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Fundamental Rights of Indian Constitution Articles12-35

Fundamental Rights, enshrined in Articles 12-35 of the Indian Constitution, constitute a cornerstone of India’s democratic framework. Comprising six key rights including the Right to Life, Right to Dignity, and Right to Education, these rights are regarded as inviolable privileges bestowed upon Indian citizens.

In the context of the UPSC exam 2024, understanding Fundamental Rights is paramount within the Indian polity section. This article serves as a comprehensive resource on the subject, delving into the nuances of these rights and elucidating the distinctions between Fundamental Rights and Duties.

What is Fundamental Rights?

Fundamental Rights are the basic human rights preserved in the Indian Constitution, guaranteed to all Indian Citizens. The Rights applied without discrimination based on race, religion, gender, etc. Significantly, fundamental rights are enforceable by the courts, subject to certain conditions.

These rights are called fundamental rights for two reasons: they are enshrined in the Constitution, which guarantees them and second, they are justiciable (enforceable by courts). A person can approach a court of law in case of a violation.

List of Six Fundamental Rights:

  1. Right to Equality (Article 14-18)
  2. Right to Freedom (Article 19-22)
  3. Right against Exploitation (Article 23-24)
  4. Right to Freedom of Religion (Article 25-28)
  5. Cultural and Educational Rights (Article 29-30)
  6. Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32)

Features of Fundamental Rights of Indian Constitution

  • Articles 15, 16, 19, 29, and 30 are made available to the citizens only while others are available to both citizens and legal foreigners.
  • It is made available to the citizens with reasonable restrictions, hence they are not absolute but qualified in nature.
  • Most of the Fundamental Rights are available against the arbitrary action of the state.
  •  They are justiciable, as anyone can move to court for the enforcement of Fundamental Rights if violated.
  • They are protected and guaranteed by the Higher Courts in India.
  • They are not permanent as by the process of Constitutional Amendment, the Fundamental Rights can be repealed.
  • During National Emergency all the Fundamental Rights can also be suspended except the rights provided under Article 20 and Article 21.
  • The application of Fundamental Rights to the armed forces, para-military forces, police forces, and intelligence agencies can be restricted by Parliament (Under Article 33).

List of Fundamental Rights of Indian Constitution

The Fundamental Rights of the Indian Constitution are enshrined in Part III (Articles 12 to 35). These Fundamental Rights protect all citizens and some are also available to non-citizens in certain cases.

Article Provisions
Right to Equality Article 14 Equality Before Law
Article 15 Prohibition of Discrimination
Article 16 Equality of Opportunity in Public Employment
Article 17 Abolition of untouchability
Article 18 Abolition of Titles
Right to Freedom Article 19 Protection of 6 Rights

  • The right to free speech and expression;
  • The right to peaceful assembly without the use of force;
  • The right to form associations, unions, or cooperative societies.
  • The freedom to roam around without restriction on Indian soil.
  • The right to practice any profession and the freedom to engage in any occupation, trade, or business in any location within Indian territory.
Article 20 Protection in Respect of Conviction for Offences
Article 21 Protection of Life and Personal Liberty
Article 21-A Right to Education
Article 22 Protection Against Arrest and Detention
Right Against Exploitation Article 23 Prohibition of Human Trafficking and Forced Labour
Article 24 Prohibition of Child Labour
Right to Freedom of Religion Article 25 Freedom of Conscience, Profession, Practice and Propagation
Article 26 Freedom to Manage Religious Affairs
Article 27 Freedom from Taxation for the Promotion of a Religion
Article 28 Freedom from Attending Religious Instruction
Educational and Cultural Rights Article 29 Protection of Interests of Minorities
Article 30 Right of Minorities to Establish and Administer Educational Institutions
Right to Constitutional Remedies Article 32 Right to use five Writs of Indian Constitution as remedies for enforcing one’s fundamental rights:

  • Habeas Corpus: Used to order the release of someone wrongfully incarcerated.
  • To order a public authority to carry out its duties, use a mandamus.
  • Quo Warranto: To order someone to leave a position they are incorrectly supposed to be in.
  • Prohibition: Preventing a lower court from continuing with a matter.
  • Certiorari is the higher court’s ability to take an ongoing case from a lower court and put it before itself.
Article 33 Provides the Parliament with the authority to limit or abolish the fundamental rights of “Members of the Armed Forces, paramilitary forces, police forces, intelligence agencies, and analogous forces”
Article 34 Provides for the restrictions on fundamental rights while martial law (military rule) is in force
Article 35 Empowers the Parliament to make laws on Fundamental Rights

Fundamental Rights Articles 12-35

The Fundamental Rights in the Indian Constitution are enshrined in Part III, specifically Articles 12 to 35. These rights are considered essential for the protection and well-being of citizens and are justifiable, meaning they can be enforced in courts.

