the ramlila maidan incident: right to sleep
can anybody give their opinions regarding the ramlila maidan incident? focusing on the right to sleep and a critical analysis of the judgement?
In Re Ramlila Maidan Incident vs. Home Secretary, the Supreme Court of India discussed the issue of the right to sleep. It is important to note that the Court was not dealing with the rights of homeless persons who may claim right to sleep on footpath or public premises but only discussed under what circumstances a sleeping person may be disturbed. To this, the Court said that the State authorities cannot deprive a person of that right anywhere and at all times.
At the outset, the Court expressed its discontent over police personnel using undue force against a sleeping crowd and its incongruity in not waiting until a reasonable time to disperse the crowd. The Court opined that a person must exercise restraint and not engage in any criminal activity that brings about disturbance to the peace of mind while a person is asleep. The Court condemned the act of the police as it lacked sufficiency of reasons for its actions against the crowd. It further held that the act was the ‘desire of a tyrannical mind to threaten peaceful life’. Moreover, in the opinion of the Court this was a clear violation of human rights.
Holding that a person is entitled to ‘sleep as comfortably and as freely as he breathes’, it held the Right to Sleep to fall squarely within the definition of fundamental rights as guaranteed by Article 19(1) of the Constitution of India. It held that a sleeping crowd did not fall within the bracket of an unlawful gathering, which necessitated the use of force by the police and opined that he acts of the police against the gathering was an act in malice in law.
In my opinion the judgement is a clear example of judicial activism. In the words of a former CJ, ‘Now we have included right to sleep, where are we going?’. This I believe is criticism enough.
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