It also widened the scope of the words ‘personal liberty’ and included in it a variety of rights which constitute the personal liberty of man and some of them have raised to the status of distinct fundamental rights and given additional protection under article 19 of the Constitution.
Thus, article 21 does not exclude article 14. If there is a law which prescribes a procedure to deprive a person of personal liberty, it is bound to meet the requirements of article 19 also.
In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 3) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly declared – “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”.
Also, in 1966, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly declaring “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”
The judiciary gave a new dimension to article 21 in many decisions like the famous Gopalan case, Maneka Gandhi case, Bhopal Gas Tragedy, Olga Tellis case etc. Another important judgement in this regard was the Gian Kaur’s case which held that right to life under article 21 of the Constitution does not include right to die or right to be killed.
The term ‘living’ does not merely connote physical existence or survival but it includes within its ambit right to live with human dignity and secure adequate means of livelihood including food, water, decent environment, education, medical care and shelter.
Article 21A was inserted by the 86th Amendment Act, 2002 which made right to education a fundamental right stating “the State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of 6 to 14 years in such manner as the State may, by law, determine.”
The right to life under article 21 and dignity of an individual cannot be assured unless it is accompanied by the right to education. Also, the Parliament recently enacted the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (Education Act) to provide free and compulsory education to children between the age of six and fourteen years.
On account of various judicial decisions, the scope of Right to life has been extended too many areas not expressly laid down in the law. For instance, right to healthy and pollution free environment, right to free legal aid, right to livelihood or work, right to privacy, right to education, right against sexual harassment of women etc. The protection of article 21 is also available to convicts in jail.