Article 21 of the Constitution of India

Article 21


The right to live a free, full and stately life is perhaps the most fundamental standards of human life. Each individual is qualified for carry on with their life on their own terms, with no out of line obstruction from others. A fruitful majority rule government must be one that ensures its residents the right to secure their own life and liberty.

In India, the Protection of Life and Personal Liberty is a Fundamental Right conceded to residents under Part III of the Constitution of India, 1950. These Fundamental Rights address the basic qualities appreciated by individuals and are allowed against activities of the state, implying that no demonstration of any state authority can abuse any such right of a resident besides as indicated by the methodology set up by law.

Article 21 of this part expresses that “No individual will be denied of his life or personal liberty besides as indicated by the strategy set up by law”, and this is known as the Right to Life and Personal Liberty.

 Thus, this Article denies the infringement upon an individual’s right to life and personal liberty against the state. The state here alludes to all elements having statutory position, similar to the Government and Parliament at the Central and State level, nearby specialists, and so on In this way, infringement of the right by private substances isn’t inside its domain.

The terms ‘life’ and ‘personal liberty’ include a wide assortment of rights of individuals, which are an aftereffect of the advancement in the understanding of Article 21 by the courts throughout the long term. Here, we will analyze the different parts of this Fundamental Right; yet before that, we should view the jurisprudential development of this idea and the meaning of perhaps the most popular decisions identified with it – Maneka Gandhi v. Association of India (1978).

Personal Liberty: Meaning and Scope  

The significance of Personal Liberty of a resident in India has developed and its degree has augmented. Before the Maneka Gandhi case, it had a generally smaller extension, involving just a few freedoms of an individual.

A.K. Gopalan v. Territory of Madras (1950): Prevention Detention


For this situation, the Petitioner, a socialist chief, was confined under the Preventive Detention Act, 1950. He asserted that such detainment was illicit as it encroached upon his opportunity of development allowed in Article 19(1)(d) of the Constitution of India and in this way disregarded his Personal Liberty as conceded by Article 21 since opportunity of development ought to be viewed as a piece of an individual’s personal liberty.


The court expressed that personal liberty implied liberty of the actual body and along these lines did exclude the rights given under Article 19(1). Thus, Personal liberty was considered to incorporate a few rights like the right to rest and eat, and so on while the right to move unreservedly was generally minor and was excluded from one’s “personal” liberty.

Kharak Singh v. Province of U.P. and Ors. (1964): Personal Liberty Curtailed


The candidate, for this situation, was blamed for dacoity however was delivered because of an absence of proof against him. The Uttar Pradesh Police at that point started reconnaissance over him which included domiciliary visits around evening time, periodical enquiries, check of developments and the like. The candidate documented a writ request testing the sacred legitimacy of this State activity.


It was held that the right to personal liberty establishes not just the right to be liberated from limitations put on one’s developments yet in addition to be liberated from infringements on one’s private life. Along these lines, personal liberty was considered to incorporate every one of the lingering opportunities of an individual excluded from Article 19(1).

Maneka Gandhi v. Association of India (1978): Right to Travel


The applicant, for this situation, was requested by the Regional Passport Office, Delhi to give up her recently made identification inside 7 days because of the Central Government’s choice to appropriate it “out in the open interest”, as per the Passport Act of 1967. After mentioning an assertion of the purposes behind such seizing, the Government answered that they couldn’t outfit a duplicate of something similar “in light of a legitimate concern for the overall population.” A writ request was recorded by the candidate testing the Government’s choice of appropriating and additionally of not giving the reasons, just as not permitting the applicant to protect herself.


The Honorable Supreme Court held that the right to travel and go external the nation should be remembered for the Right to Personal Liberty. It expressed that “personal liberty” given in Article 21 had the vastest sufficiency and covered an assortment of rights identified with the personal liberty of an individual. The extent of personal liberty was, thus, significantly expanded and it was held to incorporate every one of the rights allowed under Article 21, just as any remaining rights identified with the personal liberty of an individual. A right must be limited by a technique set up by law, which must be “reasonable, just and sensible, not whimsical, abusive or subjective.”

