Blackstone in his “Commentaries on the Laws of England” (4th Edition, volume 1, page 134) states that “personal liberty consists in the power of locomotion, of changing. ‘situation or moving one’s person to whatsoever place one’s own inclination may direct, without imprisonment or restraint unless by due course of law.”

The authority of this statement bodily incorporated by H.J. Stephen in his “Commentaries on the Laws of England” and has been reproduced by Cooley in his well-known treatise on “Constitutional Limitations” (8th Edition, volume 1, page 710).

The view that freedom of movement is the essence of personal liberty will also be confirmed by reference to any book on the criminal law of England dealing with the offence of false imprisonment or any commentary on the Indian Penal Code dealing with the offences of wrongful restraint or confinement.

Russell in his book on “Crimes and Misdemeanours” (8th Edition, volume 1, page 861), dealing with the offence of false imprisonment states as follows: —

“False imprisonment is unlawful and total restraint of the personal liberty of another, whether by constraining him or compelling him to go to a particular place or by confining him in a prison or police station or private place, or by detaining him against his will in a public place ……….. the essential element in the offence is the unlawful detention of the person or the unlawful restraint on his liberty. Such interference with the liberty of another’s movements is unlawful, unless it may be justified …… “

Again, Dr. Gour in dealing with the offence of wrongful restraint in his book on “The Penal Law of British India” (5th Edition, page 1144) observes as follows: —

“Following the principle that every man’s person is sacred and that it is free, law visits with its penalties those who abridge his personal liberty, though he may have no design upon his person. But the fact that he controls its movements for ever so short a time is an offence against the King’s peace, for no one has the right to molest another in his free movements.”

Dealing with the offence of wrongful confinement, the same learned author observes as follows at page 1148 of his book: —

“‘Wrongful confinement’ is a species of ‘ wrongful restraint’ as defined in the last section. In wrongful restraint, there is only a partial suspension of one’s liberty of locomotion, while in wrongful confinement there is a total suspension of liberty ‘beyond certain circum- scribing limits’.”

Both these authors speak of restraint on personal liberty and interference with the liberty of one’s movements or suspension of liberty or locomotion as interchangeable terms. In Bird v. Jones[1], Coleridge J. said that “it is one part of the definition of freedom to be able to go whithersoever one pleases.” A similar opinion has been expressed by several authors including Sir Alfred Denning in his book entitled “Freedom under the Law.” There can therefore be no doubt that freedom of movement is in the last analysis the essence of personal liberty, and just as a man’s wealth is generally measured in this country in terms of rupees, annas and pies, one’s personal liberty depends upon the extent of his freedom of movement.

[1] 7 Q.B. 742.