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1 - Human Dignity in Indian Constitutional Adjudication

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 July 2022

Jimmy Chia-Shin Hsu
Affiliation:
Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan
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Summary

In its Preamble, the Constitution of India lists dignity as one of several constitutional values. Dignity has no textual mention in the chapter on Fundamental Rights. The Supreme Court of India has, however, held dignity to be “the founding faith of the Constitution” and the “core of Fundamental Rights.” How is the special significance of dignity explained? By mapping the application of dignity by the Court, this chapter argues that judicial creativity with dignity has come at the cost of unanchored speculation about the content of dignity and uninhibited reliance on interdisciplinary academic literature. Dignity consequently figures in judicial decisions as a right, a justificatory value, and a reason for limiting individual rights. The content of dignity, however, remains perilously thin, and judicial enthusiasm has not resulted in clarity. Rather, questions arise about how extra-legal materials are employed in judicial decisions. The Indian experience, akin to several others, also raises concerns that arise when legal actors, primarily with legal expertise, employ moral and political values as justifications in constitutional rights adjudication.

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Human Dignity in Asia
Dialogue between Law and Culture
, pp. 21 - 39
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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