Is Right To Shelter A Fundamental Right World Over?

supremecourtBy Accommodation Times Research


RIGHT TO SHELTER

In various cases, the Supreme Court has enlarged the meaning of life under Article 21 of the Constitution to include within its ambit, the right to shelter. In some of the cases upholding the right to shelter, the Court looked at differentiating between a mere animal-like existence and a decent human existence, thereby bringing out the need for a respectable life.

Upholding the importance of the right to a decent environment and a reasonable accommodation, in Shantistar Builders v. Narayan Khimalal Totame (1990) 1 SCC 520: AIR 1990 SC 630 the Court held that,

“The right to life would take within its sweep the right to food, the right to clothing, the right to decent environment and a reasonable accommodation to live in. The difference between the need of an animal and a human being for shelter has to be kept in view. For the animal it is the bare protection of the body, for a human being it has to be a suitable accommodation which would allow him to grow in every aspect – physical, mental and intellectual. The Constitution aims at ensuring fuller development of every child. That would be possible only if the child is in a proper home. It is not necessary that every citizen must be ensured of living in a well-built comfortable house but a reasonable home particularly for people in India can even be mud-built thatched house or a mud-built fireproof accommodation,”

In Chameli Singh v. State of U. P [(1996) 25CC549 132] a Bench of three Judges of this Court had considered and held that the right to shelter is a fundamental right available to every citizen and it was read into Article 21 of the Constitution of India as encompassing within its ambit, the right to shelter to make the right to life more meaningful. In para 8 it has been held thus : (SCC pp. 555-56)

“In any organised society, right to live as a human being is not ensured by meeting only the animal needs of man. It is secured only when he is assured of all facilities to develop himself and is freed from restrictions which inhibit his growth. All human rights are designed to sachieve this object. Right to live guaranteed in any civilised society implies the right to food, water, decent environment, education, medical care and shelter. These are basic human rights known to any civilised society. All civil, political, social and cultural rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Convention or under the Constitution of India cannot be exercised without these basic human rights.”





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