ADM Jabalpur v Shivkant Shukla - Habeas Corpus Case

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Apr 12, 2022, 7:55

India’s democracy was threatened at the time of the Emergency imposed on the country on 25th June 1975. At that time, we witnessed the darkest judgment by the Supreme Court in the ADM Jabalpur v Shivkant Shukla case.

ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla is famously also known as the Habeas Corpus Case. The roots of this case are traced back to 1976, when the apex court of India, the Supreme Court, held the Constitution above individual security and liberty.

Background of the ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla Case

When Indira Gandhi’s win in Lok Sabha was challenged by the Ahmedabad High court, Justice Sinha accused her of indulging in fraudulent activities to win the elections, barring her from elections for the next six years.

Indira Gandhi took the case to the Supreme Court, which only granted a conditional stay. So, she imposed an Emergency in the country on 26th June 1975. Former President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, by clause(1) Article 359, declared no person can move to any court for the enforcement of rights under Articles 14, 21 and 22 which were suspended during the emergency.

Political opponents, including A.B. Vajpayee and Morarji Desai, were arrested under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA), allowing no trial. They challenged the detention in High Courts and got support as well. The government again approached the Supreme Court to silence the High Courts in the ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla case.

Arguments of the ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla Case

The State argued that in the time of Emergency, the executive gets the power to take over the implementation of laws for the interests of the State. The right of people to reach out to the Courts regarding the aforementioned rights is taken under the provision of Article 359(1) which is not a breach of law.

The respondents in ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla argued that article 359(1) refrains citizens from approaching the court under Article 32, but it doesn’t include the common law and statutory rights of personal liberty in High Court that comes under Article 226. Right to Life is not limited to Article 21 and the Executive taking over the Legislative is against the constitutional principles.

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Majority’s Decision in the ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla Case

A 5-judge committee announced the decision in the Supreme Court. The majority of 4 judges, Chief justice A.N. Ray, Justice M. Hameedullah Beg, Justice P.N. Bhagwati and Justice Y.V. Chandrachud stated in ADM Jabalpur v. Suhivakant Shukla that, “In the period of public danger or apprehension the protective law which gives every man security and confidence in times of tranquillity has to give way to interests of the State.”

They also stated that personal liberty is the “Gift of Law”.

Justice H.R. Khanna's Viewpoint in the ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla Case -

Only Justice H.R. Khanna stood against the jury’s decision. He said, “…the principle that no one shall be deprived of his life and liberty without the authority of law was not the gift of the Constitution… it existed and was in force before the coming into force of the Constitution.”

He stated that the right to enquire about the matter and the writ of Habeas Corpus cannot be denied.

The decision of the ADM Jabalpur Case v. Shivkant Shukla case is said to be one of the most bizarre decisions taken by the Supreme Court in the history of Indian democracy.

This case highlighted the loopholes of our constitution, which were used by the Union Government to abuse fundamental rights in desperate times. Major amendments were made to the Constitution after this case.

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FAQs on ADM Jabalpur v Shivkant Shukla

Q.1. Who had the sole dissenting opinion in the ADM Jabalpur v Shivkant Shukla case?

Justice H.R. Khanna had the sole dissenting opinion in the ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla case.

Q.2. When was the decision of the ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla case overruled?

In 2017, The Supreme Court overruled the decision of the ADM Jabalpur case v. Shivkant Shukla case in K.S. Puttaswamy v. UOI.

Q.3. Which amendment came into the Constitution after the ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla case?

After the ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla case, the 44th Amendment was made to the Consitution.

Q.4. What is the other name for the ADM Jabalpur case v. Shivkant Shukla case?

The ADM Jabalpur case v. Shivkant Shukla case is also known as the Habeas Corpus case.