- Jannat Garg
Lloyd Law College
Article 21 of the Constitution of India is indispensable for the well-being and survival of all human beings. It is such a provision under the Constitution that safeguards the necessary human rights to all individuals which cannot be taken away from them at any cost. Article 21 is such a provision that carries multiple rights under a single platform and guarantees a plethora of vital rights. Various Fundamental Rights including the right to shelter, life, sleep, Medical assistance, health, education, environment, speedy trial, against sexual harassment, livelihood, death, decent cremation, and burial, privacy, etc. are covered under the wide ambit of Article 21.
Article 21 of the Indian Constitution is basically an extension of Article 14, Article 15, Article 16, and Article 19. Essentially, Article 21 applies upon the State and its instrumentalities but even the State has a twofold duty, which is as follows-
1. The State should not by its actions deprive a person of his life or personal liberty.
2. The State shall also ensure that private persons do not deprive other private persons of their life or personal liberty. The state therefore shall make laws to prevent any such deprivation by private persons and through its executive action. The state shall enforce these laws.
There is a 3rd duty upon the State as well, wherein the State shall ameliorate the automatic existing circumstances wherein the individual or group is discriminated against or his dignity of life is lost. The State must remove such circumstances also and similarly, it has the duty to prevent any man-made adverse effect upon the dignity of life.
Thus, a State has to play a pro-active role not only under Article 14 but also under Article 21 as it applies to both i.e., the private individuals as well as the State. But the functioning upon private individuals is via the State. The State ensures that the private individual does not violate the Fundamental Rights and particularly, Article 21 of other individuals. This is the area where the concept of dignity of human life and social justice overlap with each other and that is the reason why social justice is implicit in both article 14 as well as 21.
Thus all these points emphasizesupon the conclusion that by no means, a State can deprive any individual of his basic right to life or personal liberty and should, rather frame stringent laws in order to enforce active laws against deprivation of any essential right linked with a person’s right to life or personal liberty. The state must in all circumstances remove any such circumstance or a mere chance of any such situation which may lead to discrimination against a person’s right to life and personal liberty.
Access to Basic Medical Facilities
One of the most important right under Article 21 is - the Right to get medical assistance, treatment, and other medical facilities which are necessary for a person’s well-being. Due to the malpractices occurring in the medical profession, many individuals, who are in urgent need of medical facilities are often deprived of such amenities due to unacceptable crimes being committed by other private individuals.
No profession is left untouched by some sort of crime. These crimes include various malpractices which constitute crimes majorly like corruption, deceit, trust violation, fraud acts, and concealment which is generally known as White Collar Crimes. Not merely in law, business, and educational areas such crimes exist, they are even present in professions which are often considered as most noble ones like the medical profession.
In today’s world, only a minority of individual have a sense of ethics and values left in them and who further follow it professionally. Rest, majority of people are ready to do anything, irrespective of whether it is ethical or not, just to earn better and more. Such crimes are generally against the society at large as they threat the professionalism widely by corrupting the honest individuals providing any kind of services from such so-called professionals.
Currently, during the 2nd wave of Coronavirus, where lakhs of patients were and are still being deprived of medicines and other important medical facilities like oxygen cylinders, injections, medicines, ventilators, and hospital beds, etc just due to the black marketing which is running between the private individuals and even the doctors or the hospital authorities. All such practices causethe gross failure of the justice system. These crimes in the pandemic times have resulted into the cruel murder of many human beings by the hands of such professionals who at one hand are at duty to save the lives but on the other hand, by a bribe, nepotism, black marketing, and other practices have caused huge loss to the mankind, at large.
In India, such crimes are usually found in forms like heavy billing which is mostly fake in nature, issuance of a false medical certificate, cheating by lying any ailment, selling kidneys corruptly (organs trading), illegal abortions, inciting innocent individuals by selling them sample drugs, prescribing unnecessary medicines in the prescription, illegally conducting pre gender diagnosis (determination of sex of the baby before birth) which mostly results into female foeticide, etc.
Such crimes are so heinous in nature, though may seem to be petty in nature. Most of these offenders are able to escape easily as there is no strict check against such crimes as they give the ground of ‘consent’ of the patient due to which they are not punished and thus, such crimes persist forming a vicious cycle of white-collar crimes. A bribe is one of the major crimes existing in the medical profession too as in this, generally, doctors are being paid by the medical mafia. It happens in situations like when the doctors unnecessarily prescribe some kind of test to the patient and in return, they receive some sort of bribery money from those test centers. Also, some doctors prescribe medicines which are just available in a particular chemist shop as those medicine vendors have already paid them some money.
In today’s world, medical sector is becoming more like a business due to ongoing commercial activities as many Pharmaceutical companies bribes doctors to prescribe their medicines and in return of which the doctors receive expensive gifts like expensive phones, machines, foreign trips, etc. This has caused more adverse effects during the time of Coronavirus as doctors are recommending unnecessary medications which may have side effects, further deteriorates the health of a patient, and also causing additional redundant expenses.
All such malpractices hit the very essence of Article 21 and infact, the Constitution at large. Such practices are arbitrary, unreasonable and discriminatory in nature and cannot be justified on any reasonable grounds. The ‘Right to Life’ has been badly destroyed especially during the pandemic time, where when the patient needed the basic medical facilities like a bed, oxygen, or a ventilator, was simply refused on the ground of non-availability leaving the patient on the verge of death. In reality, most of these medical facilities were either misused either for their own or for their acquainted private individual’s benefits. Many of such medical facilities were even stocked or black marketed by many individuals due to which the patient who, when needed, was simply left to die.These white-collar crimes attack Article 21 and even various other important provisions in such a way causing irreparable losses to the general public.
Thus, in a world full of crimes, such kinds of white-collar crimes are degrading the spirit of the Constitution by building an unfair and unjust society corrupting the innocent citizens who will gradually lose faith in such noble professions also. It is one of the most important duties of the State to look after malicious activities by such professionals or other private individuals who are ruining the entire justice system of the country. Constitution, which is built on the route of basic structure, has various essential features like reasonableness, non-arbitrariness, Equity, fairness, justice, equity, and a good conscience which must be maintained by the State and the individuals together to run a successful country. The state must check upon such activities and must punish the offender heavily in order to reduce similar situations which might occur in the future. The entire machinery of the Constitution runs on the lines of Equality, Socialism, Fraternity, Secularism, etc which should be kept intact without any violations. By mutual efforts of the state and the individuals, each and every individual can be ensured of equal human rights to all without any discrimination.