The term ‘Right’ has been defined as claims that are indispensable for existence and development of individuals. In India Fundamental Rights had its origin in the Indian independence movement. Through this movement developed the demand for civil liberties with an objective to end discrimination between British rulers and their Indian subjects.
However, historical documents like England’s Bill of Rights, the United States Bill of Rights and France’s Declaration of Rights of Man played a major role in the development of constitutional rights in India. It was in fact Annie Besant who first drafted the Commonwealth of India Bill in 1925, which specifically incorporated seven fundamental rights.
Part III of the Constitution of India deals with the Fundamental Rights that guarantee civil rights to all Indians and bar the state from infringement on individual liberty; it also places upon States a duty to preserve the citizens’ rights from infringement by society. Originally the Constitution of India incorporated seven fundamental Rights: 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. In 1978, with the introduction of 44 Amendment the right to property was removed from the list of Fundamental Rights. However, the right to property is still a Constitutionally protected right that is dealt in Art 300 A that states: ‘No person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law’.
Also Read: The Fundamental Rights
- The Right to Equality
The Right to Equality is incorporated in Article 14,15 and 16 of the Constitution of India. These three Article collectively enclose general principles of equality before law. Articles 17 and 18 jointly promote the philosophy of social equality.
Article 14 states,” the state shall not deny to any person equality before the law within the territory of India.” The origin of Article 14 lies in American and Irish Constitutions. It is important here to mention that the Preamble to the Constitution of India speaks of equality of status and of opportunity and this particular Article gives effect to that principle in the text of the Constitution. According to Courts of India, equal protection of the law means the right to equal treatment in similar circumstances.
Article 15 deals with the ‘Prohibition and discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. It is imperative to understand concerning this particular Article that in order to encourage the educational advancement of the socially and educationally backward classes of society a clause (5) has been inserted in the Article 15 through an Act of 2005 that is known as Constitutional 93rd Amendment.
Section 2 of the Constitution (Seventy-seventh Amendment) Act, 1995 inserted a new clause 4A in the Article 16 which empowered the state to make a provision for reservation in matters of promotion to any class or classes of posts in the services under the State in favour of the SCs and STs, which in the opinion of the State, were not adequately represented. Article 16 deals with the equality of opportunity in matters of public employment.
Article 17 deals with the ‘abolition of untouchability’. The main object of Article 17 is to prohibit the practice of untouchability in any form. This Article has been implemented by the Protection of Civil Right Act, 1995.” Through this Act the practice of untouchability was made a punishable offence under law.”
Art 18 deals with the abolition of titles. It prohibits through this Article Indian aristocratic titles and tile of nobility conferred by the British were abolished. However, on the matter of conferring Bharat Ratna and such awards the Supreme Court has declared these awards valid on the ground that they are merely decorations and cannot be used as a title by the recipient.
- Right to Freedom
Righ to Freedom is incorporate in Articles 19, 20, 21 and 22 of the Constitution of India.
Article 19, while dealing with the ‘protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc. down,’ all citizens shall have the right-
- To freedom of speech and expression;
- To assemble peaceably and without arms;
- To form associations or Unions (or co-operative societies) it was inserted by the Constitution (Ninety-seventh Amendment) Act, 2001.
- To move freely through out the territory of India;
- To reside and settle in any part of the territory of India (it was inserted by the Constitution [Forty-forth Amendment, Act, 1978]); and
- To practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation trade or business.”
Also Read: Fundamental Rights to Indian Citizens
Article 20 deals with the ‘Protection in respect of conviction for offences. It clearly states that (a) no person is to be convicted of any offence except for violation of a law in force at the time of the commission of the Act.(b) no person is to be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once, and (c) no person accused of any offences is to be compelled to be a witness against himself.
Article 21, while dealing with ‘protection of life and personal liberty,’ pens down,” No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.
Article 21A deals with the ‘right to education’. It was inserted by the Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002. This Article says that the ‘State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such manners as the State May, by the law, determine.’
Article 22 deals with the ‘protection against arrest and detention in certain case.’ The Article comprises of two parts. Clauses 1 and 2 are applicable to persons arrested or detained under a law otherwise than a preventive detention law. Clause 4 to 7 are applicable to persons arrested or detained under a preventive detention law.