Right to Liberty not Negotiable: Supreme Court

Published: June 12, 2019

Ordering the release of the freelance journalist, the Supreme Court said that fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India and in particular Articles 19 and 21 are non-negotiable.

What was the Case before SC?

A Freelance journalist by name Prashant Kanojia was arrested for allegedly making objectionable comments against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on social media. When produced before the jurisdictional Magistrate an order of remand till 22.06.2019 this led to custody for about 13/14 days.

What did the SC say?

  • SC termed Kanojia s arrest as excessive and made clear that its order for his release on bail should not be read as approval of his social media posts.
  • SC stated that the order was passed in view of the excessiveness of the action taken.
  • Supreme Court cannot be sitting back and watching a citizen being deprived of his personal liberty for his social media posts.
  • Liberty guaranteed under fundamental rights is sacrosanct. The order of SC must be seen as an endorsement of his right to personal liberty.
Article 32
  • Dismissing the government’s arguments of not approaching High Court before filing the plea in Supreme Court, the SC stated that Court does not ordinarily entertain Article 32 petition as a matter of self-imposed discipline and considering the pressure of mounting cases on the Supreme Court.
  • Therefore it has become the practice of the Supreme Court to ordinarily direct that the High Court first be approached even in cases of violation of fundamental rights.
  • But Article 32 is itself a fundamental right and cannot be rendered nugatory in a glaring case of deprivation of liberty.

The Supreme Court further stated that in exercise of power under Article 142 of the Constitution of India, this Court can mould the reliefs to do complete justice.

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