Article 21’s scope needs to be expanded, says SC judge

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Article 21 in the Indian Constitution was formulated after hours of discussion and deliberations and there is scope for expansion, said Supreme Court Judge V. Ramasubramanian.

Justice Ramasubramanian was delivering the D.V. Subba Rao Memorial Lecture on ‘Expanding horizon of Article 21’, organised by Centre for Policy Studies and Visakhapatnam Public Library, here on Saturday.

“Article 21, considered the heart and soul of the Constitution, states, ‘No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law’. Initially, the wording was ‘due process of law’ in place of ‘procedure established by law’. But after painstaking discussions, it was decided to use the latter in the fine print, as the former would have burdened the judicial system,” Justice Subramanian said.

He also noted that though the then Constituent Assembly comprised about 82% Congressmen, Chairman of the Drafting Committee B.R. Ambedkar invited members from opposition parties to also be a part of the committee, so that it could be framed in the most democratic way.

Justice Ramasubramanian said that the British were of the opinion that there was a dearth of intellectuals in India and that Indians would be incapable of drafting a Constitution. “But we proved them wrong,” he said.

Talking about expanding horizons, the Supreme Court judge was of the opinion that there were untouched areas which needed to be focused on due to the changing times.

According to him, there are two main aspects in the Article – Life and liberty and equality. While life and liberty are political and civil rights, equality encompasses economic, social and cultural rights.

“The developing area is ‘fraternity’. It is the third generation of rights and covers areas such as collective rights and green rights,” he said.

Elaborating on it, he said that this aspect touches upon sensitive but relevant areas such as dignity in death or euthanasia, right to self-identity and right to privacy.

Justice Ramasubramanian was introduced to the gathering by Director of Centre for Policy Studies Prof. A. Prasanna Kumar. He also spoke about D.V. Subba Rao and hailed him as a legal luminary.

Andhra Pradesh High Court Judge and son of D.V. Subba Rao, D.V.S.S. Somayajulu, spoke.

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