Right to life and personal liberty


Right to life and personal liberty is the most treasured and urgent crucial human right around which different rights of the individual spin and, subsequently, the examination expects extraordinary importance. The investigation of the right to life is for sure an investigation of the Supreme Court as a gatekeeper of key human rights. Article 21 is the most popular provision of the Indian Constitution and involves an exceptional spot as a principal right. It ensures the right to life and personal liberty to residents and outsiders and is enforceable against the State. The new understanding of Article 21 in Maneka Gandhi’s case has prompted another period of extension of the skylines of right to life and personal liberty.


The Fundamental Rights under Article 19 are given distinctly on residents, however the rights referenced in provisions (a) to (f) are accessible to all people whether residents or not. In various cases, the Supreme Court has held that foreigners are qualified for the protection under Articles 21 and 22.

On the topic of applicability of Article 21 to non-residents, the Supreme Court has underscored that even the individuals who come to India as tourists likewise “reserve the option to live, insofar as they are here, with human pride, similarly as the State is under a commitment to protect the life of each resident in this nation, so additionally the State is under a commitment to protect the life of the people who are not residents.”

Protection of Life and Personal Liberty: Article 21

Article 21[1]sets out that, “No individual will be denied of his life or personal liberty with the exception of as indicated by a procedure established by law.”

Article 21 guarantees each individual the right to life and personal liberty. The term ‘life’ has been given a broad importance. The term ‘personal liberty’ has been given a wide plentifulness covering an assortment of rights which proceeds to establish the personal liberty of a resident. Its hardship will just be according to the important procedure endorsed in the significant law, yet the procedure must be reasonable, just and sensible.


The word ‘life’ under Article 21 has been deciphered by the Supreme Court rather generously and comprehensively. After some time, the Court has been giving a sweeping understanding to the term ‘life’. The Court has regularly cited the accompanying perception of Field, J., in Munn v. Illinois, an American case:

In Francis Coralie v. Union Territory of Delhi[2], the Supreme Court has held that the articulation ‘life’ in Article 21 doesn’t just indicate physical or creature presence however grasps something else.

We imagine that the right to life incorporates the right to live with human pride and all that accompanies it, to be specific, the minimum essential of life, for example, sufficient nourishment, garments and sanctuary over their head”.

An individual’s reputation is an aspect of his right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

In D.B.M. Patnaik v. Province of Andhra Pradesh[3], a few detainees tested a few limitations as abusing their rights under Article 21. The Supreme Court expressed that a convict isn’t exposed of all his Fundamental Rights. Detainment after conviction will undoubtedly shorten a portion of his rights, e.g., the right to speak freely of discourse or development, yet certain different rights, e.g., the right to hold property, could in any case be appreciated by a detainee. A convict could likewise guarantee that he ought not be denied of his life or personal liberty with the exception of as indicated by the procedure established by law.

The Supreme Court has expressed in R.M. Malkani v. Province of Maharashtra[4], concerning Article 21, that the telephonic discussion of a guiltless resident would be protected by Courts against unfair or oppressive impedance by tapping of the discussion, by the police. The protection isn’t for the blameworthy against the endeavours of the police to vindicate the law.

Personal liberty

The articulation ‘personal liberty’ utilized in Article 21 has likewise been given a liberal understanding. It doesn’t only mean the liberty of the body, i.e., opportunity from physical restriction or opportunity from repression in
||||||side the limits of a jail or opportunity from capture or detainment, from bogus detainment or illegitimate constraints, yet implies significantly more than that. The term ‘personal liberty’ isn’t utilized from a thin perspective yet has been utilized in Article 21 as a succinct term to incorporate inside it, every one of those assortments of rights of an individual which go to make up with the personal liberty of a man.

Landmark Judgements 

  1. K. Gopalan v. Province of Madras[5]

Issue: Regardless of whether Art. 21 visualises any procedure set somewhere near a law enacted by an assembly, or whether the procedure ought to be reasonable and sensible?

