Article 21 of the Constitution – ‘Right To Life’ compromised

Suresh Sahni

Suresh Sahni

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The constitutional authorities must work in sync to render practical assistance to every hand and heart.

The Mayhem of Covid-19 has besieged the Nation. The citizenry is beseeching the ruling dispensation for providing the requisite medical drugs, including oxygen, to save the life of their kith and kin.

Failure of Governments, including the State Governments of respective States, has alarmed the Constitutional Courts including the Supreme Court, to take the right foot forward to contain not only the pathogen of Covid-19 but also contain the pathogen of complacency and abdication of duties by the Public Servants at the helm of affairs.


While examining the untold complacency and irresponsibility of the persons in power, the various High courts have been constrained to make specific observations against them. The Delhi High Court was so much disturbed that the notice of contempt was issued. The Gujarat High Court expressed its deep pain that its orders are not being complied.

The order of the Delhi High Court was assailed before the Supreme Court, wherewithal the order stayed on the very next day. The Supreme Court has rightly stayed the order and observed that hauling of Government officers for contempt of Court will not solve the oxygen crises faced by Delhi and further observed that it is not the time to exercise the jurisdiction of contempt.

While examining the spirit behind the order, the Supreme Court rightly said that the High Court order is the outcome of ‘expression of anguish‘.

The order reads thus:-

“We stay the operation of the contempt notice which has been issued by the High Court of Delhi on 04.05.2021. However, we clarify, as we did in terms of our previous order, that the stay which have been granted of the contempt proceedings shall not operate as an order of restrained on the High Court continuing to monitor the issues which has arising before it.”

The ruling dispensation owes an un-dischargeable debt to the citizen at large for its unpardonable sin committed towards the health of the citizens. The Public at large has been exposed to unquotable health crises leading to inexplicable mortalities.

governAll the hospitals, including the private hospitals, are submerged with inundated cries for oxygen and other life-saving drugs. The various newspapers, whether vernacular or national, are punctuated with the message of obituaries. The author has never come across such large numbers of obituaries.

The data of the number of deaths duly published and flashed by the newspapers and electronic media is not in tune with the actual number of mortality. Mark Twain an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer rightly said that “facts are stubborn things, But statics are pliable things.” It has rightly proved so in the present scenario.

The anger emanating from the loss of kith and kin by the survivors also moves vociferously towards the doctors and other medical staff. The same is evident even to those who are willfully blind to the grim reality, for the horrific and horrendous digital footage displayed on and off by the national and other digital media.

The architect of the most significant written constitution, namely, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, said that “However good a Constitution may be, if those who are implementing it are not good, it will prove to be bad. However bad a Constitution may be, if those implementing it are good, it will prove to be good.

Also Read: Government missing in action

The Public has not yet come out from the onslaughts of the second wave of Covid-19 when K Vijay Raghavan, principal scientific advisor to the government, has said that the third wave is in the offing. The statement reads thus:-

“K Vijay Raghavan, principal scientific advisor to the government, on Wednesday warned that a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic was inevitable. He said that vaccines have to be “updated” to deal with new strains of the virus, along with further surveillance.”

The separation of powers enshrined in the constitution mandates that each wing of the constitution would function independently, and there would be no usurpation in the constitutionally demarcated field.


Prevailing time shows the executives have failed abysmally resultantly, the judiciary has stepped in to salvage the situation—a situation that is intimately connected with the precious human life. Any mean or mode cannot revive the life which once extinguished.

Article 21 of the Constitution of India, is known to be the heart and soul of India’s Constitution. It has been interpreted judicially by the Apex Court that the right to life and liberty includes the right to live with dignity and to die with dignity.

In the case of Gyan Kaur Versus State of Punjab, the Supreme Court has reiterated that “right to live does not include right to die. It provides protection of life, a right to live with dignity up to natural death, including a dignified procedure of death, but does not comprehend extinction of life which amounts to unnatural death“.

In the case of Balram Prasad Versus Kunal Saha (2014) 1 SCC 384, the Supreme Court, in another historic judgment, has said that right to health is a fundamental right and under Article 21, patients to be treated with dignity. Hospitals/Nursing Homs/Clinics are liable to provide treatment to all patients to the best of their capacity. Errant/negligent doctors/hospitals/nursing homes are to be dealt with strictly.

constituRegretfully, the constitutional mandate of Article 21 and the interpretation is shining in seclusion courtesy of the non-follow-up by the powers propounding the law.

The present unprecedented crises concerning human lives warrant that every wing of the constitutional authorities must work in sync to render practical assistance to every hand and heart so that the scary situation may not deteriorate further. The generations to come will never forget and forgive this human-made genocide.

Also Read: We need music with our news

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Suresh Sahni

Suresh Sahni

Suresh Sahni is a Senior Advocate at Rajasthan High Court.

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