[Book Release] Liberty After Freedom: A history of Article 21, due process and the Constitution of India by Rohan J Alva

The book is an eye-opening account of the origins and evolution of the right to life and personal liberty and how it mirrors the broader history of the Republic of India.
Liberty After Freedom
Liberty After Freedom

Rohan J Alva's Liberty After Freedom, which releases on February 10, explores the origins of what is today considered the most important fundamental right in the Indian Constitution – the right to life and personal liberty guaranteed by Article 21.

This is the Article responsible for making the right to privacy as well as the decriminalization of homosexuality possible in recent years. Without a doubt, this Article has had the most outsized influence on the progressive development of rights in India. But the story of how it was birthed is deeply controversial and its passage in the Constituent Assembly divided opinion like no other feature of the Constitution.

When India gave herself the Constitution on January 26, 1950, both life and liberty were thought to be in peril because the Constituent Assembly decided not to grant due process protection to these rights. Liberty After Freedom explores the intellectual beginnings of this paramount fundamental right in order to decode and unravel the controversies that raged at the time the Constitution was being crafted.

Written in lucid prose and drawing extensively on the Constituent Assembly debates as well as a wide array of scholarly literature, the book questions long-held beliefs and sheds new and important light on the fraught history of due process and Article 21. It will be indispensable for the legal community and for anyone interested in the genesis of the Constitution.

Siddhesh Inamdar, Executive Editor of HarperCollins India says, “

The right to life and personal liberty enshrined in Article 21 has emerged as the most important fundamental right in the Indian Constitution in recent times, the bedrock of a number of ground-breaking rulings. In Liberty After Freedom, Rohan J. Alva takes a deep, insightful and incisive dive into its lesser known and controversial history. In the past few years, several fresh legal voices have written highly acclaimed books on India's constitutional history. This Republic Day, we are delighted to be publishing this important addition to that growing literature.”

About the author

Rohan J Alva is a counsel practising in the Supreme Court of India. He earned his LL.M. from Harvard Law School, which he read for as a Tata Scholar and on a Harvard Law School Scholarship. He lives in New Delhi with his wife, Nina, two children, Zarina and Cyrus, and two dogs, Jerry and Jackie.

Speaking on the book, he said,

The right to life and personal liberty, enshrined in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, is that one fundamental right which impacts the life of every single Indian, and its growing salience is represented by the fact that in recent years this right has become part of our daily conversations, in terms of the recognition of the right to privacy and the decriminalization of homosexuality. Given its high importance, I believe the story of how this right came to be and the women and men who shaped its destiny deserves to be told. Exploring its origins informs us not only of the controversies which arose at the time the Indian Constitution was crafted, but holds important lessons for the progressive realization of this right in contemporary India.”

 Rohan J. Alva
Rohan J. Alva

Praise for the Book

Alva’s debut work is an eye-opener…an important addition to the existing academic writing on Indian Constitutional history. Alva has brought to bear an impressive grasp of legal history to shine light on the arduous journey that Article 21 undertook to reach its present form. Through meticulous research, Alva shows how fragile the Article was at its inception, and how important it is for citizens to continue to ensure that this most important of rights remains protected.

KK Venugopal Attorney General for India

Attorney General KK Venugopal
Attorney General KK Venugopal

An ambitious and fascinating account. Alva sheds interesting historical and comparative light on the well-nigh irresolvable conflict between a society’s commitment to protecting the fundamental rights of individuals and constraining the power of unrepresentative and politically less-accountable judges.

Michael Klarma, Charles Warren Professor, Harvard Law School

The extraordinary story of due process in India must be told, and there is no one better to tell it than Rohan J Alva. Drawing from the best traditions of constitutional studies, Alva reveals how the creation and evolution of Article 21 mirror the broader history of the Republic of India. Liberty After Freedom places Alva in the pantheon of the most thoughtful contemporary scholars of India’s democratic Constitution.

Richard Albert, Professor of World Constitutions and Director of Constitutional Studies, The University of Texas at Austin

Liberty After Freedom releases on February 10, 2022. Order Here.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news