Significance of Fundamental Rights of Indian Citizens mentioned in Part 3 of Indian Constitution
In this article, we will cover a detailed summary of the Fundamental Rights mentioned in Part 3 of the Indian Constitution and the significance of fundamental rights.
We had already covered Fundamental Duties in our earlier article.
Here we will discuss only Fundamental Rights. Please check out here for the Fundamental Duties of Indian Citizens.
After reading this article you will be able to answer the following questions:-
Fundamental Rights in India
Classification of Fundamental Rights
List of fundamental rights/What are 7 fundamental Rights?
Fundamental Right Articles (12 to 35)
Importance of Fundamental Rights
Fundamental rights adopted from which country
Important article of the Indian Constitution
What do you mean by Fundamental Rights in India?
Before heading to the main topic of fundamental rights and duties. Let’s first understand the meaning of rights.
What are Rights?
Everyone wants to live happily, without fear, and without being subjected to ill-treatment.
For that we want others to behave in such a way that doesn’t harm us or hurt us. Similarly, we should not harm or hurt others.
Consequently, a right is a claim of a person that is equally possible for others. You can not have a right that harms or hurt others.
Fundamental Rights in India
The Constitution of India defines the Fundamental Rights of its citizens in Part III of the Constitution.
The fundamental rights are based on the Bill of Rights of the USA.
They are called fundamental rights because while ordinary rights may be changed in its ordinary process of legislation.
However, the fundamental rights required a constitutional amendment.
The Constitution of India contained seven fundamental rights originally.
But the Right to Property was repealed in 1978 by the 44th Constitutional Amendment Bill by the Janta Government.
The fundamental rights and duties are two sides of a coin.
The fundamental rights contained in the Constitution have been divided into six categories which we will discuss in succeeding paragraphs.
Fundamental Rights in India Articles
The constitution classifies fundamental rights into six categories. The list of fundamental rights is as follows:-
Right to equality (Articles 14-18)
Right to freedom (Articles 19-22)
Right against exploitation (Articles 23-24)
Right to freedom of religion (Articles 25-28)
Cultural and Educational Rights (Article 29-30)
Right to constitutional remedies (Article 32)
List of Fundamental Rights Articles (12-35) – Explained
Article 12 (Definition of State)
The term “State” has been used in different provisions of the fundamental rights.
Article 12 has defined the term State for this purpose. According to it, the State includes the following:-
- Government and Parliament of India
- Government and Legislature of States
- All local authorities i.e. Municipalities, Panchayats, District boards, etc.
- All other authorities i.e. statutory or non-statutory authorities like LIC, ONGC, Sail, etc.
These agencies’ actions can be challenged in court for violating the Fundamental Rights.
Article 13 (Law inconsistent with Fundamental Rights)
Article 13 states that all laws that are inconsistent with or in derogation of any of the fundamentals rights shall be void.
In other words, it provides for the doctrine of judicial review. The Supreme Court (Article 32) and High Courts (Article 226) has been conferred the power to declare a law unconstitutional and invalid on the ground of contravention of any of the fundamental rights.
The term “law” in Article 13 has been given wider connotation it includes the following:-
- Permanent law enacted by the Parliament or the State legislatures
- Temporary law like ordinances issued by the President of India or the State governors.
- Statutory body in the nature of executive legislation like order, bye-law, rule, regulation or notification, etc
- Non-legislative sources of law
Any of the above can be challenged in the courts as violating fundamental rights and hence, can be declared as void.
Article 14-18 (Right to Equality)
Article 14 (Equality before the law and Equal Protection of Laws)
Article 14 states that the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of laws within the territory of India.
This right is for all persons whether citizens or foreigners (except enemy/aliens).
The concept of “Equality before the law” is borrowed from the United Kingdom’s Constitution while the concept of “Equal protection of laws” has been taken from the American Constitution.
Equality before law:- it means that all individuals are equal in the eyes of law without any regard to rank, position in society, race, color or nationality.
It also states that all individuals are subjected to the ordinary law of the land.
Rule of Law:- it states that “Law is the King”. The government should be subjected to the law, not the law should be subjected to the government.
- No person can be punished except for a breach of law.
- All persons rich or poor, high or low, official or non-official are equal before the law.
The Supreme Court of India held that the “Rule of law” as embodied in Article 14 is a basic feature of the constitution. Hence, it cannot be destroyed even by an amendment.
