Question: Trace the development of the fundamental right to life and personal liberty from 1950 to the present day. What are the contents of this right now? [BJS 1987] Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [Trace the development of the fundamental right to life and personal liberty from 1950 to the present day.… Read More »

Question: Trace the development of the fundamental right to life and personal liberty from 1950 to the present day. What are the contents of this right now? [BJS 1987] Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [Trace the development of the fundamental right to life and personal liberty from 1950 to the present day. What are the contents of this right now? Answer The Indian Constitution is known as a living document because it is not static and ever-evolving and having...

Question: Trace the development of the fundamental right to life and personal liberty from 1950 to the present day. What are the contents of this right now? [BJS 1987]

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [Trace the development of the fundamental right to life and personal liberty from 1950 to the present day. What are the contents of this right now?

Answer

The Indian Constitution is known as a living document because it is not static and ever-evolving and having survived after 103 amendments and still moving ahead to match up the needs and requirements of society. The expression “personal liberty” not only means freedom from arrest, detention, and false or wrongful confinement but also covers those rights and privileges that are essential to achieve happiness with freedom.

Supreme Court of India since 1950 when it examined the Right to personal liberty under Article 21 in the case of A.K. Gopalan v. State of Madras [AIR 1950 SC 27] (the Supreme Court narrowed down the meaning and scope of “personal liberty” and held that the term “personal liberty” meant only freedom of the physical body and that Articles 19 (1) (d) and Article 21 have to treated separately. It basically ruled that the right to life and personal liberty can be restricted by the procedure established by law even if it is not fair and reasonable.

Thereafter and not agreeing with the ratio in the A.K. Gopalan case, Supreme Court has expanded and widened the meaning and expression of “personal liberty” in many cases to reach an interpretation that could best protect the liberty and freedom of an individual.

In the landmark judgment of Kharak Singh v. State of UP [AIR 1963 SC 129], Supreme Court considered the U.P Police regulation was ultra vires Article 21 and Article 19 (1) (d) of the Constitution and held that domiciliary visits by the police every night to check and monitor the doings of Kharak Singh were violative of his right to personal liberty and right to freedom of movement as “personal liberty meant much more than mere animal existence”.

In R.C. Cooper v. Union of India [AIR 1970 SC 564], the court said in case effect of any act violates the fundamental rights of citizens, it shall be violative of the Constitution and liable to be struck down.

Then came the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India [AIR 1978 SC 597] widest possible interpretation was given to words and expression “personal liberty” observing that the expression “personal liberty” in Article 21 is of the widest amplitude and it covers a variety of rights which constitute the personal liberty of a man. It was held that the scope of “personal liberty” is not be construed in a narrow and stricter sense.

The court said that personal liberty has to be understood in the broader and liberal sense. Therefore, Article 21 was given an expansive interpretation. The court obligated the future courts to expand the horizons of Article 21 to cover all the Fundamental Rights and avoid construing it in a narrower sense.

After Maneka Gandhi’s case ruling, there were more historic judgments that widened the scope of Article 21. The fundamental right to life and personal liberty encompasses within itself various rights as subheads. Some of them are as follows:

  1. In Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration [(1978) 4 SCC 409], the Supreme Court ruled the use of fatal handcuffs for the convicted persons as unconstitutional as it suggests inhuman behavior towards the prisoner.
  2. In Mohini Jain v. State of Karnataka [1992 AIR 1858], the court ruled that the right to life also includes the right to education.
  3. In Shubhash Kumar v. State of Bihar [AIR 1991 SC 420], the court ruled the right to life also includes within itself the right to get pollution-free air.
  4. In another landmark judgment of Unni Krishnan vs. State of Andhra Pradesh [1993 AIR 2178], the court held that the right to education is a fundamental right to the children for the age of 6 to 14 years.
  5. In Navtej Singh Johar & Ors. v. Union of India [W. P. (Crl.) No. 76 of 2016], struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code as unconstitutional which criminalizes same-sex sexual intercourse between two consenting adults.

Important Mains Questions Series for Judiciary, APO & University Exams

  1. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-I
  2. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-I
  3. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-II
  4. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-IV
  5. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-V
  6. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-VI
  7. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-VII
  8. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-VIII
  9. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-IX
  10. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-X
Updated On 2021-06-01T08:09:12+05:30
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