Article 21- Protection of life and personal liberty (Case laws)


Constitution of India is the Supreme Law of the nation and it was effective from 26th January 1950. It is a special legal document which regulates the principal functions of the Government of India and contains the principles governing those Government bodies. The Fundamental Rights have been described under part III of the Constitution which is also termed as Magna Carta of India. These Fundamental Rights were constituted to protect the rights and liberties of the people against the infringement of any of their rights in effect with amendments or changes in government policies. The risk of encroachment of rights and liberties are more in Parliamentary system where they make laws as per their will.

“ No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”

Constitution of India


It is inspired by the American Constitution and applies to all citizens and non-citizens of India, It states that no individual shall be prevented from using their right to life and personal liberty except for the procedure established by law, this means that the state can follow the prescribed procedure by the law to curtail or deprive the person from his right to life and personal liberty. Until 1978, the people were protected against the Arbitary Executive Action where the action which were not just, fair and reasonable was open to be challenged, but there was no protection against the Arbitary Legislative Action. The scenario changed when there was Maneka Gandhi case. This was the case which elaborated the scope of Article 21.

Personal Liberty in simple words mean freedom of individual to act as he desires limited only by the authority of politically organized society which regulates that any person’s action does not effect safety, health and morals of the society. Some of the landmark judgement on personal liberty that redefined the meaning of personal liberty and made it a wider concept.

CASE : A.K. Gopalan v Union Of India, AIR 1950 SC 27

In this case Mr A.K. Gopalan was detained under Preventive Detention Act, 19. The petitioner challenged this action and stated that this infringes his right of personal liberty and freedom of movement is violative. The Supreme Court held that  personal liberty is infringed only on the basis of two situations, the first one being if there is any physical restraint i.e. freedom from arrest and detention from wrongful imprisonment and second one if there is any wrongful confinement. There won’tbe any infringement of right if these two conditions does not exist in the case. This was a very literal and narrow interpretation by the court.

CASE :  Maneka Gandhi v Union of India, AIR 1978 SC 597

The petitioner was asked to surrender her passport within 7 days after receiving the letter from the Regional Passport Office Delhi. She requested to the state to disclose the reason for such step taken by the officials. She received the letter from the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India stating that they cannot disclose the reason for their action as interest of general public.

Under section 10(3) of the Passports Act, 1967 Her passport was impounded in the public interes. The act of government was challenged by petitioner under article 32 of the Indian constitution stating that this is infringement of her personal liberty. Supreme Court held that public interest is wide concept and overruled the decision of Gopalan’s case and stated If there is any procedure or law which curtails public interest has to undergo test of reasonability which means that procedure should be just, fair and reasonable.


In this right There are many other human rights which are included, some of them are right to health, right to livelihood, right to information, right to education, right to privacy,etc. There are more than 20 human rights provided under article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Right to privacy

CASE :Kharak Singh versus state of Uttar Pradesh

Right to privacy was not considered as a fundamental right, however after the case of Kharak Singh it was held that right to privacy is a part of right of personal liberty and life. It was held that the expression ‘Life’  was not limited to bodily restraint or confinement but more than the mere animal existence. If there were any unauthorised disturbance it will be treated as violation of right.

In PUCL V UOI Supreme Court stated that u less there is any public emergency or question of safety of the public or govIt is the most fundamental ofcannot infringe the right to privacy of another.

Right to Environment

CASE- RLEK vs State of  U.P

Right to pollution free air and water are essential right for the people to live peacefully. In this case, there were unauthorised mining in the belt of Mussouri and . The people of RLEK wrote a letter to the Honourable Supreme Court and the Court treated that letter as Writ petition and under Environment Protection Act it terminated all the unauthorised mining and excavation.

Curtailment of Fundamental rights

Fundamental rights are not absolute rights, it can be curtailed or suspended under certain emergencies i.e. National emergency (Article 352), Constitutional emergency (Article 356) and Financial emergency (Article 360). The action taken after announcing emergency till the time it gets over cannot be challenged by any citizen or person.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

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