The Petitioner alleged that the police had been making frequent domiciliary visits, secretly picketing his residence and harassing him. The Petitioner argued that such surveillance violated his fundamental rights under Articles 19(1)(d) and 21 of the Constitution.
. The Petitioner, in arguendo, submitted that even if they were lawfully made, they must be declared void as violative of Petitioner’s fundamental rights under Articles 19(1)(d) and 21.
The State argued that the Petitioner had been charged and convicted in several criminal cases, and was a dangerous criminal whose conduct was evidence of his intention to lead a criminal life. It was thus necessary, in public interest, to put him under surveillance in order to prevent him from committing offences.
The Court dismissed the Petitioner’s first submission, as surveillance with the purpose of preventing further commission of offence was in furtherance of the objects of the Police Ac
but had held that domiciliary visits under Regulation 236(b) were unconstitutional.
This was because it construed ‘personal liberty’ under Article 21 to cover liberty, freedom and protection from intrusion in one’s own house
Justice K.S. Rao had held that domiciliary visits not only violated the freedom of unrestricted movement under Article 19(1)(d), but also constituted an interference with the right to privacy and impeded an individual’s enjoyment of their right under Article 21.
The Court observed that privacy-dignity claims could only be denied when an “important countervailing interest is shown to be superior” and the law infringing the right to privacy “must satisfy the compelling state interest test”. Accordingly, the right to privacy could only be interfered with in furtherance of a compelling and permissible State interest, which was of such importance that it could justify infringement of a right.
The Court held that even if it was assumed that the freedoms under Article 19 and Article 21 gave rise to a distinct fundamental right of privacy, this right could not be absolute and would be subject to restrictions on the basis of the compelling public interest test as under Article 19(5)
it was held that domiciliary visits would not automatically amount to an unreasonable restriction on the Petitioner’s privacy.
the Court held that presuming that the right to privacy is enshrined in suming that the right to privacy was enshrined in Article 21, it could only be restricted by a procedure established by ‘law’.
Regulation 856 had the “force of law” and thus fell within the caveat allowing abrogation of the right to life and liberty under Article 21.
question then was of whether the regulation amounted to an unreasonable restriction under Article 19(5). In this evaluation, the Court upheld the impugned Regulation by reading it narrowly, in order to save it from unconstitutionality. T
Domiciliary visits were to be limited to instances of a danger to community security, and not frequent or routine check-ups. Further, the Court advised the state to revise the Regulations while noting that they were on the verge of being unconstitutional, as they did not sit well with the ‘essence of personal freedoms’. The Court upheld the validity of the impugned regulations by interpreting their effects narrowly.
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