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Article21OfTheConstitutionOfIndiaTheExpandingHorizons
Article21ofTheConstitutionofIndiaTheExpandingHorizons

Article21ofTheConstitutionofIndiaTheExpandingHorizons
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Authorofthearticle:VidhanMaheshwari
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TheConstitutionofIndiaprovidesFundamentalRightsunderChapterIII
Theserightsareguaranteedbytheconstitution.Oneoftheserightsisprovidedunderarticle21whichreadsasfollows:
Article21.ProtectionOfLifeAndPersonalLiberty:Nopersonshallbedeprivedofhislifeorpersonallibertyexceptaccordingtoprocedureestablishedbylaw.
ThoughthephraseologyofArticle21startswithnegativewordbutthewordNohasbeenusedinrelationtotheworddeprived.Theobjectofthefundamental
rightunderArticle21istopreventencroachmentuponpersonallibertyanddeprivationoflifeexceptaccordingtoprocedureestablishedbylaw.Itclearly
meansthatthisfundamentalrighthasbeenprovidedagainststateonly.Ifanactofprivateindividualamountstoencroachmentuponthepersonallibertyor
deprivationoflifeofotherperson.SuchviolationwouldnotfallundertheparameterssetfortheArticle21.insuchacasetheremedyforaggrievedperson
wouldbeeitherunderArticle226oftheconstitutionorundergenerallaw.But,whereanactofprivateindividualsupportedbythestateinfringesthepersonal
libertyorlifeofanotherperson,theactwillcertainlycomeundertheambitofArticle21.Article21oftheConstitutiondealswithpreventionofencroachment
uponpersonallibertyordeprivationoflifeofaperson.
Thestatecannotbedefinedinarestrictedsense.ItincludesGovernmentDepartments,Legislature,Administration,LocalAuthoritiesexercisingstatutory
powersandsoonsoforth,butitdoesnotincludenonstatutoryorprivatebodieshavingnostatutorypowers.Forexample:company,autonomousbodyand
others.Therefore,thefundamentalrightguaranteedunderArticle21relatesonlytotheactsofStateoractsundertheauthorityoftheStatewhicharenot
accordingtoprocedureestablishedbylaw.ThemainobjectofArticle21isthatbeforeapersonisdeprivedofhislifeorpersonallibertybytheState,the
procedureestablishedbylawmustbestrictlyfollowed.RighttoLifemeanstherighttoleadmeaningful,completeanddignifiedlife.Itdoesnothaverestricted
meaning.Itissomethingmorethansurvivingoranimalexistence.Themeaningofthewordlifecannotbenarroweddownanditwillbeavailablenotonlyto
everycitizenofthecountry.AsfarasPersonalLibertyisconcerned,itmeansfreedomfromphysicalrestraintofthepersonbypersonalincarcerationor
otherwiseanditincludesallthevarietiesofrightsotherthanthoseprovidedunderArticle19oftheConstitution.ProcedureestablishedbyLawmeansthelaw
enactedbytheState.DeprivedhasalsowiderangeofmeaningundertheConstitution.Theseingredientsarethesoulofthisprovision.Thefundamentalright
underArticle21isoneofthemostimportantrightsprovidedundertheConstitutionwhichhasbeendescribedasheartoffundamentalrightsbytheApex
Court.

