Author- Drishti Bhanushali
Fundamental Rights are the core principles that ensure the protection of individual liberties, equality, and human dignity. They are inherent to all individuals, irrespective of their race, religion, gender, or social status. These rights provide a strong foundation for a just and inclusive society and play a vital role in upholding the principles of democracy. Fundamental Rights encompass various aspects such as freedom of speech, expression, religion, and the right to life, liberty, and equality before the law. They serve as a powerful tool for safeguarding individual autonomy, promoting social justice, and maintaining a balance of power between the state and its citizens. It is essential for every individual to be aware of their fundamental rights and actively participate in upholding and defending them. By respecting and protecting fundamental rights, we contribute to the creation of a fair and harmonious society that respects the dignity and well-being of all its members.
Fundamental rights form an integral part of the Indian Constitution, which came into effect on January 26, 1950. They are enshrined in Part III (Articles 12-35) of the Constitution and play a crucial role in safeguarding the individual liberties and ensuring social justice for all citizens of India.
Here are some key features and provisions of fundamental rights in India:
- Equality Before the Law (Article 14): Equality before the law is one of the key principles of justice enshrined in the Indian Constitution. Article 14 of the Constitution guarantees the Right to Equality, which states 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.”
This fundamental right ensures that every individual, irrespective of their background, is treated equally before the law. It prevents discrimination based on religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. The principle of equality before the law ensures that all citizens are subject to the same laws and are entitled to the same legal remedies.
Equality before the law is a fundamental right in India that ensures every citizen is treated with fairness and justice under the legal system. It is a vital component of India’s democratic fabric, upholding the principles of rule of law and social justice. While significant strides have been made to protect this right, ongoing efforts are necessary to address the remaining challenges and promote a truly inclusive and egalitarian society.
- Right to Freedom (Articles 19-22):
The Right to Freedom plays a crucial role in upholding the principles of democracy, fostering an environment where citizens can express their
opinions, participate in public life, and contribute to the nation’s progress. The Indian judiciary has played an instrumental role in interpreting and safeguarding this right, ensuring that it remains a cornerstone of India’s democratic fabric.The right to freedom guarantees several freedoms to Indian citizens, including freedom of speech and expression, assembly, association, movement throughout the territory of India, and the right to form unions or associations.
The Right to Freedom in India is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Indian Constitution under Articles 19 to 22. It is one of the essential pillars of a democratic society, ensuring that citizens have the liberty to live with dignity and express themselves freely. The Right to Freedom encompasses various aspects of individual liberty and includes the following key components:
Freedom of Speech and Expression (Article 19(1)(a)): This right allows citizens to express their thoughts, opinions, and ideas freely, through speech, writing, printing, or any other means of communication. However, this right is not absolute and can be subject to reasonable restrictions in the interests of public order, decency, or defamation.
Freedom to Assemble Peacefully and Without Arms (Article 19(1)(b)): This right permits citizens to gather peacefully in public spaces or private locations for various purposes such as protests, meetings, or celebrations. However, the right does not extend to the use of arms during the assembly.
Freedom to Form Associations or Unions (Article 19(1)(c)): Citizens have the freedom to form associations, societies, or unions to promote common interests and goals. However, this right can be restricted in the interest of public order or morality.
Freedom to Move Freely Throughout the Territory of India (Article 19(1)(d)): This right grants citizens the freedom to move and reside in any part of the country without any restrictions, except those imposed by law for specific reasons such as national security or public interest.
Freedom to Reside and Settle in any Part of the Country (Article 19(1)(e)): This right ensures that citizens can choose their place of residence and settle in any part of India without facing discrimination or restrictions from the State.
Apart from the freedoms guaranteed under Article 19, the Right to Freedom also includes:
Protection in Respect of Conviction for Offences (Article 20): This article provides protection against double jeopardy, self-incrimination, and retrospective punishment. It ensures that no person can be punished twice for the same offense and prohibits self-incrimination during legal proceedings.
Protection of Life and Personal Liberty (Article 21): While not explicitly mentioned under the Right to Freedom, Article 21 is considered a fundamental right that ensures the right to life and personal liberty. It protects individuals from arbitrary arrests and detentions and ensures that no person can be deprived of their life or personal liberty except by due process of law.
- Right against Exploitation (Articles 23-24): The Right against Exploitation is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution under Articles 23 and 24. It aims to protect the most vulnerable sections of society from various forms of exploitation and forced labor. This right reflects the nation’s commitment to social justice and ensuring the dignity and well-being of all citizens. These articles prohibit trafficking, forced labour, and child labour. They also outlaw employment of children in hazardous conditions. Factors such as poverty, illiteracy, and social customs often perpetuate exploitative practices. Thus, along with stringent laws, addressing the root causes of exploitation and promoting education and awareness are essential in the fight against exploitation in India. The Right against Exploitation in India is a crucial element of the country’s commitment to social justice and protecting the vulnerable sections of society. Through legislative measures and enforcement, the government endeavors to eradicate all forms of exploitation, ensuring that every individual can live a life of dignity and freedom.
