What is Fundamental Rights?
The origin of Fundamental Rights in Indian Constitution is assisted by the drafting of the Magna Carta in England in 1215. It was laid down that there were certain subjects' rights that could not be violated even by a legal sovereign. Further, it was through the French Revolution (1789) and the United States struggle for freedom (1776) that nations of the world seriously thought of giving some basic rights to their people. In India, Congress adopted a resolution in its Karachi session in March 1931 on Fundamental Rights.
The Fundamental Rights in the Indian Constitution are inspired by the American Bill of Rights, which were included in the US Constitution by the first ten amendments.
Fundamental Rights are called so because of two reasons.
- FRs are mentioned in the Constitution, which ensures that they are guaranteed.
- The Fundamental Rights of the Indian Constitution are justiciable and enforceable by courts using writs.
6 Fundamental Rights with Articles
There are 6 Fundamental Rights Articles in the Indian Constitution, ranging from Article 12 to Article 35 in Part III.
- 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)
Fundamental Rights of Indian Constitution
All FRS (Fundamental Rights) with articles are listed below for a better understanding.
List of Fundamental Rights
Name of Fundamental Rights
Fundamental Rights Article
Right to Equality
Equality Before Law
Prohibition of Discrimination
Equality of Opportunity in Public Employment
Abolition of Untouchability
Abolition of Titles
Right to Freedom
Protection of 6 Rights
Right to freedom of speech and expression.
Right to assemble peaceably and without arms.
Right to form associations or unions or co-operative societies.
Right to move freely throughout the territory of India.
Right to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India.
Right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade, or business.
Protection in Respect of Conviction for Offences
Protection of Life and Personal Liberty
Right to Education
Protection Against Arrest and Detention
Right Against Exploitation
Prohibition of Human Trafficking and Forced Labour
Prohibition of Child Labour
Right to Freedom of Religion
Freedom of Conscience, Profession, Practice, and Propagation
Freedom to Manage Religious Affairs
Freedom from Taxation for Promotion of a Religion
Freedom from Attending Religious Instruction
Educational and Cultural Rights
Protection of Interests of Minorities
Right of Minorities to Establish and Administer Educational Institutions
Right to Constitutional Remedies
Right to remedies for the enforcement of the fundamental rights using five writs.
Empowers the Parliament to restrict or abrogate the fundamental rights of the ‘Members of the Armed Forces, paramilitary forces, police forces, intelligence agencies, and analogous forces
Provides for the restrictions on fundamental rights while martial law(military rule) is in force
Empowers the Parliament to make laws on Fundamental Rights
Features of Fundamental Rights
Go through the main features of the Fundamental Rights of Indian Constitution.
- Fundamental Rights are protected and guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.
- The Fundamental Rights are regarded as limitations on the powers of the State. The Parliament can curtail Fundamental Rights or put reasonable restrictions on them for a fixed period of time. However, the court has the power to review the reasonability of the restrictions.
- The Fundamental Rights are individual rights enforceable against the State and not against individuals except for the Right Against Untouchability, The Right Against Exploitation, and The Right to Personal Liberty.
- The Fundamental Rights are justiciable in the Court of Law. The Constitution of India allows the individual to move directly to the Supreme Court to reinforce his/her Fundamental Rights when they are violated, restricted, or curtailed.
- The Constitution does not formulate Fundamental Rights in absolute terms. Every right is to be exercised subject to the limitations embodied in that very part itself.
- However, some of the Fundamental Rights are absolute. These rights are, Right Against Untouchability, the Right against engaging children below 14 years of age in hazardous units, and the Right to freedom of conscience.
- All the Fundamental Rights are suspended during National Emergencies except the rights guaranteed under Articles 20 and 21. Moreover, Fundamental Rights can also be restricted during military rule in any area.
Part 3 of Indian constitution - Fundamental Rights Article 12 to 35
Go through the details and specifications of all Fundamental Rights in the Indian Constitution.
Fundamental Right Article 12: The State
The Article 12 of the Constitution defines the State under Part III. This definition suitably covers all government-funded organizations, government-controlled and administered bodies, including statutory bodies. The provision's expansion was enunciated in Ajay Hasia v. Khalid Mujeeb (1981).
Fundamental Right Article 13: Judicial Review
Article 13 of the Fundamental Rights of Indian Constitution declares all laws, whether pre-constitutional or post-constitutional void if they are inconsistent with or abridge or violate the Fundamental Rights. The main objective of Article 13 is to secure the paramountcy of the Constitution, especially with regard to fundamental rights. This was held in the case of Renu v. District and Sessions Judge, Tis Hazari (2014).
The Doctrine of Severability is discussed in detail in A 13 of Fundamental right.
Fundamental Right to Equality (Article 14-18)
The Right to equality envisions equality before the law and equal protection of laws. It also envisions special protections for vulnerable members of the society such as Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Women, and Children. Article 17 provides for the abolition of untouchability, and Article 18 abolishes the announcement of titles. This is in the spirit of providing an egalitarian society.
Fundamental Right to Freedom (Article 19-22)
Article 19-22 provides the Right to Freedom to protect personal liberty. Under Article 19 of Fundamental Rights in the Indian Constitution, various rights have been provided:
- Freedom of Speech and expression
- Freedom to assemble peacefully without arms
- Freedom of forming associations, unions, and cooperative society
- Freedom of movement
- Freedom to reside and settle
- Property (abolished by 44th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1978)
- Freedom of profession, occupation, trade, or business.
Article 20 enunciates the protection in respect of conviction for offenses, it provides protection against retrospective application of criminal laws, double jeopardy, and self-incrimination.
