The question “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." was asked in the Mains 2023 GS Paper 2. Let us look at the model answer to this question.
Answer: The Constitution of India, a "living document", adapts to the nation's evolving needs, with Public Interest Litigation (PIL) enhancing its impact. Its dynamism has broadened fundamental rights, empowered marginalized groups, and fostered a more inclusive society, affirming its foundational role in democratic India.
Constitutional Dynamism and the Expanding Horizons of the Right to Life and Personal Liberty
- Right to Live with Dignity: In Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India (1978), the court expanded the concept of life beyond mere existence to living with dignity, reflecting the Constitution's progressive nature.
- Right to Livelihood: Olga Tellis vs. Bombay Municipal Corporation (1985) underlined the essentiality of livelihood, equating it with the right to life, showcasing the Constitution's adaptability to socio-economic realities.
- Right to Health: Through State of Punjab vs. Mohinder Singh Chawla (1997), the judiciary recognized health as crucial to life, reflecting a progressive approach to societal well-being.
- Right to Clean Environment: The judgment in C. Mehta vs. Union of India embedded environmental rights within Article 21, underlining the Constitution's dynamic response to environmental challenges.
- Right to Shelter: Shantistar Builders vs. Narayan Khimalal Totame (1990) affirmed shelter as integral to the right to life, showcasing the Constitution's evolution in recognizing basic human needs.
- Right to Privacy: With Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) vs. Union Of India (2017), the Court integrated privacy within Article 21, adapting to contemporary challenges and societal demands.
- Right against Bonded Labour: The judgment in Bandhua Mukti Morcha vs. Union of India (1984) illuminated the Constitution's commitment to eliminating archaic and dehumanizing practices, reinforcing its progressive essence.
- Right to Food: In People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) vs. Union of India (2001), the Court highlighted food as essential, reflecting the Constitution's living nature by addressing fundamental human rights.
The continual broadening of Article 21's scope exemplifies the Constitution of India's dynamic character, ensuring every citizen's right to a dignified life and aligning with the evolving needs and challenges of contemporary times.