- Right to Freedom of Religion (Articles 25-28): The Right to Freedom of Religion in India is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Indian Constitution under Articles 25 to 28. It upholds the principle of secularism and ensures that every individual has the right to follow, practice, and propagate any religion of their choice. The framers of the Indian Constitution recognized the diversity of religions in the country and sought to create a harmonious and inclusive society where all citizens could exercise their religious beliefs freely. This provision guarantees the freedom of individuals to practice, profess, and propagate any religion of their choice. It also ensures religious freedom in matters of religious institutions, payments, and attendance at religious instruction.
Freedom of Conscience and Free Profession, Practice, and Propagation of Religion (Article 25): Article 25 grants citizens the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate their religion. It ensures that individuals have the liberty to follow their religious beliefs and rituals without interference from the State or others.However, this right is subject to public order, morality, and health, and does not allow for practices that are detrimental to the welfare of society. It also does not permit forced religious conversions.
Freedom to Manage Religious Affairs (Article 26): Article 26 guarantees religious denominations and groups the right to manage their own religious affairs, including the establishment and maintenance of religious institutions. This provision ensures that religious communities have autonomy in managing their places of worship and administering their religious affairs.
Freedom from Paying Taxes for Promoting a Particular Religion (Article 27): Article 27 states that no person can be compelled to pay taxes for promoting or maintaining any particular religion. This ensures that the State remains secular and does not favor any specific religion.
Freedom from Attending Religious Instruction in Educational Institutions (Article 28): Article 28 provides that no religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained by the State or receiving aid from the State. However, it allows religious instruction in institutions that are not wholly maintained by the State but are attended by students of a particular religion.
- Cultural and Educational Rights (Articles 29-30): Cultural and Educational Rights in India are fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution under Articles 29 and 30. These rights aim to protect the interests of cultural and linguistic minorities, ensuring that they can preserve and promote their distinct language, script, and culture. Additionally, these provisions also safeguard the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. Let’s delve deeper into the key aspects of Cultural and Educational Rights in India:
Right to Conserve Culture (Article 29): Article 29 provides cultural minorities with the right to conserve their distinct language, script, or culture. It ensures that no citizen having a distinct language or culture shall be denied admission to any educational institution on the grounds of belonging to such a minority. This provision safeguards the cultural diversity of India, recognizing the importance of preserving the unique heritage and traditions of various linguistic and cultural communities within the country.
Right to Establish and Administer Educational Institutions (Article 30): Article 30 grants linguistic and religious minorities the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. It ensures that
these minorities have the freedom to establish and manage educational institutions without discrimination. This provision allows minority communities to impart education that aligns with their cultural and religious values, promoting a sense of identity and empowering future generations with knowledge and skills while preserving their cultural ethos.
- Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32): The Right to Constitutional Remedies in India is primarily enshrined in Article 32 of the Indian Constitution. Often referred to as the “heart and soul” of the Constitution, Article 32 empowers citizens to directly approach the Supreme Court of India for the enforcement of their fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution. This right is a vital mechanism to protect and uphold the fundamental rights of individuals and is considered a cornerstone of India’s democratic system. This article empowers individuals to seek legal remedies and approach the Supreme Court of India for the enforcement of their fundamental rights. It serves as a safeguard to ensure that the rights guaranteed by the Constitution are protected.
The Right to Constitutional Remedies under Article 32 is a crucial component of India’s constitutional framework. It provides citizens with an effective mechanism to seek justice and protect their fundamental rights. The Supreme Court’s role in upholding this right and safeguarding the principles of the Constitution is vital in ensuring a just and democratic society in India. It is important to note that while fundamental rights are essential for the citizens of India, there are certain reasonable restrictions imposed on these rights in the interest of public order, morality, and national security. These restrictions aim to strike a balance between individual freedoms and the larger welfare of society.
The Indian judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court, plays a crucial role in interpreting and safeguarding fundamental rights. Over the years, landmark judgments have further strengthened the protection of fundamental rights and expanded their scope to encompass evolving societal needs.
Fundamental rights in India are not mere legal provisions; they reflect the nation’s commitment to ensure justice, equality, and the protection of individual liberties. They play a vital role in upholding democratic principles and fostering an inclusive society where every citizen can live with dignity and freedom.