The Role Of Judicary To The Interpretation And Protection Of Rights:
The Apex Court in several cases on several subject matters interpreted
unenumerated rights and gave
several decisions to protect such kind of unenumerated rights and they are as
Findings And Conclusion
- Right to travel abroad and Right to fair justice are relating to Article 21 protection of life and
The right to travel abroad and right to fair justice are nowhere specifically mentioned in the
Constitution, but the Apex Court by interpreting declared these are fundamental rights and included in Article
21 of the Indian Constitution and as follows;
In Maneka Gandhi v/s Union of India,
in this case the petitioner Maneka Gandhi was issued
passport on 1st June 1978 as per the Passport Act, 1967, but on 02nd July 1977, the Regional Passport Office
ordered her to surrender her passport without giving any reasons.
The petitioner filed a writ petition under
Article 32 for violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution
alleging that section 10 (3) � of the Passport Act, 1967 was ultra virus the Constitution.. Further, the
petitioner contended that the administrative order seized the passport on 4th July 1977 was infringed upon the
petitioner's rights of freedom of speech and expression, right to life and personal liberty, right to travel abroad,
and right to freedom of movement.
On the other hand the respondent stated that Article 21 contains the phrase
Procedure established by law and such procedure does not have to pass the test of reasonability and need not
necessarily be in consonance with the Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution. Indeed, the Hon'ble Supreme
Court attempts to analyze and expanded the scope of Article 21 and the Court was interpreted personal liberty
means freedom from physical restraint and coercion which is not authorized by law.
Prior to this case Article
21 guaranteed the Right to Life and Personal liberty only against arbitrary actions of executive and not from
the Legislative action. Perhaps, Maneka Gandhi's case extended the protection against legislative actions also.
In this case, the Apex Court was confirmed the Golden Triangle rule to protect the democracy and fair justice
through the procedure established by law and introduced new concept of due process of law.
Therefore, in this
case the Apex Court stated that it is violation of Article 14, since the aggrieved party was not given opportunity
to hear and it was also violation of Article 21, since it does not affirm to the word procedure as mentioned in
the clause and confirmed the right to travel abroad is a fundamental right.
- Right to livelihood is a part of right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution:
The right to livelihood connected rights are not mentioned specifically in the fundamental rights by the
Constitution, but the Supreme Court declared the right to lively hood is a part of right to life and as follows;
In Olga Tellis v/s Bomabay Municipal Corporation,
in this case five judges Bench of the Supreme
Court held that the word life in Article 21 includes the right to livelihood also and this case popularly known as
the pavement dwellers case. In this case the petitioners had challenged the validity of sections 313,313-A, 314
and 497 of the Bombay Municipal Corporation Act, 1888 which empowered the Municipal Authorities to
remove their huts form pavement and public places on the ground their removal amounted to depriving them
of their right to livelihood and it was violation of Article 21.
The Court held that the above sections were
Constitutional and it can be curbed and curtailed by following just and fair procedure. Further, the Court stated
that public streets are not meant for carrying on trade and business. However, the Court took a humanistic view
and directed the Municipal Authorities to remove them only after the end of current monsoon season. The
important facet of life is that no person can live without the means of living, e.g. livelihood. If right to
livelihood is not treated to be part of constitutional right to life, it would make human being life impossible to
- Right to Shelter, Clothing and Adequate nutrition food are relating to Article 21 protection of life
and personal liberty.
Indeed, in the constitution, nowhere it is mentioned that the right to shelter, right clothing and adequate
nutritious food are as the fundamental rights, but the Apex Court declared these are part of fundamental
human rights under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and as follows;
In the case of Francis Coralie v/s Union Territory of Delhi,
the Supreme Court stated that the right
to live is not restricted to mere animal existence but also includes the right to live with human dignity which
requires the bare necessities of life such as adequate nutrition food, clothing, shelter, facilities for reading and
writing and expressing ourselves in diverse forms etc part of right life under Article 21 of the Indian
Therefore the rights such as right to shelter, clothing, adequate nutrition food etc... developed
due to judicial activism.
Again in Chameli Singh V/s State o U.P,
the Supreme Court was stated that the right to shelter is a
fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution. The right to live guaranteed in any civilized society
implies right to food, water, decent environment, education, medical care and shelter.
The right to shelter
includes adequate living peace, safe and decent structure, clean and decent surroundings, sufficient light, pure
air and water, electricity, sanitation and roads.
