A. K. Gopalan


State of Madras

(1950)SCR 88

Provisions Involved

Article19(Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc) Article21(Protection of life and personal liberty) Article22(Protection against arrest and detention in certain cases)


Ayillyath Kuttiari Gopalan was a communist leader imprisoned in Madras Prison under the Preventive Detention Act in 1950 and questioned his detention on the assertion that his civil liberty was being hindered because he had a right to equality under the law. The writ of Habeas Corpus was filed. It was controversial whether there was a violation of his fundamental rights, namely Articles 13, 19, 21, and 22, according to this brief and the provisions of the PREVENTIVE DETENTION ACT of 1950. The Council on behalf of the petitioner argued that the right to move was a fundamental right under Article 19, and therefore the defense attorney must demonstrate that the preventive detention law constitutes an appropriate restriction under the five provisions of Article 19 (2). The judge limited the scope of fundamental rights and read them in isolation from Articles 21 and 22, which contained guidelines for preventive detention. A foreign precedent such as the United Kingdom and the United States was used to limit the scope of Article 21.         


The case involved the following issues for determination of the case. The issues were as follows:

  • Whether section 7,8,10,11,12,13 and 14 of the Prevention Detention Act,1950 are ultra-virus and violates the Article 13,19 and 22. 
  • Whether the 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. 
  • Whether article 22 is the complete code in itself while dealing with the preventive detention cases. 



The judgement in this case is the most important verdict of the supreme court. The court dealt with all the issues rationally and the judgement are briefed as follow:         

  • Court applied the Doctrine of Severability and declared section 14 void as the court finds it unconstitutional and violative of the Fundamental Rights. 
  • Court declared section 7,8,10,11,12,13 as intra-vires to 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 found that the detention was legal and hence the writ was disposed of accordingly.