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HealthCare Case Law in India

The majority of the population of the country is excluded from any statutory recognition of right to health. Constitutional recognition can, at the highest, only provide the framework for further statutory inroads. Judicial pronouncements, then, acquire significance. With the advent of public interest litigation, a large number of issues concerning the poor and marginalized are being agitated in courts across the land. It is important to follow the thinking of the courts on these issues. Even though judicial pronouncements may not have the same breadth as statutory laws, they constitute the law as applicable in given situations. Besides, these pronouncements give legitimacy, recognition and social acceptance to various ideas and constructs which can be used for strengthening rights based campaigns around issues.This Reader mainly looks at the Constitutional recognition and judicial pronouncements. These case law form the foundation of the right to health care and can support any further public interest litigations on various other areas of public health. The attempt has also been to demystify the laws and make the information accessible to common people , so that the judgments can be used as an effective tool for demanding the right to health care. An awareness of these judgments does not mean that they will be implemented easily, but it is certainly important for further action and the evolving of future strategies, legal or otherwise, towards realizing the right to health.CEHAT has been working towards realisation of right to health and healthcare , through research and advocacy, for more than a decade. India's legal framework is dualist (as against monist).International laws related to rights cannot be transformed and applied in the country unless there is appropriate domestic legislation. In 2000 with the launch of the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan ( JSA )/ People's Health Initiative in India, civil society groups sought to prioritise the right to health and healthcare on its agenda. During the campaign for the right to health care, it was realized that in order to effectively use the various relevant judgements to realize the right to health as a fundamental right there was a need to create supportive legal documentation. This would also help to develop clear legal strategies for this campaign. India Centre for Human Rights and Law (ICHRL), together with a group of lawyers and social activists has been working on human rights especially the social, economic, environmental and cultural rights. CEHAT and ICHRL have productively collaborated to come out with this comprehensive Reader on Health Care Case Law in India. This Reader is a research output of CEHAT's project on 'Establishing Health as a Human Right'.Download full report

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