Chapters :
  • THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS – ABOLITION OF TITLES – 03
  • ARTICLE 21: PROTECTION OF LIFE AND PERSONAL LIBERTY
  • RIGHT TO LIFE
  • RIGHT TO PERSONAL LIBERTY
  • RIGHT TO PRIVACY
  • UNIQUE IDENTIFICATION AUTHORITY OF INDIA (UDAI) 
  • JUSTICE K.S. PUTTASWAMY (RETD) V/S UNION OF INDIA (UOI)

THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS - ABOLITION OF TITLES - 03

ARTICLE 21: PROTECTION OF LIFE AND PERSONAL LIBERTY

It says that no person shall be deprived of his Right To Life And Personal Liberty except under the procedures established by law. This article is considered to be the heart of the constitution. No other article in the constitution has received the widest interpretation as this article. It is available to both citizens and non-citizens, but it does not entail an alien to reside and settle in Indian Territory.

This article gives protection when a person is deprived of his life and personal liberty by the actions of the State, not by private individuals. Article 21 cannot be suspended even during an Emergency.

RIGHT TO LIFE:

The term ‘life’ in this article does not just refer to mere physical existence, its scope is wider and includes a dignified, meaningful and wholesome life. This provision has been interpreted from different dimensions and everytime the scope of the article is widened to accommodate more liberal rights.  The following are the rights that have been interpreted from the right to life.

Right to livelihoodRight against noise pollution
Right to reputationRight against rape
Right to protection of culture, tradition, heritage, etc that gives meaning to lifeRight to live in peace, sleep in peace and repose
Right against sexual harassment in workplaceRight to social security and protection of family
Right to food, clothing and shelterRight to decent environment
Right Against Honour KillingRight To Medical Care
Right To Know Or To Be InformedRight To Health
Right To Clean Water And AirRight To Marriage

●     The Right to Life does not include the Right to Die. Article 21 gives protection to the right to lead a natural life whereas, the act of suicide terminates the natural life and results in unnatural death.

●     Euthanasia, on the other hand, does not result in unnatural death. It just accelerates the process of natural death that has already started.

RIGHT TO PERSONAL LIBERTY:

The term ‘Liberty’ in the article 21 is qualified by the term ‘Personal’. Thus, making its application very specific. Though article 19(1) ensures fundamental freedoms, its scope is narrower than the liberties covered under article 21.

RIGHT TO PRIVACY:

Privacy is an important and an inevitable aspect of personal liberty as personal liberty includes the liberty to be free from encroachments in one’s private life. But, The Right To Privacy is not absolute and lawful reasonable restrictions can be enforced to prevent a crime, public disorder, etc…

  • Right To Privacy does not restrict the doctors from the disclosure of dreadful diseases to their patients.
  • The right does not restrict the matrimonial courts from subjecting persons to medical tests in case of divorce.
  • The Right Provides Women, the right to make reproductive choices such as Refusing Sex, Insistence of the use of contraceptives and decisions regarding abortion and childbirth.

CASE 1: UNIQUE IDENTIFICATION AUTHORITY OF INDIA (UDAI) V/S CENTRAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (CBI)

The Indian judiciary has recognised Right to privacy as an integral part of Right to personal liberty in many cases. One such case is the case between UDAI and CBI. The CBI requested access to the enormous database collected by the UDAI for the purpose of investigating criminal cases. The Supreme Court held that the UDAI should not disclose the biometric data of individuals without their permission.

When a person discloses his private information with the government for a certain purpose, the Government should use the information only for that purpose. Even after the person disclosing the information, he still has the Right to privacy over that information.

CASE 2: JUSTICE K.S. PUTTASWAMY (RETD) V/S UNION OF INDIA (UOI)

In this case, the Supreme Court cleared the air around the issue of Right to privacy in its landmark judgement by recognising Right to privacy as a fundamental right guaranteed in the constitution. It held that Right to privacy is essential to protect the dignity, freedom and liberty of individuals and it is enshrined in Articles 14, 19 and 21.

Right to privacy is a natural right thus recognising it as a fundamental right is inevitable.

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