There are certain basic rights, which are fundamental and essential for the living of man. These rights promote the freedom of the individual and his well - being.
These are incorporated in the fundamental law of the country. In all modern democracies like India, United States etc,. these basic rights are guaranteed to the citizens. These fundamental rights are included in part III of the constitution of India. But they are not absolute and some reasonable restrictions are imposed on the enjoyment of the rights by the constitution itself. The fundamental rights in India are justici able in a court of law. They are contained from article 19 to 35.
The Supreme Court and High Courts are given the power to issue writs for enforcement of the rights. The right to move the supreme court for the enforcement of the rights, is itself guaranteed as a right. However, the right to property as enshrined in the constitution is removed by the 44th amendment of 1978. The following are the important fundamental rights guaranteed in the constitution.
The constitution prohibits discrimination against any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste or place of birth. It ensures public employment, and equality of opportunities for all citizens. To this, there are certain exceptions.
The state can reserve certain percentage of the jobs for the scheduled castes and tribes and backward classes in recruitment to public services and also in making promotions.
Also, the state can prescribe in certain cases residential qualifications.
Article 19 of the constitution guarantees seven freedoms :
a. Freedom of speech and expression
b. Freedom to assemble peacefully without arms.
c. Freedom to form associations or unions.
d. Freedom to move freely throughout the territory of India.
e. Freedom to reside and settle in any part of the territory on India.
f. Freedom to acquire, hold and dispose of property.
g. Freedom to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.
Article 19 itself imposes certain reasonable restrictions on the exercise and enjoyment of the seven freedoms.
Personal liberty and the rule of law find a place in the India constitution. Article 12 guarantees that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.
No person can be convicted of any offence except for the violation of a law.
No person can be given a penalty greater than what might have been inflicted under the law.
No person will be prosecuted and punished twice for the same offence.
No person accused of any offence will be compelled to be a witness against himself.
Article 23 prohibits traffic in human beings, enforced labour, and employment of children below fourteen years, in factories, mines and other dangerous employment.
India's constitution guarantees religious freedom to all. Subject to certain reasonable restrictions like public order, morality, health etc, all persons are entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to profess, practice and propagate religion. The constitution dabars religious instruction in all educational institutions wholly maintained by the state. Cultural and educational Rights :
The constitution safeguards the freedom of every minority community to practice its own religion and conserve its own culture, language and script.
All minorities, religious or linguistic have been given the right to establish and administer educational institutions and no discrimination can be shown in granting aid to them.
According to Article 32, every citizen citizen has the right to move the Supreme Court for the enforcement of fundamental rights. The Supreme Court has the power to issue writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quowaranto and certiorari for the enforcement of the rights. Rights have no meaning unless they are safeguarded and enforced by the courts.
According to Dr. Ambedkar, Article 32 is 'the heart and soul of the whole constitution.'
According to 24th Amendment the Parliament is competent to alter, abridge or take away any of the fundamental rights by passing an amendment according to the procedure laid down in Article 368.
25th Amendment inserted a new Article 31 (c) in the constitution. According to this Article the Parliament can pass laws to implement the directive principles. Such laws are placed outside the scope of judiciary and would not be affected by Article 14, 19 and 31.
42nd Amendment has made fundamental rights subordinate to the directive principles. Thus directive principles are given precedence over the fundamental rights.