The Discomfort of ADM Jabalpur I

ADM Jabalpur must be confined to the dustbin of history. Hon’ble Justices Aftab Alam and A.K. Ganguly in Rajnath Chauhan, (2010) 14 SCC 209 were clear on that conclusion. Two months after the pronouncement of Judgment, Times of India carried the following headline:

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ADM Jabalpur is a flop movie, only remembered fondly for the stellar performance of Hon’ble Justice Hans Raj Khanna. “To the stature of such a man, the Chief Justiceship of India could add nothing”, said Nani Palkhivala. Another matter, Justice Khanna accepted his Padma Vibhushan in 1999.

Recently in Justice K S Puttaswamy v. Union of India, Writ Petition (Civil) No. 494 of 2012 the Majority Opinion in ADM Jabalpur was picked out of the dustbin only to be buried ‘ten fathom deep, with no chance of resurrection’.

“I fully agree with the view expressly overruling the ADM Jabalpur case which was an aberration in the constitutional jurisprudence of our country and the desirability of burying the Majority Opinion ten fathom deep, with no chance of resurrection.”

Hon’ble Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul

Hon’ble Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud thought it necessary to state once again that “Judgments rendered by the Four Judges constituting the Majority in ADM Jabalpur are seriously flawed”. He consigned ADM Jabalpur “to the archives, reflective of what was, but should never have been.”

In I R Coelho the SC took the view that ADM Jabalpur has been impliedly overruled by various subsequent decisions. In Justice K S Puttaswamy, for the first time in 40 years, the Majority Judgments in ADM Jabalpur were ‘expressly overruled’.

Senior Advocate, Sanjay Hegde tweeted:

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ADM Jabalpur has now journeyed from the haloed courts to the archives; from the archives to the dustbin of history; from the dustbin to sixty feet underground.

During the Kanhaiya Kumar in Jail episode, I had remembered the now redundant words (?) of Honb’le Justice Y.V. Chandrachud:

Counsel after Counsel expressed the fear that during the Emergency, the Executive may whip and strip and starve the detenu and if this be our Judgment, even shoot him down. Such misdeeds have not tarnished the record of Free India and I have a diamond-bright, diamond-hard hope that such things will never come to pass.”

I have a diamond-hard hope that ADM Jabalpur will resurrect again. Someone will dig ADM Jabalpur out of its grave and shoot it into space. It is all very indicative.