 Subsequently, the Court decreed for the situation that:  

The Government activity was not legitimized as there was no squeezing justification the seizing of the solicitor’s identification and it was an infringement of her Fundamental Rights.

 The standards of Natural Justice were disregarded as the candidate was not offered the chance to be heard.

Since this landmark case, the courts have looked to give a more extensive importance to “personal liberty”. The standards of common equity have additionally been accentuated upon, as any system which limits the liberty of an individual should be reasonable, just and sensible.

Extent of Right to Life and Personal Liberty

 We have had sufficient conversation on the extension in the extent of Article 21. What precisely establishes this Right today? We will in the future inspect the different parts of Right to Life and Personal Liberty.

Right to live with human pride

 It isn’t sufficient to guarantee that an individual has an Option to Live. A fundamental component of life is one’s pride and regard; consequently, every individual has been ensured the right to live with nobility – which means approaching the necessities of human existence just as having autonomy over one’s personal choices.

In Occupational Health and Safety Association v. Association of India (2014), the insurance of wellbeing and strength of laborers and their admittance to simply and empathetic states of work were taken as fundamental conditions to live with human pride.

Word related Health and Safety Association v. Association of India (2014)


For this situation, a non-benefit association recorded a request looking for rules for word related wellbeing and medical issue in different enterprises, particularly nuclear energy stations. This was taking into account the different skin illnesses, lung irregularities, and so on endured by their laborers because of undesirable working conditions. It additionally called for pay to casualties of word related wellbeing issues.


The court perceived the State’s obligation to shield laborers from hazardous or unhygienic working conditions and remanded the make a difference to different High Courts to check the issue of nuclear energy stations in their individual states.

 The Supreme Court, on account of Navtej Singh Johar v. Association of India (2018), said that the Right to respect implies the right to “full personhood”, and “incorporates the right to convey such capacities and exercises as would comprise the significant articulation of the human self.” For this situation, a vital part of human poise was discussed – the command over one’s own private relations.

Navtej Singh Johar v. Association of India (2018)- Homosexuality


For this situation, the candidate NGO documented a Writ Petition testing Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 as it condemned sexual demonstrations between LGBT people, guaranteeing that it was against the Fundamental Rights.


The court, applying the rule of human respect, said that Section 377 was violative of Articles 14, 15, 19, and 21 of the Constitution to the degree that it condemned consensual sexual demonstrations of grown-ups (for example people over the age of 18 years who are skilled to assent) in private. Consequently, sexual demonstrations between LGBT grown-ups directed with the free assent of the gatherings included were pronounced lawful.

 As can be noticed, human pride isn’t a restraint thought. Maybe, it includes every one of those rights and opportunities which empower an individual to carry on with life without infringement upon their dignity, pride and security.

Right to occupation

To endure, an individual expects admittance to monetary and material assets to satisfy his different requirements. The law perceives that each individual, regardless of whether man or lady, has an equivalent right to business so the person may secure the essential assets like food, water, asylum, garments and more. No individual has the right to live in neediness and filthiness on account of being denied of the opportunity to procure for himself.

 A significant case in this matter has been depicted beneath.

Olga Tellis and Ors. v. Bombay Municipal Corporation (1986)- Right to Livelihood


 The candidates, for this situation, were ghetto and asphalt occupants in the city of Bombay. They documented a writ request against a prior choice of the State of Maharashtra and the Bombay Municipal Corporation to persuasively expel inhabitants and oust them, which prompted the destruction of specific homes. They tested these activities because removing an individual from his asphalt abiding or ghetto implied denying him of his right to occupation, which ought to be viewed as a piece of his established right to life.


The court reasoned that however the ghetto and asphalt inhabitants were denied of their Right to Livelihood, the public authority was supported in ousting them as they were utilizing the public property for private purposes. In any case, they ought not be considered as intruders as they involved the messy places out of sheer powerlessness. It was requested that any removals would occur solely after the moving toward storm season and the people who were censused before 1976 would be qualified for resettlement.

