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1. Bandhua Mukti Morcha etc Vs. Union of India and Ors. AIR 1984 SC 8021

The Court addressed the types of conditions necessary for enjoyment of health. The Court
held that right to live with human dignity also involves right to protection of health

2. Consumer Education and Research Centre v. Union of India(1995)3 SCC 42 2

The Supreme Court for the first time explicitly held that the right to health is an integral
fact of a meaningful right to life.

Facts-This case was concerning the occupational health hazards faced by workers in the
asbestos industry.
Court Held -Reading Article 21 with the relevant directive principles guaranteed in
Articles 39 (e), 41 and 43, the Supreme Court held that the right to health and medical care is
a fundamental right and it makes the life of the workman meaningful and purposeful with the
dignity of person. The obligation of the state not only to provide emergency medical services
but also to ensure the creation of conditions necessary for good health, including provisions
for basic curative and preventive health services and the assurance of healthy living and
working conditions. This recognition established a framework for addressing health concerns
within the rubric of public interest litigation and in a series of subsequent cases.
The court also pointed out that the Article 38 of Indian Constitution impose liability on State
that states will secure a social order for the promotion of welfare of the people but without
public health we cannot achieve it. It means without public health welfare of people is
impossible. Article 39(e) related with workers to protect their health. Article 41 imposed duty
on State to public assistance basically for those who are sick and disable. Article 42 makes
provision to protect the health of infant and mother by maternity benefit.
In the India the Directive Principle of State Policy under the Article 47 considers it the
primary duty of the state to improve public health, securing of justice, human condition of
works, extension of sickness, old age, disablement and maternity benefits and also
contemplated. Further, States duty includes prohibition of consumption of intoxicating
1 1984 AIR 802
2 1995 AIR 922

drinking and drugs are injurious to health. Article 48A ensures that State shall Endeavour to
protect and impose the pollution free environment for good health.
Article 47 makes improvement of public health a primary duty of State. Hence, the court
should enforce this duty against a defaulting authority on pain of penalty prescribe by law,
regardless of the financial resources of such authority.
Under Article 47, the State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and standard of
living of its people and improvement of public health as among its primary duties. None of
these lofty ideals can be achieved without controlling pollution inasmuch as our materialistic
resources are limited and the claimants are many.
3. Paschim Banga Khet mazdoor Samity & ors v. State of West Bengal & ors3
The Supreme Court widened the scope of art 21 and the governments responsibility to
provide medical aid to every person in the country, the court also held that in a welfare state,
the primary duty of the government is to secure the welfare of the people. The court held that
right to health care is a fundamental right. Providing adequate medical facilities for the
people is an obligation undertaken by the government in a welfare state. The government
discharges this obligation by providing medical care to the persons seeking to avail of those
facilities. Article 21 imposes an obligation on the state to safeguard the right to life of every
person. Preservation of human life is thus of paramount importance. The government
hospitals run by the state are duty bound to extend medical assistance for preserving human
life as well as providing better health care facilities. Failure on the part of a government
hospital to provide timely medical treatment to a person in need of such treatment, results in
violation of his right to life guaranteed under Article21. The Court made certain additional
direction in respect of serious medical cases.
a. Adequate facilities be provided at the public health centers where the patient can be given
basic treatment and his condition stabilized.
b. Hospitals at the district and sub divisional level should be upgraded so that serious cases are
treated there.
c. Facilities for given specialist treatment should be increased and having regard to the growing
needs, it must be made available at the district and sub divisional level hospitals.

3 (1996) 4 SCC 37.


In order to ensure availability of bed in any emergency at State level hospitals, there should
be a centralized communication system so that the patient can be sent immediately to the


hospital where bed is available in respect of the treatment, which is required.

Proper arrangement of ambulance should be made for transport of a patient from the public

health center to the State hospital.

Ambulance should be adequately provided with necessary equipments and medical

4. CESC Ltd. vs. Subash Chandra Bose4

HELD - The Supreme Court relied on international instruments and concluded that right to
health is a fundamental right. It went further and observed that health is not merely absence of
sickness: The term health implies more than an absence of sickness. Medical care and health
facilities not only protect against sickness but also ensure stable manpower for economic
development. Facilities of health and medical care generate devotion and dedication to give the
workers best, physically as well as mentally, in productivity. It enables the worker to enjoy the
fruit of his labour, to keep him physically fit and mentally alert for leading a successful
economic, social and cultural life. The medical facilities are, therefore, part of social security and
like gilt edged security, it would yield immediate return in the increased production or at any rate
reduce absenteeism on grounds of sickness, etc.5

5. Kirloskar Brothers Ltd v. Emplyees State Insurance Corpn.6

HELD- The Supreme Court, following the Consumer Education and research Centers case, has
held that right to health is a fundamental right of the workmen. The Court also held that this
right is not only available against the State and its instrumentalities but even private industries to
4 AIR 1992 SC 573: 1991 (2) SCALE 996
5 http://www.legalindia.com/right-to-health/ (last accesed on 11th February, 2016,
2:30 p.m.)
6 Kirloskar Brothers Ltd vs. Emplyees State Insurance Corpn.1996) 2 SCC 682.

ensure to the workmen to provide facilities and opportunities for health and vigour of the
workman assured in the provision of Part IV of the Constitution which are integral part of right
to equality under Art 14 and right to invigorated life under Article 21 which are fundamental
rights to the workmen.
6. Mahendra Pratap Singh vs. State of Orissa7
HELD- A case pertaining to the failure of the government in opening a primary health care
centre in a village, the court had held In a country like ours, it may not be possible to have
sophisticated hospitals but definitely villagers within their limitations can aspire to have a
Primary Health Centre. The government is required to assist people get treatment and lead a
healthy life. Healthy society is a collective gain and no Government should make any effort to
smother it. Primary concern should be the primary health centre and technical fetters cannot be
introduced as subterfuges to cause hindrances in the establishment of health centre. It was also
stated that, great achievements and accomplishments in life are possible if one is permitted to
lead an acceptably healthy life. Thereby, there is an implication that the enforcing of the right to
life is a duty of the state and that this duty covers the providing of right to primary health care.
This would then imply that the right to life includes the right to primary health care.

7 Mahendra Pratap Singh vs. State of Orissa. AIR 1997 Ori 37.