ARTICLE 21

Article 21 of Constitution of India: Protection of Life and Personal Liberty

Article 21 states that “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.” Thus, article 21 secures two rights:

  • Right to life, and
  • 2) Right to personal liberty.

The Government of India Act, 1935 provided for the establishment of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. It declares that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law. Article 21 comes under the Part III of the Indian constitution and is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed to all citizens of India. In this article, we will discuss various rights and liberties that are a part of Article 21.

Article 21 of Indian constitution

  • Article 21 is a fundamental right and is included in Part-III of Indian Constitution. 
  • This right is available to all citizens as well as non-citizens alike. 
  • Supreme Court has described this right as the “heart of fundamental rights”
  • According to Justice Bhagwati, Article 21 “embodies a constitutional value of supreme importance in a democratic society.”
  • Article 21 secures two rights: The right to life and the Right to personal liberty.
  • Article 21 cannot be suspended during an emergency. 

Meaning and Scope of Article 21 of Indian Constitution

The right to life in Article 21 of Indian constitution does not mean animal existence or the mere act of breathing. It guarantees the right to a dignified life. Some of the rights that are currently included in the ambit of Article 21 includes (mentioned in Menaka Case):

  • Right to live with human dignity.
  • Right to the decent environment including pollution-free water and air and protection
  • against hazardous industries.
  • Right to livelihood.
  • Right to privacy.
  • Right to shelter.
  • Right to health.
  • Right to free education up to 14 years of age.
  • Right to free legal aid.
  • Right against solitary confinement.
  • Right to a speedy trial.
  • Right against handcuffing
  • Right against inhuman treatment.
  • Right against delayed execution.
  • Right to travel abroad.
  • Right against bonded labor.
  • Right against custodial harassment.
  • Right to emergency medical aid.
  • Right to timely medical treatment in a government hospital.
  • Right not to be driven out of a state.
  • Right to a fair trial.
  • Right of prisoner to have necessities of life.
  • Right of women to be treated with decency and dignity
  • Right against public hanging.
  •  Right to hearing.
  • Right to information.
  • Right to reputation.

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