(D) Right to get Minimum Wage is a Fundamental Right under Article 21:
Right to get minimum wage is not a fundamental right, but it is the directive policy of the state under
part-IV of the Indian Constitution, but judiciary interpreted right to get minimum is a part of right to life under
Article 21 to ensure right to dignity and standard of life and as follows;
In people's Union for Democratic rights v/s union of India,
the Apex Court held that non-payment
of Minim wages to the workers employed in various Asiad Projects in Delhi was a denial to them of their right
to live with basic human dignity and ultimately it is the violation of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
- Right to Privacy is a Right Life under Article 21:
Right to privacy is part of right to life, but it is not specifically mentioned in the written Constitution,
but the Supreme Court declared right to privacy is a part of right to life and as follows;
In R.Rajagopal v/s State of Tamil Nadu,
in this case the Supreme Court state that the right to privacy
or the right to be let alone is guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution. A citizen has a right o safeguard theprivacy of his own, his family, marriage, procreation, motherhood, childhood, and education and no one can
publish anything concerning the above matters without his consent whether truthful or otherwise. If anybody
publishes without his consent, he would be violating the right of the person concerned. However, this is subject
to certain exception that if any publications of such matters are based on public records it will be
- Right to health and Medical Assistance is Right to Life under Article 21:
In a welfare state it is the obligation of the state to seek the welfare of all in all aspects, but state has
neglected to discharge its obligations, but the Apex Court declared right to health and medical assistance is a
part of right to life as follows,
In Paramananda Katara v/s Union of India,
10 the Court held that it is the professional obligation of
whether government or private to extend medical aid to the injured person immediately to preserve his life
without waiting for formalities to be complied with by the police under Cr.P.C. Article 21 of the Constitution
casts the obligation on the state to preserve the life.
Again in Paschim Bang Khet Mazdoor Samity v/s State of West Bengal,
11 the Supreme Court held
that denial of medical aid by government's hospitals to an injured person on the ground of non-availability of
beds amounted to violation of right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution. In this case the petitioner
Hakim Singh was a member of Agricultural labourers organization had fallen from a running train and suffered
serious head inquiries and brain hemorrhage.
He was taken to various government hospitals in the city of
Calcutta but because of non availability of beds he was admitted. Finally, he was admitted in the private
hospital as an indoor patient and he had incurred an expenditure of Rs.17, 000-00 in his treatment. The Court
held that Article 21 imposes an obligation on the state to provide medical assistance to every injured person
and failure on the part of providing medical aid by the government hospital results in violation of his right to
life and the Court directed the state to pay Rs.25, 000-00 to the petitioner as compensation.
- Bonded labour is inhuman practice violates Article 21 of the Constitution:
Article 23 of the Indian ensured to prevent all forms of forced labour are prohibited and special
statutory provisions have also made to prevent such kind of in human practices, but the state is faired to
prevent such a kind of inhuman practices and the Supreme Court declared that the practice of bonded labour
is violation of Article 21 and as follows,
In the case of Bandhua Mukti Morcha v/s Union of India,12 the Supreme Court has read the Article 21
in conjunction with Articles 39 (e), (f), 41 and 42 to state that the bonded labour constitutes the "gross and
revolting violation of the constitutional values.
- Right to sleep is a constitutional freedom under Article 21 of the Constitution:
For a descent and dignified life a sound sleep is very much required, but such a right is not mentioned
in the fundamental rights. However, the Apex Court declared right to sleep as a constitutional freedom under
Article 21 that is right to life and decided as follows;
In Ramlila Maidan v/s Home Secretary, Union of India,
13 in this case different age group of women
come to attend Yoga training Camp organized by Baba Ram Dev and for which permission had been given
women were sleeping at midnight at 1a.m. the permission to hold the camp was withdrawn and section 144
imposed without any notice of it. Then, the police in an attempt to disperse gathering resorted to use of tear gas
and lathi charge to disperse the peaceful gathering crowd.
The Supreme Court two judges Bench Justice swatanter Kumar and Justice Dr.B.S. Chauhan took suo motu cognizance of the matter and issued necessary
directions for it. Justice Dr.B.S.Chauhan Stated that sleep is necessary to every individual for optimal health
and happiness and depriving it directly affects the quality of life of an individual. Sleep is a biological and
essential ingredient of the basic necessaries of life and if sleep is disturbed, the mind gets disoriented and it
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disturbs the health cycle. The deprivation of sleep would result in metal and physical torture and amounts to
violation of the basic human rights of the crowd to have a sound sleep which is also a constitutional freedom
under Article 21 of the Constitution.
