Article 21

Article 21 declares that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law. This right is available to both citizens and non-citizens.

Supreme Court Cases on Article 21:

  • AK Gopalan case (1950): In this, the Supreme Court has taken a narrow interpretation of Article 21.It held that the protection under Article 21 is available only against arbitrary executive action and not from arbitrary legislative action. This means that the State can deprive the right to life and personal liberty of a person based on a law.
  • Menaka case(1978): In this, the Supreme Court overruled its judgment in the Gopalan case by taking a wider interpretation of Article 21. It ruled that the right to life and personal liberty of a person can be deprived by law provided the procedure prescribed by that law is reasonable, fair, and just. In other words, it has introduced the American expression ‘due process of law’.

About Article 21-A:

  • The Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002 inserted Article 21-A in the Constitution of India.
  • It provides for free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a Fundamental Right in such a manner as the State may, by law, determine.
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