The United States Bill of Rights served as a major model for India’s creation of Fundamental Rights. These rights are protected by the Constitution because it is believed that they are necessary for each person’s personality to grow and for the preservation of human dignity. Part III of the Indian Constitution, sometimes referred to as the Magna Carta of the Indian Constitution, contains provisions for fundamental rights. Due to their justified nature, which enables people to petition courts for their enforcement if and when they are violated, these rights are known as basic rights.

Six Fundamental Rights

Everyone’s moral and intellectual development depends on fundamental rights. Fundamental rights are necessary for a person’s development. The post-independence era in India has led to the inclusion of a number of crucial fundamental rights in the Indian constitution. The Constitution of India grants specific legal rights to each citizen. Knowing what they are is essential to prevent the violation of anyone’s rights.

1. Right to Equality (Articles 14 – 18)

  • The right to equality entirely protects the equal legal rights of all citizens.
  • The right to equality absolutely forbids discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, religion, place of birth, race, or sexual orientation.
  • It ensures that everyone has an equal chance to work for the government and prohibits the government from treating anyone differently at work just because of their religion, caste, race, gender, ancestry, place of birth, place of residency, or any other of these factors.
  •  Equality before the law is provided for in Articles 14 through 18. The Constitution ensures that everyone is treated equally in front of the law and guarantees equality before the law.
  • The state is not permitted to treat citizens differently based on their caste, race, religion, gender, or place of birth. This is required to achieve equality. Read more about the Right to Equality here for detailed information.

2. Right to Freedom (Articles 19 – 22)

  • It is also known as the right to liberty.
  • The most cherished wish of every person is to be free.
  • A few of the rights guaranteed by the right to freedom include the freedom of speech, the freedom of expression, the freedom of assembly without the use of force, the freedom of movement across the entire territory of our nation, the freedom of association, the freedom to practice any profession, and the freedom to live anywhere in the nation.
  • These rights, however, are constrained in many ways. Read more about the Right to Freedom here for detailed information. The Right to Education under Article 21A was added to our Indian Constitution by the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act 2002. Which ensures that “Every child between the age of 6 to 14 years has the basic right to a free and compulsory education”.

3. Right against Exploitation (Articles 23 – 24)

  • Due to Indian society’s historical hierarchical structure, various forms of exploitation have occurred.
  • It’s critical to understand that being exploited is equivalent to, if not worse than, being abused.
  • This fundamental right is essential for preventing any citizen from being forced to perform forced labour of any kind.
  • Even if money is offered, no one may be made to work against their will. Forced labour of any kind is forbidden by the Indian constitution.
  • Forced labour is defined as work performed for less than the legal minimum pay. The article also cites human trafficking as a constitutional violation.
  • Therefore, it is forbidden to buy and sell people for illegal or immoral reasons. Additionally, this paragraph declares that this “bound labor” is unconstitutional.

Read more about the Right against Exploitation here for detailed information.

4. Right to Freedom of Religion (Articles 25 – 28)

  • One is completely free to practice whichever religion one chooses.
  • Because India is a multireligious nation where Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, and many more religions live, the Constitution designates it as a “secular state.”
  • It indicates that there is no “national” religion or “state religion” in India. However, it completely allows residents to practice any religion they like and to worship anybody they choose.
  • This shouldn’t, however, obstruct another person’s religious beliefs and/or practices. Foreigners can also exercise this freedom.

Read more about the Right to Freedom of Religion here for detailed information.

5. Cultural and Educational Rights (Articles 29 – 30)

All members of society have the right to maintain their native language or script thanks to cultural and educational rights. The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Indian society is its diversity. In such a diverse nation, our Constitution believes that variation is our strength. The freedom of minorities to maintain their culture is thus one of their fundamental rights.

