This article is written by Anshul Parashar of 7th Semester of Banasthali Vidyapith University.
The Indian Constitution of 1950 has significant clauses that guarantee the fundamental human rights of all Indian citizens. There are six Fundamental Rights that are not subject to prejudice based on religion, race, gender, or any other factor. Individuals have the right to assert these rights if they are violated. Part-III of the Indian Constitution, popularly known as the ‘Magna Carta’ of the Indian Constitution, includes fundamental rights. Basic human rights are granted to Indian citizens since the Constitution states that they are inviolable. The rights to life, the right to dignity, the right to education, and so on are all examples of fundamental rights.
Keywords: Constitution, Fundamental Rights, Prejudice, Human Rights, Dignity, Magna Carta, Violated, Inviolable.
Fundamental rights are enshrined in Part III of the Indian Constitution, which was passed on November 26, 1949, but didn’t take effect until January 26, 1950. These fundamental rights were enshrined in the constitution as they were seen to be crucial for the advancement of each and every person. They guarantee that each resident of this country can live in peace and harmony across the territory of India. All people have the right to file a case with the Supreme Court or the High Court to have their rights upheld, regardless of their race, religion, caste, or sexual orientation. The Indian Constitution’s Articles 12 through 35 addresses seven kinds of fundamental rights. One could argue that the Fundamental Rights are the most significant aspect of the Indian Constitution. These rights have roots in the French Declaration of the Bill of Rights of Man, the Bill of Rights in England, the Irish Constitutional Development, and the Bill of Rights in the United States of America.
Fundamental Rights Schedule
It is important to remember that the right to property was originally one of the seven essential rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The 44th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1978, however, removed the right to property from the list of essential rights. The right to property, which falls under the purview of fundamental rights, acted as a barrier to the distribution of property, equality, and socialism. So, at the moment, the right to property is an authorized privilege under Article 300A rather than a fundamental right. The Indian Constitution provides the following six fundamental rights:
Whether Fundamental Rights can be amended or not?
In Golak Nath vs. State of Punjab (1967), in this suit, Golak Nath and his family claimed that they possessed more than 500 pieces of land in Punjab. While this was going on, the state legislature passed the Punjab Securities and Land Tenures Act, 1950, which limited Golak Nath and his family to only keeping an additional 30 sections of land. Golak Nath, as a result, filed a petition for writ under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, challenging the legality of the statute and asserting that its violation of his fundamental right to property was being infringed upon. The Supreme Court had to decide whether or not the Parliament could change the Fundamental Rights outlined in Part III of the Indian Constitution. The Court ruled that Parliament lacked the power to limit any of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
The Supreme Court ruled in the Kesavananda Bharati case (1974) that, pursuant to the “Doctrine of Basic Structure” of the Constitution, any aspect of the Constitution, notably all fundamental rights, is subject to amendment by the Parliament. This case involved a review of the previously mentioned Golak Nath case. The Court ruled that it is not possible to change the Constitution’s “fundamental structure.” In its 7:6 ruling, the Supreme Court determined that the Parliament lacked the authority or competence to alter the essential structure of the constitution.
The Supreme Court made no reference to an extensive list of the Constitution’s essential provisions or provided a clear definition of what the basic structure of the Constitution includes. The basic structure however, would only be open to additions, the Apex Court decided, not deletions. The Supreme Court has determined in a number of rulings the following clauses are a part of the fundamental structure of the Constitution:
- Independence of India
- Democracy Secularism
- Democratic elections
- Judicial assessment, etc.
Salient Features of Fundamental Rights As Enshrined In The Indian Constitution
- The country’s constitution protects and guarantees fundamental rights, which are different from regular legal rights.
- Some rights are only available to citizens, while others are open to everyone, including foreigners, citizens, and legal entities like businesses and companies. Rights have limitations.
- The state may place reasonable restrictions on them, but the courts will determine whether or not those restrictions are acceptable.
- Legally Justifiable Rights The rights are enforceable through the courts if they are violated since they are justifiable. When a basic right is violated, any harmed individual has the right to file a direct appeal with the Supreme Court.
- Rights Suspension: All rights, excluding those protected by Articles 20 and 21, may be suspended while a National Emergency is in effect. Additionally, the six rights protected by Article 19 can only be suspended in the event of an external emergency (such as a war or an exterior aggression) and not on the basis of an armed uprising, which would constitute an internal emergency.
