provide the best protection.

6-In order to create an orderly and civilized society, the freedom of people must be controlled, and therefore the constitutional parliament has obtained the impartial restrictions stipulated in Article 19 (2) to (6) of the Indian Constitution. However, the restrictions imposed in this situation do not include reasons for enforcement.

7-Article 22 of constitution of India allows exemption from arrest and detention in certain circumstances. In this situation, authorities illegally arrested her domestically and confiscated the petitioner’s passport without explaining why.

8-Kharak Singh v. State UP and others [1] have found that the word “personal liberty” is used as a collection, including all rights related to individual freedom, whether or not included in the constitution.

9-“Audi’s Alteram Party” is an integrated aspect of “Natural Justice”. The candidate was not given a chance to express.

10-The Passport Act of 1967 violates the “right to life and freedom”, so it is a super virus. In accordance with § 10 c of the 1967 Act, applicants are prohibited from travelling abroad.

Respondent’s Contention

1- The Indian Attorney General has argued that under all provisions of Article 19(1), “freedom to travel abroad” is never protected, so Article 19 has nothing to do with showing the rationality of the central government.

2- Passport law is not designed to remove fundamental rights. In addition, the government is not required to state why passports were confiscated or confiscated for the sake of public interest and national security. Therefore, even if Article 19 deviates from the norm, the rule cannot be ignored.

3-In addition, the applicant had to participate in the investigation in front of the committee where the passport was also confiscated.

4- Respondents introduced and repeated A.K.Gopalan’s theory. It is said that the word “law” mentioned in Article 21 of Gopalan [2] cannot be interpreted in light of the basic rules of natural justice.

5-In contrast, the idea of natural justice is undefined and contrasting. It should not be applied to articles that are ambiguous and contradictory as part of the constitution.

6-Article 21 is very broad and includes the provisions of Articles 14 and 19. However, any law that violates Article 21 can only be considered if it is clearly contrary to Articles 14 and 19. Passport Rules: So it is not. It is against the constitution.

7- Article 21 includes the term “procedures prescribed by law”, and such cases do not necessarily pass the test of rationality.

8- “While writing this Constitution, the authors of the Constitution carefully looked at “due process of the US law” and “British process” as defined by law. There seems to be an obvious prohibition of constitutional guarantees on due process. Represents the founder of this constitution.


The following was laid down by the Supreme Court of India:

1-Prior to the Passport Act of 1967, there was no law on the issuance of a passport if someone decided to leave their home country and settle abroad. They also provided unlimited passports, but the leaders were completely selective. In Satwant Singh Sawhney v. D Ramarathnam [3] “Personal freedom” also includes international travel and travel rights. Therefore, no such rights can be deprived except in the manner prescribed by law. In the absence of state laws that control or withdraw the rights of citizens in such circumstances, the confiscation of the applicant’s passport is a violation of Article 21, and as it is permissible and arbitrary, it also violates Article 14.

2- In addition, Article 10 (3) of the Passport Act of 1967 stipulates that, if the State deems it appropriate to cancel a passport, measures to affect the sovereignty and dignity of the state are taken. Or, in the public interest, the authorities must write down the reasons for such action and state the reason for the action on that date.

3- Instead, the state stated that there was no reason to seize the applicant’s passport, the action was reported to have been done “for the public good,” and respondents were found to believe they needed their presence for a case review. Under investigation. Explained that this is not for the public good and that ordinary citizens will not understand why this information has not been released or why they are taking a passport.

4- “They are not the exclusive or mutually exclusive basic rights set out in Part 3 of the Constitution.” Any law that deprives a citizen of personal liberty, in accordance with Article 19, must affirm one or more basic rights. The “premise” should be confirmed with reference to Article 14. The projection should be done in this way.

5-The term used in Article 21 does not mean “legitimate procedures”, which say that there are arbitrary and unreasonable procedures, but nevertheless, are “procedures prescribed by law”.

6-The principle of audi alteram partem, which is a fundamental component of the principles of natural justice, is clearly violated, so even if nothing is stated in the law, you cannot be accused of being unequal and unfair.

