What are fundamental rights?

Fundamental Rights are the basic rights of the people. Some universally recognized rights that are seen as fundamental, i.e., contained in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Fundamental rights across the globe and how is it secured by citizens?

Though the rights of the citizens across the globe varies based on country to country. It is evident that more or less they follow same types of rights. The following are key rights declared in UN charter.

Right to self-determination, Right to liberty, Right to due process of law, Right to freedom of movement, Right to freedom of thought, Right to freedom of religion, Right to freedom of expression,Right to peaceful assembly, Right to freedom of association.

Which countries inspired Indian Constitution to provide this?

India has adopted many countries constitution to frame their version of Fundamental rights. The major contributing countries were USA, UK, Canada and Australia.

Name of Countries and Borrowed Features of the Constitution

Britain

  • Parliamentary government
  • Rule of Law
  • Legislative procedure
  • Single citizenship
  • Cabinet system
  • Prerogative writs
  • Parliamentary privileges
  • Bicameralism

Ireland

  • Directive Principles of State Policy
  • Method of Election of the president
  • Members nomination to the Rajya Sabha by the President

Unites States of America

  • Impeachment of the president
  • Functions of president and vice-president
  • Removal of Supreme Court and High court judges
  • Fundamental Rights
  • Judicial review
  • Independence of judiciary
  • Preamble of the constitution

Canada

  • Centrifugal form of federalism where the centre is stronger than the states.
  • Residuary powers vest with the centre
  • Centre appoints the Governors at the states
  • Advisory jurisdiction of the supreme court

Australia

  • Concept of Concurrent list
  • Article 108 i.e. Joint sitting of the two houses
  • Freedom of trade and commerce

USSR (Now Russia)

  • Fundamental duties
  • The ideals of justice (social, economic and political), expressed in the Preamble.

France

  • Concept of “Republic”
  • Ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity(contained in the Preamble)

Germany

  • Fundamental Rights are suspended during Emergency

South Africa

  • Election of members of the Rajya Sabha
  • Amendment of the Constitution

Japan

  • Concept of “procedure

 What are the major rights of Indian Citizen?

The Individual Fundamental Rights to Indian Citizens include the following:

  • Equality before the law
  • Freedom of religion
  • Freedom of association and peaceful assembly
  • Freedom of speech and expression
  • Right to constitutional remedies for the protection of civil rights

 

Can the rights of citizens be amended in the Constitution?

Some fundamental rights apply for persons of any nationality whereas others are available only to the citizens of India. The Supreme Court has ruled that all provisions of the Constitution, including fundamental rights can be amended. However, the Parliament cannot alter the basic structure of the constitution.

Fundamental rights in the Indian Constitution:

The Fundamental Rights are defined as basic human freedoms that every Indian citizen has the right to enjoy for a proper and harmonious development of personality.

These rights universally apply to all citizens, irrespective of race, place of birth, religion, caste or gender.

Though the rights conferred by the constitution other than fundamental rights are equally valid and their enforcement in case of violation shall be secured from the judiciary in a time consuming legal process. However, in case of fundamental rights violation, Supreme Court of India can be approached directly for ultimate justice per Article 32.

These are the fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution

1. RIGHT TO EQUALITY (ARTICLES 14-18):

Right to equality is an important and meaningful right provided for in Articles 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 of the constitution. It is the principal foundation of all other rights and liberties, and guarantees the following:

Article 14: Equality before law.

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

Article 16: Equality of opportunities in matters of public employment.

Article 17: Abolition of Untouchability.

Article 18: Abolition of titles.

2. RIGHT TO FREEDOM (ARTICLES 19-22):

The Constitution of India contains the right to freedom, given in articles 19, 20, 21, 21A and with the view of guaranteeing individual rights that were considered vital by the framers of the constitution. It is a cluster of four main laws.

Article 19: Rights to freedom of speech and expression, assemble peacefully and without arms, form associations or unions, move freely throughout the territory of India, and practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

Article 20: Protection in respect of conviction for offenses.

Article 21: Protection of life and personal liberty, Right to education, Right to health, Right to environment, Right to shelter, Right to privacy, Right to speedy trial, Right of the prisoners, Right to legal aid, Right against cruel and unusual punishment, Right not to be subjected to bonded labor, Right to travel abroad, Right against solitary confinement.

Article 21A: Regarding obligation of the state to provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of 6-14 years.

Article 22: Regarding protection against arrest and detention in certain cases.

Right to Information (RTI) :

Right to Information has been given the status of a fundamental right under Article 19(1) of the Constitution in 2005. Article 19 (1) under which every citizen has freedom of speech and expression and have the right to know how the government works, what role does it play, what are its functions and so on.

3. RIGHT AGAINST EXPLOITATION (ARTICLES 23-24):

The right against exploitation, given in Articles 23 and 24, provides for two provisions,

Article 23: Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labor.

Article 24: Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc.

An exception is made in employment without payment for compulsory services for public purposes. Compulsory military conscription is covered by this provision

4. RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF RELIGION (ARTICLES 25-28):

Right to freedom of religion, covered in Articles 25, 26, 27 and 28, provides religious freedom to all citizens of India. The objective of this right is to sustain the principle of secularism in India.

Article 25: Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice, and propagation of religion.

Article 26: Freedom to manage religious affairs.

Article 27: Freedom as to payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion.

Article 28: Freedom as to attendance at religious instructions or religious worship in certain educational institutions.

5. CULTURAL AND EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS (ARTICLES 29-30):

As India is a country of many languages, religions, and cultures, the Constitution provides special measures, in Articles 29 and 30, to protect the rights of the minorities

Article 29: Protection of language, script, and culture of minorities.

Article 30: Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.

6. RIGHT TO CONSTITUTIONAL REMEDIES (ARTICLE 32):

Right to constitutional remedies [Article 32 to 35] empowers the citizens to move a court of law in case of any denial of the fundamental rights.

Article 32: 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.

Understanding the nature of fundamental rights:

First of all, it is important to understand the nature of fundamental rights and why are they implemented?

The State, keeping in view any security concern can limit the freedom enjoyed by its citizens.

Basically, the fundamental rights, together, is a weapon in the hands of the citizens to protect themselves from any abuse of power by the State. These rights act as a check on the powers of the government. The idea of the fundamental rights is central to the idea of a liberal democracy.

For example, the Supreme Court stated that trans-genders should be included in the 2011 census as ‘others’ and not as either male or female. The court recognized the right of an individual to life (freedom rights) as the right to be recognized by the state also.

What makes fundamental rights different from other rights?

The difference between these rights is the manner in which they are enforced.

If a citizen is deprived of his/her ordinary legal right such as the right to work, he/she can approach the courts for restoring the same. But he/she should first approach the lower courts like the district court, then move to the high court and only finally the Supreme Court.

The government can also be forced to pay compensation to the injured party by the courts, in case of violation of ordinary legal rights.

However, if a fundamental right of a citizen is violated, the normal judicial machinery can be bypassed and the Supreme Court can be directly approached. This is where fundamental rights are different from other rights.

The Supreme Court is bound by the Constitution of India to restore fundamental rights. They are the guarantors of the fundamental rights as per Article 32 of the Constitution.

Deepali Shah

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