Article 21 of Indian Constitution: The Heart of Fundamental Rights

Article 21 of indian constitution

The Indian Constitution, which was adopted on January 26, 1950, serves as the country’s ultimate legal document, outlining essential tenets and governance guidelines. Part III of the Constitution includes a critical clause known as Article 21, which is frequently cited as one of the most important rights granted to Indian citizens. Let us look at Article 21 of Indian Constitution main points.

Definition of Article 21 of Indian Constitution

According to Article 21, the government cannot deprive any person of their life or personal liberty except through a procedure established by law. This article is essential for an individual’s dignity and well-being because it protects their right to life and personal liberty. The term “procedure established by law” refers to any limitation on an individual’s right to life or liberty that is consistent with laws passed by the legislature.

Scope of Article 21 of Indian Constitution

  • Right to Life: This right encompasses more than just being present. It includes the ability to live a life that is honorable, fulfilling, and meaningful. It emphasizes the complete development of the individual, ensuring a life free of abuse, torment, and exploitation.
  • Right to Personal Liberty: This right protects the person from being arbitrarily detained and upholds their independence and right to self-determination.

Evolution of the Right to Privacy

Supreme Court Cases Year Subject Matter
Kharak Singh vs State of Uttar Pradesh  1963 According to the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Indian Constitution’s Article 21 guarantees the right to personal liberty, which includes the right to privacy.
R. Rajagopal vs State of Tamil Nadu 1994 In this case, the Supreme Court decided that the right to privacy encompasses the freedom to lead a private life and the right to solitude. The Court also recognized that reasonable limitations may be placed on the right to privacy, making it non-unique.
PUCL vs Union of India 1997 According to the Supreme Court, phone tapping is illegal unless it is authorized by law and necessary in a democratic society to protect national security or public order.
Government of NCT of Delhi vs Naz Foundation  2009 The Delhi High Court held that it is an infringement on people’s rights to privacy and dignity to criminalize homosexuality in this particular case.
Aadhaar judgment 2018 As a result of the Aadhaar scheme’s recognition of privacy as a fundamental right guaranteed by the Indian Constitution, the Supreme Court declared that it violates this right. To determine whether any violations of private rights are lawful, the Court also established the proportionality test.
Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) vs Union of India 2017 The Indian Supreme Court ruled that the right to privacy is a fundamental right guaranteed by Articles 21 and 14 of the Indian Constitution.

Indian Restrictions on the Right to Privacy

  • India has a plethora of statutes and laws safeguarding individuals’ right to privacy. This right is subject to certain restrictions, though.
  • The Indian Supreme Court has ruled that there are situations in which the right to privacy may be curtailed to safeguard the public interest and national security.
  • In certain cases, the Court has also decided that restrictions on privacy may be necessary to prevent a crime from being committed.
  • The government may also impose limitations on the right to privacy through the use of biometric data collection, electronic communication interception, and surveillance.
  • When interacting with foreign people or groups, or when the information is essential for maintaining national security, the government may also place restrictions on the right to privacy.

Key Elements of Right to Privacy In India

  • This fundamental right, which shields people from being watched in many spheres of life, is not unassailable and is subject to reasonable restrictions in the service of lawful state interests.
  • The Indian Constitution’s Articles 14, 19, and 21 grant the fundamental right to privacy, which is inextricably linked to the rights to life and liberty, which the Supreme Court upheld.
  • The right to privacy protects against unauthorized access to any information about an individual, including decisions, movements, personal preferences, relationships, and eating habits.
  • The ruling recognizes ramifications that go beyond the primary concern, such as the effect on digital privacy and the function of non-state actors.

State and Article 21

Article 21’s protective shield is mainly aimed at the State, which comprises the government and all of its departments, local governments, and legislatures. It is not a direct violation of this Article when a private person violates the rights guaranteed by Article 21. The person who feels wronged may file a complaint under Article 226 or other general laws.

The following Rights are Integral to Article 21

  • Right to shelter.
  • Right to health.
  • Right to livelihood.
  • Right to free legal aid.
  • Right to a speedy trial.
  • Right against handcuffing.
  • Right to live with human dignity.
  • Right against solitary confinement.
  • Right to privacy (Puttaswamy Case)
  • Right against inhuman treatment.
  • Right against delayed execution.
  • Right against public hanging.
  • Right to clean environment. (MC Mehta case)
  • Right to free education up to 14 years of age.
  • Right to timely medical treatment in government hospitals.
  • Right to travel abroad (Satwant Singh case)
  • Right against bonded labor.
  • Right against custodial harassment.
  • Right to emergency medical aid.
  • Right not to be driven out of a state.
  • Right to a fair trial.
  • Right of prisoners to have necessities of life.
  • Right of women to be treated with decency and dignity.

FAQ of Article 21 of Indian constitution

Q1. What is the privacy right?

Ans. The right to privacy, which is a fundamental human right, ensures that people have the autonomy to manage their data while remaining peaceful. It includes the right to keep information private, self-determination, and the ability to make decisions for oneself without external influence or government intervention.

Q2. Which article covers the right to privacy?

Ans. Although the Indian Constitution does not specifically mention it, Article 21, which protects life and personal liberty, has upheld the right to privacy as a fundamental freedom. In several significant rulings, the Indian Supreme Court has acknowledged the right to privacy as a fundamental component of Article 21.

Q3. Which Indian laws safeguard the right to privacy?

Ans. The Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules, 2011, the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits, and Services) Act, 2016, and the forthcoming Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 are just a few of the laws in India that safeguard the right to privacy.

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