Fundamental Rights in India

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Every citizen of India is guaranteed to be entitled to the fundamental rights irrespective of Caste, Sex, Creed or religion. Fundamental rights prevent the establishment of an authoritarian and despotic rule in the country. The fundamental rights are included in Part III of the Constitution of India. It is enshrined in the constitution from Article 12 to 35. Fundamental rights have been taken from the constitution of the USA (bill of Rights).  Because our fundamental rights are very long and comprehensive, Part III of the constitution is also known as Magna Carta of India. Fundamental rights the constitution of India are more elaborated than any other country including the USA.

You may have heard in the news about people fighting for their rights in the country. With the appropriate knowledge of the fundamental rights, every citizen of the country can question the government or any entity if any kind of discrimination or injustice takes place with him/her. In today’s article, I will be talking about the six basic fundamental rights in India along with its features. But first, let look at the six basic fundamental rights in India.

Originally, in the constitution there were seven basic fundamental rights however, the Right to Property was removed from the list by 44th Amendment Act 1978. At present, there are only six fundamental rights and they are:

  1. Right to equality (Article 14-18)
  2. Right to Freedom (Article 19 to 22)
  3. Right against Exploitation (Article 23-24)
  4. Right to freedom of Religion (Article 25 to 28)
  5. Cultural and Educational Rights (Article 29 to 30)
  6. Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32)

Some Features of Fundamental Rights:

  1. While some of the rights are available exclusively only to the citizens of India, others are available to all persons whether citizens, foreigners or legal persons like corporations and companies.
  2. Fundamental rights are not absolute but qualified. Reasonable restrictions can be applied by the states but whether these restrictions are reasonable or not will be decided by the court.
  3. Fundamental rights are guarded and preserved by the Supreme Court which means any person who is aggrieved can directly appeal or go to the Supreme Court.
  4. Fundamental rights are not permanent. They can be repelled or curtail by the constitutional amendment act whereas, this can be done without affecting/ changing the Basic structure of the constitution.
  5. Fundamental rights can be suspendered during the operation of a National Emergency except the rights guaranteed by Articles 20 and 21.

1. Right to Equality (Article 14-18)

The right to Equality ensures that equal rights are given to all the citizens of the country. It prohibits discrimination on the grounds of caste, religion, place of birth, race, or gender (Article 15). It provides equal opportunity in matters of employment and prevents inequality on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, and descent, place of birth, place of residence, etc.

2. Right to Freedom (Article 19 to 22)

The right to freedom gives us six rights regarding freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom of movement, freedom to practice any profession, freedom to reside in any part of the country (Article 19). Moreover, these rights have their own restrictions. Right to freedom gives protection of life and personal liberty (Article 21). It gives the right to elementary education and it protects against arrest and detention in certain cases (Article 22).

3. Right against Exploitation (Article 23-24)

Right against Exploitation is enshrined in Article 23 and 24 in which it condemns human trafficking and forced labor by making it an offense and punishable by law. Article 24 prohibits the employment of children working in factories. Under this, any person cannot be forced to work without wages unless it is for the public purpose, like community services or for Non-Governmental organizations.

4. Right to Freedom of Religion (Article 25 to 28)

Right to Freedom of Religion provides every citizen of India religious freedom and ensures secular states in India (no state has an official religion). In the Constitution, Article 26 ensures the freedom to manage religious affairs whereas Article 27, prevents citizens from paying taxes for the promotion of any religion. Every citizen is also free to attend religious and education institution that encourages a particular religion. It also says that the States should treat all religions unbiasedly and equally. 

5. Cultural and Educational Rights (Article 29 to 30)

Cultural and Educational Rights protect culture, language, and script of minorities by enabling them to conserve their heritage.  It also protects them against discrimination. Article 30 gives minorities the freedom to establish and administer educational institutions.  

6. Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32)

Right to Constitutional Remedies gives the right to move to the Supreme Court for the enforcement of fundamental rights including the writs of (a) habeas corpus (b) mandamus (c) prohibition (d) certiorari and (e) quo war-rento. The Supreme Court has the jurisdiction to enforce the Fundamental Rights even against private bodies, and in case of any violation, it awards the compensation to the affected individual.

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