Right to Life and Personal Liberty : Constitutional Safeguards

Right to Life and Personal Liberty : Constitutional Safeguards

Question: Right to life and personal liberty are fundamental rights in any democracy. What are the constitutional safeguards for protecting right to life and personal liberty in the Indian Constitution?

• Right to life and personal liberty are the most precious fundamental rights

• A21 and 22 of the Indian Constitution seek to secure these rights


• A21 says “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”

• This article forbids the executive from interfering with the life and liberty of citizens without the authority of law

• Article secures the same rights which British citizens obtain from the Magna Carta

• A21 indicates that the executive must observe the “forms and rules of law when depriving individuals of their rights to life or liberty.” Apart from Art 21, individual liberty is also protected by courts by means of writ of Habeas Corpus issued under Arts 32 and 226.


• A22 offers safeguards against arbitrary arrest or detention. The safeguards are as follows:

- Even arrested person must be informed of the grounds for his/her arrest,
- He/she must be given the chance to consult lawyers of choice
- The person must be produced before the nearest magistrate within 24 hours and his period of detention cannot be extended without magisterial order.

Exceptions to A22:

• Constitutional safeguard is not available for enemy aliens or persons detained under preventive detention or arrest on rounds of

- Protection of security of a state,
- Maintenance of public order,
- Maintenance of essential services and defence,
- Protection of foreign affairs and security of India.

Facts and Stats

• To eliminate incorrect use of ‘preventive detention, and violation of A21 and 22, the constitution prescribes some safeguards:

- Person may be taken into preventive custody for a period of only 3 months. Extending the period of arrest beyond 3 months must be referred to an advisory board comprising persons qualified to be appointed as judges of HC.

- Persons detained must be provided clear details the grounds of their arrest. State may refuse to disclose the entire grounds in the public interest.

- Detainees must also be given the earliest opportunity to make representation against detention.
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