ThescopeofArticle21wasabitnarrowtill50sasitwasheldbytheApexCourtinA.K.GopalanvsStateofMadrasthatthecontentsandsubjectmatterof
Article21and19(1)(d)arenotidenticalandtheyproceedontotalprinciples.Inthiscasetheworddeprivationwasconstruedinanarrowsenseanditwas
heldthatthedeprivationdoesnotrestrictupontherighttomovefreelywhichcameunderArticle19(1)(d).atthattimeGopalanscasewastheleadingcasein
respectofArticle21alongwithsomeotherArticlesoftheConstitution,butpostGopalancasethescenarioinrespectofscopeofArticle21hasbeen
expandedormodifiedgraduallythroughdifferentdecisionsoftheApexCourtanditwasheldthatinterferencewiththefreedomofapersonathomeor
restrictionimposedonapersonwhileinjailwouldrequireauthorityoflaw.Whetherthereasonablenessofapenallawcanbeexaminedwithreferenceto
Article19,wasthepointinissueafterGopalanscaseinthecaseofManekaGandhiv.UnionofIndia,theApexCourtopenedupanewdimensionandlaid
downthattheprocedurecannotbearbitrary,unfairorunreasonableone.Article21imposedarestrictionuponthestatewhereitprescribedaprocedurefor
deprivingapersonofhislifeorpersonalliberty.
ThisviewhasbeenfurtherrelieduponinacaseofFrancisCoralieMullinv.TheAdministrator,UnionTerritoryofDelhiandothersasfollows:
Article21requiresthatnooneshallbedeprivedofhislifeorpersonallibertyexceptbyprocedureestablishedbylawandthisproceduremustbereasonable,
fairandjustandnotarbitrary,whimsicalorfanciful.ThelawofpreventivedetentionhasthereforenowtopassthetestnotonlyforArticle22,butalsoof
Article21andiftheconstitutionalvalidityofanysuchlawischallenged,thecourtwouldhavetodecidewhethertheprocedurelaiddownbysuchlawfor
deprivingapersonofhispersonallibertyisreasonable,fairandjust.InanothercaseofOlgaTellisandothersv.BombayMunicipalCorporationandothers,it
wasfurtherobserved:Justasamalafideacthasnoexistenceintheeyeoflaw,evenso,unreasonableness
vitiateslawandprocedurealike.Itisthereforeessentialthattheprocedureprescribedbylawfordeprivingapersonofhisfundamentalrightmustconformthe
normsofjusticeandfairplay.Procedure,whichisjustorunfairinthecircumstancesofacase,attractstheviceofunreasonableness,therebyvitiatingthelaw
whichprescribesthatprocedureandconsequently,theactiontakenunderit.Asstatedearlier,theprotectionofArticle21iswideenoughanditwasfurther
widenedinthecaseofBandhuaMuktiMorchav.UnionofIndiaandothersinrespectofbondedlabourandweakersectionofthesociety.
Itlaysdownasfollows:
Article21assurestherighttolivewithhumandignity,freefromexploitation.Thestateisunderaconstitutionalobligationtoseethatthereisnoviolationof
thefundamentalrightofanyperson,particularlywhenhebelongstotheweakersectionofthecommunityandisunabletowagealegalbattleagainstastrong
andpowerfulopponentwhoisexploitinghim.BoththeCentralGovernmentandtheStateGovernmentarethereforeboundtoensureobservanceofthevarious
socialwelfareandlabourlawsenactedbyParliamentforthepurposeofsecuringtotheworkmenalifeofbasichumandignityincompliancewiththedirective
principlesofthestatepolicy.

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Article21OfTheConstitutionOfIndiaTheExpandingHorizons
Themeaningofthewordlifeincludestherighttoliveinfairandreasonableconditions,righttorehabilitationafterrelease,righttolivehoodbylegalmeansand
decentenvironment.TheexpandedscopeofArticle21hasbeenexplainedbytheApexCourtinthecaseofUnniKrishnanv.StateofA.P.andtheApex
CourtitselfprovidedthelistofsomeoftherightscoveredunderArticle21onthebasisofearlierpronouncementsandsomeofthemarelistedbelow:
(1)Therighttogoabroad.
(2)Therighttoprivacy.
(3)Therightagainstsolitaryconfinement.
(4)Therightagainsthandcuffing.
(5)Therightagainstdelayedexecution.
(6)Therighttoshelter.
(7)Therightagainstcustodialdeath.
(8)Therightagainstpublichanging.
(9)Doctorsassistance

