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Article 21 : Constitution of India

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Article 21: Protection of life and personal liberty

No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.

The State cannot deprive a person of his life or personal liberty except according to a just, fair and reasonable procedure made by it. Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, (1978) 1 SCC 248; the Supreme Court held that the procedure must be “just, right and fair” and not arbitrary, fanciful or oppressive; otherwise, it would be no procedure at all and the requirement of Article 21 would not be satisfied. The expression ‘personal liberty’ in Article 21 is of the widest amplitude and it covers a variety of rights which go to constitute the personal liberty of man and some of them have been raised to the status of distinct fundamental rights and given additional protection under Article 19.

The Supreme Court of India has continuously been expanding the scope of Article 21 and declared these rights as a fundamental right under Article 21:

  • Right to live with dignity, [Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India, (1991) 4 SCC 177]
  • Right to die with dignity, [Common Cause v. Union of India, (2018) 5 SCC 1]
  • Right to education, [Unni Krishnan v. State of A.P., (1993) 1 SCC 645]
  • Right to shelter, [Chameli Singh v. State of U.P., (1996) 2 SCC 549]
  • Right to privacy, [K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India, (2017) 10 SCC 1]
  • Free legal aid, [Khatri (II) v. State of Bihar, (1981) 1 SCC 627; (1986) 2 SCC 401]
  • Protection against police atrocities, [D.K. Basu v. State of W.B., (1997) 1 SCC 416]
  • Speedy trial and speedy justice, [Hussainara Khatoon (IV) v. Home Secretary, State of Bihar, (1980) 1 SCC 98]
  • Access to open court, Judicial accountability and transparency in judiciary, [Swapnil Tripathi v. Supreme Court of India, (2018) 10 SCC 639]
  • Right to proper legal representation [Imtiyaz Ramzan Khan v. State of Maharashtra, (2018) 9 SCC 160]


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