Protection of Life and Personal Liberty

Introduction

The Constitution of India, Known as the ‘Lengthiest Written Document’, is maintaining its legacy from 72 years. A Document having 470 Articles, 12 Schedules and 25 parts being considered as the supreme law of the land, is gracefully handling all the issues happening in nation. The makers of the Constitution took 2 years, 11 months and 18 days to make this golden book, a solution to every problem. They made it flexible as well as rigid to distribute powers in a way that no one can disrespect the supreme law.

Part III, containing the most beautiful part of the Constitution, the Fundamental rights. From Article 14 to Article 32, an Indian citizen or not an Indian citizen is being provided with rights through which they can successfully live their life with respect and integrity. In those fundamental rights, one right is ‘Protection of life and Personal liberty’ and the scope of this right is widened by judiciary in number of cases.

Article 21: Protection of life and Personal Liberty

In the Constitution of India, Part III, Article 21 provides that “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law[1].

This Article states that any citizen or non- citizen can claim protection under this right, if his right to life and personal liberty is being snatched away. Under Article 21, the two kinds of rights are discussed, Right to life and Right to personal liberty.

The Indian Judiciary has widened the scope of Article 21 through so many landmark judgments and now it includes heterogeneity of rights under it.

Widened Scope of Article 21

Right to Life is not merely the continuance of a person’s existence but also about the quality of life he/she is been living. Following are some augmented extent of the right to life.

Right to Livelihood:

In the case law of NARENDRA KUMAR CHANDLA V. STATE OF HARYANA [2], the Supreme Court held that Article 21 protected the right to livelihood as an integral part of right to life.

Right to live in Unpolluted Environment:

This right includes the Right to water; right of enjoyment of clean water, pollution free air and sanitation, without life could not be enjoyed at its fullest.

In the landmark judgment of M.C. Mehta V. Union of India [3], among other issues, one issue was related to the effect of reopening of Shriram Industry after gas leakage incident as it is potentially a big health hazard.

 In this matter, the Supreme Court held that under Article 21, it is the right of citizen of Delhi to have a clean environment and right to health, even it is not exclusively mention in Article 12.

Right to Information:

In layman terms, Right to Information means Right to know.  The Right to life has broad dimensions, as in the case of Essar Oil Ltd. V. Halar Utkarsh Samiti[4] ,the Supreme Court held that there is rigid link between Article 21 and right to know, especially where “secret Government decisions may affect health, life and livelihood.”

Right to personal liberty

After the right to life, right of personal liberty is an important aspect of Article 21. Looking at the case of A.K. Gopalan V. State of Madras [4], where the Supreme Court took the literal meaning of ‘personal liberty’ i.e. freedom from arrest and detention from false imprisonment or wrongful confinement, whereas in Maneka Gandhi V. Union of India [5], the Apex Court has given the widest possible meaning to ‘personal liberty’ stating that the “the expression ‘personal liberty’ in Article 12 is of the widest amplitude and it covers numerous rights.” Moving on with this judgment, following are the different aspects of personal liberty.

 Right to Privacy:

Everyone needs Privacy, but right to privacy is not a fundamental right but can be deduced from Article 21. In R. Rajagopal V. State of Tamil Nadu [5]the Court held that ‘right to life’ is included in “right to life and personal liberty” under Article 21, as a citizen have the right to protect his personal life and the relations and nobody can publish about them without his consent.

The landmark judgment of K.S. Puttaswamy V. Union of India [6], the Supreme Court has held that the Constitution provides the “RIGHT OF PRIVACY” under Article 21.

Article 21 and Prisoner’s Rights

Article 21 also provides the right to prisoner’s in form of Access to justice; Right to free legal aid; right to speedy trial; and right to fair trial.

Article 21 has covered multiple meaning of protection of life and personal liberty. This Article has significant judgments under it.

Article 21 during Pandemic

The big question during Pandemic was that does the Government of India have to provide Free Vaccination to every citizen of the country. The more support was given to the fact that as Right to Health is come under Article 21 and considered as Fundamental Rights, then Right to Vaccination, being a attribute to right to health would also cover under the Article 21.

Conclusion

As the Constitution of India is not discriminating between its citizens and the judiciary is upholding the Constitution by its landmark judgments and proving the great mindset of the makers of the Constitution. Article 21, with its wider connotations, has proved it worthy and important for the harmonious working of the nation. Right to life and personal liberty is a basic right and must be provided without any restrictions. Article 21 cannot be suspended during the time of Emergency. Even during Pandemic, Article 21 has immense importance. The Right to life and Personal Liberty are considered to be the heart of the Constitution, the most organic and progressive amenities in our living document, the Constitution, the supreme law of the land and the foundation head of our laws, also held in I.R. Coelho V. State of Tamil Nadu [6]. After all is said and done, Right to life and personal liberty or Article 21 is paramount Right under Constitution of India.

References

[1] https://legislative.gov.in/sites/default/files/COI-updated.pdf

[2] AIR 1995 SC 519

[3] AIR 1986

[4]AIR 1950

[5]AIR 1995 SC 264

[6]AIR 2007 SC 861

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.

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.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at secondinnings.hr@gmail.com

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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