Fundamental rights are considered to be the most important part of the Constitution of India. Their origination is from France’s Declaration of Bill of Rights of Man, England’s Bill of Rights, the Development of the Irish Constitution, as well as, the United States of America’s Bill of Rights.
Initially, Constitution provides for seven Fundamental rights,
- Right to Equality (Article 14 to 18),
- Right to Freedom (Article 19 to 22),
- Right against exploitation ( Article 23 and 24),
- Right to freedom of religion (Article 25 to 28),
- Cultural and Educational rights (Article 29 to 30),
- Right to property (Article 31),
- Right to Constitutional remedies (Article 32).
But at a later stage, the right to property was eliminated from the list of fundamental rights by the 44th Amendment Act of 1978. As of now, there are only six fundamental rights in the Constitution of India.
FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS: KEYNOTES
RIGHT TO EQUALITY :
- Article 14 of the Constitution which provides for the right of equality says that the state is not allowed to deny anyone equality before the law or equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. This right is available for all including and not limited to foreigners as well as artificial legal persons like companies, firms, etc
- This concept of ‘equality before the law is of British origin however while the concept of ‘equal protection of laws is of American origin
- Article 15 of India’s Constitution provides that the state is not allowed to discriminate against Indian citizens on the grounds of religion, caste, sex, or place of birth.
- Article 16 of the Constitution of India highlights the equality of opportunity for citizens of India in matters related to employment or appointment to any office under the state.
- Article 17 of the Constitution of India removed concepts like of ‘Untouchability’ and restricts its practice in any shape or form.
- Article 18 of the Constitution of India abolishes the concept of ‘Titles’ and declares that:
- No title subject to exception for military and academic titles shall be conferred by the State.
- Citizens of India are not allowed to accept any title from any foreign State.
- No foreign individual (while he holds any office of profit or trust under the State) is allowed to accept any office from any foreign state without the consent of the President of India, any title from any foreign state.
- No Indian Citizen or foreigner who is holding an office of profit or trust under the state can accept any present or office from or under any foreign State without the consent of the President of India.
RIGHT TO FREEDOM:
- Article 19 of the Constitution of India provides about six rights to all Indian citizens, which are explained below :
Right to freedom of speech and expression (Article 19(1)(a))
- The right to freedom of speech and expression provides that every citizen of India possess the legal right to express his or her views, opinions, and beliefs freely by the medium of words spoken orally, or by writing, printing, or by picturization in any manner. However it is subject to Parliament ‘s reasonable restrictions.
Right to assemble (peacefully and without arms) (Article 19(1)(b)
- This right provides that Indian citizens possess the right to assemble peacefully and without arms, arms like ammunition, melee weapons, etc.
- Exercise of this freedom is on public lands and the assembly must be peaceful and unarmed.
- Right to strike does not form part of this right.
Right to form associations or co-operative societies (Article 19(1)(c)
- Indian Citizens are provided the right to form associations or co-operative societies, which includes and not limited to the formation of political parties, companies, partnership firms, clubs, etc.
Right to freely move throughout the Indian territory (Article 19(1)(d))
- This right highlights the freedom of movement and provides every Indian citizen to have freely movement through out the country. The objective behind this is to promote national feeling among the citizens of the nation.
Right to reside and settle also in any part of Indian territory (except for the state of Jammu and Kashmir as per Article 35A) (Article 19(1)(e)),
- This right provides every citizen of India with the right to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India subject to the state of Jammu and Kashmir which has been provided a special status as per Article 370 which empowers the Article 35A which has a clause that does not allow residents of other states to reside in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. However it is subject to restrictions being reasonable in nature.
Right to practice any kind of profession or any occupation, trade, or business (Article 19(1)(g)).
- All Indian Citizens have been authorized to practise any profession or carry on any occupation or business of their choice. However it does not include the right to carry on a profession or business which is subject to anything which is immoral (such as trafficking) or dangerous in nature (drugs or explosives).
- Earlier , Article 19 contained seven rights but later on the right to acquire, hold and dispose of the property was eliminated by the Amendment Act of 1978.
- Article 19 allows the state to impose reasonable restrictions.
Article 20 of the Constitution of India highlights about protection against unreasonable and excessive punishment to an individual, irrespective of fact whether individual is citizen of India or a citizen of any foreign nation or even a legal person like a company or a corporation. This Article further provides about three provisions:
No ex-post-facto law
- It provides that no one will be convicted for any offence subject to exception for the violation of a law which is in force at the time of the commission of the act which may amount to some liability.
No double jeopardy
- It highlights that no one is subject to conviction for the same offence more than once.
- It means that no one who is accused of any offence shall be allowed to be a witness against himself.
Article 21 provides about one out of various important fundamental rights the right to life. It highlights that no person will be deprived of his or her life or personal liberty except as per procedure mentioned by law in this regard. This right is for all Indian Citizens as well as Citizens of foreign nations in India.
- Further Article 21A declares that the State must provide free and obligatory education to all children or minors of the age group six to fourteen years in any manner the State may determine.
- Article 22 provides protection to individuals who are arrested or detained.
Right against exploitation
- The trafficking of human beings, forced labour, and any other similar forms of forced labour are subject to prohibition as provided by Article 23 of the Indian Constitution which considers these acts as punishable offences and this right is for both Indian Citizens as well as citizens of foreign nations who are in India.
- Article 24 of the Constitution of India forbids the employment of minors/children below the age of 14 years of age in any factory, mine, or any other hazardous activities such as construction work or railways. But this article does not forbid the employment of children/minors in any harmless or innocent work environment.
Right to freedom of religion
- Article 25 of the Constitution of India provides that all are equally allowed the freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate any religion. Rights are available to all, whether Indian Citizens or citizens of a foreign country.
- Freedom is also granted to manage religious affairs is also provided under Article 26 of the Indian Constitution which declares every person’s rights to religious denominations,
- The rights stated under Article 25 and 26 are both subject to public order, morality, and health but they are not subject to other provisions which are related to Fundamental rights.
- Freedom from taxation liability for the promotion of religion is mentioned under Article 27 of the Indian Constitution which provides that no person will be compelled to pay any taxes for the promotion or maintenance of any religion or religious denomination.
- Article 28 of the Indian Constitution states that no religious instructions shall be provided in any educational institution which is subject to maintenance fully from state funds.
Cultural and Educational rights
- Article 29 of the Constitution of India provides any person any residing anywhere in the territory of India possess the right to conserve their own distinct language
- Furthermore Article 29 provides that no Indian citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution which is maintained by the state or is in receipt of funds from the state on the account of race, religion, caste, or language. This protection is for both religious minorities as well as linguistic minorities.
- Article 30 of the Indian Constitution provides the right of minorities (linguistic or religious) to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
Right to Constitutional Remedies
- Article 32 Indian Constitution provides the right to remedies for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of an Indian Citizen who has suffered.
- The reason mentioned above is the ground on basis of which Dr. BR Ambedkar called Article 32 the most important article of the Indian Constitution and called it the heart and soul of the Constitution of India. Article 32 makes all other rights legitimate in nature.
- The Supreme Court has also provided Article 32 as a basic feature of the Indian Constitution.
What are the Writs available under Articles 32 and 226?
- Under Article 32 the Supreme Court and the High Courts can issue certain writs for the enforcement of an individual’s legal rights, these are defined under Article 32 in the case of the Supreme Court of India and under Article 226 in the case of High Courts. There are five kinds of writs that can be issued, these are:
In nutshell it can be concluded that fundamental rights are essential and plays a crucial role for human development as well as for human existence
Constitution of India .
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