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Whether the State and Medical Practitioners have a legal obligation to save lives under Article 21 of the Constitution

Nandhini SR ,
  11 July 2020       Share Bookmark

Court :
Supreme Court of India
Brief :
The petitioners contended that, Article 21 not only guarantees right to life to the citizens but also cast an obligation upon the State to protect the same. Further the Code of medical ethics also specifies the Practitioners to take all measures to save a life.
Citation :
REFERENCE: 1989 AIR 2039 PARTIES Petitioner:Paramananda Katara Respondent:Union of India
  • JUDGMENT SUMMARY: Paramananda Katara v. Union of India
  • DATE OF JUDGMENT:  28/08/1989
  • JUDGES: Misra Rangnath

SUBJECT:

The judgment revolves around the question of whether the State and Medical Practitioners have a legal obligation to save lives under Article 21 of the Constitution. 

FACTS: 

The petitioner in the present case is a non-governmental organization who filed a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution in public interest upon seeing a newspaper report where a person who was badly injured was refused medical care by doctors in few hospitals.   

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS:

Article 21:  No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law. 

ISSUES:

Whether the State and Medical Practitioners have a legal obligation to save lives under Article 21 of the Constitution?

ANALYSIS OF THE JUDGEMENT:

The petitioners contended that, Article 21 not only guarantees right to life to the citizens but also cast an obligation upon the State to protect the same.  Further the Code of medical ethics also specifies the Practitioners to take all measures to save a life.

Agreeing to the petitioner’s contention the respondents submitted that, there were no provisions under the Motor Vehicles Act or the Code of Criminal Procedure which prevented the doctors to take immediate action before the incident being brought to the notice of Police officials. 

The Court on hearing the parties gave the following guidelines:

  1. Article 21 casts an obligation upon the doctors and the State to protect life. 
  2. Emergency cases should be accepted and required medical assistance is to be granted
  3. Sufficient awareness regarding the judgment is to be created.
  4. The doctors should not delay the process due to any reason
  5. The status of the injured should not prevent the doctors from providing medical assistance 
 
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Published in Constitutional Law
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