Fundamental Rights of the Indian Constitution

Fundamental Rights (Articles 14-18, 19-22, 23-24, 25-28, 29-30, 32)

By  Pranab Kumar Das

Part-III of the Indian constitution from article 12 to 32, contains fundamental rights.

Part-III of the Indian constitution is called corner stone of the constitution and together with part-4 (directive principles and state policy) constitutes the conscience of the Constitution. This chapter of the Constitution has been described as the Magna Carta of India.

  1. Fundamental Rights are individual rights are enforced against the arbitrary invasion by the state except, in the case of Art. 15 (2), Article 17, Article 18(3-4), Article 23 and Article 24 where these can be enforced against private individuals also.

  2. FRS are not absolute rights and Parliament could put reasonable restriction. 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 the state, friendly relations with foreign states, etc.

  3. According to Article 12, ‘the state’ includes the
  4. Government and Parliament of India.
  5. Government and Legislature of States.
  6. All local or state authorities such as municipalities, panchayats, district boards, improvement trusts, etc . within the territory of India or under the control of Government of India.

  7. Classification of Fundamental rights

  8. Originally Constitution provided for seven Fundamental Rights viz.

  1. Right to equality (Article 14-18)

  2. Right to freedom (Article 19-22)

  3. Right against exploitation (Article 23-24)

  4. Right to freedom of religion (Articles 25-28)

  5. Cultural & educational rights (Articles 29-30)

  6. Right to Property (Article 31)

  7. Right to constitutional remedies (Article 32).

  8. Right to Privacy

  9. But, Right to property was removed from the list of the Fundamental Rights by the 44th Constitution Amendment Act, 1978 and after amendment, it was made legal right under Article 300-A in part-12 of the Constitution.

  10. At present there are only six Fundamental rights, six fundamental rights are described below in brief.

  11. Right to Equality (Articles 14-18):

  12. Article 14 (Equality before law):

  1. Article 14 says that state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.

  2. Art. 14 is available to any person including legal persons viz. statutory corporation, companies, etc.

  3. Art. 14 is taken from the concept of equal protection of laws has been taken from the Constitution of USA.

  4. The concept of the rule of law is a negative concept while the concept of equal protection of laws is a positive concept.

  5. 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.

  6. Article 15 (Prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth):

  1. Article 15 says that the state shall not discriminate against only of religion, race, sex, place of birth or any of them.

  2. Under Article 15 (3) & (4), the government can make special provisions for women & children and for a group of citizens who are economically and socially backward.

  3. Article 16 (Equality of opportunities in matters of public employment):

  1. Article 16 says that there shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the state.

  2. Article 17 (Abolition of Untouchability): Article 17 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 by law.

  3. Article 18 (Abolition of titles):

  1. Article 18 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.

  2. The awards, Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhuhan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri, called as The National Awards would not amount to title within the meaning of Article 18(i).

  3. Right to Freedom (Articles 19-22):

  4. Article 19 (Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc.):
  5. 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 practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

  6. Article 20 (Protection in respect of conviction for offenses):
  7. Article 20 says that state can impose reasonable restrictions on the groups of security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency, morality, contempt of court, defamation, etc.
  8. Article 21 deals with Protection of life and personal liberty.
  9. Article 21A states that that state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of 6-14 years.
  10. Article 22 deals with protection against arrest and detention in certain cases.

  11. Right Against Exploitation (Articles 23-24):

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

  14. Right to Freedom of Religion (Articles 25-28):

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

  19. Cultural and Educational Rights (Articles 29-30):

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

  22. Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32):

  23. Article 32 deals with the right to move to the supreme court for the enforcement of Fundamental Rights including the Writs of (i) Habeas corpus, (ii) Mandamus, (iii) Prohibition, (iv) Certiorari and (iv) Quo warranto.

  24. Right to Privacy:

  1. Right to privacy is an intrinsic part of Article 21 that protects life and liberty of the citizens.

  2. The ruling has implications for the government’s vast biometric ID scheme, covering access to benefits, bank accounts and payment of taxes.

  3. Rights groups are concerned personal data could be misused. The authorities want registration to be compulsory.

7 Main Federal Features of the Indian Constitution

Article shared byPranab Kumar Das

The Indian federal system of today has many such characteristics which are essential for a federal polity.

The main federal features of the Indian Constitution are as follows:

1. Written Constitution:

The Indian Constitution is a written document containing 395 Articles and 12 schedules, and therefore, fulfils this basic requirement of a federal government. In fact, the Indian Constitution is the most elaborate Constitution of the world.

2. Supremacy of the Constitution:

India’s Constitution is also supreme and not the hand-made of either the Centre or of the States. If for any reason any organ of the State dares to violate any provision of the Constitution, the courts of laws are there to ensure that dignity of the Constitution is upheld at all costs.

3. Rigid Constitution:

The Indian Constitution is largely a rigid Constitution. All the provisions of the Constitution concerning Union-State relations can be amended only by the joint actions of the State Legislatures and the Union Parliament. Such provisions can be amended only if the amend­ment is passed by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting in the Parliament (which must also constitute the absolute majority of the total membership) and ratified by at least one-half of the States.

4. Division of Powers:

In a federation, there should be clear division of powers so that the units and the centre are required to enact and legislate within their sphere of activity and none violates its limits and tries to encroach upon the functions of others. This requisite is evident in the Indian Constitution.

The Seventh Schedule contains three Legislative Lists which enumerate subjects of administration, viz., Union, State and Concurrent Legislative Lists. The Union List consisted of 97 subjects, the more important of which are defence, foreign affairs, railways, posts and tele­graphs, currency, etc.

The State List consisted of 66 subjects, including, inter-alia public order, police, administration of justice, public health, education, agriculture etc. The Concurrent List embraced 47 subjects including criminal law, marriage, divorce, bankruptcy, trade unions, elec­tricity, economic and social planning, etc.

The Union Government enjoys exclusive power to legislate on the subjects mentioned in the Union List. The State Governments have full authority to legislate on the subjects of the State List under normal circumstances. And both the Centre and the State can’t legislate on the subjects mentioned in the Concurrent List, The residuary powers have been vested in the Central Government.

5. Independent Judiciary:

In India, the Constitution has provided for a Supreme Court and every effort has been made to see that the judiciary in India is independent and supreme. The Supreme Court of India can declare a law as unconstitutional or ultra Vires, if it contravenes any provisions of the Constitution. In order to ensure the impartiality of the judiciary, our judges are not remov­able by the Executive and their salaries cannot be curtailed by Parliament.

6. Bicameral Legislature:

A bicameral system is considered essential in a federation because it is in the Upper House alone that the units can be given equal representation. The Constitution of India also provides for a bicameral Legislature at the Centre consisting of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

While the Lok Sabha consists of the elected representatives of people, the Rajya Sabha mainly consists of representatives elected by the State Legislative Assemblies. However, all the States have not been given equal representation in the Rajya Sabha.

7. Dual Government Polity:

In a federal State, there are two governments—the national or federal government and the government of each component unit. But in a unitary State there is only one government, namely the national government. So, India, as a federal system, has a Central and State government