Fundamental rights in India

Fundamental Rights (Articles 12-35)

Fundamental Rights UPSC is one of the important topics in Indian polity subject in UPSC Syllabus. In this article, we will touch upon some of the most important points from this topic. We’ll also discuss some of the previously asked questions centred around Fundamental Rights.

Enshrined in Part-III of the Indian Constitution, Fundamental Rights are the basic human rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India. The six fundamental rights include the Right to Equality, Right to freedom, Right against exploitation, Right to freedom of Religion, Cultural and Educational Rights and Right to constitutional Remedies.

Originally Right to property (Article 31) was also included in the Fundamental Rights. However, by the 44th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1978, it was deleted from the list of Fundamental Rights and made a legal right under Article 300A in Part XII of the constitution.

The development of Fundamental Rights in India is heavily inspired by the United States Bill of Rights. These rights are included in the constitution because they are considered essential for the development of the personality of every individual and to preserve human dignity.

  • Fundamental Rights are included in Part-III of the Indian constitution which is also known as the Magna Carta of the Indian Constitution.

  • These rights are called fundamental rights because they are justiciable in nature allowing persons to move the courts for their enforcement, if and when they are violated

Fundamental Rights Are :-

The Right to equality ensures that every citizen is the same under the law. Hence, any person irrespective of age, gender, caste, creed, religion, language, and social status are considered equal. The Right to equality ensures that all persons are treated equally.  The Right to equality discriminates on the grounds of religion, race, caste, gender or place of birth, and equality  – illegal in India.

The following Articles in the Constitution ensure the Right to equality for all Indians:

  • Article 14: Equality before the law
  • Article 15: Prohibition of discrimination on grounds only of sex, religion, race, caste, or place of birth.
  • Article 16: Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment
  • Article 17: Abolition of untouchability
  • Article 18: Abolition of titles, Military, and academic distinctions are exempted

Indian Citizens enjoy six freedoms as per the Constitution. The Right to freedom ensures that Indian citizens can carry out their daily lives peacefully without undue restriction, harassment, or oversight by the Government.

Six fundamental freedom provided under Article 19 of the Constitution are:

  • Freedom of speech and expression
  • Freedom to assemble peacefully without arms
  • Freedom to form associations or unions or co-operative societies
  • Freedom to move freely throughout the territory of India
  • Freedom to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India
  • Freedom to practise any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business

In addition to Article 19 above, the following Articles of the Constitution ensure the Right to freedom for all Indian Citizens:

  • Article 20: Protection in respect of conviction for offences
  • Article 21: Protection of life and personal liberty
  • Article 22: Protection against arrest and detention in certain cases

All Indian Citizens enjoy a right against being exploited or misused. The Right against exploitation provided under the Constitution protects children, the vulnerable and the poor from bonded labour, child labour, and human trafficking.

The following Articles in the Constitution ensure Right against exploitation for all Indians:

  • Article 23: Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour
  • Article 24: Prohibition of employment of children (Employment for the Indian below the age of 14 years is not possible.)

India is a secular country with people of different faiths living in harmony. Indian citizens can practice a religion of choice and perform rituals or activities as per their religious customs. According to the Constitution, all religions are equal before the State, and no religion has a preference over the other. Further, Indian Citizens are free to preach, practise, and propagate any religion of their choice.

The following Articles in the Constitution ensure the Right to freedom of religion:

  • Article 25: Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion
  • Article 26: Freedom to manage religious affairs
  • Article 27: Freedom to pay tax for promotion of any particular religion – No person is compelled to pay any taxes for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious denomination
  • Article 28: Freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions

The Cultural and Education Rights in the Constitution protect the rights and customs of the minorities.  Further, the Constitution provides for any community that has a language, and a script of its own has the Right to conserve and develop it.

The following Articles in the Constitution protect cultural and education rights:

  • Article 29: Protection of interests of minorities
  • Article 30: Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions

Right to Constitution Remedies empowers Indian citizens to approach a court of law, in case of any denial of the fundamental rights. This Right gives also empowers Courts to preserve or safeguard the citizens’ fundamental rights as laid out in the Constitution.

  • Article: 32: Remedies for enforcement of rights

The Writs

For the enforcement of fundamental rights, the judiciary has been armed with the power to issue the writs. The Supreme court can issue an order or following writs for the enforcement of the fundamental rights against any person or Government within the territory of India:

(i) Habeas Corpus: It is issued to the official or a private person who has detained another person in his custody. The latter is produced before the court in order to let the court know on what grounds he has been confined.

(ii) Mandamus: It literally means Command. It commands the person to perform some public or legal duty that the person has refused to perform.

(iii) Prohibition: This writ is issued by a higher court to the lower court to not exceed its jurisdiction limit. It is issued during the pendency of the proceedings.

(iv) Certiorari: This writ is also issued against courts or tribunals to quash the order or decision of the court or tribunal. It can be issued only after the order has been made.

(v) Quo Warranto: It is a proceeding where the court enquires into the legality of the claim. In this, a higher court can remove a public official if he/she has acquired the post illegally.

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