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ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla

Case Summary


The case of ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla, commonly known as the Habeas Corpus Case, is a pivotal legal proceeding in Indian constitutional history. It arose during the Emergency declared in India from 1975 to 1977, a period marked by widespread political repression and suspension of civil liberties. The case involved the interpretation of the fundamental right to personal liberty and the writ of habeas corpus, which safeguards individuals against arbitrary detention.


In the judgment delivered by the Supreme Court of India, the court held that during a proclamation of Emergency, the right to personal liberty, including the right to seek habeas corpus relief against unlawful detention, could be suspended. The court ruled that the President's proclamation of Emergency under Article 359 of the Constitution suspended the right to move any court for the enforcement of fundamental rights guaranteed by Articles 14, 21, and 22. Consequently, individuals detained under preventive detention laws during the Emergency could not challenge their detention through habeas corpus petitions. The judgment upheld the executive's authority to curtail fundamental rights during Emergency periods, leading to widespread criticism and controversy.


The ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla case had profound implications for the protection of civil liberties and the rule of law in India. The judgment starkly illustrated the judiciary's vulnerability to political pressures and its failure to serve as a check on executive power during times of crisis. The decision was widely criticized for undermining the basic principles of constitutionalism and the separation of powers. However, it also prompted introspection and debate, leading to significant constitutional amendments aimed at strengthening fundamental rights protections and judicial independence.

List of Linked Cases:

Additional District Magistrate, Jabalpur v. S. S. Shukla (1976)

Minerva Mills Ltd. v. Union of India (1980)

Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India (1978)

A.K. Gopalan v. State of Madras (1950)

Golaknath v. State of Punjab (1967)

Keshavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala (1973)