Health is one of the essential elements in our life. Right to Health and education are parameters of employment in society. Today, the whole world is surviving in a financial emergency. Most 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 biological warfare by America and WHO Organisation declared the Covid-19 epidemic a 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.
These days, health issues related cases have arisen in various territories of India. The inefficiency of health care administration, as well as negligence by in-charge doctors, caused the deaths of infected persons with Covid-19. In many cases, the inefficiency of administration and scarcity of proper treatment by doctors caused death to infected persons. Hence, many people lost their lives due to such negligence. The Constitution of India provides under Article 21 the Right to life and Personal liberty to every citizen of India. The right to life and personal liberty is a fundamental right of every citizen of India and includes provisions related to the 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 being’s 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, the 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.
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Right to health under the Indian constitution
Article 38 of the Constitution of India deals with the State securing 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, economic and political.
Article 42 of the Constitution of India deals with the 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 the interest of social health. They should make policies in the interest of the betterment of society. Thus, any citizen of India can compensate for his interest in the Right to health from society.
Universal Declaration and the 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 the “Right to enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”
Legal responses to the health emergency
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 conditions (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 the trial or inquiry should be concluded within a six month period. If the delay is caused then it’s punishable by law.
Right to Health as a Fundamental Right and Its Importance
In that case, the petitioner asks for a 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 held that the formation of a welfare state is one in 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 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, 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 of 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 of the interest of victims recommended guidelines to a 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)
An old age Jiwan Lal Sharma was admitted to the private ward of CMC hospital due to surviving advanced cancer. In charge doctor of the hospital consulted the elder and younger son of Mr Jiwan Lal Sharma kept him at home without proper nursing and medical facility because the patient is too old and not comfortable and took medical facility in a hospital ward, the apart concerned doctor advised elder son of the patient to keep him at home. But the sons of the patient admitted him to a private ward of the 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 a 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 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 the carelessness of respective doctors and the negligence of the hospital, Mr Sharma was held to be dead. The 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
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 the mental as well as spiritual health of human beings. The Supreme Court of India relies on that the good health of human beings is essential for their lives and states have a 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 in the interest of society.
The right to health is part of the fundamental right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and enforceable by the 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 the procedure of parliament law.