Author: Varnika Verma


1950 Cri LJ 1383


[1950] 1 SC R 88


Justice H.J. Kania, Chief Justice B.K. Mukherjea, Justice M.C. Mahajan, Justice M. Patanjali Sastri, Justice Sudhi Ranjan Das, Justice Saiyid Fazl Alli.


A.K.Gopalan was a politician who was detained in prison since 1947 and was detained under Preventive Detention Act, 1950. Petitioner challenged his detention through writ of Habeas Corpus under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution. Petitioner contended that various Sections of the said act violated article 13, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution. It was the first case which involved various articles and deals with the constitutionality of a statute. In this case, the first provision was declared ultra-virus of the constitution. In this case various issues were discussed at length at Apex Court. This case is popularly known as Preventive Detention Case.


  1. A.K. Gopalan had challenged the legality of detention order that was passed by the Parliament of India on the ground that Prevention Detention Act IV of 1950 had contravened the provisions of Article 13, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution and the provisions of that Act were also not in accordance with Article 22 of the Constitution of India.
  2. The petition was moved to the Supreme Court of India not for the sake of moving to the court only but also for the enforcement of some rights that are conferred by Part III of the Indian Constitution.
  3. However, the Court could not judge that the petitioner was entitled under Article 22(5) of the Constitution of India as the detenu must complain that both his substantive right under Article 22(5) as well as his right to Constitutional remedies under Article 32 had been infringed
  4. The grounds communicated with the detenu were not in conformity with Part III of the Constitution of India which made it void under Article 13(2).
  5. Therefore, the impugned act was a valid law except as to Section 14 of the said Act and in so far as it prevents grounds for being disclosed to court, the petition was dismissed by the Apex Court.


Whether section 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 are ultra-vires and violative of Articles 13, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India Article 19 and 21 are interrelated to each other in protection of life and liberty?

Whether the detention of the petitioner under the Preventive Detention Act, 1950 is illegal and Article 22 is the complete code in itself while dealing with the preventive detention cases?


Court applied the Doctrine of severability and declared section 14 void as the court finds it unconstitutional and violative of fundamental Rights whereas Section 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, and 13 were declared to be intra-vires the Constitution hence valid, Court asserted the principle of procedure established by law and declared the application of due process clause and international human  rights charters inapplicable in Indian premises. Court also found that the detention was legal and hence writ was despised of accordingly.

Apex court dismissed the contention that Article 19 and 21 are interrelated for protection of liberty of individuals. However this judgment was reversed in case of Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India (passport detention case), but still this judgement works as landmark decision in Preventive Detention cases.