Sitaram Yechury v. Union of India , 2019

Author: Ms. Sakshi Garge

Background of the case:

The case of Sitaram Yechury v. Union of India was a Writ Petition filed in the Supreme Court of India. This was a Habeas Corpus writ petition case filed by the petitioner Mr. Sitaram Yechury, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of India. The object of this petition was to produce the other member of the party[1] Mr. Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami. This Habeas Corpus petition challenged the Constitutional validity and illegality of the detention imposed on the member, Mr. Tarigami.

This became the landmark judgment by the Supreme Court of the year 2019, and popularly known as the “Jammu and Kashmir Habeas Corpus case”. This case was just after the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India[2] in August 2019.

HABEAS CORPUS – the Habeas Corpus is the remedy available to the Supreme Court and High Courts of India. Article 32 of the COI, provides 5 writ petitions. The exact meaning of this Latin term is we want to have the body. This used against the state when there is illegal detention or prevention of personal liberty under Article 21 of the COI.

Details of the case:

Name of the petitioner: Sitaram Yechury

Name of the Respondent: Union of India

Case: Writ Petition (Criminal) 229/2019.

Facts of the case:

  • A habeas corpus petition was filed by the petitioner for even after trying, he was detained to ask about his follow co-member Mr. Tarigami in the state of Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 of COI and lockdown was imposed in the state.
  • When the petitioner tried to visit in person, a member of the same Communist Party, he was detained by the Government stating reasons of security of the state.
  •  The reason stated by the petitioner to visit was the ask about and his member was not in better health conditions and wishes to visit in person.
  • Then, the petitioner filed a writ petition of habeas corpus for orders from the apex court to bring his member, Mr. Tarigami to A.I.I.M.S (All India Institute of Medical Sciences), New Delhi for better health and medical facilities.

Issues of the case[3]:

Whether under orders of the court, the petitioner would like to go to the state of Jammu and Kashmir to meet Mr. Tarigami, so as to ascertain his whereabouts and welfare?

Rule:

  • Article 32- Right to Constitutional Remedies, a Fundamental Right, of the Constitution of India, 1949.

Arguments:

Arguments by the Petitioner:

  1. The habeas corpus petition filed under Article 32 of the COI, challenges the validity of the detention imposed on Mr. Md. Yousuf Tarigami under Article 21 of the COI.
  2. The petitioner also stated that his member friend, Mr. Md. Y. Tarigami of the Community Party needs better medical facilities as soon as possible.

Argument by the Respondent:

  1. It was claimed that the health of Mr. Md. Tarigami is tracked every day and observed daily, stating he is in better condition, said the Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta[4].

Decision[5]:

Judgement of the Supreme Court-

The Supreme Court permitted Mr. Sitaram Yechury, the petitioner, to visit his member friend, by Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta[6]. The visit to Jammu and Kashmir was permitted on due consideration with certain restrictions on his meet with Mr. Tarigami only for the above-said purpose of asking about his health and for no other purpose. If in any case, the petitioner found indulging in any activity, omission, or commission other than stated, then it will be treated as a violation of the court’s order.

Accordingly, the court passed orders to the senior superintendent of Police for security, travel, and help to reach its member friend, if required to Sitaram Yechury. Also, the petitioner had to report to the officials as and when he is back to Delhi supported with an affidavit mentioning the purpose of his visit as indicated.   

Precedents:

  • Chiranjit Lal Chowdhari v. Union of India[7]:

In this case, the supreme court bench ruled that the 5 writ petitions available under the Fundamental Rights, Article 32 of the COI, can issue directions and orders like (a) Habeas Corpus (b) Mandamus (c) Certiorari (d) Prohibition (e)     Quo Warranto which so ever is applicable.

  • Ram Manohar Lohia v. State of Bihar[8]:

In the above case, the constitutional bench ruled that even when in the situation of emergency may have imposed on, or where the law detains a person, yet the detention orders can be challenged through the writ petition of habeas corpus (bring the body) under the Article 32 stating Fundamental Right to Constitutional Remedy if it was malafide or illegal.

Analysis:

The Constitution of India, 1949 guarantees the Fundamental Right to its citizens under Chapter III of the COI. The right to Constitutional Remedies is guaranteed under Article 32 of the COI. The constitution gives power to Supreme Court u/a 32 to file a writ petition either of the 5 (Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Certiorari, Prohibition, Quo Warranto). These writs are guarantors of the Supreme Court where any citizen of India can access if there is a violation of the Fundamental Right.

In this case, the writ filed was Habeas Corpus means to bring the body or we want to have a body and requires the person to be brought in front of court proving its illegal detention. Till it is proved the arrest made was on lawful grounds, the court secures the person from detention. This was just after the abrogation of Article 370 giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir and lockdown was thus imposed and hence the visit was detained in the state for security reasons.

But, by using these writs citizens can move to court if there is any infringement of fundamental rights. Hence, the apex court directed the government to remove the detention put on Mr. Sitaram Yechury and can visit and meet his member friend Mr. Md. Yousuf Tarigami.

Similarly, the High Court guarantees the constitutional remedies under Article 226 of the COI. This article not only guarantees the fundamental rights but other rights too if violated. The High Court jurisdiction is wider than the Supreme Court as Art. 32 covers remedies only to fundamental rights whereas the High Court as Art. 226 covers all other rights.

 Thus, these writs assure the ‘Justiciability’.

Conclusion:

To conclude, it is Article 32 of the Constitution of India, ensures the guarantee of its citizens by enforcing fundamental rights by the Supreme Court, which is the Custodian of the Constitution.


Reference

[1] Communist Party of India from Jammu and Kashmir.

[2] Henceforth referred as COI.

[3] https://www.livelaw.in/pdf_upload/pdf_upload-363718.pdf

[4] Adv. In the Bench for the case for state of Jammu and Kashmir

[5] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/83268785/

[6] https://www.livelaw.in/pdf_upload/pdf_upload-363718.pdf

[7]  AIR 41 1951, SCR 869 1950

[8] AIR 740 1966, SCR (1) 709

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