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Right to Sleep: A Fundamental Right

Right to Sleep: A Fundamental Right

The Bombay High Court has recently underscored the importance of the right to sleep as a fundamental human necessity that must not be infringed upon in the case of Ram Kotumal Issrani v. Directorate of Enforcement & Anr. 

In a notable ruling, the court emphasized that statements should be recorded during daytime hours rather than at night, when a person’s cognitive abilities may be compromised. The court directed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to establish guidelines regarding the timing of recording statements when issuing summons.

A bench comprising justices Revati Mihite Dere and Manjusha Deshpande criticized the Enforcement Directorate for interrogating a senior citizen throughout the night in connection with an alleged money laundering case. 

This rebuke came during the hearing of a petition filed by Ram Issrani, aged 64, challenging his arrest by the ED in August of the previous year. Issrani contended that his arrest was unlawful and unjustified since he had been fully cooperating with the investigation.

While upholding the right the bench cited, “ Thus, a person summoned under Section 50 of the PMLA, should have his statement necessarily recorded during earthly hours, as the investigating agency is yet to arrive at a `reason to believe’ that the said person is guilty of an offence punishable under this Act. The `right to sleep’ / ‘right to blink’ is a basic human requirement, inasmuch as, non-providing of the same, violates a person’s human rights. It affects a person’s health, may impair his mental faculties, cognitive skills and so on.”


The right to sleep is enshrined in Part III of the Indian Constitution, affirming and safeguarding this essential right. Fundamental rights, being the foundational framework of the Constitution, are considered immutable; any alteration to fundamental rights would constitute a violation of the Constitution's basic structure. In India, fundamental rights extend to both citizens and non-citizens alike, ensuring that all individuals are entitled to certain inherent rights and protections under the law.

The notion of the right to sleep is increasingly recognized as a fundamental aspect of human rights, often implicitly encompassed within Article 21, which guarantees the right to life and personal liberty. This suggests that individuals have a right to enjoy uninterrupted sleep in a peaceful environment, particularly during nighttime hours. 

However, like many rights, the right to sleep is subject to certain limitations and restrictions, therefore it is not an absolute right. These may include considerations such as the location, timing, and manner of sleep. For instance, sleeping during the day or in public spaces may be deemed unreasonable or socially unacceptable in certain contexts. 

Therefore, while the right to sleep is increasingly acknowledged, it is important to recognize the need for balance and respect for the rights of others and the prevailing social norms.


Fundamental Rights encompass a vital set of liberties and entitlements ensured to every citizen by the Indian constitution. They form the cornerstone of individual freedom, shielding citizens against arbitrary state actions and upholding basic human rights and freedoms. 

Integral to fostering democracy, justice, and equality within a society, they act as a shield against authoritarian and despotic governance. Essentially, they strive to establish a system governed by laws rather than individuals.

These rights are deemed fundamental due to their indispensable role in fostering the holistic development, dignity, and welfare of individuals. Their immense significance has led to them being hailed as the Magna Carta of India, symbolizing their pivotal role in safeguarding citizen rights and liberties.


Articles 12 to 35 within Part III of the Indian Constitution delineate six fundamental rights that are crucial pillars of Indian democracy:

  1. Right to Equality (Articles 14–18): Ensures equality before the law and prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.
  2. Right to Freedom (Articles 19–22): Guarantees freedoms such as speech and expression, assembly, association, movement, residence, and profession.
  3. Right against Exploitation (Articles 23–24): Prohibits trafficking, forced labor, and child labor, ensuring dignity and fair treatment for all individuals.
  4. Right to Freedom of Religion (Articles 25–28): Secures the freedom to profess, practice, and propagate religion, while also maintaining state neutrality in religious matters.
  5. Cultural and Educational Rights (Articles 29–30): Safeguards the rights of minorities to conserve their culture, language, and script, and provides the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
  6. Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32): Empowers individuals to approach the Supreme Court for the enforcement of their fundamental rights through writs such as habeas corpus, mandamus, certiorari, prohibition, and quo warranto.

These fundamental rights collectively form the core of Indian democracy, ensuring the protection and promotion of essential freedoms and liberties for all citizens.


  1. Sayeed Maqsood Ali vs. State of Madhya Pradesh and Ors. (2001): In this case the right to sleep was indirectly interpreted. The petitioner invoked Articles 226 and 227 of the Indian Constitution to challenge respondent no. 7's use of loudspeakers and public address systems, which were causing disturbances and disrupting public tranquility in violation of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000. This infringement on individual rights due to excessive noise was argued to be impermissible under the law, as citizens have a fundamental right to be protected against such disturbances under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. The High Court's ruling in 2017 underscored the significance of the right to sleep within the framework of fundamental rights. The court held that every citizen is entitled, under Article 21 of the Constitution, to live in a decent environment and enjoy the right to sleep peacefully at night. This judicial interpretation reinforced the notion that fundamental rights encompass not just explicit liberties but also implied rights essential for a dignified and peaceful existence.
  2. Re-Ramlila Maidan Incident Dt … vs. Home Secretary And Ors. (2012): The Supreme Court's ruling emphasized the intrinsic link between sound sleep and sound health, recognizing sleep as an essential aspect of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. It reaffirmed that the right to sound sleep is an inherent and unavoidable right guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. This acknowledgment underscores the critical role of sleep in maintaining overall well-being and highlights its significance within the framework of fundamental rights and the right to life enshrined in Article 21.
  3. Ram Kotumal Issrani v. Directorate of Enforcement & Anr. (2023): The latest pronouncement came from the Bombay High Court where the court laid focus on importance of respecting basic human needs such as sleep and blinking even during legal procedures, specifically during the recording of statements under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The court emphasized that until the investigating agency has sufficient reason to suspect an individual of an offense under the PMLA, there is no justification for disturbing their sleep or basic bodily functions by recording statements at untimely hours.

The court recognized that depriving individuals of sleep not only violates their human rights but also has detrimental effects on their health, mental faculties, and cognitive abilities. The individual's consent to the recording of statements during unearthly hours was deemed irrelevant in this context.





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