Minorities are ethnic or religious groups that are native to a certain area of the nation and who practice a similar language or religion. Minority linguistic and religious groups are also permitted to set up their own educational establishments. This will enable them to maintain and advance their own culture.

6. Right to Constitutional Remedies (32 – 35)

  • A citizen in India has the option to appeal to the Supreme Court to have their fundamental rights upheld.
  • This privilege is protected by the Supreme Court and the High Court, respectively, under Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution.
  • It is known as the constitutional remedy right. The Supreme Court and the high courts have the authority to impose fundamental rights under this Article.
  • Local courts may also have the ability to extend the rights.
  • However, because it is subject to military law, the court-martial is excluded from this safeguard.

Read about: Important Articles of Indian Constitution

Importance of Fundamental Rights

It is essential because they serve as the foundation of the nation. They are necessary to protect the interests of the populace. Article 13 states that all laws that violate basic rights are null and invalid. Here, judicial review is expressly provided for. Any statute may be declared unconstitutional by the SC and High Courts on the grounds that it violates basic rights. In addition to legislation, Article 13 also discusses ordinances, orders, rules, notifications, etc.

Amendability of Fundamental Rights

  • A constitutional modification that has the support of both Houses of Parliament is necessary before any fundamental rights can be altered.
  • Parliament should vote with a special majority to enact the amending measure.
  • No laws that restrict basic rights may be passed, according to Article 13(2) of the Constitution.
  • Whether a constitutional amendment act qualifies as law or not is the subject of debate. In the Sajjan Singh case from 1965, the Supreme Court ruled that any provision of the Constitution, including fundamental rights, is subject to amendment by the Parliament.
  • But in 1967, the SC changed its position from when it had previously stated that the fundamental rights could not be modified in the Golaknath case judgement. The Kesavananda Bharati case resulted in a landmark ruling from the SC in 1973, which stated that even though the Parliament could amend any part of the Constitution, including Fundamental Rights, the “basic structure of the Constitution could not be abrogated even by a constitutional amendment.”
  • The judge may invalidate any amendment made by Parliament that conflicts with the Constitution’s fundamental principles on the basis of this principle in Indian law.
  • The Supreme Court reaffirmed the Basic Structure concept in 1981. Additionally, it drew a line of demarcation on April 24, 1973, the date of the Kesavananda Bharati verdict, and concluded that it should not be applied retroactively to examine the legitimacy of any change to the Constitution that occurred before that day.

Doctrine of Severability

  • The Constitution’s enshrined fundamental rights are safeguarded by this theory.
  • The Doctrine of Separability is another name for it.
  • It is stated in Article 13 that all laws that were in place in India before the start of the Constitution and were in conflict with the principles of fundamental rights will, to the extent of such conflict, be void.
  • According to this, just the portions of the law that are in conflict should be regarded as void, not the entire law. The only clauses that violate fundamental rights are those that do so.

Doctrine of Eclipse

  • It is a concept that upholds the Constitution’s core rights.
  • As the Doctrine of Separability, it has another name.
  • According to Article 13 of the Constitution, any laws that were in force in India prior to the implementation of the Constitution and were in conflict with the guarantees of fundamental rights are void to the degree of their conflict.
  • This suggests that only the portions of the law that are in conflict should be regarded as void, not the entire law. The only clauses that are void are those that conflict with fundamental rights.

Difference Between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles

It enjoys supremacy over the Directive Principle of State Policy, although it does not mean that the Directive Principle can’t be implemented. Granville Austin has described the Directive Principle of State Policy and Fundamental Rights as the “Conscience of the Constitution”. The difference between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles has been discussed below:

Aspect Fundamental Rights Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSPs)
Legal Basis Enshrined in Part III of the Constitution of India. Enshrined in Part IV of the Constitution of India.
Nature Rights guaranteed to citizens against the state. Principles and guidelines for the state in policy-making and governance.
Enforceability Citizens can directly approach the courts to enforce their fundamental rights. These principles are not legally enforceable by citizens in courts.
Rights-Holders Applicable to all citizens of India. Intended to guide the state and government actions.
Examples Right to equality, right to freedom of speech, right to life, etc. Promotion of social justice, protection of the environment, promotion of education, etc.
Focus Individual rights and liberties. Socio-economic and political objectives for the state.
Purpose To protect individual freedoms from potential state encroachment. To provide a framework for state policies that promote the welfare of the people.
Amendment Fundamental rights can be amended by the Parliament, subject to certain limitations. Directive principles are non-justiciable and cannot be enforced in court.
Significance Essential for upholding democratic values and individual freedoms. Provide a roadmap for the state to establish a just and equitable society.
Conflict Resolution In case of conflict between fundamental rights, the courts intervene to strike a balance. Directive principles may have to be balanced against fiscal and administrative realities.
Applicability Applicable to both citizens and the government. Applicable primarily to the government and its policies.
Immediate Implementation Fundamental rights are generally enforceable immediately. Implementation of directive principles depends on the government’s discretion and resources.
Fundamental Rights vs. Common Good Emphasize individual rights and liberties. Emphasize the common good and societal welfare.