7-Article 10 (3) (c) of the Passport Act of 1967 does not violate constitutional rights and in particular, the Article 14, in which case the plaintiff is not subject to discrimination under Article 14 as the law gives the authorities unlimited power. The “public interest” logic is not ambiguous or unclear, but it belongs to some provisions that can be borrowed from Article 19.

8- It is true that constitutional rights are exercised in case of violations of certain rights and violations of the state. However, this does not mean that the right to freedom of opinion and expression can only be realized in India and not abroad. This does not mean that constitutional rights are not limited in this way because the activities of the state are limited by the territory.

9- Some rights related to human principles that are protected as basic rights, even if they are not expressly contained in our Constitution. For example, freedom of speech is protected even if it is not explicitly stated in section 19(1)(a).

10- The freedom to travel abroad is not part of the right to freedom of expression and speech, as they are both different in character.

11- A.K. Gopalan rejected the claim that the provisions of Articles 14, 19 and 21 are expressly linked and that such provisions must be confirmed in accordance with all laws. In the early days of Gopalan, the majority thought these provisions were mutually exclusive. Therefore, the court ruled that these provisions were not mutually exclusive or interdependent in order to correct the previous error.

Difference between “procedure established by the law” and “due process of law”-

A.K. Gopalan was the first case in which the Supreme Court did not admit “proceedings established by law” under “legal procedure”. However, in 1978, the case was dismissed in Maneka Gandhi, where the Supreme Court ruled that the seizure of passports was arbitrary. Judge Kania and A.K. Gopalan explained that the word “due process” mentioned in the article further interprets it and limits the judiciary’s authority to pursue its validity. However, thanks to Maneka Gandhi, a new precedent was created by expanding the vision for these two words.

“Procedure established by Law”

From the layman’s point of view, the procedures stipulated in the law are characterized by laws that have been properly adopted by the legislature in order to remain in force and must be followed if appropriate procedures are in place. Please check. According to court proceedings, this doctrine has the right to deprive everyone’s life or individual liberty. In short, it means that any law that has been properly passed is legal, even if it violates the standards of justice and fairness.

“Due process by Law”

It is a theory that lacks justice and arbitrariness to prove its effectiveness. If it is fair and not arbitrary, the Supreme Court may declare any law invalid. This doctrine protects all forms of human rights.

Critical Analysis

The defendant’s claim that any law was legal unless it was repealed was strongly criticized by judges.

By giving Maneka Gandhi a free understanding, the court had set the criteria for future generations to respect their constitutional rights. 

Today, in order to create the socio-economic and cultural rights under Article 21, the courts have the right to clean air, the right to clean water, the right to protection from noise, and the right to a prompt trial, right to legal aid, right to livelihood, right to food, right to treatment, right to clean environment, etc.

In law enforcement, the ruling opened up a new dimension, the PIL was highly valued, and the judges were interested in free interpretation wherever mainstream justice wanted it.


After this incident, the Supreme Court of India defended the meaning of the Constitution and became a watchdog in the spirit of the Constitutional Council that created the Constitution of India. Most judges were of the opinion that all statutes or provisions must be equal and reasonable and that existing laws may be considered arbitrary in the absence of them.

The judges ruled that laws that deprive individuals of liberty must be subject to investigation as provided for in Articles 21, 14 and 19 of the Constitution. In addition, Article 21 preserves the principles of natural justice, so no one is deprived of the right to be heard in court. It is also necessary to refer to the “Golden Triangle”, that is, Articles 14, 19 and 21 to declare that a law is unconstitutional.


[1] Kharak Singh v. the State of U.P, 1963 AIR 1295, 1964 SCR (1) 332.

[2] 1950 AIR 27, 1950 SCR 88.

[3] 1967 AIR 1836 , 1967 SCR (2) 525.

[4] The Constitution of India, a.14,19,21,22 and 32.

[5] The Passport Act 1967, s. 10(3)(c), 10(5)/


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