Right to Meaningful family life is Covered Within Right to Life under Article 21: Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday, while hearing the case concerning Lakshmi Bhavya Tanneru v. Union of India and Ors., observed that Right to Meaningful Family life is within the ambit of Right to Life enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and unreasonably denying employee’s request for inter-cadre transfer by State impinge upon such individual’s Right to Meaningful Family Life. The Court observed that Right to such Meaningful family life is one of the facet within the Fundamental Right to Life which the Constitution of India Grants under Article 21.

The two judge bench consisting Justice Ravi Shakdher and Justice Talwant Singh while allowing the plea of the IAS Officer Lakshmi Bhavya Tanneru for Inter cadre transfer, observed that the right to Meaningful Family life which grants an individual to live a fulfilling life and retain his physical, psychological and emotional integrity forms an integral part of Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution. Thus, unreasonable denial by State of the request of such employee for inter cadre transfer infringes such individual’s right of demanding respect for his family life. 

The Court was hearing the plea which was filed by IAS Officer Lakshmi Bhavya Tanneru to challenge the order dated 2nd February, 2021 of Central Administrative Tribunal through which her request for Inter-Cadre transfer on the ground of her marriage with another All India Services officer was declined due to which she could not enjoy her Right to Meaningful Family Life. 

The counsel on her behalf submitted that she had been treated with discrimination as while her request for inter cadre transfer was rejected, the same request for several other officers was given consideration. It was also contended the failure of West Bengal Government in issuing No Objection Certificate for her inter cadre transfer gravely affected her familial well-being and relationships which in turn violated her Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The Court while recognising Right to Meaningful Family Life as a part of Right to Life, added that the refusal of request for inter cadre transfer on ground of marriage can only be refused if some cogent reasons back them and thus the tribunal’s decision was subject to Judicial Review. Thus, the two orders were set aside and State of West Bengal was directed for issuing NOC to petitioner and thereby effectuate her request for inter cadre transfer within 2 weeks. 

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