Fundamental Rights of Indian Constitution

Fundamental Rights – Article 12-35, Constitution of India Part III

Fundamental Rights or the “Magna Carta of India” are enshrined in Part III of the Indian Constitution. The fundamental rights of Indian Constitution are covered under article 12-35. Originally, there were seven fundamental rights in Indian Constitution, however, with the removal of Right to Property from Part III, there are only six fundamental rights. The fundamental rights are guaranteed and protected by the Constitution and equally available for all citizens without any discrimination. To know all about the fundamental rights of Indian Constitution, read the complete article below.

List of Fundamental rights of India

Article 14-18Right to Equality
Article 19-22Right to Freedom 
Article 23-24Right Against Exploitation
Article 25-28Right to Freedom of Religion
Article 29-30Cultural and Educational Right
Article 32Right to Constitutional Remedies

What are Fundamental Rights?

All fundamental rights are human rights. However, not all human rights are fundamental. Some rights that are essential for all round development of individuals are specified as fundamental. These rights serve many objective such as:

  • Fundamental rights uphold equality and liberty for all
  • Promote political democracy and thus prevent authoritarian, despotic rule in the country.
  • The fundamental rights are also essential for material, intellectual, moral and spiritual development of an individual.

Understanding Article 12 and Article 13 of Part III of Constitution

The Article 12 and Article 13 provide background and context for the implementation of fundamental rights. So, it is important to understand these articles rather than reading the fundamental rights in an isolated manner.

Article 12 of Indian Constitution – State

Article 12 defines the term “State” for the purpose of Part II of the constitution. According to it, the “State” for the this part includes the following:

  • Government of India
  • Parliament of India – Executive and Legislature
  • State governments including legislature
  • Local authorities such as Panchayats, Municipalities, District Boards, and other government departments.
  • All authorities that work as government body and statutory and non-statutory bodies, PSUs
  • Private agency working as an instrument of the state 

The term “State” for Part III of the constitution is used in a wider context. So, any action of the “State” (as given in Article 12) violating any of the fundamental rights can be challenged in the court.

Article 13 of Indian Constitution 

Article 13 declares that any law, rule, order, ordinance, notification, bye-law that is inconsistent with the fundamental rights shall be null and void. 

Article 13, thus, provides the feature of “Judicial Review”. The power to review a law is conferred on the Supreme Court under Article 32 and the High Court under Article 226. Thus, if a law violates the fundamental rights of an individual, the same can be declared unconstitutional and invalid by the court.

Fundamental Rights –  Explained

Right to Equality (Articles 14-18)

Equality is the basic feature of the modern democratic states. The Indian Constitution has included the following rights under Right to Equality.

Article 14Equality before law and equal protection of laws.
Article 15Prohibition of Discrimintaion on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex and place of birth.
Article 16Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment
Article17Abolition of untouchability and prohibition of its practice
Article 18Abolition of titles except military and academic

Right to Freedom (Articles 19-22)

Freedom is the basic feature of democratic societies. The constitution of India, by including the six rights related to various forms of freedom, ensured that the citizens of India can enjoy a dignified life without any fear of the state.

Article 19Protection of six rights related to freedom of 1) Speech and expression 2) Assembly 3) Association 4) Movement 5) Residence 6) Profession
Article 20Protection in respect of conviction for offences
Article 21Right to life and personal liberty
Article 21A – Right to elementary education
Article 22Protection against arrest and detention in certain cases

Right Against Exploitation

During British rule, the country faced exploitation in form of forced labour, human trafficking, child labour. The Constitution, by inclusion of Rights against exploitation, ensured that the citizens are no subject to such exploitation at the hands of state or any private agency.

Article 23Prohibition of forced labour and traffic in human beings
Article 24Prohibition of employment of children in factories

Right to Freedom of Religion 

Secularism, a word added to the Preamble of India, was already part of fundamental rights. The country always followed the path of “Sarva Dharma Sambhava” and showed religious tolerance by giving space to Muslim, Christianity and many other religions. The fundamental right to freedom of religion gave a legal touch to the already existing values.

Article 25Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice, propagation of religion
Article 26Freedom to manage religious affairs
Article 27Freedom from payment of taxes for promotion of any religion
Article 28Freedom from attending religious instruction or worship in certain educational institutions

Cultural and Educational Rights

India is diverse country and has many religions, sects, tribal communities. A step to respect the multiculturalism of India, the cultural and educational rights are guaranteed under fundamental rights. The constitution ensures that the diversity is maintained by protecting languages, script and cultures. Further, the constitution also ensured minorities right to establish and manage their educational institutions.

Article 29Protection of language, script and culture of minorities
Article 30Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions

Right to Constitutional Remedies

What if the fundamental rights are violated by the state? the constitution makers were well aware of this concern, so, they included Article 32 as a fundamental right. In case of violation of fundamental rights, the citizen can move to the SC or the HC and get against such laws.

Article 32Right to move the SC for the enforcement of fundamental rights. The SC can issue writs namely Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Prohibition, Certiorari, Quo war-rento

Fundamental rights – Fast facts

  • To frame the fundamental rights, The constitution makers derived inspiration from the Constitution of USA.
  • The 44th Constitutional Amendment deleted the Right to Property (Article 31) from the list of fundamental rights. Now, the right to property is given under Article 300-A in Part XII as a legal right.
  • The Constitutional Amendment is not a law, so it is not included under Article 13. However, in the Kesavananda Bharati case (1973) held that any constitutional amendment can be declared void if it violates the basic structure of the Indian Constitution which includes many important fundamental rights.
  • Fundamental Rights mentioned under Article 15, Article 16, Article 19, Article 29 and Article 30 are available only to the citizens of India. Other rights are extended to the foreigners as well except enemy aliens.
  • Right to vote is a legal right, not a fundamental right.
  • Right to life is an inclusive several rights such as right to food, right to privacy, right to shelter, right to health, right to livelihood etc.
  • Some rights are included in the Basic Structure of Indian Constitution. Some of the fundamental rights are absolute, not all. The government can, on various grounds such as emergency, may put limitations on some of the fundamental rights.