Article 21 is the widest in interpretation, and the provision for the Right to Life has been explained to include the right to a healthy environment, the right to a speedy trial, and the right to sleep, among others. It aims to help in the overall development of the individual. Also, check What is the Right to Live with Dignity?
Article 22 denotes protection in cases of preventive detention and post-arrest mechanisms. It provides for the right to counsel, the right to be informed of grounds on which arrest takes place, and the right to be taken to the nearest magistrate within 24 hours of arrest.
Right against Exploitation (Article 23-24)
Article 23 prohibits traffic in human beings and beggars and other similar forms of forced labor, while Article 24 prohibits the employment of children below 14 years of age in factories and hazardous employment.
Right to Freedom of Religion (Article 25-28)
One of the most important features in our secular country is the constitutional protection granted with respect to the freedom to profess, propagate, and practice any religion along with freedom of conscience. It is the settled principle that State protects all religions but interferes with none. This was held in the case of Vasudev v. Vimanji (1881).
Article 28 provides an injunction against the dissemination of religious instruction in government-aided educational institutions thereby ensuring that the growth and development of each individual are equidistant of all religions.
Cultural and Educational Rights (Article 29-30)
Article 29-30 provides for the rights of citizens and religious/linguistic minorities to protect their culture, script, and language and to administer educational institutions respectively.
Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32)
The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 32 is plenary in nature and not limited to the territorial boundary. The five prerogative writs under Right to Constitutional Remedies, such as Mandamus, Quo Warranto, Prohibition, Certiorari, and Habeas Corpus are both injunctive and remedial in nature.
Fundamental Rights Available to Citizens Only
Few Fundamental Rights in the constitution are only available to citizens of India. Article 15,16,19,29 and 30 are the fundamental rights for citizens only. Theses Fundamental Rights are denied to aliens.
- Article 15: Prohibition of discrimination.
- Article 16: Equality of opportunity.
- Article 19: Protection of six rights to freedom.
- Article 30: Right of minorities.
Fundamental Rights Available to Both Citizens and Foreigners
The following fundamental rights of the indian constitution are available to both citizens & foreigners, excluding enemy aliens.
- Article 14: Equality before the law and equal protection of laws.
- Article 20: Protection in respect of conviction for offenses.
- Article 21: Protection of life and personal liberty.
- Article 21A: Right to elementary education.
- Article 22: Protection against arrest and detention in certain cases.
- Article 23: Prohibition of traffic and human beings and forced labor.
- Article 24: Prohibition of employment of children in factories etc.
- Article 25: Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice, and propagation of religion.
- Article 26: Freedom to manage religious affairs.
- Article 27: Freedom from payment of taxes for promotion of any religion.
- Article 28: Freedom from attending religious instruction or worship in certain educational institutions.
Limitations of Fundamental Rights
The group of Articles 31A, 31B, 31C, 33, 34, and 35 lays down various limitations on the Fundamental Rights and are exceptions to FRs and the circumstances under which these limitations may be imposed.
- Article 31A was intended to enable the state to achieve the abolition of zamindari and other similar tenures.
- Article 31B validated the acts and regulations mentioned in the Ninth Schedule.
- The intention of Article 31C has to save laws giving effect to DPSP specified in Articles 39(b) and (c).
Suspension or Denial of Fundamental Rights
The fundamental rights contained in Part III of the Indian Constitution can be curtailed or suspended in the following cases:
- Under Article 33, Parliament may by law restrict or abrogate any of the Fundamental Rights in their application to the members of the Armed Forces or Forces charged with the maintenance of public order.
- Article 34 authorizes Parliament to make a law to grant immunity in respect of acts done by any person during the operation of martial law in the country.
Article 358 provides that when the President proclaims an an emergency under Article 352, the freedom guaranteed by Article 19 is automatically suspended for the emergency period. Article 359 further empowers the President to suspend the right to move any court to enforce Fundamental Rights (except Articles 20 & 21) during the continuance of emergency.
Are Fundamental Rights Absolute?
Fundamental Rights are not absolute in nature because they are controlled and are subjected to reasonable restrictions to protect the public's general welfare. Fundamental Rights are not absolute but qualified. The state can impose reasonable restrictions on Fundamental Rights. However, the reasonability of the restrictions is decided by the courts. The Supreme Court has ruled that all provisions of the Constitution, including the fundamental rights, can be amended.
Amendment of Fundamental Rights
Fundamental rights are primary because they are the country's backbone and vital for protecting the individual's appeals. The Indian Parliament can amend fundamental rights by a constitutional modification, and the amendment should not change the primary approach of the Constitution.
A nationwide crisis can discontinue fundamental rights, whereas the rights secured under Articles 20 and 21 cannot be paused. Any transformations to fundamental rights need a constitutional revision that should be passed by both the Houses of Parliament. The majority of Parliament should enact the amendment bill.
Fundamental Rights UPSC
The Topic of Fundamental Rights is covered under the General Studies II paper of the UPSC Mains in the UPSC Syllabus. It occupies a significant portion of the UPSC Prelims of the UPSC Exam every year. Since its inception, Fundamental Rights are very important for the Current Affairs/contemporary aspects of the IAS Exam.
To cover Fundamental Rights UPSC, students must go through the NCERT Books for UPSC to understand the timeline and develop a solid foundation. Following this, UPSC Books, such as Indian Polity by M. Laxmikant and Polity Books for UPSC should be read.
UPSC Questions on Fundamental Rights
Q1. In India, Judicial Review implies
- a) The power of the Judiciary to pronounce upon the constitutionality of laws and executive orders.
- b) The power of the Judiciary to question the wisdom of the laws enacted by the Legislature.
- c) The power of the Judiciary to review all the legislative enactments before they are assented to by the President.
- d) The power of the Judiciary to review its own judgments given earlier in similar or different cases.
Correct Answer is:- Option A