Article 21 – Right to Life Under Indian Constitution

Article 21 states that “no one shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty unless in accordance with legal procedure.”
This right has long been considered the Constitution’s heart, the most organic and progressive
clause in our living constitution, and the bedrock of our laws.
Only when a person’s life or personal liberty is taken away by the state, as stated in Article
12, can he invoke Article 21. Private people’ violations of the right are not covered by Article
21’s preamble.
Three key expressions are used in Article 21, which are outlined below:

  1. Right to life, and
  2. Right to personal liberty.
  3. Procedure established by law.
    Justice P. Bhagwati stated in Francis Coralie Mullin vs The Administrator (1981) that Article
    21 “embodies a constitutional value of supreme importance in a democratic society.” Article
    21 is often known as the “procedural Magna Carta” that protects life and liberty, according to
    Justice Iyer.
    The Constitution’s most important article is Article 21. It is our living Constitution’s most
    organic and progressive provision. Article 21 can only be invoked when a ‘person’s life’ or
    ‘personal liberty’ is taken away by the ‘State,’ as defined in Article 12. As a result, private
    individuals’ violations of the right are not covered by Article 21.
    The Definition and Meaning of The Term “Right to Life”
    Every person on the planet has the right to life, liberty, and personal security. This is a
    universal fact, and the right to life is without a doubt the most basic of human rights. All
    other rights enhance the quality of life in question and rely on the presence of life itself to
    function. Given that human rights can only be attached to live beings, one may anticipate the
    right to life to be primary, given that without it, none of the other rights would have any
    worth or utility. If Article 21 had been interpreted in its original sense, there would have been
    no Fundamental Rights worth noting. This article will look at the Supreme Court of India’s
    interpretation and application of the right to life.
    Natural beings are covered by Article 21. Every person, whether a citizen or an alien, has this
    right. As a result, anyone, including a foreigner, can claim this right. However, as stated in
    Article 19, it does not grant a foreigner the right to remain and establish in India.
    The Supreme Court stated in Kharak Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh that “by the term life as
    here used, something more than simple animal existence is implied.” The resistance to its
    deprivation spreads to all of the limbs and faculties that allow us to enjoy life. The provision
    also forbids the amputation of an armoured leg or the removal of an eye, as well as the

destruction of any other part of the body through which the soul connects with the outside
The Supreme Court agreed with the aforementioned views in Sunil Batra v. Delhi
Administration. It was held that the ‘right to life’ encompassed the right to live a healthy life
in which all of the human body’s capabilities were in peak form. It would also include the
right to protect a person’s tradition, culture, and heritage, as well as anything else that gives
significance to his existence. It also includes the right to live and sleep in peace, as well as the
right to rest and health.
Following are some Rights that Involves Right to Life
Right Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace
In Vishakha v. State of Rajasthan, the Supreme Court ruled that sexual harassment of a
working woman at her workplace is a clear violation of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the
Constitution, as it amounts to a breach of gender equality and the right to life and liberty. In
the landmark decision, the Supreme Court established the following rules in the absence of
adopted legislation to ensure effective enforcement of core human rights such as gender
equality and protection against sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment should be avoided by all employers and those in charge of workplaces,
whether in the public or private sector. They should take the following steps, without regard
to the generality of this obligation:
 The explicit prohibition of sexual harassment in the workplace, as outlined above,
should be announced, published, and distributed in suitable manner.
 The conduct and discipline rules/regulations of government and public sector entities
should contain rules/regulations against sexual harassment and provide for suitable
punishments against the perpetrator.
 In the case of private employers, steps should be taken to include the aforementioned
prohibitions in the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946’s standing
 Appropriate work circumstances in terms of labour, leisure, health, and cleanliness
should be given to ensure that there is no hostile atmosphere toward women at work,
and that no employee woman has reasonable grounds to feel she is.
Right to Work is a fundamental human right.
To begin with, the Supreme Court held that Art. 21’s right to life did not encompass the right
to livelihood. The Supreme Court held in ReSant Ram, a case that occurred before Maneka
Gandhi, that the right to livelihood does not fit under the definition of life in Article 21. The
right to livelihood would be included in the freedoms specified in Art.19, or even in Art.16,
in a limited sense, according to the court. However, the language of Art.21 cannot be used to
support the claim that the word life in Art. 21 also refers to livelihood.

