Supreme Court Expands Scope of Articles 14 & 21

GS-2 Mains 

Short Notes or Revision Notes 

Question : Analyze the implications of the Supreme Court’s recent judgement recognizing the “right against adverse effects of climate change.” Discuss how this decision expands the scope of Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution and its significance in protecting fundamental rights.

Landmark Judgement:

  • Supreme Court recognizes “right against adverse effects of climate change.”
  • Came during a case regarding protecting the Great Indian Bustard’s habitat.
  • Court highlights connection between climate change and human rights like health, development, and equality.

Expanding Fundamental Rights:

  • SC progressively interprets Articles 14 & 21 to encompass new aspects of dignified life.
  • This is the first time climate change is included as a distinct right.

State’s Duty of Care:

  • The judgement emphasizes the state’s responsibility to protect citizens from harm.
  • Right to a healthy environment is part of this duty.

Rationale Behind the Decision:

  • Growing threats from climate change necessitate a distinct right against its effects.
  • Articles 14 & 21 already encompass the right to a clean environment and protection from such effects.

Understanding Articles 14 & 21:

  • Article 14: Equality before Law
    • Prohibits discrimination (negative concept).
    • Requires treating equals equally and unequals unequally (positive concept) to achieve true equality.
  • Article 21: Right to Life and Personal Liberty
    • Guarantees protection from life or liberty deprivation without lawful procedures.

Significance of Fundamental Rights:

  • Articles 14-32 in Part III of the Constitution define standards for conduct, justice, and fair play.
  • They act as a check on government power.
  • Address social, religious, economic, and political issues.
  • Justiciable – individuals can approach courts for protection of these rights.

Additional Notes:

  • Article 48A mandates the state to protect and improve the environment.
  • Article 51A(g) makes it a citizen’s duty to protect the environment.
  • These provisions, though not directly enforceable, contribute to the right against climate change effects through other parts of the Constitution.

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