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Article 21: Protection Of Right To Life And Personal Liberty Under Indian Constitution

Through Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, every person has been provided with the right to life. The right to life not only refers to the existence of breathing, but also includes a number of rights and interpretations. Right to live a dignified life with basic food, clothing and shelter, right to get education, right to live in pollution free environment, right to medical health care facilities, right to privacy and many more rights. To be within the pure view of Article 21 of the Constitution of India through various judgments.

Introduction
"Article 21 embodies a constitutional value of supreme importance in a democratic society" as stated by Justice P. Bhagwati in the case of Francis CoralieMullin V. The Administrator 1981.

Article 21 of The Indian Constitution States that ' No person shall be deprived f rom his life and personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.'

Hence Article 21 secures Two rights:
  • Right To Life , and
  • Right To personal Liberty.
Further Justice Iyer Categorised Article 21 as "the procedure magnacarta protective of life and liberty".

Article 21 is the celebrity provision of the Indian Constitution and holds a unique place as a fundamental right for the people of India. It protects life and personal Freedom. Its vision and mission is that no person shall be deprived of his life or private life Freedom except according to procedure established by law.

Here the right to life also includes the right to live Right to health, right to good food, right to pollution free environment etc. To put it in simple words, Article 21 provides the inherent guaranteed of an individual's right to live with human dignity. Article 21 ComesUnder part III of Indian Constitution and it is one of the Fundamental Right which is guaranteed to the citizens of India.

Article 21 Of The Indian Constitution

This fundamental right is available to every individual, citizens and foreigners alike.
  • One of the most important rights that the Constitution of India guarantees is fundamental right which is provided by article 21.
  • The Supreme Court of India has described this right as the 'Heart of the fundamental rights.'
  • The right specifically mentions that no person shall be deprived of life and liberty except according to procedure established by law. This means that this right has been provided only against the state. Here the state includes not only the government but also government departments, local bodies, legislature etc.
  • Any encroachment on these rights of another person by a private person is not a violation of Article 21. The remedy for the victim in this case would be under Article 226 or at common law.
  • Right to life means not just only the right to survive. It also includes being able to live a full life of dignity and meaning.
  • The main goal of Article 21 is that when a person's right to life or liberty is taken away by the State, it should be only in accordance with the procedure prescribed by law.

Importance Of Article 21

Rights and liberty an integral part of every individual ina society. It is something as basic as it is ´┐Żbut can weeven imagine living in a society devoid of it or asociety holding back these rights from its citizens?

This is exactly what was kept in mind while making ofthe fundamental right -of right to life and liberty!!Therefore, right to life and liberty has been guaranteedto every citizen of India through Article 21, On 26thJanuary 1950 when constitution came into effect.

Article 21's Interpretation

Judicial intervention has ensured that the scope of Article 21 is not narrow and restrictive. It is expanding due to many historical decisions or several landmark judgements which is given time to time according to the need of the society.

Some important cases Related to the Article 21:
  1. Ak Gopalan V. State Of Madras (1950):
    This is a case of Procedure Established By law i.e exception of Article 21. In this case A.K Gopalan was a communist who was detained under Preventive Detention Act 1950. He Challanged detention on the ground that his civil liberty was restricted. In this case, the Supreme Court held that the Constitution's expression 'procedure established by law' embodied the British concept of personal liberty rather than the American 'due process'.
     
  2. Maneka Gandhi V. Union Of India (1978):
    This Case Overruled the decision which is given in the Gopalan case. In this supreme court said that Article 19 and 21 are not Indisputable sections. Article 21 has a wider scope of idea of personal liberty which includes numbers of rights, some of them are elevate under Article 19. So this given them additional protection. The court also held that the law which falls under article 21 must also satisfy the requirements of article 19. This means that no procedure under law to deprive a person of life or liberty must be unreasonable, unreasonable or arbitrary.
     
  3. Olga Tellis V. Bombay Municipal Corporation (1985):
    Repeat the stand taken earlier in the case that any process which would deprive a person of his fundamental rights must be in consonance with the norms of fair play and justice. In this case court Held that Slum and Footpath resider were deprived of their Right to Livelihood. The government can evict them but not considered as Trespassers because they occupied government property due to helplessness and it was ordered that 'Eviction only taken place before Monsoon Season and Those who reside before 1976 must be Entitle for Re settlement.'
     
  4. Unni Krishnan V. State Of Andhra Pradesh (1993):
    In this SC Upheld the expanded Interpretation of the Right to Life.
The Court based on earlier judgments gave a list of rights which are included in Article 21.

Some of them are:
  1. Right to live with human dignity.
  2. Right to civilized environment including pollution free water and air and safety Against hazardous industries.
  3. Right to Livelihood.
  4. Right to privacy.
  5. Right of asylum.
  6. Right to health.
  7. Right to free legal aid.
  8. Right against solitary confinement.
  9. Right to speedy trial.
  10. Right against handcuffs.
  11. Right against inhuman treatment.
  12. Right against delayed execution.
  13. Right to travel abroad.
  14. Right against bonded labour.
  15. Right against custodial torture.
  16. Right to emergency medical aid.

Procedure Established By Law
Rights and liberty an integral part of every individual ina society. It is something as basic as it is but can weeven imagine living in a society devoid of it or asociety holding back these rights from its citizens?

This is exactly what was kept in mind while making ofthe fundamental right -of right to life and liberty !!Therefore ,right to life and liberty has been guaranteedto every citizen of India through Article 21 ,on 26thJanuary 1950 when constitution came into effect .

Conclusion
Although this article 21 on right to life and liberty guarantees citizens right to life but can be misused bythe state due to its loopholes which it's exception create. Before the Maneka Gandhi case, the scope of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution was very restricted .

However, the scope of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution was expanded by the Supreme Court by declaring that due process of law is an inherent element of procedure established by law. It was held in the Maneka Gandhi case.

Furthermore, a person's life and liberty may be taken away only if the following requirements are met:
  • The law must be valid.
  • There must be a proper procedure.
  • That procedure should be just, fair, and notarbitrary.
If a process provided by law is superficial , oppressive, or unfair, it should not be considered a process at all. A system has to be reasonable or just in order to represent the idea of natural justice. Natural justice seeks to establish justice in the law.

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