Fundamental Rights

  • Part-III of the Constitution from Article 12 to 32 contains Fundamental Rights.
  • Part-III of the Constitution is called the cornerstone of the Constitution and together with part-IV (Directive Principles of State Policy)constitutes the conscience of the Constitution. This chapter of the Constitution has been described as the Magna Carta of India.
  • Fundamental Rights are individual rights and these rights enforceable against the arbitrary invasion by the State except, in the case of Article 15(2), Article 17, Article 18(3-4), Article 23 and Article 24 where these can be enforced against private individuals also.
  • Fundamental Rights are also not absolute rights and Parliament could put reasonable restrictions. the grounds for the restriction may be the advancement of SCs, STs, OBCs, women and children; general public order; decency, morality, sovereignty & integrity of India; security of State, friendly relations with foreign States, etc.
  • Article 13 provides for judicial review of all legislation of India.
  • Absolute fundamental Rights are given under Article 17 and Article 24.
  • Rights outside part III are:
    1. Article 300A: Right to acquire property
    2. Article 301: Freedom of commerce and trade
    3. Article 326: Right to Vote
  • According to Article 12  'the State' includes the
    1. government and Parliament of India
    2. governmental and legislature of States
    3. all local pr other authorities such as municipalities, panchayats, district boards, improvement trusts, etc. within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India.

Classification of Fundamental Rights:

Originally Constitution provided for seven Fundamental Rights viz.

  1. Right to equality (Articles 14-18)
  2. Right to freedom (Articles 19-22)
  3. Right against exploitation (Articles 23-24)
  4. Right to freedom of religion (Articles 25-28)
  5. Culture and educational rights (Article 29-30)
  6. Right to property (Article 31)
  7. Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32)
But, the Right to property was deleted from the list of Fundamental Rights by the 44th Constitution Amendment Act, 1978 and after amendment, it was made a legal right under Article 300-A in part-II of the constitution. Thus, at present, there are only six Fundamental Rights.

Right to Equality (Articles 14-18)

Article 14

  • It says that the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
  • It is available to any person including legal persons viz. statutory corporation, companies, etc.
  • The concept of equality before the law is of British origin while the concept of equal protection of laws has been taken from the Constitution of the USA.
  •  The concept of the rule is a negative concept while the concept of equal protection of laws is a positive concept.
  • The concept of equality before the law is equivalent to the second element of the concept of the 'rule of law' propounded by A.D. Dicey, the British jurist. But certain exceptions to it are, the President of India, State Governors, Public Servants, Judges, Foreign Diplomats, etc., who enjoy immunities, protections and special privileges.

Article 15

  • It says that the State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.
  • Under Articles 15(3) and 15(4), the government can make special provisions for women & children and for groups of citizens who are economically and especially backward.

Article 16

  • It says that there shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State.
  • No citizen shall be discriminated against on the basis of race, religion, caste, sex, descent, place of birth or residence.
  • This is confined to Indian citizens only.

Article 17

  • It says that Untouchability is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. the enforcement of any disability arising out of untouchability shall be an offense punishable in accordance with the law.

Article 18

  • It says that no title, not being a military or academic distinction, shall be conferred by the State. No citizen of India shall accept any title from any foreign State.
  • The awards, Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhusan, Padma Bhusan and Padma Shri called as the national Awards would not amount to the title within the meaning of Art 18(i).

Right to Freedom (Article 19 to 22)

  • Article 19 says that all citizens shall have the right
    1. to freedom of speech and expression.
    2. to assemble peacefully and without arms.
    3. to form associations or unions.
    4. to move freely throughout the territory of India.
    5. to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India.
    6. to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade and business.
  • Freedom of the press is implicit in Article 19 (a).
  • Article 20 deals with protection in respect of conviction for offenses.
  • Article 21 deals with the protection of life and personal liberty.
  • Article 21A deals with the right to elementary education.
  • Article 22 deals with protection against arrest and detention in certain cases.

Right Against Exploitation (Article 23 to 24)

  • Article 23 deals with the prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labor.
  • Article 24 deals with the prohibition of employment of children in factories etc.

Right to Freedom of Religion (Article 25 to 28)

  • Article 25 deals with freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion.
  • Article 26 deals with the freedom to manage religious affairs.
  • Article 27 deals with freedom as to the payment of taxes for the promotion of any particular religion.
  • Article 28 deals with freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions.

Right to Educational Rights (Article 29-30)

  • Article 29 deals with the protection of language, script and culture of minorities.
  • Article 30 deals with the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.

Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32)

  • Article 32 deals with the right to move to the Supreme Court for the enforcement of Fundamental Rights including the Writs of
    1. Habeas corpus, mandamus, Prohibition,
    2. Certiorari and
    3. Quo Warranto

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