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Fundamental Rights

People in democractic conutries enjoy certain rights, which are protected by judicial
system of the country concerned. Their violation, even by the State, is not allowed by the
courts. India respects the rights of the people, which are listed in our Constitution, under
the heading “Fundamental Rights”. In lesson, a mention has been made of the Fundamental
Rights as one of the salient features of the Constitution. In this article, we will discuss in
detail various Fundamental Rights which are incorporated in chapter III of the Constitution.

Meaning And Importance Of Fundamental Rights

The rights, which are enshrined in the Constitution, are called ‘Fundamental Rights’. These rights ensure the fullest physical, mental and moral development of every citizen. They
include those basic freedoms and conditions which alone can make life worth living. Fundamental Rights generate a feeling of security amongst the minorities in the country.
They establish the framework of ‘democratic legitimacy’ for the rule of the majority. No
democracy can function in the absence of basic rights such as freedom of speech and
expression.Fundamental Rights provide standards of conduct, citizenship, justice and fair play. They serve as a check on the government. Various social, religious, economic and political
problems in our country make Fundamental Rights important. In our Constitution, Fundamental Rights are enumerated in Part III from Article 14 to 32. These rights are justiciable.

Justiciable: Justiciable means that if these rights are violated by the government or
anyone else, the individual has the right to approach the Supreme Court or High
Courts for the protection of his/her Fundamental Rights.

Our Constitution does not permit the legislature and the executive to curb these rights either by law or by an executive order. The Supreme Court or the High Courts can set aside any law that is found to be infringing or abridging the Fundamental Rights. You will read about it in detail in the lesson on ‘Judiciary’. Some of the Fundamental Rights are also enjoyed by foreigners, for example, the Right to Equality before Law and Right to Freedom of Religion are enjoyed by both i.e. citizens as well as foreigners. The Fundamental Rights though justiciable are not absolute. The Constitution empowers the government to impose certain restrictions on the enjoyment of our rights in the interest of public good.

Seven Fundamental Rights were enshrined in the Constitution of India. However the Right to Property was removed from the list of Fundamental Rights by the 44th Amendment Act of the Constitution in the year 1976. Since then, it has been made a legal right.

There are now six Fundamental Rights.

The Fundamental Rights are: –

1. Right to Equality

2. Right to Freedom

3. Right against Exploitation

4. Right to Freedom of Religion

5. Cultural and Educational Rights, and

6. Right to Constitutional Remedies.

Recently by the 86th Amendment Act, the Right to Education has been included in the list of Fundamental Rights as part of the Right to Freedom by adding Article 21(A).

We will now discuss these rights one by one.

1. Right To Equality

Right to Equality means that all citizens enjoy equal privileges and opportunities. It protects
the citizens against any discrimination by the State on the basis of religion, caste, race,
sex, or place of birth. Right to Equality includes five types of equalities.

1.1 Equality Before Law

According to the Constitution, “The State shall not deny to any person equality before law
or equal protection of laws within the territory of India”.‘Equality before law’ means that no person is above law and all are equal before law,every individual has equal access to the courts. ‘Equal protection of laws’ means that if two persons belonging to two different communities commit the same crime, both of them will get the same punishment.

1.2 No Discrimnation on Grounds of Religion, Race, Caste,Sex, Place of Birth or any of them

No citizen shall be denied access to shops, restaurants and places of public entertainment.
Neither shall any one be denied the use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads etc. maintained
wholly or partly out of State funds. However, the State is empowered to make special provisions for women, children and for the uplift of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward classes (OBC’s). The State can reserve seats for these categories in educational institutions, grant fee concessions or arrange special coaching classes.

1.3 Equality Of Opportunity In Matters Of Public Employment

Our Constitution guarantees equality of opportunity in matters relating to employment or
appointment to public services to all citizens. There shall be no discrimination on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or residence in matters relating to employment
in public services. Merit will be the basis of employment. However, certain limitations have been provided to the enjoyment of these rights.

1.4 Abolition of Untouchability

The Constitution abolishes untouchability and its practice in any form is forbidden.Action in the box are considered as offences when committed on the grounds of untouchability.

  1. Note:- Further rights will be added soon to the post.