Healthcare and the Indian Constitution

    Health is one of the essential elements in our life. Health and education are parameters of employment in society. Today, the whole world is surviving in a financial emergency. Most of the people lost their jobs due to this pandemic. In this era of digitalisation businesses as well as corporate sectors are also shifting to online platforms. Covid-19 is declared as biological warfare by America and WHO Organisation declared Covid-19 epidemic as Pandemic on March 11, 2020. In the last six months, the number of Covid-19 affected cases has risen in a very large manner in India and remarks are above 62 lacs cases in the last consecutive months. The article is a detailed analysis of healthcare under the Indian Constitution.

    In these days, health issues related cases have arisen in various territories of India. Due to inefficiency of health care administration as well as negligence by in-charge doctors caused deaths to infected persons of Covid-19. In many cases, that inefficiency of administration and scarcity of proper treatment by doctors caused death to infected persons. Hence, many of the people lost their lives due to such negligence. The Constitution of India provides under Article 21 with Right to life and Personal liberty to every citizen of India. Right to life and personal liberty is a fundamental right of every citizen of India and includes provisions related to Right to Health guaranteed by the Constitution of India to every citizen.                                                                                                                                                 

    In 1995, the right to health and medical care were declared fundamental rights of every citizen of India under Article 21 of the Constitution since health is essential for making every human beings’ life meaningful and purposeful. According to Article 21 of the Constitution – “no person shall be deprived of his/her life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law”.                                                                                                                                     

     Fundamental Rights are essential in human life because they are guaranteed to protect human life. Health is not a human right but today, right to health has become a fundamental right. Our mental health and physical health is dependent on the wellness stability in our life. Right to health encompasses good shelter, food and good medical facilities prescribed by the doctor. Wellness of health includes asking for information related to one’s own health status and measures required for correcting the health status. It encompasses drugs-related information. A medical practitioner is required to give proper medicine to a patient which does not include alcohol.   

    Right to Health under Indian Constitution

    Article 38 of the Constitution of India deals with the State securing a social order for the promotion of the welfare of the people. The state shall strive to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting, as effectively as possible, justice; social, economical and political.      

    Article 42 of the Constitution of India deals with provision for just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief. The State shall make provisions for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief. The duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health are among its primary duties.  

    Article 243(G) of the Constitution of India deals with Panchayats and Municipalities. Panchayat and Municipalities should be making policies in interest of social health. They should make policies in the interest of betterment of society. Thus, any citizen of India can compensate his interest of Right to health from society.                                                                         

    Universal Declaration and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

    According to Article 25(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family. Every human has the right to health as a universal right to attain wellness and prosperity in life.”

    The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966, which includes the right to health. It states that the right to health recognizes “Right to enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”

    https://legalreadings.com/rights-liabilities-of-mortgagee/

    Legal Responses to Health Emergencies                                  

    The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and 2019: Aims and Objectives  

    In these pandemic days, 132 years old legislation comes into view of everyone and plays a vital role in fighting this pandemic. The Act provides for the prevention and spread of dangerous epidemic diseases.  It amends as a  The Epidemic Diseases Act, 2020. 

    Under this Bill, an ‘act of violence’ includes any of the following acts committed against a healthcare service personnel: (1)harassment impacting living or working condition (2)harm, injury, hurt or danger to life (3)obstruction in discharging duties (4)damage to property or documents of health care personnel. Persons convicted of offences under the bill will also be liable to pay compensation to the healthcare service personnel whom they have hurt.

    Cases registered under the Bill will be investigated by a police officer. The investigation must be completed within 30 days from the date of registration of the First Information Report and trial or inquiry should be concluded within a six month period. If the delay is caused then it’s punishable  law.     

    Right to Health as a Fundamental Right and Its Importance

    People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India   

    In that case[1] the petitioner asks for supreme court opinion over matters regarding the right to food in India. The first concern raised was about the food grains rotting in the government godowns when thousands of people were dying  from starvation. It held that the Right to Health is related to the Right to Food. The Supreme Court concluded that the Right to Food is an essential constitutional right linked with Article 21, Article 39(A) and Article 47 of the Indian Constitution.  

    Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity v. State of West Bengal and Anr 

    This case[2] held that the formation of a welfare state is one which the first responsibility of the state is the security and welfare of the citizens. The Indian Constitution imposes a duty on the state to protect the life of every citizen and to take care of their lives. This was the first case wherein the Supreme Court which stated that the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution includes the right to health of deprived persons who are not able to get medical services, which may be necessary to preserve human life.   

    Vincent Panikurlangara v. Union of India

    In this case[3], the petitioner was an advocate and also the General Secretary of Public Interest Law Service Society, Cochin. Directions for a ban on the import, production, trade, and distribution of drugs had been recommended by the Drugs Consultative Committee. He also sought the termination of every license which authorized the import, production, trade, and distribution of such drugs. He also requested that the Central Government be directed to establish an authority to look into the hazards drugs production that could arise due to the circulation of such drugs and recommend remedies, including compensation to the victims.The court held that in the case for interest of victims recommended guidelines to special court. Investigation authorities must follow these guidelines in the interest of victims and compensate them. 

    Jacob Mathew  V. State of Haryana (144-145 of 2004) [4]

     An old age Jiwan lal Sharma was admitted in the private ward of CMC hospital due to surviving in advanced cancer. In charge doctor of hospital consulted elder and younger son of Mr. Jiwan lal Sharma kept him at home with proper nursing and medical facility because patient is too old and not comfortable and took medical facility in hospital ward, apart concerned doctor advised elder son of patient to keep him at home. But the sons of the patient admitted him in a private ward of hospital.when On 22.2.1995 at about 11 p.m., Jiwan Lal felt difficulty in breathing. The complainant’s elder brother, Vijay Sharma who was present in the room contacted the duty nurse, who in her turn called some doctor to attend to the patient.                                                                                                                                  

    No doctor turned up for 20 to 25 minutes. After some time Dr. Jacob Mathew and Dr. Allen Joseph came up to the room and saw that the patient was suffering due to breathing problems and lack of oxygen. They were brought up with oxygen cylinders and connected to the mouth of the patient but the breathing problem of the patient further increased. Finally, Dr. Jacob Mathew noticed that the cylinder of oxygen was found to be empty and the hospital was unable to provide oxygen cylinders to him. Due to carelessness of respective doctors and negligence of hospital, Mr. Sharma was held to be dead. Younger son of the patient was immediately lodged F.I.R. against both doctors under Sec. 304 A and Sec.34 of the Indian Penal Code,1960 in Police Station. The Supreme Court held that in a case of criminal negligence against a medical professional it must be shown that the accused did something or failed to do something in the given facts and circumstances of the case which no medical professional in his ordinary senses and prudence would have done or failed to do.                                                                                    

    Conclusion

    Health is an essential element of our life. Every human being wants wellness and prosperity in his own life. If they are not able to attain such health goals in life then they are not able to achieve prosperity in life because good health is key and a sign of prosperity and success. The word health is not limited to only physical health; it strongly relates to mental as well as spiritual health of human beings. The Supreme Court of India relies that good health of human beings is essential for their lives and states have responsibility for providing such welfare to citizens of India. Providing good nutrition and medical care facilities to citizens of India is the most important responsibility of central governments towards the interest of society.

    Right to health is part of fundamental right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of Constitution of India and enforceable by Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India if it falls under any deprivation. It’s our responsibility towards society to make awareness about the right to health and its legislation established under procedure of parliament law.                 

    REFERNCES

    1. W.P.(Crl.) 89/2002.
    2.  AIR 1996 SCC.
    3. AIR  1987 SCR (2) 468.
    4. AIR 144 -145 of 2004

    BY MANISH KHADAKBAN| YASHWANTRAO CHAVAN LAW COLLEGE

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