‘Economic’ dignity and transformative constitutionalism in India: Attempting to cut the ‘Gordian Knot'

Shrivastava, Anujay and Shrivastava, Abhijeet (2021) ‘Economic’ dignity and transformative constitutionalism in India: Attempting to cut the ‘Gordian Knot'. Corpus Law Journal, 1 (4). pp. 446-457. ISSN 25827820

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In jurisdictions such as India, courts often employ various ‘constitutional values’ while adjudicating hard cases. We often hear that a court has pronounced a decision, protecting and upholding the personal liberty, privacy, autonomy, or ‘dignity’ of an individual, or alternatively, upheld the ideas such as justice, constitutional morality, rule of law, or even the majesty of law, in its decision. Dignity, a constitutional value, has been identified by scholars, philosophers, practitioners, and judicial authorities to convey itself in various forms. In 2020, a Full-Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Gujarat Mazdoor Sabha v State of Gujarat had invoked the phrase “economic dignity”, while striking down two Gujarat notifications issued during the COVID-19 pandemic, as unconstitutional. While upholding the fundamental rights and human rights of labourers/workers in the State of Gujarat, the Court often utilized the term ‘dignity’. Regrettably, however, the Court did not coherently elaborate on the contours of ‘economic dignity’. Consequently, the term remains an uncut “Gordian Knot” and is subject to valid criticism on grounds such as indeterminacy. In this article, while briefly evaluating the various conceptions of dignity, we shall attempt to make a coherent evaluation of what ‘economic’ dignity entails for India. We shall highlight how ‘transformative constitutionalism’ has impacted the development of dignity in India, especially ‘economic’ dignity. Subsequently, we shall attempt to cohere ‘economic’ dignity in furtherance of transformative constitutionalism. Finally, we conclude by arguing that ‘economic’ dignity (which may be considered an extension of Kantian intrinsic-worth dignity) connotes minimal economic assurances, in the absence of which, one’s value as a human being would be degraded – and thus, one’s dignity hampered.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Constitution | Dignity | Economic dignity | Socio-economic | Transformative constitutionalism
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Law and Legal Studies
JGU School/Centre: Jindal Global Law School
Depositing User: Mr. Syed Anas
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2022 10:48
Last Modified: 13 Feb 2022 10:48
Official URL: https://www.juscorpus.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/...
URI: https://pure.jgu.edu.in/id/eprint/1237


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