- Limitations on Laws: The Parliament has the authority to limit or repeal their applicability to members of the armed forces, paramilitary forces, police, intelligence agencies, and similar services (Article 33). While martial law (military rule established under unusual circumstances) is in effect in any location, its implementation may be restricted.
Laws violative of fundamental rights
According to Article 13 of the Indian Constitution, all legislation that violates one or more of the fundamental rights outlined in Part III is null and void. On the grounds of a breach of one of the Fundamental rights, the Supreme Court and the High Courts of India may declare a statute unconstitutional and invalid. However, it was established in the case of Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala that the amendment to the constitution could be questioned on the grounds that it is in violation of the fundamental rights that are a part of the “basic structure” of the Constitution of India and that it can be declared to be void. Article 13 also states that a constitutional amendment isn’t a law and cannot be challenged in court. This case was a challenge to the first Amendment’s constitutionality, which limited the right to property. In this instance, it was argued that Article 13 of the Constitution prohibits changes to Articles 31A and 31B of the Constitution that limit citizens’ fundamental rights. According to the Supreme Court, modifying basic rights falls outside the scope of Article 368’s power to amend the Constitution.
Fundamental Rights available to citizens and foreigners.
The constitution of India guarantees the Right to Equality through Article 14 to 18. “Equality is one of the magnificent cornerstones of Indian Democracy“. The doctrine of equality before law is necessary corollary of Rule of Law which pervades the Indian Constitution.
The underlying object of Article 14 is to secured to all persons, citizen or non -citizens the equality of status and opportunity referred to in the Preamble of our Constitution. Thus, the Supreme Court has said that the Constitution lays down provisions both for protective discrimination as also affirmative action.
Article 14 is the genus while Articles 15 and 16 are the species. Articles 14, 15 and 16 are constituents of a single code of constitution guarantees supplementing each other. Article 14 of the constitution embodies the principle of non-discrimination. Article 21 of the Constitution refers to “right to life” and embodies several aspects of life. It includes “opportunity”, Article 21 and 14 are the heart of the chapter on Fundamental Rights. They convey myriad features of life.
- Right to Equality: A constitution bench of the Supreme Court has declared in no uncertain terms that equality is a basic feature of the constitution and although emphasis in the earlier decisions evolved around discrimination and classification, the content of Article 14 got expanded conceptually and has recognized the principles to comprehend the doctrine of promissory estoppel non-arbitrariness, compliance with rules of natural justice eschewing irrationality etc. Article 14 bars discrimination and prohibits discriminatory laws. Article 14 holds that, from the perspective of the law, everyone is equal. According to this article, all Indian nationals must get equal treatment under the law. The law provides equal protection to all people, according to the aforementioned Article. Anyone involved in similar circumstances must find the law equally applicable. Article 15: Discrimination of any kind is illegal in India, according to the constitution. If any citizen experiences any handicap, limitation, liability, or condition with regard to religion, race, place of birth, caste, or gender, Access to public spaces Utilization of state-maintained or built with the general public in mind properties like tanks, ghats, and wells;
In addition, the aforementioned Article specifies that special arrangements can still be made for women, children, and the lower classes.
Equal opportunity under Article 16 of the Public Employment Rights Act, this fundamental requirement ensures that every citizen is entitled to equal employment opportunities in the State Service. No citizen should be subjected to discrimination in employment or appointment in the public service on the basis of religion, caste, race, and gender, place of birth, residence, or descent. There may be exceptions to the aforementioned Article in order to make particular arrangements for the underprivileged classes.
Article 17 abolishes untouchability and forbids its practice in any form. The enforcement of any disability arising out of “untouchability” is to be an offence punishable in accordance with law. The aforementioned article sternly forbids the practice of untouchability. This article formally abolishes untouchability in all its manifestations. Untouchability is deemed a crime if it causes any harm or causes a disagreement. Titles are no longer recognized under Article 18 of the Constitution. The State shall not grant any titles, it says. The exceptions are titles with a military or intellectual focus. The aforementioned provision restricts Indian citizens from assuming any foreign titles. By virtue of this article, the titles such as Rai Bahadur and Khan Bahadur that were conferred by the former British government are likewise abolished. Military honors like the Ashok Chakra and Param Vir Chakra, as well as awards like the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, and Bharat Ratna, is not included in this category.
