Salus Populi suprema lex is a Latin legal maxim that means the welfare of the people shall be the supreme law. The maxim tends to imply the information that the law exists to serve the common good. This can be achieved only when justice is administered lawfully, judicially, without fear or favor, and without being hampered and thwarted and this cannot be effective unless respect for it is fostered and maintained (Pritam Pal v. High Court of Madhya Pradesh AIR 1992 SC 904).
In all cases of necessity, the interests of an individual must give way to the interests of the multitude, even though they extend to his life. This is shown in the experience of every nation and people upon the face of the earth. The principle governing this rule extends to private, as well as to public interests.
And from the peasant to the sovereign, all are amenable to its illimitable sway.
The phrase is the state motto of Missouri, accepted, like many other states, as an element of its state seal.
It also appears on many coats of arms, sometimes in variant forms such as Salus Populi suprema lex, or Salus Populi suprema est. These coats of arms include the City of Salford, the London Borough of Lewisham, Eastleigh, Harrow, etc. Uses it as the epigraph in the form Salus Populi suprema lex in his Second Treatise on Government and refers to it as a fundamental rule for the government. It was the inscription on the cornet of Roundhead and Leveller William Rainsborowe during the English Civil War.
The principle of Roman law ‘Salus Populi est suprema lex’ means that ‘welfare of the people is the paramount law’. This principle is the abiding principle in the Constitution of India.
The State has been assigned the positive role of helping the people realize their rights and needs and in doing so the courts of India have often given expansive interpretation to Article 21 of the Constitution of India which provides the fundamental right to life. The article states that no person shall be deprived of his right to life and personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law. By expansive interpretation of Article 21, the Right to a healthy environment has been granted to all persons in India.
On the further interpretation of Article 21, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India gave a judgment in the case of A.P. Pollution Control Board II v. Prof. M.V. Nayudu that, the right to access safe drinking water is fundamental to life. The court further held that under Article 21 there is a duty on the State to provide clean drinking water to its citizens.
Gujarat high court had told the state government not to forget that “welfare of the people is the supreme law” and advised it on how public interest is of great importance on the matter of land acquisition by the Industrialist at an easy go. The case involved Navyug Industry, which was allotted over 53,000 square meters of land in 1962 near Patan town. As the city expanded, the land was covered by the city survey and a portion of the plot was vested with the government authority. The industry, which was wound up in 2001, was permitted to sell the land on the condition that it would not claim another parcel of land in lieu of the plot.
Salus populi suprema lex in Indian Evidence Act
Section 123 is basically founded on the maxim Salus Populi est suprema lex, which means that regard for public welfare is the highest law. This section lays down that no person shall be permitted to give any evidence derived from unpublished public records relating to affairs of the state. Such an unpublished record can be had from the official head of the department concerned, who may also withhold the permission in case of necessity. The section also prohibits the disclosure of any evidence derived from unpublished official records.
It was considered by the Supreme Court in S.P. Gupta v President of India and held that if the disclosure of the contents of the document was injurious to the public interest and that the document belonged to the state it should not be disclosed to secure the proper functioning of the public service.
In order to claim immunity from disclosure, thereof the document must be unpublished state documents and must relate to affairs of the state and the disclosure thereof must be against the interest of the state or public interest.
Under section 162, the rest documents can be inspected by the court to examine the privilege claimed that the disclosures would injure the public interest. After inspection, the court is free to disclose either whole or in parts, provided that will not give a distorted or misleading impression of the document.
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.
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