Rights in the Indian Constitution
- Constitution sets limits on the powers of the government and ensures a democratic system in which all persons enjoy certain rights through Fundamental Rights
Bill of Rights:
- A list of rights mentioned and protected by the constitution is called the “bill of rights”
- A democracy must ensure that individuals have certain rights and that the government will always recognize these rights.
- Bill of rights prohibits government from acting against the rights of the individuals and ensures a remedy in case there is violation of these rights.
Fundamental Rights in the Indian Constitution:
- Motilal Nehru committee had demanded a bill of rights as far back as in 1928.
- The Constitution listed the rights that would be specially protected and called them ‘fundamental rights’.
- These rights are so important that the Constitution has separately listed them and made special provisions for their protection.
- The Constitution itself ensures that they are not violated by the government.
- Ordinary legal rights are protected and enforced by ordinary law; Fundamental Rights are protected and guaranteed by the Constitution of the country.
- Ordinary rights may be changed by the legislature by ordinary process of law making, but a fundamental right may only be changed by amending the Constitution itself.
- Judiciary has the powers and responsibility to protect the fundamental rights from violations by actions of the government. Executive as well as legislative actions can be declared illegal by the judiciary if these violate the Fundamental rights or restrict them in an unreasonable manner.
- The Constitution clarifies that the government can implement special schemes and measures for improving the conditions of certain sections of society: children, women, and the socially and educationally backward classes.
- In fact Article 16(4) of the constitution explicitly clarifies that a policy like reservation will not be seen as a violation of right to equality. If you see the spirit of the Constitution, this is required for the fulfillment of the right to equality of opportunity.
- Right to freedom of speech and expression is subject to restrictions such as public order, peace and morality etc.
- Freedom to assemble too is to be exercised peacefully and without arms.
- The government may impose restrictions in certain areas declaring the assembly of five or more persons as unlawful.
- Ordinarily, a person would be arrested after he or she has reportedly committed some offence (exceptions exists)
- But sometimes a person can be arrested simply out of an apprehension that he or she is likely to engage in unlawful activity and imprisoned for some time. This is known as preventive detention.
- It means that if the government feels that a person can be a threat to law and order or to the peace and security of the nation, it can detain or arrest that person. This preventive detention can be extended only for three months.
To ensure a fair trial in courts, the Constitution has provided three rights:
- No person would be punished for the same offence more than once;
- No law shall declare any action as illegal from a backdate; and
- No person shall be asked to give evidence against himself or herself
- Feedom of religion also includes the freedom of conscience
- It means that a person may choose any religion or may choose not to follow any religion.
- Freedom of religion includes the freedom to profess, follow and propagate any religion.
The government can impose restrictions on the practice of freedom of religion in order to
protect public order, morality and health —
- It is not an unlimited right
- The government can interfere in religious matters for rooting out certain social evils.
- The Constitution does not allow forcible conversions.
- It only gives us the right to spread information about our religion and thus attract others to it.
Cultural and Educational Rights:
- All minorities, religious or linguistic, can set up their own educational institutions. By doing so, they can preserve and develop their own culture.
- The government will not, while granting aid to educational institutions, discriminate against any educational institution on the basis that it is under the management of minority community.
Dr. Ambedkar considered the right to constitutional remedies as “heart and soul of the constitution”.
Why Dr. Ambedkar considered the right to constitutional remedies as “heart and soul of the
- Because this right gives a citizen the right to approach a High Court or the Supreme
Court to get any of the fundamental rights restored in case of their violation.
- The Supreme Court and the High Courts can issue orders and give directives to the government for the enforcement of rights.
The courts can issue various special orders known as writs.
- Habeas corpus: Means the court orders that the arrested person should be presented before it. It can also order to set free an arrested person if the manner or grounds of arrest are not lawful or satisfactory.
- Mandamus: Issued when the court finds that a particular office holder is not doing legal duty and thereby is infringing on the right of an individual.
- Prohibition: Issued by a higher court (High Court or Supreme Court) when a lower court has considered a case going beyond its jurisdiction.
- Quo Warranto: If the court finds that a person is holding office but is not entitled to hold that office, it issues the writ of quo-warranto and restricts that person from acting as an office holder.
- Certiorari: Under this writ, the court orders a lower court or another authority to transfer a matter pending before it to the higher authority or court.