- Right to Freedom: The word ‘freedom’ in Article 19 of the Constitution means absence of control by the state. In all matters specified in Article 19(1), the citizen has liberty to choose, subject only to restrictions in Article 19(2) to (6). Clauses (a) to (g) of Article 19(1) guarantee to citizen of India six freedoms, viz, of ‘speech and expression’, ‘peaceable assembly’, ‘association’, ‘free movement’, ‘residence’, and ‘practicing any profession and carrying on any business’. These various freedoms are necessary not only to promote certain basic rights of these citizens but also certain democratic values in the oneness and unity of, the country. Article 19 guarantees some of the basic, valued and natural right inherent in a person. According to the Supreme Court, it is possible that right does not find express mention in any clause of Article 19(1) and yet it may be covered by some other clause therein.
Originally, Article 19 guaranteed seven freedoms. The freedom to hold and acquire property was deleted in 1978. However, the freedoms guaranteed by Article 19(1) are not absolute as no right can be. Each of these rights is liable to be controlled, curtailed and regulated to some extend by laws made by Parliament or the State Legislatures. Accordingly, clauses (2) to (6) of Article 19 lay down the grounds and the purposes for which a legislature can impose ‘reasonable restrictions’ on the rights guaranteed by the Article 19(1)(a) to (g). It has been held that the State cannot travel beyond the contours of clauses (2) to (6) of Article 19 of the Constitution in curbing the fundamental rights guaranteed by clause (1). The Court is not concerned with the necessity of the impugnment legislation or the wisdom of the policy underlying it, but only whether the restriction is in excess of the requirement, and whether the law has overstepped the Constitution limitations. Article 19 confers the several freedoms on the citizens. Therefore, a municipal committee, deity, or a foreigner cannot invoke Article 19. Limitations imposed by Article 19(2) to 19(6) on the freedoms guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) to (g) serve a twofold purpose, viz, on the one hand, they specify that these freedoms are not absolute but are subject to regulation; on the other hand, they put a limitation on the power of legislature to restrict these freedoms.
- Article 20 of the Indian Constitution guarantees an accused person protection from unjust and excessive punishment, regardless of whether they are an Indian citizen, a citizen of another country, or even a legal entity like a company or corporation. There is no ex-post legislation. Thus, no individual will be found guilty of a crime other than an offense under a law that was in effect at the time the act was committed and could result in some liability. A single trial only. As a result, no one will ever receive a second conviction for the same crime. No one may be used as evidence multiple times for an offense they have only committed once. An ex-post-facto law is a law with imposes penalties retroactively, that is, upon acts already done, or which increases the penalty for the past acts.
The roots of the doctrine against double jeopardy are to be finding in the well -established maxim of the English common law “Nemo dept bis vexaria”, meaning that a man must not be put twice in peril for the same offence. The privilege against self-incrimination is a fundamental canon of common-law criminal jurisprudence.
- The right to life is one of, if not the most crucial, fundamental rights recognized in Article 21. It provides that no one’s life or personal freedom can be taken away from them unless it follows the legal process. Both Indian citizens and foreign nationals in India have access to this right. Right to live with human dignity is available to every person and even the State has no authority to violate that right except according to procedure established by law. Said right is also protected by other constitutional provisions and also by statutory provisions. In this case, A.K. Gopalan used the writ of habeas corpus to challenge his imprisonment by filing a petition within Article 32. He was afterwards forbidden from revealing the reasons he had been held because Section 14 of the Preventive Detention Act of 1950 forbade such disclosure in court. According to him, such detention violates the Constitution’s Articles 14, 19, and 21 as a result, and the rules established by the Act also do so in contravention of Article 22. In this case, the Supreme Court of India made history by ruling that Article 21 of the Constitution did not require Indian courts to adhere to the due process of law principle. Additionally, Article 21A states that every child or minor between the ages of six and fourteen must receive free and mandatory education in whatever way the State deems appropriate. The 86th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2002 added this clause to the Constitution. People who are imprisoned or arrested are protected by Article 22. Citizens and non-citizens are both covered by this law. In the event of an arrest, it offers the person specific procedural protections. It is important to remember that this clause does not represent a basic protection from imprisonment and arrest. This privilege aims to halt arbitrary arrests and detentions. This clause does not apply to anybody detained under preventative detention guidelines or enemy aliens.
- Right against Exploitation: Human trafficking, forced labor, and any of the other comparable types of forced labor are outlawed by Article 23 of the Indian Constitution, which declares them to be crimes subject to punishment. This right is granted to both Indian citizens and foreign nationals who are present in India. In accordance with Article 24 of the Indian Constitution, no person under the age of 14 may work in a factory, mine, or engage in any hazardous job, including the building or maintaining of railroads. However, this rule does not prevent hiring children or adolescents in any secure work setting.
