15 Supreme Court Decisions that Changed Life in India

The Supreme Court of India has by a long line of decisions given an expansive meaning and interpretation to the word `life’ appearing in Article 21 of the Constitution.

Right to Life

1. Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, (1978) 1 SCC 248

The right to life does not mean mere animal existence alone but includes every aspect that makes life meaningful and liveable.

2. Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration, (1978) 4 SCC 494

The right against solitary confinement and prison torture and custodial death was declared to be a part of right to life.

3. Charles Sobhraj v. Suptd. Central Jail, (1978) 4 SCC 104

The right against bar fetters was declared to be a right protected under Article 21 of the Constitution.

4. Khatri II v. State of Bihar, (1981) 1 SCC 627

The right to free legal aid was held to be a right covered under Article 21 of the Constitution.

5. Prem Shankar Shukla v. Delhi Administration, (1980) 3 SCC 526

The right against handcuffing was declared to be a right under Article 21.

6. Rudal Shah v. State of Bihar, (1983) 4 SCC 141

The right to compensation for illegal and unlawful detention was considered to be a right to life under Article 21 and also under Article 14.

7. Sheela Barse v. Union of India, (1988) 4 SCC 226

Speedy trial to be an essential right under Article 21.

8. Parmanand Katara v. Union of India, (1989) 4 SCC 248

Right to emergency, medical aid was declared to be protected under Article 21 of the Constitution.

9. Chameli Singh v. State of U.P., (1996) 2 SCC 549

Right to shelter, clothing, decent environment and a decent accommodation was also held to be a part of life.

10. Shantistar Builders v. Narayan Khimalal Totame, (1990) 1 SCC 520

Right to shelter, clothing, decent environment and a decent accommodation was also held to be a part of life.

11. M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, (1997) 1 SCC 388

Right to clean environment was held to be a right to life under Article 21.

12. Lata Singh v. State of U.P., (2006) 5 SCC 475

Right to marriage was held to be a part of right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

13. Suchita Srivastava v. Chandigarh Administration, (2009) 9 SCC 1

Right to make reproductive choices was declared as right to life.

14. Sukhwant Singh v. State of Punjab, (2009) 7 SCC 559

Right to reputation was declared to be a facet of right to life guaranteed under Article 21.

15. Subramanian Swamy v. Union of India, AIR 2016 SC 2728

Reputation to be an inherent and inseparable component of Article 21.