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Report No. 152

4.14. Case law.-

In Francis Coralle Mullin v. Administrator, U.T. of Delhi, (1981) 1 SCC 608 (619) the Supreme Court gave due recognition to the international norms while interpreting Article 21 of the Constitution, when it observed:

"any form of torture or Cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment would be offensive to human dignity and constitute an inroad into this right to live and it would, on this view, be prohibited by Article 21 unless it is in accordance with the procedure prescribed by law, but no law which authorises and no procedure prescribed by law which leads to such torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment can ever stand the test of reasonableness and non-arbitrariness it would plainly be unconstitutional and void as being violative of Articles 14 and 21.

It would thus be seen that there is implicit in Article 21 the right to protection against torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment which is enunciated in Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and guaranteed by Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."

The Supreme Court, while interpreting Articles 21, 48A and 51(g) of the Constitution in Charan Lal Sahu v. Union of India, (1990) 1 SCC 613 (713) observed as under:-

"In the context of our national dimensions of human rights, right to life, liberty, pollution-free air and water is guaranteed by the Constitution under Articles 21, 48A and 51(g). It is the duty of the State to take effective steps to protect the guaranteed constitutional rights. These rights must be integrated and illumined by the evolving international dimensions and standards, having regard to our sovereignty, as highlighted by clauses 7 and 13 of the Code of Conduct on Transactional Corporations. The evolving standards of international obligations need to be respected. Maintaining dignity and sovereignty of our people, the State must take effective steps to safeguard the constitutional rights of citizen by enacting laws."

In Kartar Singh v. State of Punjab, the Supreme Court, while dealing with Article 21 on human rights observed as under:

"We are undoubtedly committed to uphold human rights even as a part of long standing heritage and as enshrined in our constitutional law. We feel that this perspective needs to be kept in view by every law enforcing authority because the recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of the citizens is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. If the human rights are outraged, then the Court should set its face against such violation of human rights by exercising its majestic judicial authority."

These illustrative cases are cited here simply to show the importance of keeping in mind International Conventions while dealing with questions of national law.

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