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The Constitution Of India On Right To Health

Nutrition, health and education are the supplement for the robust growth of any country. Health is one of the quintessential factors for the development of a country as human development is inversely related to the socio-economic development of the country. There are various provisions secured under the constitution of India that essentially deals with the health of the citizens. Right to health and health care is the need to give better human life condition to the citizens. A closer look at the bare text of the constitution of India will render to the conclusion that right to health has not been explicitly made a fundamental right. But, the framers of the constitution has really farfetched this vision and has casted a duty upon the state in the nature of Directive Principles of State Policy under Part IV of the Constitution of India wherein social responsibility has been entrusted upon the State to ensure social and economic justice to the citizens. Therefore, a general inference is that Part IV of the Constitution of India directly or indirectly relates to the public policy in terms of Health.

Article 38 of the constitution of India lays down the responsibility of the state to secure social order for the promotion of the welfare of the public health.

Article 39(e) pertains to the protection of health of the workers.

Article 41 relates to providing public assistance by the state in special circumstances such as sickness, disability old age etc.

Article 42 protects the health of the infant and the mothers. In other words, it secures maternity benefits.

Article 47 imposes a primary duty of the state in improvement of public heath, in securing of justice, providing humane conditions of work for the workers, extension of the benefits pertaining to sickness, disability, old age and maternity benefits. In addition to this, the state is under an obligation to prohibit the consumption of liquor in the interest of public good.

Article 48A states the duty of the state towards providing of a good and healthy pollution free environment.

But the fact remains intact is that these Directive Principles of State Policy do merely hold persuasive value and that as they are not justifiable, the state cannot be made compulsive to enforce those obligations upon the state as their applicability depends upon the availability of funds.

RIGHT TO HEALTH UNDER PART III OF THE CONSTITUTION: ROLE OF JUDICIARY

The constitution incorporates provision guaranteeing everyone’s right to be the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law. The apex court has held that the right to live with human dignity enshrined in Article 21 derives from the directive principles of state policy and therefore includes the right to health. Further, it has also been held that the right to health is an integral part of the right to life and the government has a constitutional obligation to provide health facilities.

Failure of a government hospital to provide a patient timely medical treatment results in the violation of right to life. In case of State of Punjab vs. Ram Lubhaya Bagga, the apex court has upheld the state’s obligation to maintain health services.

A number of PILs have been filed under Article 21 in response to the violations of the right to health. They have been filed to provide special treatment to children in jail; on pollution hazards; against hazardous drugs; against inhumane conditions in after-care homes; on the health rights of mentally ill patients; on the rights of the patients in cataract surgery campus; for immediate aid to the medically injured persons; on conditions in tuberculosis hospitals; on occupational health hazards; on the regulation of the blood banks and availability of blood products;  on passive smoking in public places and finally in an appeal filed by  person with HIV on the rights of

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Subham Chatterjee

Subham Chatterjee is a penultimate year law student from Tezpur Law College, Assam. Apart from excelling in academics, he has presented papers in national seminars, contributed chapters in edited books published internationally. He also brought accolades by winning Moot Court Competition, Client counselling competition and Quiz Competitions apart from participating in various competitions. He has recently authored an ISBN book 'Land Laws of Assam: A Reference Book for the students of Gauhati University" He is also a trained Hindustani Classical (Vocal) and Rabindra Sangeet singer.

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