ItwasobservedinUnniKrishnanscasethatArticle21istheheartofFundamentalRightsandithasextendedtheScopeofArticle21byobservingthatthe
lifeincludestheeducationaswellas,astherighttoeducationflowsfromtherighttolife.
AsaresultofexpansionofthescopeofArticle21,thePublicInterestLitigationsinrespectofchildreninjailbeingentitledtospecialprotection,health
hazardsduetopollutionandharmfuldrugs,housingforbeggars,immediatemedicalaidtoinjuredpersons,starvationdeaths,therighttoknow,therightto
opentrial,inhumanconditionsinaftercarehomehavefoundplaceunderit.
ThroughvariousjudgmentstheApexCourtalsoincludedmanyofthenonjustifiableDirectivePrinciplesembodiedunderpartIVoftheConstitutionandsome
oftheexamplesareasunder:
(a)Righttopollutionfreewaterandair.
(b)Protectionofundertrial.
(c)Rightofeverychildtoafulldevelopment.
(d)Protectionofculturalheritage.
Maintenanceandimprovementofpublichealth,improvementofmeansofcommunication,providinghumanconditionsinprisons,maintaininghygienic
conditioninslaughterhouseshavealsobeenincludedintheexpandedscopeofArticle21.thisscopefurtherhasbeenextendedeventoinnocenthostages
detainedbymilitantsinshrinewhoarebeyondthecontrolofthestate.
TheApexCourtinthecaseofS.S.Ahuwaliav.UnionofIndiaandothersitwasheldthatintheexpandedmeaningattributedtoArticle21oftheConstitution,
itisthedutyoftheStatetocreateaclimatewheremembersofthesocietybelongingtodifferentfaiths,casteandcreedlivetogetherand,therefore,theState
hasadutytoprotecttheirlife,liberty,dignityandworthofanindividualwhichshouldnotbejeopardizedorendangered.Ifinanycircumstancethestateisnot
abletodoso,thenitcannotescapetheliabilitytopaycompensationtothefamilyofthepersonkilledduringriotsashisorherlifehasbeenextinguishedin
clearviolationofArticle21oftheConstitution.WhiledealingwiththeprovisionofArticle21inrespectofpersonalliberty,Hon'bleSupremeCourtputsome
restrictionsinacaseofJavedandothersv.StateofHaryana,AIR2003SC3057asfollows:attheveryoutsetweareconstrainedtoobservethatthelaw
laiddownbythiscourtinthedecisionsreliedoneitherbeingmisreadorreaddivorcedofthecontext.Thetestofreasonablenessisnotawhollysubjective
testanditscontoursarefairlyindicatedbytheConstitution.Therequirementofreasonablenessrunslikeagoldenthreadthroughtheentirefabricof
fundamentalrights.Theloftyidealsofsocialandeconomicjustice,theadvancementofthenationasawholeandthephilosophyofdistributivejustice
economic,socialandpoliticalcannotbegivenagobyinthenameofunduestressonfundamentalrightsandindividualliberty.Reasonablenessand
rationality,legallyaswellasphilosophically,providecolourtothemeaningoffundamentalrightsandtheseprinciplesarededuciblefromthoseverydecisions
whichhavebeenreliedonbythelearnedcounselforthepetitioners.
TheApexCourtledagreatimportanceonreasonablenessandrationalityoftheprovisionanditispointedoutthatinthenameofunduestresson
FundamentalRightsandIndividualLiberty,theidealsofsocialandeconomicjusticecannotbegivenagoby.ThusitisclearthattheprovisionArticle21was
constructednarrowlyattheinitialstagebutthelawinrespectoflifeandpersonallibertyofapersonwasdevelopedgraduallyandaliberalinterpretationwas
giventothesewords.NewdimensionshavebeenaddedtothescopeofArticle21fromtimetotime.Itimposedalimitationuponaprocedurewhichprescribed
fordeprivingapersonoflifeandpersonallibertybysayingthattheprocedurewhichprescribedfordeprivingapersonoflifeandpersonallibertybysayingthat
theproceduremustbereasonable,fairandsuchlawshouldnotbearbitrary,whimsicalandfanciful.Theinterpretationwhichhasbeengiventothewordslife
andpersonallibertyinvariousdecisionsoftheApexCourt,itcanbesaidthattheprotectionoflifeandpersonallibertyhasgotmultidimensionalmeaningand
anyarbitrary,whimsicalandfancifulactoftheStatewhichdeprivedthelifeorpersonallibertyofapersonwouldbeagainsttheprovisionofArticle21ofthe
Constitution.
Theauthorcanbereachedat:vidhan159@legalserviceindia.com/PrintThisArticle

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AnshBhaveWorksatAirIndia
BANONPORNININDIA:thisisviolationofArticle21ofTheConstitutionofIndia.Ifanactofprivateindividual
amountstoencroachmentuponthepersonallibertyordeprivationoflifeofotherperson.Suchviolationwouldnot
fallundertheparameterssetfortheArticle21.insuchacasetheremedyforaggrievedpersonwouldbeeither
underArticle226oftheconstitution.ThisistheFundamentalRightofPersonalLibertyofeveryCitizenofIndia.
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1Aug3,20153:23pm

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