The fundamental rights of Indian constitution are given under part III of the constitution of India. These rights are based on bill of rights of US constitution.These fundamental rights of Indian constitution are considered as fundamental as they are of prime essentiality for any individual to attain his fullest physical spiritual intellectual capacity. That is why Granville Austin called them the corner stone of Indian constitution.
The fundamental rights of Indian constitution can be grouped under the following :
A.Right to equality(Art 14- 18)
1. Art 14 : Right to equality before law and equal protection of laws.
The right to equality before law is a British concept. It means that all are equal in the eyes of law. It includes with in itself accept of rule of law.It means the absence of any special privilege for any individual in the eyes of law.
The right to equal protection of laws is an American concept. It means that equality of treatment under equal circumstances. Among equals the law should be equal and equally administered.Thus it doesn’t means equality among unequals. This concept thus favours discrimination under different circumstances. The concept of reservation is justified under this law.
2.Article 15: State shall not discriminate among citizen on the ground of race , religion, caste ,sex place of birth.
3.Article 16: There shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment under the state
4.Article 17: It abolishes untouchability in all forms.It also empowers the state to provide by law prescribing punishment for the practice of untouchability.
5.Article 18: It prohibits the state from conferring any title except of the nature of academic or military distinctions.
B.Right to Freedom(Art 19- 22)
1.Article 19: Confers on citizens 6 democratic rights.
19 1(a): Right to freedom of speech and expression.This means right to express one own opinion and also opinion on behalf of others.
19(1)b : Right to Assemble.However right to assemble must be for peaceful purposes.
19(1)c: Right to Associate ie the right to form or not to form,right to join or not to join,right to continue or not to continue.This includes the right to form any kind of associations ie political,social,economic, cultural.
19(1)d : Right to freedom of movement,ie freedom of movement throughout the territory of India.
19(1)e : Right to freedom of residence.
19(1)g: Right to choose any profession occupation trade or business.However state can prescribe qualifications for selections for the job.
The right to property which was earlier a fundamental right is made legal right under Article 300 A of the constitution.These rights under Article 19 are called democratic rights as they are considered essential for a citizen to enjoy democracy fully.
2.Article 20:This article extends protection to individuals in case of conviction for certain offences.This includes the following
No person shall be convicted of any offence except for the violation of any law in force.Thus inorder that a person to be punished the act performed by him must be a criminal act in the law book at that time.
No person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once.Thus article 20 prohibits double jeopardy ie punishing an individual more than once for the same offence.
3.Article 21:Right to protection of life and personal liberty.
This article guarantees all individuals right to live.Its this article that gave rise to many inferred rights like right to privacy,right to primary education,right to speedy trail, right to health of workers etc.
4.Article 21 A: It guarantees to all children of the age of the age of 6 to 14 years the right to elementary education.This article was added by the 86th Amendment act 2002.
5.Article 22: This article extends protection to individuals in case of arrest and detention.A person who is arrested shall be informed of the ground of his arrest.He shall be allowed to consult and to be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.He shall be produced before the nearest magistrate within 24 hours of his arrest.
C.Right Against Exploitation(Art 23- 24)
1.Article 23: This article prohibits trafficking of human beings,beggar and other types of forced labour.The parliament has enacted immoral trafficking prohibition act which prescribes stringent punishment for engaging in immoral trafficking.
2.Article 24: This article prohibits employment of children below the age of 14 years in hazardous industries like mining,etc.Child labour prohibition and regulation act was passed to give effect to this.
D.Right to freedom of religion(Art 25- 28)
1.Article 25: This article provides two fold freedom of religion to all individuals.One is the freedom of conscience ie the absolute inner freedom of individual to mould his religious faith.The second is the freedom to profess ,practice and propagate a religion of ones choice. When the inner freedom takes an outward expression then it takes this second form.
2.Article 26:It deals with the freedom of religious institutions to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes ,to manage own affairs,own acquire, administer property
3.Article 27:No person shall be compelled to pay any tax which is to be used for the promotion of any particular religion.Its this article that truly highlights the secular character of the state.
4.Article 28:Under this fundamental rights of Indian constitution,the educational institutions that are owned by state no religious instruction can be given.But in aided educational institutions ,religious instruction can be imparted but anyone cannot be compelled.
E.Cultural and Educational rights(Art 29- 30)
1.Article 29:Any section of the society having a distinct language,script,culture shall have the right to conserve the same.
2.Article 30: deals with right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.
F.Right to Constitutional Remedies:(Art 32)
This fundamental rights of Indian constitution confers fundamental right on individual to approach supreme court for the enforcement of fundamental rights.Therefore its article 32 that makes fundamental right enforceable.That is why Ambedkar called Article 32 as fundamental of all fundamental rights.
The fundamental rights of Indian constitution can be enforced by the High courts also under article 226.However unlike supreme court ,constitution doesn’t prescribe a duty on High courts to enforce the fundamental rights of Indian constitution.
As pointed out by Supreme Court in the Keshavananda Bharathi case,parliament can amend any of the fundamental right(Art 368).However the basic structure of the constitution should not be altered.