Exceptions to the Principle of Rule of Law:-
- The President and the Governors of the States are not answerable in the court of law for the administrative decisions taken by them.
- No criminal proceedings can be initiated against the President or Governor of a State.
- The foreign diplomats and the visiting foreign dignitaries are not subjected to the law.
Equal Protection of Laws:- It means equality of treatment in equal circumstances. The principle of equal protection does not mean that every law must have a universal application for all persons, who are not by nature, circumstances or attainments in the same positions as others Varying needs of different classes or persons require separate treatment and a law enacted with this object in view is not considered to be violative of equal protection.
Article 15 (Prohibition of Discrimination)
Article 15 prohibits its state from discriminating against its citizens on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, and place of birth or area.
It also states that no citizen subjected to any disability, liability, restriction, or condition on grounds only of religion, race caste, sex, or place of birth shall be discriminated against having access to public places like restaurants, hotels, cinema halls, wells, public roads, etc on any of the aforesaid grounds.
It confers the power on the state to make special provisions for the benefit of women and children.
For example reservation of seats for women in local bodies or provision of free education for children.
The states are also permitted to make any special provisions for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
For example reservation of seats or fee concessions in public educational institutions.
Article 16 (Equality of Opportunity in Public Employment)
Article 16 (1) provides that there shall be equality of opportunity in public employment for all citizens.
Article 16 (2) prohibits the state from discriminating against its citizens on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, residence, and place of birth or descent.
Article 16 (3) says that the President is competent to allow states to make residency as a necessary qualification in certain services for ensuring the efficiency of work.
Article 16 (4) allows the State to reserve appointments in favor of a backward class of citizens which in its opinion is not adequately represented in the services under state.
Article 16 (4A) states that nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provisions for reservations in matters of promotion, with consequential seniority, to any class or classes of posts in the services under the State in favor of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes which, in the opinion of the State, are not adequately represented in the services under the State.
Article 16 (5) states that the State to provide that in case of appointment to religious offices, or offices in religious institutions, the candidate shall possess such additional qualification or be a member of that religious institution.
Article 17 (Abolition of Untouchability)
It provides for the abolition of Untouchability. Parliament enacted the Untouchability Offences Act, 1955, which was later amended and renamed as Civil Rights Protection Act,1976.
It prescribes punishment for the practice of untouchability, in any form, up to a fine of Rs. 500 or imprisonment of 6 months or both, depending upon the seriousness of the crime.
Article 18 (Abolition of Titles)
Article 18(1) prohibits the state from conferring any title on any individuals (both citizens and non-citizens).
However, the military and academic distinctions are exempted.
Article 18(2) prohibits an Indian citizen from receiving any title from any government of other nations.
However, some awards are recognized in the nature of academic distinctions and are not prohibited.
Article 18(3) prohibits a foreigner, who is in the service of India to receive any title without the permission of the President of India.
Article 19-22 (Right to Freedom)
Article 19 (Right to Freedom)
Article 19 of the Constitution guarantees six civil freedoms to the citizens as a matter of their rights. Which are as follows:-
- Freedom of Speech and Expression
- Right to assemble peacefully and without arms
- Right to form associations or unions
- Right to move freely throughout the territory of India
- Right to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India
- Right to practice any profession, or to carry any occupation, trade, or business
Freedom of Speech and Expression – Freedom of speech and expression means the right to express one’s convictions and opinions freely by word of mouth, writing, printing, picture or any other manner addressed to the eyes or ears.
“Reasonable” Restrictions on Freedom of Speech – 16th Amendment Acts, clause 2 of Article 19(1)(a) entitles the State to impose a reasonable restriction on the freedom of speech on any one or more of the following grounds:-
- Sovereignty and integrity of India
- Security of the State
- Friendly relations with foreign states
- Public order
- Decency or morality
- Contempt of court
- Incitement to an offense
Right to assemble peacefully and without arms – Article 19(1)(b) guarantees to every citizen the right to assemble peacefully and without arms. The right is subjected to the following restrictions:-
- People must assemble peacefully
- People must be unarmed
- It must not be in violation of public order
Right to form association or unions – Article 19(1)(c) guarantees to all citizens the right to form associations and unions for any lawful purpose. Trade unions are formed with the objective of negotiating better conditions of service for the employees.
