ARTICLE 21 OF THE CONSTITUTION

ARTICLE 21 OF THE CONSTITUTION

Author:- Gaurav Putohit

INTRODUCTION

Article 21 is an essential Fundamental Right mentioned in the Constitution of India. It includes many rights such as the right to a clean environment, right to livelihood, right to life, right to privacy, right to personal liberty, right to live with human dignity, right to pollution-free air, Etc.

Article 14, Article 19, and Article 21 is known as the Golden Triangle of the Constitution. Like if any new law is to be passed, then it must fulfil the provisions of all these articles otherwise that law will be declared as unconstitutional, null, or void. Moreover, that law will not have any force if it does not fulfil the requirements of these 3 articles.

Article 21 of the Constitution provides that No person shall be deprived of his life and liberty except according to the procedure which is established.

This clearly states that a person cannot be deprived of his right to life and also the right to liberty. Still, there is one reasonable restriction that, however, his right to life and liberty can be restricted and challenged according to the procedure which is established by the law.

FEATURES OF ARTICLE 21 

  • This same provision of the right to life is also provided in the American Constitution Fifth Amendment.
  • This Right which is provided under Article 21 of the Constitution is available to both citizens as well as non-citizens as the word person is mentioned and a person includes both citizens as well as non-citizens.
  • This right is also considered as the Heart of the Constitution as the preamble of the Constitution also provides liberty as a fundamental right as there is one line in the preamble which reads as liberty of thought, expression, faith, believe, and worship.
  • This right is an essential foundation for passing any new law by the parliament as any new law should not violate Article 21 otherwise that particular law will be declared unconstitutional and void.
  • This right covers all aspects of life, and it is the primary and essential right which is provided in the Constitution.
  • This right can be restricted only in 3 circumstances that are first is that there must be a law, and second is that the procedure must be established by law. The third is that the procedure must be fair and reasonable. That means the procedure must fulfil the requirements of principles of natural justice. 
  • Article 21 always remains in operation even at times of emergency. So it is not suspended at the time of emergency.

CASE LAWS

  1. Kharak Singh V.s State of UP: The facts of the case were Kharak Singh who had been charged in a case of dacoity, but as there was no evidence against him, so he was released by the police authorities. However, the police were keeping a close eye on his day to day activities like there was secret picketing of his houses and also the domiciliary visits to check that he is at his house or not. So the Court held that the Domiciliary visits by police authorities violated Article 21 that is right to live with dignity, honour, and personal liberty and this act was unjustified on the part of police authorities. It may be struck down as void and unconstitutional. As the meaning of the expression, life is much more than mere animal existence. An unauthorized disturbance caused to any individual will violate the right under Article 21 of the Constitution.  
  1. Maneka Gandhi V.s Union of India: The passport of the petitioner was impounded by the Union Government under the provision of Section 10 of the Passport Act 1967. So this act by the Union Government was challenged by the petitioner by contending that it is violative of the right to equality as provided under Article 14 of the Constitution as this was an arbitrative action by the central government. It was also contended that this act is violating article 19 and article 21 that means it violated a golden triangle of the Constitution. The Apex court held that this act of impoundment of passport by the Central Government was not justified. However, this act was not in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India as the act established the procedure for impounding the petitioner’s passport.
  1. A.k. Gopalan V.s State of Madras: Ak Gopalan, who was the petitioner in this case, was detained under the Preventive Detention Act. 1950. He was also a communist leader. Furthermore, he challenged the detainment and also the validity of the Prevention Detention Act. The major contentions of the petitioner were that it violated Article 19 and also the article 21 of the Constitution as it violated the right to move freely throughout India which also includes the right to liberty and it was also contended that it was in violation of principles of natural justice and the procedure established by law is same as due process of law under American Constitution. The apex court held that the procedure established by law does not mean the same as due process of law and the interpretation of procedure established by law is taken as procedure as prescribed by the law of the state. 
  1. Vikas Dubey Encounter: Vikas Dubey murdered 8 police officers in an encounter, and the police officers arrested him at the temple where he surrendered. This was an instance of extra-judicial killings. Vikas Dubey was a gangster, and he killed 8 police officials in Kanpur. There have been many encounters conducted by police authorities in different states and especially in the state of Uttar Pradesh. These extra-judicial killings are nothing, but they have considered state-sponsored terrorism as this is terrorism only like killing an individual without providing his or her rights as mentioned in the Constitution. These extra-judicial killings also violate the principles of natural justice as he is not given a chance for fair and reasonable hearing, so it violated the principle of Audi Alteram Partem this was a total violation of his fundamental rights. Moreover, these encounters result in the violation of Article 21, which provides the right to life and the right to personal liberty. Extra-Judicial Killings are just mockery and violation of human rights. There are some rights available to the accused like the right to have a fair trial and right to being heard which is available to all accused so Vikas Dubey must be provided with a chance of fair hearing by the higher authorities. However, he was not provided such rights which are totally in violation of his human as well as fundamental rights.
  1. Hathras Rape Case: Rape is always considered the most severe and heinous offence, and it was more into the picture after the Nirbhaya Rape case. This case is also covered entirely by the media, and this case turned into a high profile case. This case included the rape and murder of a Dalit girl whose age was only 19 years as this case was in full coverage of the media, so there was public anger. The government of Uttar Pradesh also handled this case in a very bad way as the media was not allowed to cover this case. The police officials also denied the victim’s family request of filing an FIR. Moreover, the body of the victim was cremated at 2.30 in the late-night, which was not at all acceptable. Like what is the need for creating the body and that too, without the consent of the family of the victim. The family of the victim was restrained in their own house, and they were not allowed to go out of their house, and they were also denied to contact the media in any manner. So all this was a clear violation of fundamental rights of the family of the victim like there was a violation of Article 21 which included the right to live with honour and personal Liberty and the personal Liberty of the family of the victim was violated. There was a violation of Article 19, as well as the victim’s family, was not allowed the right to freedom of speech and expression. There was also a violation of Freedom of Press as mentioned implicitly in Article 19 of the Constitution of India as media channels were not allowed to contact the victim’s family and they were not allowed to come near to the victim’s house. So there was a violation of fundamental rights and especially the rights under Article 19 and Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

CONCLUSION

Article 21 of the Constitution is always the most basic and essential fundamental right mentioned in the Constitution of India. Without this right, other rights have less importance. There are different cases like the Decriminalization of Section 377 that also involved this important article as the LGBT community involved the right to life with personal liberty. The law should pass all the conditions of Article 14, 19, and also the conditions of Article 21. This article also incorporates principles of natural justice. Moreover, this article consists of several important rights. This article contains fundamental rights which are essential for any human being to live with honour and peace in society.   

REFERENCES

  • BARE ACT OF CONSTITUTION OF INDIA
  • ARTICLE 14 OF THE CONSTITUTION 
  • ARTICLE 19 AND 21 OF THE CONSTITUTION

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