Right to Health in Constitution of India

Right to Health in Constitution of India

Right to Health in Constitution of India

Health is an essential feature for the development of a nation. In India right to health care and protection has been provided since early times of Independence. India has ratified various international conventions promising to secure health care right of individuals in society. The Constitution of India does not recognize the right to health as a fundamental right. However, Article 21 of the Constitution of India guarantees a fundamental right to life & personal liberty. The expression’ life in this article means a life with human dignity & not mere survival or animal existence. Article 21 should be read with Articles 38, 42, 43, & 47 to understand the obligation of the state. It has a much broader meaning which includes the right to livelihood, better standard of life, hygienic condition in workplace & leisure.

Definition of Health:

According to World HEALTH organization, health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease.

The definition clearly indicated that condition of life should incorporate physical, mental & social well being & must be devoid of disease & infirmity.

Right to Health and Preamble of Indian Constitution

The Preamble of Indian Constitution adopts a socialistic pattern of society which strives to provide for the welfare state. The concept of democratic socialism aims to improve the condition of health care of the people.


Part IV of the Constitution of India which has DPSP imposed duties on states. The Provisions of DPSP directly or indirectly are related to public health. Articles 38 impose liability on the state that “state secures a social order for the promotion of the welfare of the people”. However, without public health, we cannot achieve it—article 39(e) related to workers to protect their health. Article 41 imposes a duty for public assistance which include health care assistance. Article 42 imposes a duty on the state to protect the health of infant & mother by maternity benefit. Article 47 imposes a duty on the state to raise the level of nutrition & the standard of living of its people as a primary responsibility.

Panchayat, Municipality and Health:

Not only the state but the Panchayat and Municipalities are also liable to improve e and protect public health. “The legislature of a state may endow the panchayats with necessary power and authority in relation to matters listed in the eleventh schedule.” 4 The entries in this schedule having direct relevance to health are as follows;

l   Safe water for drinking

l   Health and sanitation including hospitals, primary health centres & dispensaries

l   Family welfare

l   Women and child development

l   Social welfare including the welfare of the disabled and mentally retarded

l   Water supply for domestic industrial and commercial purpose

l   Public health, sanitation conservancy and solid waste management

l   Regulation of slaughterhouses and tanneries.



Directive principles are only aims and goals of the state, and no person can claim for non- fulfilling these directions. Article 21 says “no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law”. In numerous judgements honourable Supreme Court has held that right to health & medical care is a fundamental right covered by Article 21. Further, Article 23 is indirectly related to health. Article 23(1) prohibits traffic in human beings as it is known that trafficking of women and children leads to prostitution, which in turn is to a significant factor in the spread of AIDS. Article 24 is related to child labour; it says “no child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment. Thus Article 24 directs the relevance of child health.