No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.
Article 15, Draft Constitution, 1948
No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law, nor shall any person be denied equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
Draft Article 15 was debated in the Constituent Assembly on 6th and 13th December, 1948. It provided for the right to life and personal liberty, subject to procedure established by law; it also gave all persons equality before the law.
Members were divided on whether the term ‘procedure established by law’ should be replaced with ‘due process’. Some argued that ‘procedure established by law’ allowed the legislature to pass laws which violated an individuals civil liberties. If the term ‘due process’ was adopted instead, the judiciary would have the right to protect these liberties by investigating whether a law was consistent with the other fundamental rights. However, others argued that ‘due process’ allowed the unelected judges, who themselves are not immune from prejudice, to undermine the authority of the legislature by passing judgment of lawfully-enacted legislation. Ultimately, the members chose to retain the phrase ‘procedure established by law’.
The second part of the Draft Article, relating to equality before the law, was not debated. Later, the Drafting Committee decided to move this part into a standalone Article 14.
Draft Article 15 was passed without amendments on 13th December 1949.