Fundamental Rights of India
The constitution guarantees sufficient Fundamental Rights to Indian citizens. These are enlisted in Part III of Constitution. These rights are vital for development of individual and promotes his/her dignity and welfare. As these rights are conferred by constitution, the government can change them only through constitutional amendments.
Categories of Fundamental Rights
The main objective of inclusion of Fundamental Rights in the constitution is to establish “a government of law and not of a man”. Originally the constitution classified the Fundamental Rights in seven categories. But after the elimination of Right to Property from the original list of Fundamental Rights by the 44th amendment in 1979, there are now only six categories. These are –
1. Right to Equality
Every citizen is assured equality before law and equal protection of law within territory of India. It also means absence of special privileges by means of birth, creed, cast or religion in favour of any individual. The state cannot make any discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any other factor. To ensure genuine equality, untouchability has been abolished and its practice in any form has been made offense, punishable in accordance to law.
2. Right to Freedom
As per Right to Freedom no person shall be punished twice for the same offense. It also ensures no person can be compelled to be a witness against himself. Citizens are assured protection against arrest and detention. A citizen arrested under any law has to be informed of the grounds of arrest and has the right to consult a legal practitioner of his choice. Each arrested person has to be produced before the court within a period of 24 hours and can’t be kept in custody beyond 24 hrs without the authority of court. Under special circumstances the state cab curb the right to freedom and detain a person under the Preventive Detention Act on grounds of anti-national activities.
The constitution guarantees six fundamental freedoms to its citizens. These include –
i ) Freedom of speech and expression
Freedom of speech guarantees the citizens that they are free to express their views, beliefs etc through writing, printing, pictures etc. However restrictions can be imposed on grounds of security and threat to the State, decency and morality, contempt of court, defamation etc.
ii) Freedom of peaceful assembly without arms
This includes right to hold public meetings and demonstrations and take out peaceful processions. State can impose restrictions on freedom of assembly in interest of sovereignty and integrity of India or Public peace and order.
iii) Freedom to form association
This guarantees the citizens to form associations, groups, unions etc. State can impose restrictions on freedom of assembly in interest of sovereignty and integrity of India or Public peace & order or on grounds of morality.
iv) Freedom of movement throughout the territory of India
This right of freedom guarantees the citizens to move anywhere inside the territory of India.
v) Freedom to reside and settle in any part of India
This right of freedom guarantees the citizens to reside and settle anywhere inside the territory of India. However the state can impose restrictions on this freedom in the interest of general public or the protection of interests of any Scheduled Tribes.
vi) Freedom to practice any profession, trade or business
The state can impose restrictions to deny a citizen the freedom to carry out trade or business in noxious, hazardous or dangerous goods, drugs and liquors or to indulge in trafficking of women and children.
The original Constitution also guaranteed the citizens freedom to acquire, hold and dispose of their property. However this freedom was dropped by the 44th amendment.
3. Right against Exploitation
This right seeks to protect the weaker sections against exploitation by unscrupulous persons or even the state.
4. Right to Freedom of Religion
Every citizen is free to profess, practice, and propagate any religion. The state can neither patronize any religion nor ask for taxes for the promotion of any religion.
5. Cultural and Educational Rights
The constitution permits the minorities to conserve their language, script and culture. It also permits to establish and administer educational institutions for this purpose. The state does not discriminate about providing aid to educational institutions on ground of religion or language.
6. Right to constitutional Remedies
This right was described by Dr B R Ambedkar as “the heart and soul of the Constitution”. This right gives every citizen the right to approach to the Supreme Court for enforcement of his/her fundamental rights. The supreme court can issue writs in nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and ceritorari. Even the state High Courts can issue writs for the enforcement of Fundamental Rights.