Right to move freely, reside and settle in any part of the territory of India – Article 19 (1)(d) and (e) gives the rights to all citizens the right to move freely throughout the territory of India and to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India.
Right to practice any profession, or to carry any occupation, trade or business – Article 19 (1)(g) states that all the citizens have the right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business. However, the State may prescribe professional or technical qualifications necessary for carrying on any business, trade, or occupation.
Article 20 (Protection in criminal convictions)
Article 20 contains three provisions which are mentioned below:-
No Ex-post Facto Law – a person cannot be convicted for an offense that was not a violation of law in force at the time of the commission of the act, nor is subjected to a penalty greater than that which might have been inflicted under the law in force at the time of the commission of the offense.
No- Double Jeopardy – No person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offense more than once.
No self Incrimination – No person accused of any offense shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.
Article 21 (Right to life and personal liberty)
Article 21 states that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty, except according to the procedure established by law. This right is for both citizens and non-citizens.
Article 21 guarantees not only the right to life but the right to dignified life also.
Article 21 (A) Right to Education
this was introduced into the Constitution by the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002. It states that the State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children in the age group of 6-14 years.
Article 22 (Protection against arrest and detention)
Article 22 provides protection against arrest and detention in certain cases. It says that no person, who has been arrested shall be detained in custody without being informed of the grounds for such arrest nor shall be denied the right to consult and to be defended by, a legal practitioner of his choice.
Every person who is arrested and detained in custody shall be produced before the nearest magistrate within the period of 24 hours of such arrest excluding the time necessary for the journey from the place of arrest to the court of the magistrate and no such person shall be detained in custody beyond the said period without the authority of a magistrate.
Prevention Detention:- Article 22 says that these rights are not available to the enemy, aliens and the persons detained under the preventive detention law.
Preventive detention means the detention of a person without trial in such circumstances that the evidence in possession of authority is not sufficient to make legal charges.
Right of a person detained under Article 22
- A person arrested under a preventive detention law cannot be detained beyond three months.
- If he is to be detained beyond three months, his detention shall be approved by an advisory committee headed by a sitting judge of the concerned High Court. The other two members shall be sitting or retired judges of the High Court.
- He shall be informed about the grounds of his arrest as soon as possible.
- He shall be given the earliest opportunity to make a representation before the judiciary.
Article 23-24 (Rights against Exploitation)
Article 23 (Prohibition of Traffic in Human Beings and Forced Labour)
Article 23 prohibits traffic of human beings, and other similar forms of forced labor (Begar), and makes the contravention of this prohibition an offense punishable in accordance with the law.
Traffic in human beings includes the institutions of slavery and prostitution.
It also means buying and selling of human beings, mostly women for an immoral purpose.
“Begar” means involuntary or forced work without payment, e.g. tenants being required to render certain free services to their landlords.
Article 24 (Prohibition of Employment of Children in Factories)
Article 24 prohibits child labor. It states that no child below the age of 14 years shall be employed in any factory or mine, or engaged in any other hazardous employment.
Our parliament has passed the necessary legalization and made it a punishable offense.
Articles 25-28 (Right to freedom of religion)
It states that all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate any religion subject to public order, morality, and health.
Right to Profess – means the right to spell out one’s religious beliefs and faith and follow one’s religion freely and openly.
Right to Practise – means the right to follow the rituals, rights that are prescribed by his/her religion, and the right to display or use the symbols, signatures, and colors that are associated with one’s religion.
Right to Propagate – means to spread out one’s religious tenets and philosophy for educating others.
It provides the freedom to manage religious affairs, subject to public order, morality and health in which every religious denomination or any section thereof shall have the right:-
- to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes
- to manage its own affairs in matters of religion
- to own and acquire movable and immovable property
- to administer such property in accordance with law
It deals with the freedom as to payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion.
No person shall be compelled to pay any taxes in the payment of expenses for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious denomination.
This article secures that funds raised by taxes shall not be utilized for the benefit of any particular religion or religious denomination.
It deals with freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions.
It also implies a ban on religious instructions provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out-of-state funds.
Article 29-30 (Cultural and Educational rights)
Article 29 (Right to Conserve)
Article 29 gives protection to religious and linguistic minorities. It says that any section of the citizens residing in any part of India having a distinctive language, script or culture of its own, shall have the right to conserve the same.
