Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties
Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties are what make a nation functional as a society. The rights that are guaranteed to every citizen of India by the Constitution are called Fundamental Rights. Similarly, there are some core duties that every citizen has to perform in the national interest. These duties are known as the Fundamental Duties. These days it’s ubiquitous to hear the talks about rights. For instance, since The Government of India revoked article 370, some organizations in Kashmir and our neighboring country raised the issue of violation of “Human Rights.” Our media also keeps mentioning “Freedom of Speech and Expression” under the “Right to Freedom” mentioned in our Constitution. Simultaneously, to enjoy those rights, the Constitution of India expects you to perform some duties. Let’s discuss our rights and responsibilities in detail to understand what the nation owes us and what we owe to our country.
The rights given by the Constitution to the citizens are essential for the growth of an individual. They define the protocol to interact in society and provide you with access to basic requirements of life. Indian Constitution lists six fundamental rights to every Indian citizen. Those rights are:
- Right to Equality.
- Right to Freedom.
- Right against Exploitation.
- Right to Freedom of Religion.
- Cultural and Educational Rights.
- Right to Constitutional Remedies.
Each of the rights mentioned above has a subset of rights that define it in detail. So let’s go through each right individually.
Right to Equality
India is home to people of various faiths, and our society stays united even though there are a lot of versatilities. But in a society like ours, it is vital to ensure that every person gets treated equally without any bias. The right to equality (Article 14-18) provides that no one gets an unfair treatment, and there is no discrimination on any basis.
Equality before Law
The first provision under the right to equality is the guarantee that every person is equal before the law. No matter how big you are, you’ll never be above the law. This provision ensures that if two people from varying backgrounds commit the same crime, they will be punished in the same way. There will be no discrimination whatsoever.
No Discrimination on the basis of Religion, Race, Caste, Sex or Place of Birth
The next provision barres the state from any discrimination based on their social status. However, the state can provide special concessions or other grants for women, children, and some limited social categories. This ensures that every person gets equal access to all the facilities that the state provides.
Equality of Opportunity to all Citizens in the matter of Public Employment
For the employment opportunities announced by the Government, there should be no discrimination. The first priority should be the merits and qualifications held by the candidate. However, there are special provisions for candidates belonging to SC, ST, OBC, or Physically handicapped categories.
Abolition of Untouchability
Untouchability was very prevalent in our society before independence. Leaders like Mahatma Gandhi have spent their lives fighting against such social evils. Therefore, this provision was added to the right to equality to ensure that no citizen gets treated negatively. However, this social evil still exists in our society. Proper awareness is required to uproot this from our country.
Abolition of Titles
The British Government used to give titles to their loyalists which sparked differences in the society. These titles like Knighthood, Rai Bahadur, etc. are now considered artificial distinctions. Therefore, the Constitution has abolished these titles.
However, the president of India can award civilians and military personnel for their excellence. All our highest honors Bharat Ratna, Padma Shri, Veer Chakra, Shaurya Chakra, etc., are awards, not titles.
Right to Freedom
Our country’s struggle for independence was long. We value freedom a lot, and so does our Constitution. Every Indian citizen has a Right to Freedom. Lala Lajpat Rai’s dream, “Freedom is our birthright,” has indeed come true. The Right to Freedom is laid in for articles (Article 19-22). Article 19 mentions the “Six-Freedoms” every citizen has in India. Article 20, 21, and 22 stipulate the protection an Indian citizen gets in case of any conviction.
Here are the freedoms mentioned in Article 19:
Freedom of Speech and Expression
You have the right to speak and express yourself freely anywhere in India. However, this right will be restricted if a citizen’s expression is against the sovereignty, security, or integrity of India. Moreover, there are restrictions on the speech affecting the public order, decency, or cause defamation.
Freedom to assemble peacefully and without arms
Unless there is any security concern, you can assemble peacefully in any part of the country without arms. However, there is a condition that the gathering should not disturb public life.
Freedom to form Associations and Unions
You can freely form organizations and associations to benefit society. However, if it’s affecting law and order, you can not exercise this right.
Freedom to move freely throughout the territory of India
Every citizen has a right to move freely in any part of the country. A restriction is applied only in cases where it is against the interest of the general public or interferes with the protection of the scheduled tribe.
Freedom to reside and settle in any part of India
Every person has a right to live in any part of India without any discrimination, but like the law mentioned above, there are some restrictions. If the activity is not in social interests or against the protected tribes, there will be restrictions on the right to freedom.
Freedom to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business
Every citizen has a right to pursue any profession or start any business. The activity should not be anti-social. For example, gambling, prostitution, selling drugs, etc.
Article 20 protects against criminal offenses committed at the time of its commission. Moreover, the punishment mentioned in the law at the time of article 20’s commission will be the highest degree of punishment. Article 21 specifies the protection of life and personal liberty. Finally, Article 22 gives a right to know the cause of arrest. Additionally, the arrested person has a right to contact a legal practitioner of their choice.
Right against Exploitation
Our society, as we can notice around us, works on hierarchies. Therefore, there is always a scope of exploitation of lower classes by the upper class. Our Constitution has two provisions, Article 23 and 24, that provide us the rights against any form of exploitation.
Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labor
Article 23 prohibits forced labor and human trafficking. Anyone trespassing the borders set by this article is a convict and is punishable.
Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc.
Our Government and society condemn child labor. However, the truth is far from the claim. We still silently watch children working around us. Article 24 says that a happy childhood and education is the right of every child. Therefore, no employee should be under the age of 14, notably, in the cases of work that exposes them to hazardous situations.
Right to Freedom of Religion
India is a secular state. We are home to a vivid spectrum of religions. Not only to Indian Citizens, but the Indian Constitution also gives the freedom to practice any religion to foreigners. Here are the four provisions (Article 25-28) that define the right to freedom of religion.
Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion
Every citizen of India has the freedom to practice and propagate the religion or belief the follow. However, forcing someone to convert their faith is unlawful. Additionally, some harmful practices have been deemed illegal now. For instance, the tradition of offering sacrifice to please the god. Such methods are strongly condemned and are not a part of the freedoms that Article 25 provides.
Moreover, the state can restrict the right to freedom is it conflicts with the public interest or law and order.
Freedom to manage religious affairs
Every religious group has the right to create organizations or charities subjected to maintaining public order. They are also free to buy any possessions and administer their affairs and properties according to their own laws.
Freedom as to the payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion
Every individual gets the freedom not to pay taxes for the amount of income spend in the development of religious activities. In other words, the part of income used to pay expenses of maintaining or promoting religion is tax-free.
Freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions
This law forbids any state-run institution to provide religious instructions. The institutes running under trusts which require spiritual teachings do not come under this law. However, forcing a student to follow those instructions is unlawful. It is a matter of choice for the student whether to follow them or not.
Right to Education
The right to education was introduced in the 86th Amendment of the Constitution in 2002 as Article 21A. However, the Article became concrete only after being passed as the Right to Education Act in 2009. This Act states that every child under the age of 14 has the right to deserve a quality education.
Right to Constitutional Remedies
Article 32 provides us the right to seek justice through courts in case of any discrepancy concerning any fundamental right. You can file a complaint directly in the supreme court in such cases, and the supreme court can issue any order or directions to enforce the Fundamental Rights.
So these were the fundamental rights the Constitution of India grants to every citizen. In the next article, we will discuss the fundamental duties of every citizen of India.
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