Submitted by Aadesh Agarkar
Scope of Article 21
Compensation for Violation
Right to Education Article 21 A
Article 21 - No person shall be deprived of his life or personal property except according to the procedure establish by law. The most important words in the Article 21 are procedure establish by law. Prior to Maneka Gandhi case Article 21 guaranteed the right to life and personal liberty only in case arbitrary action of the executive but after the Maneka Gandhi case protection against legislative actions was granted.
Scope of article 21
Prior to Maneka Gandhi case approach to the Article 21 was very strict narrow literal and positivist.
The word personal liberty came into consideration in the case AK GOPALAN V UNION OF INDIA where the petitioner
a communist leader was detained under the Preventive Detention Act 1950. The petitioner challenged the validity of detention
under the act on the ground that it is a violation of his right to freedom and action under Article 21(1)(d) . He argued that right
to freedom is very essence of Article 21 and therefore, the restriction imposed by the act(preventive detention) must be fair and
reasonable and also the word law must include right of natural justice. It was argued that Article 19(1) and 21 should be read
together. Article 19(1) deals with substantive law and Article 21 deals with the procedural law. But the contention was rejected by the SC
in the majority on the ground that right to personal liberty means nothing more than that of freedom from arrest and detention
without authority of law. The majority is of view that Article 19 and 21 deal with the aspect of law.
Finally in the landmark case of Maneka Gandhi v Union of India where the decision of AK Gopalan case was overruled and has widened the scope the of the word personal liberty considerably. The court lay down stress on procedural safeguard. The procedure must satisfy the requirement of natural justice.
In MANEKA GANDHI v UNION OF INDIA the petitioner's passport was impounded by passport authority u/s 10(3) of the passport act 1967. The act authorises to do so
if it is in the interest of the general public. The petitioner challenged the order on following grounds,
1) it is in violation of Article 14 because it did not provide for hearing of passport holder
2) sec 10(3) is in violation of Article 21 since it does not provide for procedure within the meaning of Article 21
3) the imposition of restriction is in violation of Article 19(a)(g) as such restiction are not given.
The SC held that the government was not justified in withholding the reason for impounding the passport from petitioner and the procedure given in Article 21
the order withholding reasons for impounding the passport was therefore not only in breach of statutory provisions but also in violation of the rule of
natural justice. Embodied in audi alteram partem. Thus Article 21 requires the following conditions to be fulfilled.
1. there must be a valid law
2. the law must provide a procedure
3. the procedure must be just fair and reasonable.
4. the law must satisfy the requirement of Article 14 and 17 also in NANDLAL V STATE OF PUNJAB, the validity of the order of detention made under section 3 of the prevention of black marketing and maintenance of supply of essential commodity act was challenged.
The court applying Maneka Gandhi's principle held the procedure adopted by the advisory board was arbitrary and illegal.
Following are the rights under right to life and personal liberty under Article 21:
1. Right to live with human dignity-
After the case of Maneka Gandhi court gave new dimension to Article 21. Right to life is not merely confine to physical existence but it includes within its ambit the right to live with human dignity. In the case PEOPLE'S UNION FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS V UNION OF INDIA the court held that non-payment of minimum wages to the workers employed in various Asiad project in Delhi was denial to them their right to live with basic human dignity.
2. Right to livelihood
In OGLA TELLIS V BOMBAY MUNICIPAL CORPORATION popularly known as pavement dweller case where five bench court held that the word life includes right to livelihood. The right to livelihood is treated as part of constitutional right to life. The court took humanitarian view in the matter to reduce the hardship by pavement dwellers involving eviction of their huts and ordered municipal authority to remove huts after the end of monsoon season. The court also demarcated hawking and non hawking zone.
3. Right to Shelter
It the duty of the state to provide housing facilities to dalits and schedule tribe as to enable them to come into the mainstream of national life.
In SHAMELI SINGH V STATE OF UP it has been held that the right to shelter is a fundamental right under article 21 .Right to life guaranteed in any civilised society implies that right to food, water, decent environment, education, medical care and shelter as all the civil, political, social and cultural right cannot be exercised with basic human right. Therefore, right to shelter is not only to protect life and limbs but also helps the man to inculcate the values of intellect and spirituality and to grow physically strong. Right to shelter includes decent structure, adequate living space, proper sanitation, electricity, sufficient light , pure air and water to drink and other civic amenities. Thus, it enables the man to live and develop as human being.
4 Right to privacy
A citizen has the right to safeguard the privacy of his family, own, marriage, procreation, childbearing , and education among other things. The right to privacy has several aspects and it is a part of life and liberty.
In R. Rajagopal vs State of Tamil Nadu
In this case, the petitioner had written an autobiography depicting close relation between prisoner and other IAS, IPS and other officials in the jail. But officials were afraid that it might expose their true nature and compelled the petitioner not to publish the same. The question for consideration was whether authorizing piece of writing infringes the citizens right to privacy and also can media be authorised to publish the personal life of citizen. The court held that official has no right to impose prior restraint on publication but they can take action only after the publication if it is found to be false. If a matter becomes a public record the right to privacy does not exist and the matter becomes legitimate to be discussed by press and media. But in some cases interest of decency matters under article 19(2). eg- matters of sexual assault, addiction or a like offence should not further be subject to the indignity of a persons name and the incidence being published in press and media.
In State of Maharashtra vs Madhulkar Narian
The Supreme Court held that the right to privacy is available even to women of easy virtue and no one can invade her privacy. A police inspector visited the house of one Banubai in uniform and demanded to have sexual intercourse with her she raised hue and cried, when he was prosecuted he told the court that she was a lady of easy virtue and therefore her evidence was not to be relied upon. The court rejected the argument of applicant and held him liable for violating her right to privacy under article 21 of the Constitution.
In People's Union of civil Liberty vs Union of India The Supreme Court held that telephone tapping is a serious invasion of personal life of persons under Article 21 and it should resort to the state unless there is public emergency or interest of public safety required. The court laid down detailed guidelines to regulate the discretion vested in the state under Section 5 of Indian telegraph Act for the purpose of tapping interception of other messages so as to safeguard public interest against arbitrary and unlawful exercise of Government.
Right to health and Medical Assistance
In Parmanand Katara vs Union of India
It has been held that it is a professional obligation of all doctors, private or government to extend medical aid to the injured immediately to preserve life without waiting for legal formalities to be complied by the police. Article 21 of Constitution casts an obligation on the state to preserve life. Court says that in its true spirit it would help in saving life of many citizens who die in accident because no medical aid is given to them on the ground that they are not authorized to treat medico-legal cases.
In Vincent Parikurlangara vs Union of India
The Supreme Court held that the right to maintenance and improvement of Public Health is included in the right to live with human dignity enshrined in article 21. A healthy body is the very foundation of all human activities. In a welfare state, this is the obligation of the state to ensure the creation and sustaining of condition congenial to good health.
Protection of Ecological and Environmental Pollution
In Shriram food and fertilizers cases, the Supreme Court directed the companies manufacturing hazardous and lethal chemicals and gases posing a danger to health and life of workman and people living in its neighbourhood. The matter was brought before the court through a public interest litigation. The management was directed to deposit a sum of rupees 20 lacs by way of security for the payment of compensation claims of the victims of Oleum Gas leak with the Registrar of the Court. In addition, a bank guarantee of sum of rupees 15 lacs was also directed to be deposited. Subject to this condition the Court allowed the partial reopening of the plant.
Submitted by Aadesh Agarkar