Fundamental Rights of Indian Constitution (Articles 12-35)

FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION (ARTICLES 12-35)

Fundamental Rights enshrined in Part III of the Indian Constitution under Articles 12-35 are the basic human rights guaranteed to its citizens and protected by the Constitution of India and this is also known as the Magna Carta of the Indian Constitution. Fundamental Rights are justiciable which means that a person can move to the Courts if their fundamental rights are violated.

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Originally, Part III of the Indian Constitution described seven Fundamental Rights for the Indian citizens. However, the Right to Property under Article 31 was removed by the 44th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1978, from the list of Fundamental Rights and made a legal right under Article 300A in Part XII of the Constitution.

Presently, the citizens of India are enjoying six Fundamental Rights which are mentioned below:

  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. Cultural and Educational Rights (Articles 29-30)
  6. Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32)

Six (6) Fundamental Rights can be discussed in detail in the following sections

  1. Right to Equality (Articles 14-18): The right to equality guarantees equal rights to everyone, irrespective of their religion, gender, caste, creed, race, or place of birth. It also ensures equal employment opportunities to every citizen of India in the government and ensures against discrimination by the state in matters of employment based on caste, religion, etc. These rights also include the abolition of untouchability and the abolition of titles.
  • Equality before law (Article 14): All citizens enjoy equality before the law. There is equal protection of law for all. The state cannot deny to any person equality before the law or equal protection of the law within its territory.
  • Prohibition of discrimination (Article 15): It prohibits any discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. No person can be denied access to public places, shops, hotels, wells, baths, roads, places of public resort, etc. wholly or partly maintained by the state.
  • Equality of opportunity (Article 16): The constitution provides for equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to public employment to any offices under the state and central government. All citizens enjoy equality of opportunity to work, hold public offices, etc prescribed by the law with mentioned qualifications.
  • Abolition of Untouchability (Article 17): To eradicate the evil practice of untouchability in India, the Constitution of India abolishes untouchability. It makes its practice in any form an offense punishable under the law. The two important laws passed for this purpose are – the Untouchability Act, of 1955 and the Protection of Civil Rights Act, of 1977 laws.
  • Abolition of Titles (Article 18): The constitution prohibits the state from conferring any titles except for military or academic distinctions. It laid down that no citizen of India can accept any title from any foreign state except for military and academic distinctions.

2. Right to Freedom (Articles 19-22): The right to freedom guarantees freedom for citizens to live a life of dignity among other things. These are given in Articles 19, 20, 21, 21A, and 22 of the Indian Constitution. These six fundamental freedoms constitute the backbone of the right to freedom of the people of India.

  • Article 19 guarantees 6 fundamental freedoms. They are:
  1. Freedom of speech and expression
  2. Freedom of peaceful assembly
  3. Freedom to form associations/unions/cooperative societies.
  4. Freedom of movement within the territory of India
  5. Freedom to reside and settle
  6. Freedom of profession, occupation, trade, or business.
  • Protection against arbitrary conviction (Article 20): This Article protects against arbitrary conviction in respect of offenses committed by a person. It lays down that a person can be convicted only when he breaks a law, punishment must be given by law, no one can be punished for the same offense more than once and no person can be forced to accept a crime.
  • Protection of life and personal liberty (Article 21): This Article states that no person can be deprived of his life and liberty except according to procedure established by law.
  • Right to Education of Children (Article 21A): The 86th Constitutional Amendment Act 2002 has made free and compulsory primary education, a fundamental right to all children between the ages of 6 – 14 years.
  • Protection against arrest and detention (Article 22): This article protects against arbitrary arrest and detention. It lays down that an arrested person has a right to know about the grounds of his arrest, has a right to consult, and to hire a lawyer of his own choice. An arrested person has to be produced before the nearest Magistrate before 24 hours and he cannot be detained beyond 24 hours.

3. Right against Exploitation (Articles 23-24): These articles protect against such exploitation like human trafficking and forced labour and employment of children below 14 years of age in any hazardous factories and workplaces.

  • Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour (Article 23): The article prohibits the trafficking of human beings or the sale and purchase of human beings. It also states that no one can force anyone to work in the workplace. Any violation of this provision will be punishable under the law.
  • Prohibition of employment of children (Article 24): This article states that no children below the age of 14 can be employed to work in any factory or workplace that could harm their health. This article protects children from exploitation.

4. Right to Freedom of Religion (Articles 25-28): All these set of Articles provides the right to freedom of profession, practice, and propagation of religion of its own and also provides the right to establish and administer religion-based educational institutions.

  • Freedom of profession, practice, and propagation of religion (Article 25): According to this article the constitution of India guarantees to all persons the freedom to profess, practice, and propagate any religion. No one can force anyone to accept the religion of others.
  • Freedom to manage religious affairs (Article 26): This Article states that the people belonging to any religion shall have a
  1. right to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes
  2. right to manage their religious affairs
  3. to acquire and own movable and immovable property
  4. to administer such property according to established law.
  • Freedom from paying taxes for the promotion of religion (Article 27): According to this article no person can be compelled to pay any taxes for the promotion or maintenance of a religion.
  • Freedom from attendance in religious functions (Article 28): The constitution prohibits the imparting of religious instructions in any educational institution that gets state funds. If the institution receives aid or funds from the state, then no person attending that institution shall be compelled to accept that instruction without his consent or the consent of his guardians.

