The article “RIGHT TO SLEEP: A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT” is written by Abhay Pratap Singh a 3rd Year Student at Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow
As it has been said, that a healthy mind resides in a healthy body. For our body to remain healthy sleep is an essential component of our life cycle. With improper sleep our body is prone to many disorders like insomnia etc. Sleep constitutes itself under Right to live in a healthy environment which is enshrined in Article 21 of our Indian constitution. Noise has been considered as a main component which abrupt sleep , also noise has been identified as a type of pollution and various legislations have also been passed by Indian legislatures to control noise pollution. Since Right to Sleep is covered under the wide ambit of Article 21 basically Right to Life which is a Fundamental Right and so Right to sleep is not absolute in nature , it comes with reasonable restrictions as one cannot use his/her right to put someone others right in danger.
Sleep being basic to human life cycle and existence, Right to sleep is a human right which no person should be deprived of. If we talk about about Right to sleep it is very exclusive to Indian domain because only Indian Judiciary has explicitly pin pointed the Right to sleep and Leisure under wide ambit of Article 21 Right to Life. Right to Sleep got its way only through the Landmark case of Ramlila Maidan Incident Vs Home Secretary and ors. . Supreme court took suo moto cognisance in this case and protected the right of its citizens and told that unreasonable intrusion or interference to sleep would amount to infringement and violation of Fundamental Right guaranteed under Part III of Constitution Of India.
In Re : Ramlila Maidan Incident Vs. Home Secretary and ors.
On 27th February, 2011 Baba Ramdev led an anti-corruption rally which was attended by more than one lakh people at the Ramlil Maidan in New Delhi.
Further in May , Baba Ramdev announced that he might to go on a fast to stage the protest against against no action of Govt. against black money , and got permission to hold a demonstration on 4th June 2011 at Jantar Mantar , with not more than 200 people.
Earlier Baba Ramdev’s Trust had already got permission to hold a Yoga training camp from 1st to 20th June but instead of yoga camp , he stages a protest , including a hunger stike in the Ramlila Maidan which was attended by more than 50,000 people.
At about 11:30pm a Police team met Baba Ramdev and informed him that the permission has been withdrawn and he would be arrested soon. Then after some time Delhi Police , CRPF , RAF got deployed at 12:30 am to stop the protest and detain Baba Ramdev.
Water cannons , Tear gas and force was used by the force personnels to disperse the protest.
Whether imposition of Section 144 of CrPC at the protest violated Article 19 i.e. right to free speech and experession , right to assemble and the right to life under Article 21?
Amicus curae submitted that the withdrawl of permission to hold protest in Ramlila Maidan and Jantar Mantar was late and also section 144 of CrPC imposed was based on political reasons and mala fide intent. The actions taken by force on basis of orders from government to disperse and stop the peaceful protest were not reasonable , they used excessive force by using tear gas and water cannons on peacefully sleeping people.
Respondant Baba Ramdev also submitted that he and his followers were not interfering or disturbing law and order in any way nor they had any intentions of doing so. Further they submitted that NOC, which they had obtained from commissioner of Police Delhi to hold event on Ramlila Maidan.
In the affadavit , The Delhi Ploce clarified that the permission given to Baba Ramdev at Ramlila Maidan was with respect to yoga camp and not a hunfer strike as a part of protest. Section 144 was imposed keeping in mind possible security threat by gathering of huge number of people who joined the protest the day after and also the communal atmosphere of the neighbourhood of the protest site. The amount of force used was in response of violence among the protestors , during which several officers got injured.
The Court observed the purpose and reasonableness of the restrictions imposed in the present case and whether they were permissible under Article 19 clause 2. The court held that restrictions were final and conclusive.
The court relied on case State of Madras Vs V.G Row AIR 1952 SC 196 to hold that there could be no one pattern of reasonableness which can be applied on all cases but have to be applied seperately based upon factors such as duration and extent of restrictions , nature of right infringed.
The court gave a distinction between restriction and prohibition of right. Also, section 144 imposed cant be arbitrary but should be reasonable. The court observed that the imposition of section 144 of CrPC was not a violation of fundamental right i.e. Article 19 1 a and 19 b and can be regarded as reasonable restriction but in the present case , there was no need for such imposition as there was no imminent threat.
The court discussed the importance of public notice before imposing such order , so people can leave the site in adequate time.
Also the Government couldn’t explain why was it necessary to use force over peacefully sleeping people.
Justice Chauhan in his concurring opinion about right to sleep included right to privacy also and sleep being the basic essential of life , its deprivation would constitute a torture both physically and mentally. Taking away basic human right and disturbance caused intentionally or unlawfully or for no justification would amount to a violation of fundamental right.
In this case, it could be established that people in the ground had not given proper notice or informed or asked to leave the place and the action taken by police was violation of basic human right , using force while people were asleep.
He also observed that Right to Privacy will also be included in Right to Sleep , Both being a fundamental right , its a duty of state to protect its right of citizens.
It was a great step by Supreme Court in order to protect the fundamental Right os its citizen as Supreme Court is Guardian of constitution. This judgement was also criticised by some judges as this step was considered as interference into law making which is task of legislature. But the opinion of judges who gave the judgement is applaudable.
Even in my view, I support the judgement. As Right to Sleep is nowhere mentioned in the constitution of india. Article 21 continue to explore new frontiers and also the concept of “Life” is inexhaustible and various dimensions have been included under Article 21 by judicial pronouncements.