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Title of the Case: Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India 1978 

Case Name Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India 1978
Equivalent citation 1978 AIR 597, 1978 SCR (2) 621
Date of judgement 25th January,1978
Court Supreme court of India
Case no. AIR 1978 SC 597
Case type Writ petition
Petitioner Maneka Gandhi
Respondent Union of India
Bench M. H. Beg (Chief Justice), Y. V. Chandrachud, V. R. Krishna Iyer, P. N. Bhagwati, N. L. Untwalia, S. Murtaza Fazal Ali, P. S. Kailasam
Referred Article 32,14,21 of the Constitution


Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India is regarded as a Supreme Court Case reported in AIR 1978 SC 597 which highlighted Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and changed the realm of Indian laws. Article 21 depicts Right to life and personal liberty which means freedom from restraint and physical coercion. Not only this case gave a new interpretation to Article 21 but also changed the whole outlook of chapter III of Indian Constitution. Earlier Article 21 gave protection against executive and not legislative action but after the landmark judgement of this case it gave protection against legislative actions also. The judgement was given by a 7 judge bench of the Supreme Court on 25th January,1978. 


1. The petitioner Maneka Gandhi was issued her passport on 1st june,1976 as per the passport act of 1976. Later on July 2, 1977 the regional passport officer (New Delhi) had ordered the petitioner to surrender her passport. 

2. When she asked about the reasons, the ministry of external affairs did not provide any reason for such confiscation and held that it was for the betterment of the “general public”.

3. Hence, the petitioner filed a writ petition under article 32 of the constitution of India for violating her fundamental rights which were article 14 (right to equality),article 19( right to freedom of speech and expression) and article 21(right to life and personal liberty). 


1. Whether the fundamental rights are absolute or conditional or what is the extent of it in the Indian Constitution? 

2. Whether “right to travel” is protected under Article 21? 

3. Is there any connection established between articles 14,19 and 21 of the constitution of India? 

4. What is the scope of “procedure established by law”? 

5. Whether sec 10(3)(c) of passport act,1967 is violative of fundamental rights? 6. Whether the order of a regional passport officer is a contravention of natural justice? 



1. Fundamental rights are given by birth to the citizen of a country and it is absolute in nature. It is given so that the state does not exploit the citizens. They are widely ranged and comprehensive. 

2. Right to travel is provided under the right to personal liberty . The passport act, 1967 also does refer to confiscating or revoking a passport of its holder. Hence it’s unreasonable and unlawful. 

3. To give spirit to the Indian constitution fundamental rights should be read with each other and as per this case the articles 14,19 and 21 have a mutual connection. 

4. Any procedure of law should be recognised against arbitrariness. 5. The passport act,1967 is violative of Indian constitution and hence it is ultra vires. Sec 10(3)(c) restrains a person from exercising article 19 i.e Right to life and personal liberty. 

6. An essential element of natural justice is “Audi alteram parten” which means a chance to be heard which was not provided to the petitioner. 


1. The government should not state any grounds for seizing anyone’s passport for public good and hence if there is such a law that contradicts with this it should be struck down.

2. Right to travel was never under the coverage of article 19 and hence article 19 is independent in its own way and its reasonableness shall be proved by the central Government. 

3. Article 21 is widely scoped and articles 14 and 19 are itself in it. Hence, article 21 can be termed unconstitutional if it directly infringes 14 and 19. 4. There is a mindful absence of procedure of law in the Indian constitution which the constitutional makers have reflected in it while drafting. It did not pass the test of reasonableness. 

5. With due reflection in the case of A.K Gopalan, Article 21 cannot be placed in the light of fundamental rules of natural justice. 

6. The petitioner was required to appear before a committee for an inquiry and hence her passport was revoked. 


1. Before the Passport Act,1967 came into force, no law was enforced for passport whenever any person wanted to leave his country and go abroad. In Satwant Singh Sawhney v. D. Ramarathnam, the Supreme Court held that personal liberty includes the right of locomotion and travel abroad. Hence no person will be revoked from these rights unless it is mentioned in the procedure of law. Since the state has not made any such law then it is violative of article 21, 19 and 14 and its grounds are unchallenged and arbitrary. 

2. As per sec 10(3)(c) is concerned the authority should hold a copy of the reason for seizing the passport and record a writing the reason for such an act and better if it provides a copy to the holder of the passport. 

3. The central government did not give any reason for such confiscation of passport and the reason they gave which was “for the benefits of the general public” was too explicit and no ordinary person would understand such reason. 

4. The fundamental rights of part III of the Constitution are neither distinctive nor mutually exclusive. The reasonableness must be mentioned in the procedure. 5. The procedure of law is the correct term instead of due process of law. 6. There is a clear infringement of the basic ingredient of Audi alteram partem. 7. The passport act is not violative of any fundamental rights specially article 14 of the Indian constitution. 

8. Unrestricted power to the authorities is not vague, rather it is protected by certain guidelines of article 19. 

9. Though the state’s actions are restricted to a territory, fundamental rights are not similar in the restricted manner. 

10. In A.K Gopalan, the majority held that the provisions of article 14,19 and 21 are itself mutually exclusive but in this case it was held that they are not mutually exclusive and are dependent on each other.


With the liberal interpretation of Maneka Gandhi case the upcoming generation will try to seek their basic rights whether or not mentioned in the part III of the constitution. The judges took wide interest in interpreting wherever it is necessary to interpret. This new side of interpretation took various routes in judicial activism and PIL’s. 


This case became a landmark case in the Supreme Court. Neither it safeguard the essence of the Indian constitution but also the motive of the Constitutional assembly. No person should be deprived of his opinion or voice inside the court. This legislation of articles 14,19 and 21 is also regarded as the Golden triangle.

Madhurima Math, a student of Department of Law, Calcutta University,6th semester,an intern under Legal Vidhya. 


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