A Fundamental Right to Sleep

Written by Anamika pursuing BA., LLB from Lovely Professional University, Phagwara

Sleep is an essential ingredient for healthy human lives and well-being. The human body works properly only after certain hours of sleep between 7-9 hours per day. The right to sleep is included in our Indian constitution under Article 21 i.e., the Right to life and personal liberty. Everyone has the right to sleep peacefully in the environment without any disturbance and no one can infringe on their right or act in a manner that disturbs their sleep. Just like every other right this also has some reasonable restrictions under special circumstances. The unavailability of sleep would lead to a violation of fundamental rights.

Ramlila Maidan V/S Home Secretary, Union of India

In this case, Ramlila Maidan was given on rent for a yoga training camp from 1st June -20th June 2011, and permission was granted from the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central District) but then after 4 days i.e.,4th June Baba Ramdev started a hunger strike with the motto of ‘bhrashtachar mitao satyagraha’ which have a massive crowd of around 50 thousand people and no yoga session was held for the entire day. Despite several assurances at 11:00 pm, the strike was not called off and around 11:30 the night it was noticed that the permissions are withdrawn and he would be detained. Then at 12:00 am a large number of CRPF, Delhi Police force, and Rapid Action Force personnel , totalling approximately five thousand, reached the Ramlila Maidan at this time, the protestors were peacefully sleeping. Police resorted to the use of tear gas and lathi charge to disperse off the crowd late at night when people were sleeping.

The events persuaded the high court to issue a suo moto notice vide dated 6th June 2011, notice was issued to the Home Secretary, Union of India, the Chief Secretary, Delhi Administration, and the Police Commissioner of Delhi to show cause and explain the conduct of such brutal and harsh on the people sleeping peacefully, the court issued same notice to Bharat swabhiman trust and also independent assistance to the court. Court also issued an amicus curie.

Laws Included

This action violated articles 19(1)(a) and 21 of the Indian constitution which comes under speech and expression which has been injured here and article 21 as sleeping is an essential part of living our life peacefully. Also, section 144 of CrPC is misused as it is stated it should be only imposed then where in the section that where ever there is an imminent threat to national security and it’s logically seen that people are peacefully sleeping and cannot assume them to be the threat in near future.


Supreme court provided a landmark judgment in this case, A two-judge bench Chauhan B.S. J. and Kumar Swatanter J. decided the case on suo moto cognizance on brutal action of police against sleeping followers of Ramdev the families of the member which were lead to death got compensation of RS. 5 lakh, severe burns 50 thousand and 25 thousand for minor burns. Both Ramdev and the police got in a conflict which was not at all required. The judgment also identified the violation of ‘Freedom of Speech and Expression’ as per Art 19(a) and the ‘Right to assemble peacefully and without arms’ as per Art 19(b) of the Indian constitution. The Supreme Court concluded the decision by including the ‘Right to Sleep’ as a fundamental right under the ambit of Article 21, ‘Right to Life and Personal Liberty’. Every citizen is entitled under Article 21 of the Constitution to live in a decent environment and has the right to sleep peacefully at night.


Right to sleep is a necessary right for leading a good life. Sleeping is a life sustaining activity i.e., it must occur at some time in some place. The judgment might have its defects, but it can be concluded that the suo moto action taken up by the Hon’ble Supreme Court was laudable in the light of common interest. This reiterates the fact that the Indian Judiciary is serious about upholding the fundamental rights of people, even when the government of India had failed to protect the most important rights. This landmark judgment provided a detailed view of the approach of the judiciary towards the safety of the citizens of India, which is hugely inspiring for the common people.






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