For the benefit of Gopalan, an endeavour was made to convince the Supreme Court to hold that the Courts could mediate upon the sensibility of the Preventive Detention Act, or so far as that is concerned, any law denying an individual of his personal liberty.


The word ‘law’ in Article. 21 doesn’t only mean enacted law, however fuses standards of common equity with the goal that a law to deny an individual of his life or personal liberty can’t be substantial except if it consolidates these standards in the procedure set somewhere near it.

The sensibility of the law of preventive confinement should be decided under Art. 19. The articulation ‘procedure established by law’ brings into India the American idea of procedural fair treatment, which empowers the Courts to see whether the law satisfies the imperative components of a sensible procedure.

In this way, in Gopalan, an endeavour was made to win for a detenue preferred procedural defends over were accessible to him under the applicable confinement law and Art. 22. Yet, all the contentions were dismissed by the Supreme Court.


The Supreme Court decided by larger part that the word ‘law’ in Art. 21 was utilized in the feeling of lex (state-made law) and not jus. The articulation ‘procedure established by law’ would, hence, mean the procedure as set down in an enacted law.

Dispute: Then again, Fazl Ali, J., contradicting the lion’s share see, held under the rule of common equity that, ‘nobody will be denounced unheard’ was a piece of the overall law of the land and the equivalent ought to in like manner be perused under Art. 21. Gopalan settled two significant focuses according to Art. 21.

1. 19, 21 and 22 were totally unrelated and autonomous of each other and that Art. 19 was not to apply to a law influencing personal liberty to which Art. 21 would apply.

2. A ‘law’ influencing life or personal liberty couldn’t be pronounced unlawful only on the grounds that it needed normal equity or due procedure. The law-making body was allowed to set out any procedure for this reason.

Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India[6]is a landmark case which displayed that Art. 21, as deciphered in Gopalan, couldn’t assume any job in giving any protection against any brutal law, looking to deny an individual of his life or personal liberty. It is the difference of Fazal Ali J which is vindicated by the law, along these lines, created by the Supreme Court finishing in Maneka. In Maneka Gandhi case, the Supreme Court has indicated incredible affectability to the protection of personal liberty. The Court has re-deciphered Art. 21 and practically overruled Gopalan, which can be viewed as an exceptionally inventive legal proclamation with respect to the Supreme Court.


The Right to Life and Personal Liberty has a wide ambit which is just developing over the time. There has been expanding awareness about the different parts of an individual’s life which the person is qualified for control and which would, subsequently, encourage the upgrade in nature of their life. On account of the drafters of the Constitution for encircling it so that it neither makes any required provisions with respect to different rights for the citizens nor makes any resident liberated from certain fundamental obligations that must be trailed by each resident of the nation. It has additionally looked profoundly into the financial situation of India with the goal that no rights or obligations will be precluded.

Apart from certain fundamental rights, the Constitution likewise gives certain different rights and obligations towards the resident which are encased in Part IV of the Constitution known as Directive Principles of State policy. Such provisions are surrounded under the idea that rights of every single individual change as needs be and such rights can’t be considered as fundamental yet must be upheld.

One of the benefits of our Constitution is that it neither confines an individual from implementing his fundamental rights, nor it gives full opportunity to an individual in such a way, that he adventures or abuses such rights himself or against the general public. Maybe this component of our Constitution makes it unique in relation to any of the other significant Constitutions of the world.This Right has been portrayed as the “heart and soul” of the Constitution of India by the Supreme Court and absolutely proves to be so – speaking to the fundamental necessities of human life.

[1]Indian Const., 1950, Article 21

[2]Francis Coralie v. Union Territory of Delhi1981 AIR 746, 1981 SCR (2) 516

3 D.B.M. Patnaik v. Province of Andhra Pradesh 1974 AIR 2092, 1975 SCR (2) 24

4 R.M. Malkani v. Province of Maharashtra 1973 AIR 157

5 K. Gopalan v. Province of Madras1950 AIR 27

[6]Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India1978 AIR 597, 1978 SCR (2) 621

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