- Right to freedom of Religion: Everyone in India has an equal right to religious freedom, notably the freedom to profess, perform, and disseminate any religion, as stated in Article 25 of the Indian Constitution. Both Indian citizens and foreign nationals who are currently residing in India have access to these rights. Every person has the freedom to manage religious matters, according to Article 26 of the Indian Constitution that outlines each person’s rights with regard to various religious denominations. In other words, Article 26 safeguards the collective freedom of religion. The rights outlined in Articles 25 and 26 are both subject to public morals, health, and order but are exempt from other laws relating to Fundamental rights. Article 27 of the Indian Constitution guarantees freedom from taxation for the purpose of promoting religion. It states that no one shall be required to pay taxes for the purpose of promoting or maintaining any religion or religious denomination. No religious teaching shall be offered in any educational institution that is entirely supported by State funds, according to Article 28 of the Indian Constitution. However, this clause is not applicable to institutions run by the State but created through a trust or endowment and requiring the dissemination of religious education.
- Educational and Cultural Rights: According to Article 29 of the Indian Constitution, any group of people living anywhere on Indian territory who speak or practice a unique language or culture has the right to preserve it. Furthermore, Article 29 states that no person in India may be denied entrance to any state-maintained or state-funded educational institution on the basis of race, religion, caste, or language. Additionally, it offers protection to linguistic and religious minorities. Religious or linguistic minorities in India have the right to create and run any educational organization of their choosing under Article 30 of the Indian Constitution. This privilege encompasses the right to educate children in their native tongue.
- Right – Constitutional remedies: Under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, each citizen of the nation has a right to remedies for the realization of their fundamental liberties. As a result, fundamental rights are now upheld in court. The explanation explains why Dr. BR Ambedkar referred to Provision 32 as the Indian Constitution’s “heart and soul” and as the most significant provision. Every other right is genuine in nature because of Article 32. Additionally, the Supreme Court determined that Article 32 is a fundamental component of the Indian Constitution. It also includes the following four clauses: the ability to petition India’s Supreme Court to have one’s fundamental rights upheld. The ability of the Supreme Court to issue writs, orders, or other directives to enforce these fundamental rights. Habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, and quo warranto are among the writs that may be issued. The parliament has the authority to grant all types of writs, orders, and directives to any other court. Because they already have these authorities beneath Article 226 of the Indian Constitution, High Courts aren’t deemed to be additional courts under this clause. Except as expressly permitted by the Supreme Court, the right to petition the Supreme Court of India shall not be suspended.
Writs under Constitution
Indian Constitution provides for five types of writs.
- Habeas Corpus: Habeas Corpus is Latin for “to have the body of.” According to this writ, the court possesses the right to ask any individual who is being held to determine whether their detention is legal.
- Certiorari: “To be certified” is what the word “Certiorari” means. Using this form of writ, a higher court can review a case that a lower court has already tried. It is mostly used to request judicial review of a ruling made by a court or other government body.
- Prohibition: A court may issue a “Prohibition” writ to limit or forbid lower courts, tribunals, and other quasi-judicial bodies from acting in ways that are inconsistent with the law. Its purpose is to monitor inactivity, while the writ of Mandamus monitors activity.
- Mandamus: Mandamus is Latin for “We command.” The court uses this writ to order a public employee who has neglected or refused to perform his duties to get back to work. A corporation, a tribunal, a government, a public body, an inferior court, or any of these entities may be the targets of a writ of mandamus.
- Quo Warranto: “By what authority or warrant,” is what the phrase “Quo Warranto” means. The Supreme Court or high courts use this writ to prevent an individual from unlawfully usurping a public position. The Quo Warranto writ gives the court the power to investigate a person’s eligibility for a public office.
Conscience overview of important cases involving fundamental rights
In Indira Nehru Gandhi case, the intended effect of the 39th Amendment to the Constitution and election controversies involving the then-prime minister Indira Gandhi were both addressed in this case. The case’s main issue was whether or not clause (4) of the 39th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1975 was legal. In this judgment, the Supreme Court expanded on the list of “Basic Features” established in the Kesavananda Bharati case by adding elements like the rule of law, democracy, and judicial review.
