ADM Jabalpur case analysis

The author has analyzed the famous case of ADM Jabalpur against Shivkant Shukla. The entire article is divided into seven headings for brevity and relevance.

Case Title – ADM Jabalpur Vs. Shivkant Shukla

Quote – 1976 (2) SCC 521; AIR 1976 SC 1207

Dish – Supreme Court of India

Bank – ANRay, Hans Raj Khanna, Mirza Hameedullah Beg, YVChandrachud, PNBhagwati


One of the greatest challenges to the independence and integrity of the judiciary was the late Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi issued a proclamation by the then President, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad, in accordance with Article 352, Paragraph 1 of the constitution. In this situation, the government declared that there was a serious emergency in which the security of our country was threatened by internal unrest.

Background of the case

This imposition of an emergency was not a sudden decision at all. This entire scenario began when Smt. Indira Gandhi’s election to Lok Sabha has been contested in the Allahabad High Court. Justice Sinha at that point convicted her of unfair practices and declared her election null and void. This only meant that from now on she will no longer be able to exercise her office for the next six years.

Indira Gandhi appealed to the Supreme Court but was granted conditional residency. In order to regain the power that had been neglected by the aforementioned judgment, she also decided to invoke the constitution and to declare a state of emergency on June 26, 1975.

This step asserted the power under Article 359 (1) and with it the right to go to the Apex Court to enforce Article 14, which deals with the right to equality, and Article 21, which deals with the right to life and personal freedom goes, and Article 22, which talks about protection from detention in certain cases, has been suspended.

Once these provisions were enforced, those believed to be political opponents or critics were taken into custody.

AB Vajpayee, Jay Prakash Narayan, and Morarji Desai were among the people arrested under the Homeland Security Act (MISA), which provided custody without trial.

Several people who resisted the Prime Minister’s movements were illegally arrested and put behind bars. Many individuals arrested under the MISA Act have turned to various high courts under the provisions of Article 226 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to constitutional remedies to ensure the freedom of their loved ones through the use of writing Habeas corpus This is a relief when someone is illegally detained. Some have even received favorable orders.

The government at the time dealt with these high courts and appealed to the Supreme Court of India in the case of ADM Jabalpur against Shivkant Sharma.


The main problem has been that if an emergency is imposed and Articles 14, 21 and 22 are suspended, a habeas corpus letter can be upheld in court and then relief can be given to a person.

The petitioner’s arguments

The state argued that the main objective of providing emergencies is to give the executive special powers so that they have complete control over the law and order of the nation, since the emergency situation is of utmost importance in fragile situations.

It has also been argued that when a person is detained, the detention order cannot be challenged as false as there are no valid grounds for detaining a person. If an emergency is declared, a person loses article 19 of the Constitution and if a person breaks article 22, this cannot be questioned in the procedure of Habeas Corpus, given the possibility of filing an application with the court during the emergency situation.

It was found that the restriction of such a right was made by order of the President and accordingly could not be called into question. A presidential order made under Rule 359 is issued in special circumstances and the court has no power to question the reasons or to hold a habeas corpus petition.

Respondents’ arguments

Respondents argued that the real aim of Article 359 is to remove any kind of legislative power from the legislature at the time of the imposition of an emergency. The article prohibits moving to the Apex Court to enforce certain rights, but there is no prohibition on going to the High Courts of India to enforce the legal rights of personal freedom under Article 226.

It has been alleged that this presidential order violates the principle of natural law and other underlying fundamental principles of law. If a law on preventive detention has been introduced, it should comply with the conditions laid down by the law.

It has also been argued that Article 21 is not the only torchbearer of the right to life and personal freedom. There are rights that are not fundamental rights, but legal or natural rights. These rights are not affected by the presidential order and cannot be taken away.

In addition, it was further argued that if the state has enacted a law on detention, that detention should be very much within the scope of the law. If the conditions are not met, it would be beyond the power of the law.


This case was tried by a bank with five judges. Four out of five judges ruled in favor of the state and believed that during an emergency, the fundamental rights that the Indian Constitution guarantees citizens should not be available. All rights expire in the light of the President’s order.

In addition, it was decided that none of the country’s citizens should have the opportunity to move the High Court over a habeas corpus pleading, if the presidential decision so provides, and that all other judicial proceedings will remain suspended until the state of emergency continues.

However, Judge Hans Raj Khanna gave a dissenting judgment, and this dissenting judgment paved the way for the future development of the law. He believed that Article 21, which deals with the right to life and personal freedom, is the basic principle of society and that the state cannot deprive a citizen of his life and personal freedom without proper legal authority.


“ADM Jabalpur vs. Shivkant Shukla”, also known as “Habeas Corpus”, has been widely criticized for favoring the state rather than advocating for individual freedom. Immediately after the state of emergency ended, the Apex Court changed its stance by making Article 21 permanent and further linking Article 21 with Article 14 and Article 19 of the Constitution.

This case was overturned by the Supreme Court of India in the landmark judgment of the Puttaswamy (Right to Privacy) case in 2017.

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