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Protection of Life and Liberty by the High Courts of India

The concept of life and personal liberty often becomes a strong basis for the smooth functioning of the administration of any state as the same connects the state to its citizens. This statement proves its worth in contemporary society where the perception of life and personal liberty has now become an incarnate reality as well as veracity because of the organs of any state including the judicial system itself have taken steps to augment genuine importance to the liberty and freedom of the people thereby making this notion as crucial as the need might suggest in each and every case law.

It, therefore, becomes a duty of the organs of any state to protect the life and personal liberty of its citizens and in turn, gives the same as a right to the citizens of that particular state. The Constitution of India being the supreme law of our nation gives this right to the citizens of India. The concept of protection of rights and personal liberty is enshrined under the Fundamental Rights and is specified under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

This right to life and personal liberty is the fundamental of our fundamental rights. Nonetheless, the terminology of Article 21 begins with a negative word-NO but this word has been duly used in reference to the word deprived. The foremost objective of the fundamental right under Article 21of the Constitution is to preclude the infringement upon the personal liberty and deprivation of life of the people ‘except according to the procedure established by law’.

It noticeably means that this fundamental and essential right has been provided against the state primarily. If any act of private individual quantities to the infringement upon personal liberty or turns into the deprivation of life of the person aggrieved, such violation would not be categorized as a fit under the parameters set for the application of Article 21. In such a case the remedy for a distressed person would be either under Article 226 of the Constitution or under any other general law.

However, if any act of a private individual, it is supported by the state has resulted in the infringement of the personal liberty or life of another person, the act will positively come under the compass of Article 21 as this article deals with the deterrence of the encroachment upon personal liberty or the deprivation of life of a person.

Article 226 of the Constitution provides the power to the Hon’ble High Courts of the country to adjudicate the matters related to the Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The case laws are initiated in the High Courts under the ambit of its writ jurisdiction wherein the courts issue the writs as per the facts and the requirements of each and every case.

The Constitution of India also provides additional authority to the High Courts where there is an option to issue the prerogative writs thereby widening the jurisdiction of the high courts and broadening the ambit of the protection of the rights of the citizens of the country. In the case Mr. E.S. Sanjeeva Rao vs Central Bureau of Investigation[1], it was stated by the High Court of Bombay that a definitive judgment shall be as such that it results in the complete protection of the personal liberty of the person who is aggrieved.

In Abdul Kasem Ali Ahmed vs State Of Assam And Ors[2]; the Gauhati High Court explained the difference between a public wrong and a private wrong by verbatim stating that ‘What, now, needs to be noted is that howsoever thin and subtle maybe, there is, indeed, a real and definite line of demarcation not only between a public wrong and a private wrong, but also between a public law remedy and private law remedy.

Article 226 is pre-eminently a public law remedy and is not, generally, available as a remedy against private wrongs. Resort to Article 226 can be had to enforce various rights of the public or to compel the public or statutory authorities to discharge their public duties and/or to act, in the realm of their public functions, within the bounds of the law. The remedy under Article 226 can, no doubt, be availed of even against a private body or person; but the scope of the right of mandamus is limited to enforcement of public duty.

Thus concluding, the High Courts of the nation have been provided a wider scope than that of the apex court of the nation. The Hon’ble courts have often provided remedies which have resulted in the increase in the trust of the citizens upon the judicial system of the nation.

This stands to be very crucial and essential for the proper and smooth functioning of the organs of the nation and the relationship between the citizens and the administrative authorities as Article 21 connects the state to the citizens in a direct sense.

  1. Criminal Writ Petition No. 2637 OF 2010; Bombay High Court
  2. 2007 (1) CTLJ 323 Gau, (2007) 2 GLR 232, 2007 (1) GLT 784

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