Right to a Safe Environment
In Chameli Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, a Supreme Court bench of three judges
considered and held that the right to shelter is a fundamental right available to all citizens,
and that it was read into Article 21 of the Indian Constitution as encompassing the right to
shelter to make the right to life more meaningful.
Right to Medical Care
The Supreme Court of India has said unequivocally in Parmananda Katar v. Union of India
that the preservation of life is of utmost significance. The Supreme Court ruled that once a
life has been lost, the status quo ante cannot be restored. It was decided that all doctors,
whether government or private, have a professional obligation to provide medical help to the
injured as soon as possible in order to save their lives without having to comply with legal
formalities imposed by the police.
Right to Clean Environment
The following are some well-known environmental cases under Article 21:
 The Supreme Court ordered the shutdown of tanneries that polluted water in M.C.
Mehta v. Union of Indi (1988).
 The Supreme Court of India issued various recommendations and directives in M.C.
Mehta v. Union of India (1997) to protect the Taj Mahal, an ancient landmark, from
environmental damage.
Right to Know or Right to Be Informed
The Supreme Court stated in Essar Oil Ltd. v. Halar Utkarsh Samiti that there is a close link
between Art. 21 and the right to know, especially where hidden government decisions may
impact health, life, and livelihood.
In Reliance Petrochemicals Ltd. v. Proprietors of Indian Express Newspapers, the Apex
Court reiterated the following conclusions made in the instant case, ruling that citizens who
had been charged with protecting the environment had a right to know about the government
Right to Education
Education is a fundamental right. Because the right to life flows immediately from the right
to education, which is also one of the fundamental rights, the state has a
CONSTITUTIONAL obligation to offer educational institutions at all levels for the citizens’
The state of Karnataka and Mohini Jain.
Right to Privacy

In Kharak Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, the court was asked for the first time whether the
right to privacy may be implied from existing basic rights such as Art. 19(1)(d), 19(1)(e), and

  1. Surveillance under Chapter XX of the U.P. Police Regulations did not violate any of the
    Constitution’s fundamental liberties protected in Part III. Article 21 was found to be violated
    by Regulation 236(b), which allowed surveillance by domiciliary visits at night.
    Right to Free Legal Aid & Right to Appeal
    In other words, an accused person who is too poor to afford counsel and is charged with a
    crime punishable by jail is entitled to legal assistance. The accused’s attorney must be
    provided adequate time and resources to prepare his defence. If these safeguards of a fair trial
    are violated, the trial and conviction will be thrown out.
    Under Article 21 of the constitution, the Indian judiciary has provided outstanding
    clarification of the right to life and personal liberty. The Supreme Court not only described
    the Article 21’s instinctive human attributes, but also provided a method for putting them into
    practise. The Rule of Law becomes gorgeous and significant as a result of this. Each
    interpretation or procedure relating to Article 21 is aimed at achieving the justice described in
    the Preamble through the whole development of citizens. Each explanation made an attempt
    to meet a person’s basic requirements while maintaining their dignity.
    It is impossible to find elsewhere in the world such magnificent, high, dignified instances and
    interpretations of the concept of right to life and personal liberty as supplied by the Supreme
    Court of India. The right to life and personal liberty in the Indian notion was not limited to
    one’s physical self. It involves striving for a person’s overall development in order for justice
    to prevail.

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.


Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

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In the year 2021, we wrote about 1000 Inspirational Women In India, in the year 2022, we would be featuring 5000 Start Up Stories.

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