Maneka Gandhi who is the petitioner in the case had her passport impounded by the Regional Passport Office under section 10(3) (c) of the Passport Act 1967. When the petitioner asked about the reason behind this, it was denied to her on the grounds that it was “in the interest of the general public”. Following this, a petition was filed by Maneka Gandhi, as in her opinion this was an act of violation of her fundamental rights under Article 14, Article 19 and Article 21.
Questions brought up in Maneka Gandhi Case
This case brought up some important issues:
- Are the fundamental rights provided to the citizens of India absolute rights or conditional rights?
- Does travelling abroad count as a personal liberty as mentioned in Article 21?
- Is section 10(3)(c) a violation against Articles 14,19 and 21?
- Article 21 requires ‘procedure’ to be followed. Does this ‘procedure’ need to be maintained by the Passport Act in this case?
- Has the order of the Regional Passport Officer gone against the essence of justice that the law seeks to provide?
Court’s Decision in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India
The decision under this case is important while comprehending the interlinked nature of Articles 14,19 and 21 and the provisions laid under them. The discussion made by the court can be concluded as:
- One of the important cases that played a role in the decision of the case was that of Satwant Singh Sawhney v. D Ramarathnam, in which the Supreme Court declared that the right to travel abroad is in fact a ‘personal liberty’ and therefore the act of impounding the petitioner’s passport was violative of Article 21 as well as Article 14.
- It was also contended that under section 10(3)(c) if the passport has been impounded then there must a proper reason which is conveyed to the passport holder, which had been failed to be carried out by the Regional Passport Office. However, this does not make this section a violation of Article 14.
- Article 19 protects citizens against the arbitrary exercise of power by officials, which too played a key role in the conclusion reached by the court.
- In a general sense, there was a transgression in terms of the natural justice being breached. Therefore, even though the relevant statutes are inconclusive on how to deal with a particular situation, it cannot be the case that it must result in an unjust result.
- The decision under A.K Gopalan was changed on the premise that each law in the constitution must comply with the particulars mentioned in Articles 14,19 and 21. As a result, a previous decision was overruled as the provisions of these articles must be in unison with the provisions of other statutes.
- A final suggestion made by the court is that the safeguards provided under section (10)(5) of the Passport Act be used only in cases when absolutely essential.
Relevance of this Case: Post-Decisional Hearing
This case proves itself to be an important case that brings together various aspects of the law. And therefore, one of the key contributions this case makes to the need for a post-decisional administrative hearing. Such a decision took place majorly because of the fact that on some occasions when wide public interest comes into question, prompt action must be taken. And even though Indian statutes do have the provision for post-decisional hearings, their application is rare and as a result, this case was an example that provided an impetus to the growing need for administrative law to be inclusive of this type of immediate decision-making.