Article 21: Right to Life and Right to Personal Liberty

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Article 21

The Constitution of India is a written document containing laws and principles and promises equal rights to every citizen. Under the Right to Freedom, there are 5 articles i.e. Article 19, Article 20, Article 21, Article 21 A, and Article 22. The constitution of India states that India is a democratic, sovereign, secular, and socialist republic. This is because several laws and rights are penned down in the Constitution according to which the country functions. The Article 21 of the Indian Constitution provides two rights i.e. Protection of Life and Protection of Personal Liberty. Stay tuned and continue reading this blog for more information!

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Article 21 of the Indian Constitution

Source: StudyIQ Judiciary 

Every citizen of the Nation has the Right to Freedom and Article 21 is covered under the Right to Freedom. It provides two rights i.e., the Right to life and protection of personal liberty. This Article guarantees that no person shall be deprived of the basic right to life and liberty. It is applicable to every citizen irrespective of any discrimination so that the personal life of the people remains inviolable.

Supreme Court of India declared this particular Article as the “Heart of Fundamental Rights”. Apart from this, Article 21 has been provided against the state only which includes government, local bodies, government bodies, legislatures, etc. If the government of India takes away the right to life and personal liberty then it should be processed under the prescribed procedure of Law. 

Also Read: Essay on Freedom

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Interpretation of Article 21 by the Supreme Court of India

Source: Advocate Farheen Ansaari

Here are some popular cases that contributed to widening the scope of Article 21:

  1. AK Gopalan Case (1950): The scope of this Article was narrow until the 1950s.  Then, the Supreme Court of India encountered AK Gopalan Case V/S the State of Madras. In this case, the SC held that the expression ‘procedure established by law’, the Constitution has realized that the personal liberty concept embodied the British concept rather than the American ‘due process’.
  1. Francis Coralie Mullin vs. Union Territory of Delhi (1981): This case was also registered at the Supreme Court. This case was fought with respect to the issue of paying minimum wages to the employees by the Union Territory of Delhi under the Minimum Wages Act 1948. The SC passed the judgement that the Union Territory of Delhi is not exempted from paying minimum wages and the authority must pay minimum wages to its employees as specified under the act. Thus, the court expanded the right to life and held that any procedure for the deprivation of life or liberty of a person must be reasonable, fair and just and not arbitrary, whimsical or fanciful.
  1. Unni Krishnan vs. State of Andhra Pradesh 1993: Unni Krishnan vs. State of Andhra Pradesh 1993 was one of the landmark cases in the history of the Indian Constitution, as this case has made the Right to Education a compulsory right for children in view of a broader spectrum of Right to Life. According to the decision, the state must provide free and compulsory education to students belonging to the 6-14 age group. and it comes under the right to life.

Other Cases

Here is the list of some other cases:

  • Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India Case (1978)
  • Olga Tellis vs. Bombay Municipal Corporation (1985)
  • Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan (1997)
  • DK Basu v. State of West Bengal (1997)
  • Puttaswamy v. Union of India (2017)
  • Kharak Singh vs. State of Uttar Pradesh 

List of Rights Under Article 21

Article 21
Source: Picto Learning- Quora

The Supreme Court of India realised that fact that this Article is not just restricted to the Right to life and personal liberty but it has a much broader scope than that. Here is the list of Rights covered under this Article:

  • Right to live with human dignity.
  • Right to a decent environment including pollution-free water and air and protection against hazardous industries.
  • Right to livelihood.
  • Right to privacy.
  • Right to shelter.
  • Right to health.
  • Right to free education.
  • Right to free legal aid.
  • Right against solitary confinement.
  • Right to a speedy trial.
  • Right against handcuffing.
  • Right against inhuman treatment.
  • Right against delayed execution.
  • Right to travel abroad.
  • Right against bonded labour.
  • Right against custodial harassment.
  • Right to emergency medical aid.
  • Right to timely medical treatment in government hospitals.
  • Right against public hanging.
  • Right to the road in hilly areas.
  • Right to information.
  • Right to reputation.
  • Right of appeal from a judgement of conviction
  • Right to family pension
  • Right to social and economic justice and empowerment
  • Right against bar fetters
  • Right to appropriate life insurance policy
  • Right to sleep
  • Right to freedom from noise pollution
  • Right to sustainable development
  • Right to opportunity.

Also Read: Right to Equality

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What is Article 21 A?

This Article also comes under the Rights to Freedom. According to the 86th Amendment Act of 2002, this Article states that the Right to Education is the fundamental right of all children belonging to the 6-14 age group. According to this article, the state must provide free and compulsory education to all children.

Can Article 21 be suspended during an emergency?

According to the 44th Amendment of the Indian Constitution, this Article cannot be suspended by the state even during emergency situations Apart from this, the state can impose certain restrictions as it is not an absolute right but only under the protection of established by law.

What does Article 21 of the Indian Constitution state?

Article 21 of the Indian Constitution states that “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”

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