It guarantees the right to all linguistic or religious minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
It entitles the minority community to impart instructions to the children of their community in their own language.
Article 32 – (Right to constitutional remedies)
Article 32 in the Constitution of India has been described by Dr. B R Ambedkar as the Heart and Soul of the Constitution.
It grants the Right to Constitutional Remedies to the Citizens.
Article 32 is an important article of the Constitution of India.
It grants all individuals the right to move to the Supreme Court or High Courts by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the fundamental rights conferred by the Constitution.
The Constitution accords a concurrent Jurisdiction for this purpose on the Supreme Court under Article 32, and on the state High Courts under Article 226.
The Supreme court has been vested with the authority to issue directions, orders, or writs whichever may be appropriate for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by the Constitution (Samvidhan).
The Parliament can also confer similar power to the courts.
The makers of the Constitution of India had really work hard to take care of all stakeholders residing in the territory of India.
They had very well mentioned all aspects of fundamental rights and duties.
The courts can issue various special orders known as writs, which are as follows:-
Types of Writs in Indian Constitution
A writ of habeas corpus means that the court orders that the arrested person should be presented before it.
It can also order to set free an arrested person if the manner or grounds of arrest are not lawful or satisfactory.
This writ is issued when the court finds that a particular officeholder is not doing legal duty and thereby is infringing on the right of an individual.
This writ is issued by a higher court (High Court or Supreme Court) when a lower court has considered a case going beyond its jurisdiction.
If the court finds that a person is holding office but is not entitled to hold that office, it issues the writ of quo warranto and restricts that person from acting as an officeholder.
Under this writ, the court orders a lower court or another authority to transfer a matter pending before it to the higher authority or court.
The difference in the Writ jurisdiction of High Court and Supreme Court
Under Article 32 of the Constitution (Samvidhan), the Supreme court can issue writs only for the enforcement of the Fundamental Rights.
Article 226 of the Constitution, empowers High Courts to issue writs for the enforcement of the fundamental rights as well as other legal rights of the individuals.
Article 32 obliged the Supreme Court to safeguard fundamental rights if they are found violated.
However, under Article 226 High Courts have no such constitutional duties and thus they enjoy the discretionary power to implement or not to implement the Fundamental rights and other legal rights.
Article 33 (Armed Forces and Fundamental Rights)
Article 33 empowers the Parliament to restrict or abrogate the fundamental rights of the members of armed forces, paramilitary forces, police forces, intelligence agencies, and analogous forces.
The objective of this provision is to ensure the proper discharge of their duties and the maintenance of discipline among them.
The power to make law under Article 33 is conferred only on Parliament and not on the state legislature.
Accordingly, the Parliament has enacted many acts:-
- The Army Act of, 1950
- The Navy Act of, 1950
- The Air Force Act of, 1950
- The Police Forces (Restriction of Rights) Act, 1966
- The Border Security Force Act etc.
Article 34 (Martial Law and Fundamental Rights)
Martial law is a law administered by the military rather than a civilian government.
It may be declared in an emergency or response to a crisis, or to control occupied territory.
Article 34 provides for the restrictions on fundamental rights while martial law is in force in any area within the territory of India.
It empowers the Parliament to indemnify any government servant or any other person for any act done by him in connection with the maintenance or restoration of order in any area where martial law was in force.
Suspension of Fundamental Rights
Article 358 states that the fundamental rights provided under Article 19 are automatically suspended when the National Emergency is proclaimed on the grounds of war and external aggressions.
However, if the National Emergency is proclaimed on the grounds of internal armed rebellion, the rights under Article 19 are not automatically suspended.
Article 359 states that if a National Emergency is proclaimed then the President may by a separate proclamation suspend all other Fundamental Rights except those under Article 20 & 21.
Significance of fundamental rights
Fundamental rights and duties are of great importance. They play a vital role to provide strength to the Constitution (Samvidhan) of India.
Let’s find out the importance of fundamental rights and duties:-
- They form the base of the democratic system in the country.
- They provide necessary protection for the material and moral protection of man
- They serve as a formidable bulwark of individual liberty.
- They facilitate the establishment of the rule of law in the country.
- They protect the interest of minorities and weaker sections of society.
- They strengthen the secular fabric of the Indian state.
- They check the absoluteness of the authority of the government.
- They ensure the dignity and respect of the individual.
- They lay down the foundation stone of social equality and social justice.