In Maneka Gandhi Case, Maneka Gandhi’s passport was seized in this situation for the sake of the “public good.” When questioned about the circumstances surrounding the confiscation of her passport, the government steadfastly declined to release any information for the benefit of the broader public. Thus, Maneka Gandhi claimed in a writ suit under Article 32 that the government’s actions breached Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution. The authorities responded by saying her passport had been seized since it was anticipated that she would need to be present for certain court hearings before the “Commission of Inquiry.” According to the Supreme Court, an article 21 “process” must be devoid of any elements of arbitrariness, unfairness, oppression, or unreasonableness.
In Minerva Mills’s case, regarding the application of the basic structure theory in this instance, the Supreme Court offered several clarifications. The Court ruled that Parliament has a limited ability to change the Constitution. As a result, the parliament cannot use its meager powers to give itself unrestricted authority to modify the Constitution. Therefore, the Parliament is unable to restrict an individual’s fundamental rights. The Forty-second Amendment Act, 1976, which Prime Minister Indira Gandhi enacted during the Emergency, had its clauses 4 and 5 invalidated by the court’s ruling in this case.
The Fundamental Rights are a collection of rights that apply to every Indian citizen. These rights are guaranteed by the Indian Constitution and guard against abuse on the part of the state as well as by private parties and organizations. The Indian Constitution’s protection of fundamental rights is equivalent to a guarantee, ensuring that democracy shall prevail and that all citizens of India will have access to those rights. These civic liberties have precedence over all other laws in the country. The full advancement of individuals and the country depends on fundamental rights.
- Dr J.N. Pandey, Constitutional Law of India; 45th Edition, Central Law Agency.
- Article 312, the Constitution of India, M.P. Jain, _Indian Constitutional Law_, 960, 2052, (8th ed., 2018)
- M.P. Jain, Indian Constitutional Law, Eighth Edition 2018.
- Durga Das Basu, Commentary on the Constitution of India, 9th Edition, 2014.
 Golak Nath vs. State of Punjab, AIR 1967 SC 1643: (1967) 2 SCR 762
 Kesavananda Bharati Sripadagalvaru vs. State of Kerala, AIR 1973 SC 1461: (1973) 4 SCC 225: (1974) 1 SCC (JI.) 3
 Thommen J, in Indra Sawhney vs. U.O.I, AIR 1993 SC 477: 1992 Supp (3) SCC 212.
 Ashutosh Gupta vs. State of Rajasthan, (2002) 4 SCC 34: AIR 2002 SC 1533.
 Natural Resources Allocations, Re Special Reference Number 1 of 2012, (2012) 10 SCC 1 (77): 2012 AIR SCW 6194: (2012) 9 SCALE 310.
 Andhra Pradesh P.S.C vs. Baloji Badhavath, (2009) 5 SCC 1: (2009) 5 JT 563.
 Naz Foundation vs. Government of NCT of Delhi, 2009 (160) DLT 277: 2009 (5) AD (Del) 429: 2009 (111) DRJ 1: 2009 (3) JCC 1787: 2010 CrLj 94(Del-DB).
 Reliance Energy Limited vs. Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation Limited, (2007)8 SCC 1: (2007) 11 JT 1.
 M Nagaraj vs. U.O.I, (2006) 8 SCC 212: AIR 2007 SC 71.
 State of Karnataka vs. Associated Management of (Government Recognized-Unaided-English Medium) Primary and Secondary Schools, (20140 9 SCC 485: AIR 2014 SC 2094.
 Maneka Gandhi vs. U.O.I, AIR 1978 SC 597: (1978) 1 SCC 248
 Society for Un-aided Private Schools of Rajasthan vs. U.O.I, AIR 2012 SC 3445 (3486, 3487): (2012) 6 SCC 1.
 Amritsar Municipality vs. State of Punjab, AIR 1969 SC 1100: (1969) 1 SCC 475.
 Deity LP vs. Chief Commissioner, AIR 1960 Man 20.
 British ISN Company vs. Jasjit Singh, AIR 1964 SC 1451: 1964 (2) SCJ 543.
 Corwin, The Constitution and What it Means To-day, 78 (1958).
 Chairman, Railway Board vs. Chandrima Das, AIR 2000 SC 988 at 998: (2000) 2 SCC 465.
 Article 312, the Constitution of India, M.P. Jain, _Indian Constitutional Law_, 960, 2052, (8th ed., 2018)
 Indira Nehru Gandhi vs. Raj Narain, AIR 1975 SC 229: (1975) 3 SCC 34.
 Maneka Gandhi vs. U.O.I, AIR 1978 SC 597: (1978) 1 SCC 248.
 Minerva Mills Ltd. vs. Union of India, AIR 1986 SC 2030: (1986) 4 SCC 222.