“The Constitution of India is a living instrument with capabilities of enormous dynamism. It is a constitution made for a progressive society.” Illustrate with special reference to the expanding horizons of the right to life and personal liberty. (250 words)

Article 21 of the Indian Constitution guarantees every citizen the right to life and personal liberty. Over the years, the Indian judiciary has played a pivotal role in interpreting and expanding the scope of this right, ensuring it remains relevant in a changing society.

Expanding Horizons of Article 21:

  1. Initial Narrow Scope: In the early years, Article 21 was interpreted narrowly, focusing on protection against arbitrary deprivation of life or personal liberty.
  2. Broadened Interpretation:
    • Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India (1978): The Supreme Court held that the procedure established by law to deprive a person of life or liberty must be fair, just, and reasonable. This judgment expanded the scope of Article 21 beyond mere physical restraint.
  3. Right to Dignified Life:
    • Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India (1984): The Court emphasized that Article 21 assures the right to live with human dignity, free from exploitation, especially for the weaker sections of society.
  4. Inclusion of Various Rights:
    • Unni Krishnan v. State of A.P. (1993): The Court listed several rights under Article 21, including the right to go abroad, right to privacy, right against solitary confinement, right to shelter, and right against custodial death.
  5. Public Interest Litigations (PILs): The expanded scope of Article 21 has led to PILs addressing various societal issues.
    • Olga Tellis and others v. Bombay Municipal Corporation and others (1985): The Court observed that the procedure established by law must conform to the norms of justice and fair play.
  6. Directive Principles and Article 21:
    • Francis Coralie Mullin v. The Administrator, Union Territory of Delhi (1981): The Court held that the procedure depriving a person of his personal liberty must be reasonable, fair, and just.

Conclusion: Through landmark judgments, the Indian judiciary has ensured that Article 21 remains a robust and dynamic provision, safeguarding the rights of citizens in an evolving socio-political landscape.

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