Right to sleep a basic human requirement - Bombay HC

News Excerpt:

The Bombay High Court said the right to sleep is a basic human requirement that cannot be violated.

About the news:

  • The court gave the order in a plea filed by a 64-year-old challenging his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and subsequently questioning him throughout the night in a money laundering case.
  • A division bench of two Justices said it disapproved of the practice of questioning the petitioner through the night, whether it is voluntary or not.
    • The 'right to sleep' / 'right to blink' is a basic human requirement, and as much as non-providing of the same violates a person's human rights.
    • Lack of sleep affects a person's health and may impair his mental faculties, cognitive skills, etc. Hence, the statement must be recorded during earthly hours, not at night. 
  • The court said it deems it appropriate to direct the ED to issue a circular/directions about the timings to record statements when summons are issued.

Previous judicial interpretations:

  • Sayeed Maqsood Ali v. State of Madhya Pradesh (2001):
    • The Madhya Pradesh High Court stated that every citizen is entitled to live in a decent environment and the right to have a peaceful night’s sleep.
  • Ramlila Maidan v. Home Secretary, Union of India (2011):
    • Suo moto action was taken against the brutal actions of police against those sleeping in Ramleela Maidan, which was given on rent for a yoga training camp organised by Baba Ramdev.
      • Four days into the campaign, Baba Ramdev started a hunger strike against corruption with a mass crowd of over 50,000 people.
      • At midnight, the police started the lathi charge and used tear gas to remove the crowd.
    • A two-judge bench found this to be a violation of the right to assemble peacefully and without arms, the freedom to speech and expression, and the right to sleep as per Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty).
    • But no citizen could claim sleeping to be his fundamental right. Undoubtedly, reasonable regulation of the time, place, and manner of sleeping would not violate any constitutional guarantee.

How is noise pollution related to the right to sleep?

  • The quality of sleep is often linked to the surroundings in which one sleeps. Therefore, the higher the noise pollution rates, the worse the quality of undisturbed sleep will be.
    • Here, precedents and regulations prohibiting higher sound levels at night help regulate the right to sleep.
  • Church of God (Full Gospel) v. KKR Majestic Colony Welfare Assn. (2000):
    • Religion-related noise pollution was taken into account by the Supreme Court.
    • It issued directions to control noise pollution to ensure that such activities do not disturb old or infirm persons, students or children who were sleeping in the early hours.
    • The Court also analysed the ‘natural right to sleep’ entitled to young babies.

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