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THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE OF OUR INDIAN CONSTITUTION- ARTICLE 14, 19 AND 21

The Constitution of India, or the rule book, contains 470 articles and 12 Schedules. It is known to have the lengthiest constitution. Justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity are known to be the four pillars of our constitution. Apart from that sovereignty, socialism, secularism, democracy, and republic are the main objectives of it.

Human rights are also known as fundamental rights, which are in Part III of our constitution and give rights to citizens and non-citizens. These rights are essential for the development of a person’s personality and to protect human dignity. When the state tries to encroach on it, it can be enforceable in a court of law. There are six main fundamental rights, which are as follows: the right to equality, the right to freedom, the right against exploitation, the right to freedom of religion, cultural and educational rights, and the right to constitutional remedies.

Humans tend to live in society and to keep them civilized or organized, some rules are laid down, hence the constitution. As humans, we need some rights to live with dignity and develop a personality or to have freedom and live equally. These basic rights are defined under articles 14, 19, and 21 of the constitution.


Article 14: Equal protection of the law and Equality before the law

The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. [1]

Some special laws can be created for women, children, or backward classes.

These exceptions can be made through a test of intelligible differentia and reasonable classification.


Article 19: Right to freedom

Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech etc

(1) All citizens shall have the right

(a) to freedom of speech and expression;

(b) to assemble peaceably and without arms;

(c) to form associations or unions;

(d) to move freely throughout the territory of India;

(e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and

(f) omitted by the 44th amendment act

(g) to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade, or business. [2]


Restriction for article 19:

  1. In the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India.

  2. In the interest of the security of the state.

  3. In the interest of friendly relations with the foreign state.

  4. In the interest of public order.

  5. In the interest of decency and morality.

  6. In relation to contempt of court.

  7. In relation to defamation.

  8. In relation to incitement of an offense.


Article 21: Right to life and personal liberty

No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.[3]

The right to life is not just about the right to survive. It also entails being able to live a complete life of dignity and meaning. This right is against the state only.

The judges need to keep in mind while giving justice that the interpretation of this article needs to be done through “due process” and not through the procedural method.

The Court gave a list of rights that Article 21 covers based on earlier judgments. Some of them are: [4]

  1. Right to privacy

  2. Right to go abroad

  3. Right to shelter

  4. Right against solitary confinement

  5. Right to social justice and economic empowerment

  6. Right against handcuffing

  7. Right against custodial death

  8. Right against delayed execution

  9. Doctors’ assistance

  10. Right against public hanging

  11. Protection of cultural heritage

  12. Right to pollution-free water and air

  13. Right of every child to a full development

  14. Right to health and medical aid

  15. Right to education

  16. Protection of under-trials

Some of the cases which helped to realize the golden triangle is important:

  1. AK Gopalan Case (1950): The court in this case held that there is no connection between Articles 21 and 19 of the constitution. And Article 21 of the Constitution did not require Indian courts to apply a due process of law standard.

  2. Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India Case (1978): This case overruled the Gopalan case judgment. The court held that articles 14, 19, and 21 form a golden triangle and every law must pass a test where the provisions do not violate the said articles. The court also held that it is a "due process" of law.

  3. Minerva mill's case (1980) [5]: Minerva Mills, a textile mill, was nationalized. The court supported that articles 14, 19, and 21 form a golden triangle. Judges in the majority held that Article 31C infringes articles 14 and 19, and therefore is dangerous.

In later cases such as Francis Coralie v. The Administrator, Union Territory of Delhi and others, Olga Tellis and others v. Bombay Municipal Corporation and others, Unni Krishnan v. State of A.P. the court expanded the rights under article 21.[6]

During the emergency, all fundamental rights are suspended, but due to the 44th amendment act, articles 21 and 20 are not suspended.

These 3 articles should not be interpreted alone. They are interpreted together because they are interrelated and if one right is infringed, other articles are infringed in some other way too. For example, if article 21 is infringed, then ultimately article 14 is infringed. While interpreting and giving justice, the judge should see all these 3 articles collectively. These rights are important as they let a person live with dignity and have freedom. It brought a new perspective to our legal field. People should be aware of these laws and rights.

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Reference List:

  1. INDIAN KANOON, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/367586/ (last visited Oct. 28, 2022)

  2. INDIAN KANOON, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1218090/ (last visited Oct. 28, 2022)

  3. INDIAN KANOON, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1199182/ (last visited Oct. 28, 2022)

  4. BYJU'S,https://byjus.com/free-ias-prep/right-to-life-article-21/#:~:text=According%20to%20Article%2021%3A,to%20procedure%20 established%20by%20 law.%E2%80%9D (last visited Oct. 29, 2022)

  5. INDIAN KANOON, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1939993/ (last visited Oct. 29, 2022)



This article is written by Sneha Kumawat of M.K.E.S College of Law.