Fundamental Rights Protected By Indian Constitution
Part-III (Article 12-35) of the Indian Constitution provides Fundamental Rights, these are the basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India itself. All the six Fundamental rights are as follows:
- Right to Equality – Article 14-18
- Right to freedom – Article 19-22
- Right against exploitation – Article 23-24
- Right to freedom of Religion – Article 25-28
- Cultural and Educational Rights – Article 29-30
- Right to constitutional Remedies – Article 32-35
Basic Concept of Fundamental rights:
The origin of the concept of fundamental rights can be traced to the 13th century in England. In 1215, the people of England revolted against the king and demanded certain rights, the King granted certain assurances in the form of ‘ Magna Carta’. It is credited with paving the way for modern democratic rights. Americans were the first to give Constitutional status to the bill of rights. However, in the original American constitution, there was no mention of the Bill of rights. Subsequently, the first amendment was enacted in 1791 incorporating certain fundamental rights. The framers of the Indian Constitution followed the American model and Incorporated the rights in the Constitution itself. A significant feature of fundamental rights in India is that the remedy for enforcement of fundamental rights is itself declared a fundamental rights. It must be noted that fundamental rights though expressly Incorporated in the constitution have no fixed content and courts have by way of interpretation expanded the scope of fundamental rights.
The first demand for fundamental rights came in the form of the Swaraj Bill 1895, subsequently, a rise of demand for fundamental rights was made till the Constitution makers made it. The government of India Act, 1935, contained no affirmation of Fundamental rights. Both the Simon Commission and the joint parliamentary committee were opposed to the inclusion of a declaration to that effect in a constitutional document. They held that the declaration of rights would create a grave risk of a large number of laws being declared void and would impose restrictions on the powers of the legislature. Subsequently, framers of the Indian constitution took inspiration from the magna carta of England, the declaration of Rights of Man and citizens (France), and the U.S. bill of Rights. This inclusion of fundamental rights was in accordance with the democratic thought.
Fundamental Rights of the Indian Constitution are also called the Magna Carta of India. These rights are the rights that protect the rights and liberties of the people against the arbitrary nature of the State. These rights are said to be fundamental as they are essentially necessary to live a dignified life with freedom and liberties to the person. If any law curtails the fundamental rights then that law will be declared void.
Constitution itself secures Fundamental Rights:
Being that one group dominates and the fundamental rights say that they should not and then it is not to be seen in the narrow perspective of state versus citizens; rather it has to be seen in the wider perspective of dominated versus dominating.
The basic purpose of fundamental rights is to ensure the maximum reduction of group domination in certain areas. Also, they confer justifiable rights on the people which can be enforced through Courts and they constitute limitation or restriction on the government’s action.
The fundamental rights are primarily meant for the protection of the individual against the state. but this should not be seen as an individual versus state conflict. The state itself is the means of the realization of the rights of the individual. The state can guarantee the rights of the individual vis-a-vis the other individuals. But what of the rights of the individual against the state itself? This is guaranteed by the Fundamental Rights.
This concept also finds its origins in the social contract theory as propounded by Locke, Rousseau, and Hobbes. Hobbes said people have, in a kind of social contract with the state, parted away with their rights and have vested them in the State. The state, in turn, undertakes to protect these rights.
The purpose of fundamental rights is not actually that of curtailing something from the state but to ensure a better life for the people who ultimately constitute the state itself. Fundamental Rights were made by Constitution workers to secure certain basic, natural, and inalienable rights, these rights have been declared so that human liberty may be preserved, human personality is developed and effective social and democratic life can be promoted.
Fundamental Rights ensure that there is a government of law and not of man in the country. The object is to establish a rule of law and the Indian constitution goes much beyond- the object is not only to provide security and equality of citizenship of the people and thereby helping nation-building but also to provide certain standards of conduct citizenship justice and fair play.
SC in Maneka Gandhi v. The Union of India observed that the fundamental right is to protect the dignity of a person and provide an environment in which a person can create his personality development to a full extent.
SC in Society for unaided private schools of Rajasthan v. The Union of India held that fundamental rights work as a fetter on legislative powers and provide conditions for the full development of citizens.
SC in Olga Tellis v. Bombay municipal corporation held that fundamental rights also provide the right to livelihood as it is part of a person’s life and dignity.
Fundamental Rights: Available to citizens vs non citizen
Fundamental rights mentioned in the Constitution are concurrent with the UN declaration of Human rights while making fundamental rights constitution-makers were taken the precaution to follow the rules and provisions of Human Rights declared by the United Nations.
Most of the fundamental rights are available to both citizens and non-citizen e.g. Article 14 (Right to equality, Article 21(Protection of life and liberty), etc. but there are few rights which is available to an only citizen of India they are –
- Article 15
- Article 16
- Article 19
- Article 29
- Article 30
Except for these rights every fundamental right is available to both citizens of India and non-citizen. There are a few more rights that were secured by the constitution and interpreted by the judiciary, to secure a person’s rights. And that interpretation of a provision of the Indian constitution made the scope of fundamental rights very wide.
Few more rights provided by judiciary under the context of the Constitution:
- The Right of Freedom to decide the number of pages of a newspaper was upheld in the Sakal Papers case by the Supreme Court;
- Right to travel abroad is also fundamental rights decided by SC in the Maneka Gandhi case;
- Right to vote was upheld by the Supreme Court in Union of India v. Association for democratic reforms, SC held that voter’s right to know about their candidate is a fundamental right etc.
There are many more rights that were explained by the Supreme Court in various cases but every such right was taken from the interpretation of the constitution, hence, it’s the Constitution that itself provides and secures the fundamental rights of every Indian citizen.
Further, it is not necessary that a right must be specifically mentioned in a particular article. It may be a fundamental right if it is an integral part of a named fundamental right of the same basic nature and character as that fundamental right. Every activity that facilitates the exercise of the named fundamental right may be considered an integral part of that right and hence be a fundamental right.