FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS of India
Fundamental rights of India are the basic and essential rights that are codified in the Constitution of India that is the fundamental law of the land. These universally recognized rights are guaranteed to every person without any discrimination. Fundamental Rights can be found in Part III of the constitution from Articles 12 to 35.
The origin of Fundamental rights can be traced back to the following sources-
- INTERNATIONAL SOURCES
- The ‘Magna Carta’- Charter of Rights issued by King John of England in 1215.
- The Petition of Rights 1628 – England’s constitutional document.
- Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen- France 1789.
- Bill of Rights of USA, 1789.
- DOMESTIC SOURCES
- Swaraj Bill of Lokmanya Tilak 1895
- Commonwealth of India bill- Annie Besant 1925
- Nehru Committee Report 1928
- Tej Bahadur Sapru Committee Report of 1945
Attributes and Nature
The biggest characteristic of fundamental rights is that they are justiciable, that is, a person can move the court if his fundamental Rights are violated. Article 32 appoints the Supreme Court as the guardian of the Fundamental Rights.
Furthermore, these rights are not absolute and are subject to certain restrictions. They can be suspended by the President during the national emergency.
These rights provide a safeguard against the despotic tendencies of the government. Moreover, they are meant to promote political democracy in the country.
The Six Fundamental Rights
The Fundamental Rights of India provided by the constitution fall into six broad categories, namely:
- Right to equality,
- Right to freedom,
- Right against exploitation,
- Right to freedom of religion,
- Cultural and educational rights and
- Right to constitutional remedies.
Right to equality entails equality before the law and equal protection of laws. It prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. It provides for equality of opportunity in matters of public employment. It further prohibits untouchability and conferring of titles. This right ensures social equality in India.
Right to freedom protects rights regarding freedom of speech and expression, right to assemble peacefully without arms, right to form associations or unions or co-operative societies, right to move freely throughout the territory of India, right to reside in any part of India, and the right to practice any occupation. It also provides protection of life and personal liberty and protection against detention in certain cases.
Right against exploitation prohibits traffic in human beings and forced labour. It also prohibits employment of children in dangerous jobs like factories and mines etc. Under this right, the employment of children under 14 years in factories and mines is a punishable offence.
Right to freedom of religion provides freedom of conscience the freedom to profess, practice and propagate any religion. It allows various religious sects to manage their religious affairs.
The cultural and educational rights provides protection of language, script and culture of minorities. It provides the minorities right to establish their own educational institutions.
The right to constitutional remedy ensures that the Fundamental Rights are effectively enforced by empowering a person to approach the Supreme Court directly in case of their violation. The court can issue various writs like habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari. This right is considered as the cornerstone of the Indian Constitution. It is considered as ‘heart and soul of the constitution’ by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.
The right to education at elementary level has been made one of the fundamental rights in 2002. This provision symbolizes a major breakthrough in India’s aim to provide ‘’Education for All’.
The Fundamental Rights play a very important role in the overall development and well-being of a person. They are essential for preserving the human dignity and liberty. They are essential to safeguard the interests of the people. Over time, Fundamental Rights have come to include various other important rights under it like, the right to livelihood, right to privacy, right to health, right to free education, right to shelter etc. This makes Fundamental Rights indispensable for the all-round development of all individuals.
Difference between Fundamental Rights and other rights
Fundamental Rights are different from other rights available to us. While ordinary legal rights are secured and enforced by ordinary law, Fundamental Rights are protected by the constitution of India. While ordinary rights can be affected or altered by ordinary legislation, the Fundamental Rights can be altered only by amendments to the constitution.
Thus, it can be concluded that Fundamental Rights are vital for human existence and for a healthy democracy. The very act of incorporating these rights in separate chapter speaks volumes about their importance and significance. The kind of limitations that these rights provide on the power of the government is necessary for preventing the government from becoming authoritative.
Only a free society wherein all the individuals enjoy basic rights can guarantee the overall progress of the entire nation.