Difference Between Fundamental Rights and Duties

Fundamental Duties are the responsibilities of citizens, whereas Fundamental Rights are the rights available to the people of this country. The 42nd Constitution Amendment Act of 1976, passed by the Indira Gandhi administration, amended the Indian Constitution to include Fundamental Duties. The Indian constitution places a strong emphasis on both fundamental rights and duties. Fundamental duties are citizens’ obligations to their country and fellow citizens. In contrast, fundamental rights are the entitlements that people have as a result of being citizens of a particular country. 

Aspect Fundamental Rights Fundamental Duties
Legal Basis Enshrined in Part III of the Constitution of India. Enshrined in Part IV-A of the Constitution of India.
Nature Rights guaranteed to citizens for protection from the state. Duties expected from citizens towards the state and society.
Enforcement Citizens can approach the courts for the enforcement of their rights. There is no legal mechanism to enforce fundamental duties through the courts.
Number Originally, there were 7 fundamental rights, but after the 44th Amendment Act, 1978, there are 6 fundamental rights. Originally, there were 10 fundamental duties, but after the 86th Amendment Act, 2002, there are 11 fundamental duties.
Examples Right to equality, right to freedom of speech, right to life, etc. Duty to abide by the Constitution, duty to promote harmony, duty to protect the natural environment, etc.
Focus Focus on individual liberties and freedoms. Focus on individual responsibilities and obligations towards the nation and society.
Purpose To protect citizens from potential state encroachment on their freedoms. To promote a sense of discipline, social harmony, and patriotism among citizens.
Amendment It can be amended by the Parliament through a constitutional amendment, but not to the detriment of their core values. Fundamental duties can be amended by the Parliament through a constitutional amendment.
Significance Crucial for ensuring a democratic and just society. Important for fostering a sense of citizenship and social cohesion.
Legal Remedies Violation of fundamental rights can be challenged in court through writ petitions. There are no legal remedies or penalties for not performing fundamental duties.
Scope Applicable only to citizens of India. Applicable to both citizens and the government.

Check here the Major Differences Between Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties

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Fundamental Rights of Indian Constitution FAQs

What are the 7 fundamental rights of Indian Constitution?

Originally, 7 fundamental rights were provided by the Constitution – the right to equality, right to freedom, right against exploitation, right to freedom of religion, cultural and educational rights, right to property and right to constitutional remedies. But at present, there are 6 Fundamental Rights.

What are the main 6 fundamental rights?

• Right to Equality.
• Right to Freedom.
• Right against Exploitation.
• Right to Freedom of Religion.
• Cultural and Educational Rights.
• Right to Constitutional Remedies.

Are there 6 or 7 fundamental rights?

Constitution of India offers all citizens, individually and collectively, some basic freedoms which are guaranteed in Constitution in the form of six broad categories of Fundamental Rights, which are justifiable named as Right to Equality, Right to Freedom, Right against Exploitation, Right to Freedom of Religion, Cultural and Educational Rights, Right to Constitutional Remedies. Originally, it was 7 including Right to property.

What is the 7th fundamental right that is removed?

The 7th Fundamental Right that was removed from the Indian Constitution is the "Right to Property." It was originally provided as a fundamental right under Article 31 of the Constitution.

What are fundamental rights explain in detail?

Fundamental rights are a group of rights that have been recognized by the Supreme Court as requiring a high degree of protection from government encroachment. These rights are specifically identified in the Constitution (especially in the Bill of Rights), or have been found under Due Process.

How many Fundamental Rights of Indian Constitution are there?

There are total 6 Fundamental Rights of Indian Constitution.

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