 While the case neglected to carry fruitful resettlement to the occupants and, indeed, is in some cases refered to as defense for expulsion of individuals by the State, it had its influence in setting up the Right to Livelihood as a feature of the Fundamental Right to Life.

Right to protection  

Right to Privacy seems like an extremely fundamental and clear right to have, however for quite a while, it was not perceived as a particular right by the Government due to not being referenced unequivocally by the drafters in the Constitution of India. Over the long run, there has been a developing acknowledgment of an individual’s autonomy over their personal body, brain and data which has been given due accentuation by the courts in different decisions.

 The Right to Privacy initially saw notice in the accompanying case.

R. Rajagopal v. Province of Tamil Nadu :  

For this situation, an individual indicted for homicide composed his autobiography, where he additionally revealed his relationship with the jail authorities, some of whom were his sidekicks. His significant other sent it for distributing to the Tamil magazine ‘Nakkheeran’, however the jail authorities meddled in the distribution. The editors of the magazine recorded a request to control the public authority or the jail specialists from stopping the distribution of the autobiography.


The court held that it was the right of the criminal Auto Shankar to do anything he desired with his private data. In this way, the magazine couldn’t be stopped from distributing what it called the “autobiography” of the lawbreaker.

This case set up for future decisions in regards to the Right to Privacy and cleared the way for it to be set up as a piece of the Fundamental Rights conceded under Part III of the Constitution.

Is Right to Privacy a flat out or absolute right?

Albeit Right to Privacy is quite possibly the most fundamental rights of an individual, particularly in a cutting edge majority rule government, it’s anything but a flat out and untouchable right. There are sure circumstances where sensible limitations can be set on this right of an individual for everyone’s benefit.

Mr. X v. Clinic Z (1998)


The appealing party, for this situation, was discovered to be HIV(+) when his blood test was tried. This reality was revealed by the Hospital to others without the litigant’s express assent. Because of such revelation, the appealing party’s proposed union with Ms. Y was canceled and he was evaded by society.

 The abused individual moved toward the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission asserting that there was a break of secrecy with respect to the Hospital, however his protest was excused. The litigant at that point moved toward the Supreme Court battling that the Duty of Care of the clinical experts just as his Right to Privacy were disregarded.


 The court held that the litigant’s Right to Privacy was supplanted by Ms. Y’s right to know a particularly material reality about the individual she was going to wed, as it will undoubtedly influence her life also. It was additionally held that a clinical expert’s obligation to keep up secrecy could be penetrated in situations where public premium was in question.

Phone Tapping: An intrusion of Right to Privacy  

In today’s computerized world, Right to Privacy has procured another importance. In this present reality where your finger controls all that you put out for anyone’s viewing pleasure, would you be able to envision your personal data being covertly kept an eye on by somebody?

 During the 90s, phone tapping of private discussions by the State turned into a much-discussed issue on account of People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Association of India (1997). Allow us to investigate current realities of the case.

Individuals’ Union for Civil Liberties v. Association of India (1997)


For this situation the candidate, an intentional association, tested the sacred legitimacy of Section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 which enabled the Central or State government or its approved official to block and record messages if there should be an occurrence of public crisis or out in the open interest. This came in the wake of the report on phone tapping of lawmakers which showed that numerous block attempts were not sponsored by appropriate approvals and as a rule, no legitimate records or logs of the equivalent were kept up.


The court held that interference can be made simply by explicit top government authorities, just when it is vital, and it ought not surpass a total of a half year. The duplicates of such captured messages ought to be obliterated when they are not, at this point valuable. Perceiving an individual’s Right to Privacy, it requested the arrangement of a Review Committee to watch that such interference was not in repudiation of Section 5(2) and on the off chance that it was, the messages will be annihilated right away.

Author: Ronak Batra (SRM University)

Law Library LawBhoomi

Leave a Reply