Personal freedom

The expressions’ personal liberty’ and ‘personal freedom’ have, as we find in several books, a wider meaning and also a narrower meaning. In the wider sense, they include not only immunity from arrest and detention but also freedom of speech, freedom of association etc. In the narrower sense, they mean immunity from arrest and detention. I have shown, that the juristic conception of ‘personal liberty,” when these words are used in the sense of immunity from arrest, is that it consists in freedom of movement and locomotion.

I have also pointed out that this conception is at the root of the criminal law of England and of this country, so far as the offences of false imprisonment and wrongful confinement are concerned. The gravamen of these offences is restraint on freedom of movement. With these facts in view, I have tried to find out whether there is any freedom of movement known in England apart from personal liberty used in the sense of immunity from arrest and detention, but I find no trade of any such freedom. In Halsbury’s Laws of England (Edn. 2, Vol. 6, p. 891), the freedoms mentioned are the right to personal freedom (or immunity from detention or confinement), the right to property, the right to freedom of speech, the right of public meeting, the right of association, etc. Similar classifications will be found in Dicay’s “Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution’’ and Keith’s “Constitutional Law” and other books on constitutional subjects, but there is no reference anywhere to any freedom or right of movement in the sense in which we are asked to construe the words used in Art. 19 (1) (d).

In the Constitutions of America, Ireland and many other countries where freedom is prized, there is no reference to freedom or right of movement as something distinct form personal liberty used in the sense of immunity from arrest and confinement. The obvious explanation is that in legal conception no freedom or right of movement exists apart from what personal liberty connotes and therefore a separate treatment of this freedom was not necessary. It is only in the Constitution of free city of Danzig, which covers an area of 791 square miles, that we find these words, in Art. 75:- “All nationals shall enjoy freedom of movement within the city”.

There is, however, no authoritative opinion available to support the view that this freedom is anything different from what is otherwise called personal liberty. The problem of construction in regard to this particular right in the Constitution of Danzig is the same as in our Constitution. Such being the general position, I am confirmed in my view that the juristic conception that personal liberty and freedom of movement connote the same thing is the correct and true conception, and the words used in Art. 19 (1)(d) must be construed according to this universally accepted legal conception.


A. K. Gopalan-AIR 1950 SC 27 : (1950) SCR 88 : (1950) CriLJ SC 1383