If a person is sent to jail then even if he is subsequently released, his reputation may be irreparably tarnished. this then is violative of Article 21 of the Constitution.

The above ratio in Deepak Bajaj v. State of Maharashtra adds to the series of ridiculous judgements that the Court has been giving off late. Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees the right to life and personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law. In time, the Court has interpreted this Article to include ‘Due Process’, the right to health, environment, clean and pure air, education etc..

Article 21 makes a case for the Supreme  Court to incorporate postive rights and its expansion defeats the intention of the framers that read it in the context of preventive detention and criminal law.

But the point with the judgement is not the it has merely read reputation into Article 21. It is that the Court has gone at length about ratios and obiter and their persuasive value and the judgement could have sustained without this reading of Article 21. The case actually dealt with the issue of whether a preventive detention order could be challenged even before it was executed. While the Court relied heavily on other sources and authorities to hold that it could, in about two paragraphs Katju J. summed up that his self- reputation would also be damaged if he were not allowed to do so and that this would be violative of Article 21.

The Judgment quoted Lord Halsbury, L.C., in Quinn vs. Leathem, 1901 AC 495 :

“Now before discussing the case of Allen Vs. Flood (1898) AC 1 and what was decided therein, there are two observations of a general character which I wish to make, and one is to repeat what I have very often said before, that every judgment must be read as applicable to the particular facts proved or assumed to be proved, since the generality of the expressions which may be found there are not intended to be expositions of the whole law, but are governed and qualified by the particular facts of the case in which such expressions are to be found. The other is that a case is only an authority for what it actually decides. I entirely deny that it can be quoted for a proposition that may seem to follow logically from it. Such a mode of reasoning assumes that the law is necessarily a logical Code, whereas every lawyer must acknowledge that the law is not always logical at all.

It further stated that the Court must clearly differentiate between ratio and obiter of a case and that it is only the ratio that must be taken as binding in a subsequent case. The interesting issue that then arises then is whether this interpretation of Article 21 would then be applicable and binding on subsequent cases? Surely justice Katju should have answered this question while giving his ruling and opinions about ratio and binding nature in judgments.