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New book dives deep into lesser known and controversial history of Article 21

Published by HarperCollins India, Rohan J. Alva’s ‘Liberty after Freedom’ will be released on 16 March on ThePrint’s SoftCover.

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New Delhi: A new book by Rohan J. Alva, counsel at the Supreme Court, gives an eye-opening account on the origins of the most important fundamental right in the Indian Constitution — the right to life and personal liberty guaranteed by Article 21.

Titled ‘Liberty after Freedom’, the book explores Article 21 that has, in recent years, made the right to privacy as well as the decriminalisation of homosexuality possible.

Published by HarperCollins India, the book will be released on 16 March on Softcover, ThePrint’s online venue to launch non-fiction books.

“In Liberty After Freedom, Rohan J. Alva takes a deep, insightful and incisive dive into its (Article 21) 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,” said Siddhesh Inamdar, executive editor at HarperCollins India.

Written in lucid prose and drawing extensively on the Constituent Assembly debates as well as a wide array of scholarly literature, Liberty After Freedom questions long-held beliefs and sheds new light on the fraught history of due process and Article 21.

Attorney General of India K.K. Venugopal described the book as 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,” Venugopal said.

Michael Klarman, professor at Harvard Law, called the book an ambitious and fascinating account, adding that “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”.

Alva believes that the story on how the right to life and personal liberty came to be and the women and men who shaped its destiny deserved 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 realisation of this right in contemporary India,” he said.

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