- Right to get pollution free water and air is a fundamental right under Article 21:
Right to get polluted free water and polluted water are not coded in the
written Constitution, but the Supreme Court interpreted the right to get
pollution free water and polluted air is a fundamental human right under
Article 21 of the Constitution and the decision as follows; In M.C. Mehta v/s Union of India,14 in this case the petitioner filed a Public Interest Litigation
against Ganga Water Pollution and requiring the court to issue appropriate directions for the prevention of
Ganga water Pollution. The Supreme Court held that the petitioner not a riparian owner was entitled to move
the Court for the enforcement of various statutory provisions which impose duties on the municipal and other
The Court gave directions the Kanpur Nagar Mahapalike and water pollution control boards to
prevent pollution in Ganga Water.
Again in Subhas Kumar v/s State of Bihar,
15 the Court held that the Public Interest Litigation is
maintainable for ensuring enjoyment of pollution free water and air which is included in the right to life under
Article 21 of the Constitution.
- Right to Speedy Trail and Free Legal Aid are fundamental Human Rights under Article 21:
The Supreme interpreted right to speedy trail and free Legal aid is part of right to life under Article 21
of the Constitution and the decision as follows;
In Hussainara Khatoon v/s State of Bihar 16
is a landmark judgment which highlighted the
importance of timely justice as an integral part of fair trail and widening the scope of Article 21. This case also
threw lights on the importance of free legal aid for the poor section of the society to ensure the right to defend
in the court of law by an advocate enshrined in Article 39 A.
- Right against handcuffing is a part of Article 21 deals with dignity of human being:
Every human being either within the prison or outside the prison has right to maintain descent and
dignified life, but states have made different legal provisions for making handcuffing. However, the Apex
Court interpreted right against handcuffing is a part of Article 21 which deals with dignity of human being and
the decision as follows;
In Prem Shankar v/s Delhi Administration,
In this case the validity of certain clauses of Punjab
Police Rules were challenged as violation of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution. Justice Krishna Iyer
delivering the majority judgment held that the provisions were violation of Article 14, 19 and 21 of the
Constitution. Handcuffing should re resorted to only when there is clear and present danger of escape, breaking
out the police control and for this there must be clear material not merely an assumption. Handcuffing is a
prima facie inhuman and therefore unreasonable so over harsh and at the first flush, arbitrary and it deals with
the dignity of human being mentioned under Article 21 of the Constitution.
Though the Constitutional Courts have empowered to protect the fundamental human rights but there
is delay in deciding decisions. Whenever these fundamental rights have been violated in a society, Judiciary
should take suo motu cases immediately without waiting for Public Interest Litigation or social interest
litigation in case of grave violation of public rights. Public Interest Litigation petitions shall be disposed
expeditiously without any delay which need to protect Public interest. There should be establishment of special
courts for Public Interest litigations at the state level for speedy disposal of PIL cases.
Therefore, a number of unwritten and not coded rights in the Constitution which are fundamental in
nature such unenumerated rights have been interpreted and protected by the Indian Judiciary. Besides, the
Indian Judiciary has consistently interpreted several articles and included various rights which are necessary
for decent human life. Indian Judiciary has been pro-active and guarded the fundamental rights for human
The Supreme Court has over the years, elaborated the scope of fundamental rights particularly the
right to life and liberty consistently, strenuously opposing intrusions into them by agents of the State, thereby
upholding the rights and dignity of individual, in true spirit of good governance. In case after case, the Court
has issued a range of commands for law enforcement, dealing with an array of aspects of executive action in
general, and of police at the cutting edge level in particular.
Based on the above, now the scope of Article 21
has been expanded by the decisions of Supreme Court. In the case of Unni Krishnan v. State of A.P; where
the apex court has provided a list of some rights covered by Article 21 of the constitution. Consequently, the
unenumerated rights of the constitution and its interpretation from enumerated rights have also been seen in
fields of industry, labor and trade practices etc�
- V.N.Shukla, Constitution of India, Revised by Mahendra.P.Singh, Tenth
Edition, Reprinted in 2006, Eastern Book Company, Lucknow, India.
- Dr.J.N.Pandey, Constitutional Law of India, Central Law Agency, 54th
Edition, 2017, Allahabad, India.
- KLJ Publications, Indian Constitution, Puliani and Puliani Publication,
Fourth Edition, 2020,