5. Cultural and Educational Rights (Articles 29-30): These articles provide a right to maintain or preserve language, script, and culture of its own and also provide the right to establish and administer educational institutions. These are special rights mainly guaranteed to minority institutions under Part III of the Indian Constitution.

  • Right to maintain distinct language, script, and culture (Article 29): The Constitution guarantees any section of citizens of India a right to maintain and preserve language, script, and culture of its own.
  • Right to establish and administer educational institutions (Article 30): The constitution admits that all minorities whether based on religion or language shall have a right to establish and administer their educational institutions. They also have a right to admit their students to their institutions, to have their governing bodies, and to adopt their respective systems of instruction.

6. Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32): Article 32 guarantees to all citizens of India the right to move to the Supreme Court or High Court for the enforcement of their rights if their rights are violated. Article 32 empowers the Supreme Court and High Court to issue directions writs or orders for his purpose. The following writs are Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Prohibition, Quo Warranto, and Certiorari.

Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32) guarantees to all citizens of India the right to move to the Supreme Court or High Court for the enforcement of their rights if their rights are violated. Article 32 empowers the Supreme Court and High Court to issue directions writs or orders for his purpose. The following writs are Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Prohibition, Quo Warranto, and Certiorari.

  • Habeas Corpus: It provides a remedy against wrongful detention of a person. By it, the court can direct the detaining authority to produce the detained person in the court and justify the cause of his detention.
  • Mandamus: By it, the court can order an inferior court or authority to do an act that falls under his jurisdiction.
  • Prohibition: By it, the court can prohibit an inferior court or authority from doing an act that does not fall under its jurisdiction.
  • Quo Warranto: By it, the court can restrain a person from acting or working in a public office to which he is not entitled.
  • Certiorari: By it the court an order and inferior authority to transfer the case or matter to some higher authority for its proper consideration.

Conclusion: It can be concluded by saying that the Indian Constitution has provided various kinds of rights that are necessary for every individual to live in the country of India. However, some rights can be suspended during emergencies by the President.

FEATURES OR CHARACTERISTICS OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

  1. Fundamental Rights are incorporated in Part III of the Indian Constitution from Articles 12-35 which are given to its citizens to exercise their rights without discrimination.
  2. Fundamental Rights originally used to have 7 (seven) rights but the Right to Property (Article 31) was removed by the 44th Constitutional Amendment Act and made a Legal Right under Article 300A.
  3. Fundamental Rights, unlike ordinary legal rights, are protected and guaranteed by the constitution of the country.
  4. The rights are justifiable and allow persons to move the courts for their enforcement, if and when they are violated under Article 32, Right to Constitutional Remedies.
  5. The rights can be suspended during the operation of a National Emergency except the rights guaranteed by Articles 20 and 21. The six rights guaranteed by Article 19 can be suspended only when there is an external emergency war or external aggression.
  6. The Indian Bill of Rights guarantees some special rights to the minorities. It guarantees cultural and educational rights and protects against discrimination against women, children, and weaker sections of the people.
  7. It provides protection to children against exploitation and prohibits employment of children and also provides free education to all children between the ages of 6-14 years.
  8. It prohibits the trafficking of human beings and any kind of forced labour. Such violation is made punishable under the prescribed laws.

CRITICAL EVALUATION OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

Fundamental rights have been criticized by some because they exclude several important socio-economic rights, such as the right to work, rest and leisure, education, and social security.

  1. Part III has been written in a difficult and technical language which made it a lawyer’s paradise. This feature makes it difficult for a common citizen to understand the meaning and scope of fundamental rights.
  2. The Bill of Rights is also inadequate as it fails to include social and economic rights such as the right to work, the right to rest and leisure, the right to security in old age, etc.
  3. Another criticism is that Right to Property Article 31 was removed from fundamental rights by the 44th Amendment Act, 1978, and changed to a legal right under Article 300A.
  4. Fundamental rights under Article 32 have given a citizen to approach or move to the Supreme Court, however, during an emergency, these rights are also suspended.
  5. The provision for Preventive Detention and the suspension of Fundamental Rights has also been criticized deeply. Further, critics point out that although Article 17 has constitutionally prohibited un­touchability, the evil still exists in many parts of the country.

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 Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are Fundamental Rights?

Fundamental Rights enshrined in Part III of the Indian Constitution under Articles 12-35 are the basic human rights guaranteed to its citizens and protected by the Constitution of India and this is also known as the Magna Carta of the Indian Constitution. Fundamental Rights are justiciable which means that a person can move to the Courts if their fundamental rights are violated.

2. How many Fundamental Rights are there in the Indian Constitution?

Presently, the citizens of India are enjoying six Fundamental Rights which are mentioned below:

  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. Cultural and Educational Rights (Articles 29-30)
  6. Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32)

3. Fundamental Rights are taken from which country?

Fundamental Rights are taken from the American Constitution which was inspired by the USA’s Bill of Rights.

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