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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
  May 2016
  April 2016
Freedom of Movement and Personal Liberty - The word “Life” in Article 21 of the Constitution of India means not merely the right to the continuance of a person’s animal existence but a right to the possession of each of his organs– his arms and legs, etc.

Kharak Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh , AIR 1963 SC 1295

Facts: The petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India challenged the constitutional validity of Chapter 20 of the Uttar Pradesh Police Regulations and the powers conferred upon police officials by its provisions on the ground that they violate the rights guaranteed to citizens by Articles 19(1)(d) and 21 of the Constitution of India. So far as the detailed facts are concerned, the petitioner Kharak Singh was challenged in a case of dacoity in the year 1941 but was released under section 169 of Criminal Procedure Code as there was no evidence against him. On the basis of the accusations made against him he stated that the Police had opened a "history sheet" in regard to him and the Chaukidar of his village and some times police constables enter his house and shout at his door, wake him up during night and thereby disturb his sleep. On a number of occasions they had compelled him to get up from his sleep and accompany them to the police station to report his presence there. Also when petitioner Kharak Singh leaves his village for another village or town he has to report to the Chaukidar of his village or at the police station about his departure. He has to give them the information regarding his destination and the period within which he would return. Immediately the police station of his destination is contacted by the police station of his departure and the former puts him under surveillance in the same way as the latter.

In the Supreme Court the defence of State of Uttar Pradesh pointed out the support of its validity of action in two ways viz: (1) that impugned Regulations do not constitute an infringement of any of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution of India which are invoked by the petitioner Kharak Singh; (2) that even if they were, they have been framed "in the interest of the general public and public order" and to enable the police to discharge its duties in a more efficient manner and were therefore "reasonable restrictions" on that freedom.

Issue: Whether "Surveillance" under impugned Chapter 20 of the Uttar Pradesh Police Regulations constitutes an infringement of any of the citizen's fundamental rights as guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution?


The fundamental right of life and personal liberty have many attributes and some of them are found in Article 19. If a person's fundamental right under Article 21 is infringed the State can rely upon a law to sustain the action; but that cannot be a complete answer unless the said law satisfies the test laid down in Article 19(2) so far as the attributes covered by Article 19(1) are concerned. In other words, the State must satisfy that both the fundamental rights are not infringed by showing that there is a law and that it does amount to a reasonable restriction within the meaning of Article 19(2) of the Constitution. But in this petition no such defence is available, as admittedly there is no such law. So the petitioner Kharak Singh could legitimately plead that his fundamental rights, both under Articles 19(1)(d) and 21, were infringed by the State. Hence, on these grounds the petitioner Kharak Singh was entitled to issue of a writ of mandamus directing the respondent- State of Uttar Pradesh- not to continue visit to his house.

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