Greatness of the bench lies in creativity…
There are cases where a decision one way or the other will count for the future, will advance or retard sometimes much, sometimes little, the development of the law in a proper direction. It is in these types of cases where the judge is to leap into the heart of legal darkness, where the lamps of precedent and common law principles flicker and fade, that the judge gets an opportunity to mold the law and to give it its shape and direction. This is what we have been trying to do in India.
– Justice P.N. BhagwatiThe origin of the concept of Fundamental Rights, which are also known as Natural Rights or Human Rights or Basic Rights or Inalienable Rights, is based on the theory of Natural Law. The idea that people have certain rights, which cannot be taken away, began with the theory of Natural Law. According to this theory, anything that detracts from man’s human qualities, or prevents their full achievement, violates the law of Nature. This idea led to the belief that men and governments everyone are bound by Natural Law, it being higher than man’s law.
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The Part III of the Constitution of India, wherein has been incorporated a long list of Fundamental Rights, is described as the Magna Carta of India. The Fundamental Rights as incorporated in the Constitution of India can be classified under six groups. They are (i) Right to equality (Articles 14-18), (ii) Right to freedom (Articles 19-22), (iii) Right against exploitation (Articles 23-24), (iv) Right to freedom of religion (Articles 25-28), (v) Cultural and educational rights (Articles 29-30) and (vi) Right to constitutional remedies (Articles 32-35).
Article 21, which provides that “no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law” falls under the group of “right to freedom.” But what is “life” or “personal liberty” is not defined by the Constitution anywhere.
The evolution of the concept of right to life and personal liberty by the Supreme Court of India becomes evidently clear when we look into its some of the decisions. The Supreme Court did not remain content with the expansion of the concept of right to life and personal liberty and held that the right to life includes the right to live with human dignity and all that goes along with it, namely, the basic necessities of life such as adequate nutrition, clothing and shelter, and facilities for reading, writing and expressing oneself in diverse forms, freely moving about and mixing and commingling with fellow human beings.
The above observation speaks volumes about judicial activism and substantiates the earlier contention that the right to life pre-supposes many other rights. It is because of this that right to life has been characterized as most “fundamental of all Fundamental Rights”. Right to life, therefore, no more means merely the sanctity of life. It includes right to live decently as a member of civilized society and have all the freedoms and advantages that would go to make life agreeable and living assured in a reasonable standard of comfort and decency.
Right to life includes right to livelihood, right to education, right to work, right to minimum wages, right against economic exploitation, right to environmental protection, right to minimum livable healthy environment free from danger of disease and infection, Speedy trial, right against illegal arrest, right to compensation in case of custodial torture or death, rights of arrestees, right to consult a lawyer, right to free legal aid, right to life and liberty, right to live with human dignity, right to fair trial, right to living will and euthanasia etc., and many other rights. The Supreme Court of India by interpreting right to life in the light of the Preamble of the Constitution and various provisions of Directive Principles of State Policy is discovering more and more components of the right to life, as will be evident from the discussions in the relevant chapters of this work.
ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY-
In order to find the answers to the above mentioned questions the present work has been divided in different parts the schedule of which is under mentioned:-
The first part is introduction it acquaints us with the objective of the study on the enlargement of the ambit of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution through the process of judicial review, the questions involved in the study and the methodology used towards it. It is further divided in-
a)Origin of the concept of Fundamental Rights,
b)Evolution of Fundamental Rights in India,
c)Meaning of word ‘Life’ and ‘Personal Liberty’.
RETROSPECTIVE PERSPECTIVE AND CONSTITUTIONAL INTENT OF RIGHT TO LIFE AND PERSONAL LIBERTY.An attempt has been made to discuss the historical background and constitutional intent of Right to Life and Personal Liberty with the help of various theories propounded by various philosophers on the right to life and personal liberty, from UDHR, ICCPR, and from the debates in the constituent assembly on the Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
SOCIAL CHANGE AND JUDICIAL REVIEW
An attempt will be made to discuss the social changes in the concept of right to life and personal liberty and its judicial review.
RIGHT TO LIFE AND PERSONAL LIBERTY : JUDICIAL INTERPRETATION FROM GOPALAN TO MANEKA
An attempt will be made to discuss the Supreme Court’s judgments interpreting Article 21 of the Indian Constitution from A. K. Gopalan’s case to Maneka Gandhi’s case.
RIGHT TO LIFE AND EXTINCTION OF LIFE THROUGH DEATH SENTENCE, SUICIDE AND “EUTHANASIA”
An attempt has been made to discuss the Supreme Court’s Judgment dealing the concept of extinction of life through death sentence, suicide and euthanasia, concept of living will under the ambit of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
RIGHT TO LIFE AND PERSONAL LIBERTY AND THEIR EVER EMERGING NEW ASPECTS AFTER MANEKA.An attempt has been made to discuss the Supreme Court’s judgments interpreting Article 21 of the Indian Constitution after Maneka Gandhi’s case till date.
CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTIONSIn this chapter I tried to summaries my work.