Right to Dignity

Context: The Supreme Court ordered the Centre to compulsorily install CCTV cameras and recording equipment in the offices of central agencies CBI, NIA, Enforcement Directorate, Narcotics Control Bureau, Department of Revenue Intelligence, Serious Fraud Investigation Office and “any other agency which carries out interrogations and has the power of arrest”.

  • “As most of these agencies carry out interrogation in their office(s), CCTVs shall be compulsorily installed in all offices where such interrogation and holding of accused takes place in the same manner as it would in a police station, this would be used as a measure to protect the fundamental right to dignity and life, the court said.
  • Large posters informing people about the CCTV coverage should be prominently placed at the offices of these central agencies and police stations.

Analysis

Right To Live With Human Dignity

  • In Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, the Supreme Court gave a new dimension to Art. 21 and held that the right to live is not merely a physical right but includes within its ambit the right to live with human dignity.
  • Another broad formulation of the theme of life to dignity is to be found in Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India.
  1. Characterizing Art. 21 as the heart of fundamental rights, the Court gave it an expanded interpretation. SC observed:
  2. “It is the fundamental right of everyone in this country… to live with human dignity free from exploitation. This right to live with human dignity enshrined in Article 21 derives its life breath from the Directive Principles of State Policy and particularly clauses (e) and (f) of Article 39 and Articles 41 and 42 and at the least, therefore, it must include protection of the health and strength of workers, men and women, and of the tender age of children against abuse, opportunities and facilities for children to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity, educational facilities, just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief.
  3. “These are the minimum requirements which must exist in order to enable a person to live with human dignity and no State neither the Central Government nor any State Government-has the right to take any action which will deprive a person of the enjoyment of these basic essentials.”

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