Fundamental Rights of India

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 Fundamental Rights of India

Every individual requires basic rights to lead a fulfilling life. If fundamental rights are stripped away, life can resemble a prison. It's important to note that fundamental rights apply solely to individuals and do not extend to companies or institutions. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is renowned as one of the architects of our fundamental rights.

In the world's largest democracy, where diversity flourishes amidst the confluence of cultures, languages, and religions, there lies a foundational pillar that guards the essence of freedom, dignity, and equality. This is the story of the Fundamental Rights of India, the bedrock upon which the dreams and aspirations of over a billion people are built."

Enshrined in Part III of the Constitution of India, these rights were not just promises made in the euphoria of independence but solemn commitments to every citizen. From the Right to Equality that challenges the chains of discrimination, to the Right to Freedom that empowers every voice to be heard, these rights weave the tapestry of India's democracy.

In the heart of every Indian, these rights kindle the flame of freedom, justice, and equality. Together, we are the guardians of democracy, the protectors of our shared destiny. This is our India, where the Fundamental Rights light the path towards a brighter, more inclusive future for all.

Fundamental Rights of India

Objective / Role of Fundamental Rights of India

The role of Fundamental Rights in a country like India, which follows a democratic framework, is paramount. These rights are enshrined in Part III of the Constitution of India, ensuring civil liberties such that all Indians can lead their lives in peace and harmony as citizens of India. Here is a detailed explanation of their role:

  • Fundamental Rights protect the liberties and freedoms of individuals against any arbitrary actions by the state. They ensure that every citizen has the right to speak, practice any religion, and live with dignity.
  • These rights are pivotal in ensuring the rule of law in the country. They make sure that every citizen, irrespective of their rank or status, is subject to the jurisdiction of the ordinary courts and laws of the country.
  • Certain Fundamental Rights aim to promote the idea of equality and to combat social injustices. For example, the Right to Equality ensures equality before the law and prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.
  • Fundamental Rights act as a safeguard against the tyranny of the state. They limit the power of the state and protect the rights of the individual against state oppression.
  • By granting freedoms such as the right to freedom of speech and expression and the right to assemble peaceably and without arms, Fundamental Rights ensure the functioning of a healthy and effective democracy.
  • They serve as an essential tool for bringing about social change and fostering the development of a welfare state. Rights such as the right to education and the prohibition of discrimination ensure that the state takes steps towards providing its citizens with a dignified life.
  • The right to constitutional remedies allows individuals to move the court to enforce their Fundamental Rights, making these rights real and effective rather than merely being theoretical.
  • They strike a balance between the power of the state and the freedoms of individuals, ensuring that while the state has enough authority to implement laws and maintain order, it cannot encroach upon the liberties granted to its citizens.

In essence, the role of Fundamental Rights is to maintain the democratic ethos of the country, protect individual liberties, promote social justice, and ensure that India develops into a nation where every citizen has the opportunity to live a life of dignity and equality.

Can Fundamental Rights be suspended?

In India, the Constitution does provide for the suspension of certain Fundamental Rights under specific circumstances, most notably during a state of emergency. This is outlined in Article 359 of the Indian Constitution.

State of Emergency (Article 352): When a state of emergency is declared due to war, external aggression, or armed rebellion, the President of India has the power to suspend the right to move any court for the enforcement of Fundamental Rights, except Articles 20 and 21. Article 20 protects individuals from being subjected to certain types of retrospective criminal laws, double jeopardy, and self-incrimination. Article 21 guarantees the right to life and personal liberty. These rights remain enforceable even during an emergency.

Suspension of Article 19: Specifically, during an emergency declared due to war or external aggression (but not due to armed rebellion), the right to freedom guaranteed under Article 19 can be suspended.

Presidential Order Under Article 359: The President can issue an order stating that the right to move any court for the enforcement of such rights as mentioned in the order will remain suspended for the period during which the emergency is in effect. This means that while the rights themselves are not directly suspended, the ability to seek judicial remedy for their enforcement can be suspended.

It's crucial to note that the 44th Amendment of the Indian Constitution, enacted in 1978, introduced several changes to restrict the government's power to suspend Fundamental Rights during emergencies. This amendment was a reaction to the excesses committed during the Emergency of 1975-77. Now, the rights under Articles 20 and 21 cannot be suspended even during an emergency.

The provision to suspend Fundamental Rights is a measure designed to give the government the ability to maintain public order and national security in extraordinary situations. However, this power comes with checks and balances to prevent its misuse, including the requirement that any proclamation of emergency needs to be approved by both Houses of Parliament.

Basic Fundamental Rights of India in 1950

When the Constitution of India came into effect on January 26, 1950, it enshrined several Fundamental Rights for the citizens, aimed at overturning the injustices of colonial rule and ensuring the dignity, freedom, and equality of all citizens. These rights are detailed in Part III (Articles 12 to 35) of the Constitution. Initially, the Fundamental Rights included:

  • Right to Equality (Articles 14–18)
  • Right to Freedom (Articles 19–22)
  • Right against Exploitation (Articles 23–24)
  • Right to Freedom of Religion (Articles 25–28)
  • Cultural and Educational Rights (Articles 29–30)
  • Right to Constitutional Remedies (Articles 32–35)
  • Right to Property (Article 31)

An important point to note is that initially, the Constitution also included the Right to Property under Article 31 as a Fundamental Right. However, this right was moved to the category of legal rights by the 44th Amendment Act of 1978, and it is now found in Article 300A, which states that no person shall be deprived of his property save by the authority of law.

The Fundamental Rights were framed with the vision of creating an egalitarian society and to ensure justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity as outlined in the Preamble to the Constitution of India. These rights are not absolute and are subject to reasonable restrictions as laid down in the Constitution itself.

Fundamental Rights of India

Fundamental Rights are a set of rights that are recognized by the Constitution of a country as being essential for the all-round development (i.e., mental, moral, and physical) of its citizens. In India, the Fundamental Rights are enshrined in Part III (Articles 12 to 35) of the Constitution. These rights are deemed essential because they are inviolable and ensure the dignity, liberty, and freedom of the individual against the state's encroachment as well as against the actions of other individuals. Fundamental Rights as provided in the Indian Constitution:

Right to Equality (Articles 14–18)

This includes equality before the law, the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth, equality of opportunity in matters of employment, the abolition of untouchability, and the abolition of titles.

Right to Freedom (Articles 19–22)

This encompasses the protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech and expression, assembly, association, movement, residence, and the right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade, or business. It also includes protection in respect of conviction for offenses, protection against arrest and detention in certain cases.

Right against Exploitation (Articles 23–24)

Prohibits all forms of forced labor, child labor, and human trafficking. Children under the age of 14 cannot be employed in factories or mines or in any other hazardous employment.

Right to Freedom of Religion (Articles 25–28)

Guarantees religious freedom whereby all individuals have the right to profess, practice, and propagate any religion, or not to follow any. It also states that every religious group can manage its own affairs in matters of religion and there shall be no religious instruction in the government-aided schools.

Cultural and Educational Rights (Articles 29–30)

Protect the rights of cultural, linguistic, and religious minorities by allowing them to preserve their heritage and culture. It grants minorities the right to establish and administer their own educational institutions.

Right to Constitutional Remedies (Articles 32–35)

Empowers the citizens to move a court of law in case of any denial of the fundamental rights. This right is considered the heart and soul of the Constitution by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. Article 32 provides the right to Constitutional remedies which means that a person can approach the Supreme Court or High Courts for enforcement of his/her fundamental rights.

As we earlier discussed above, the Right to Property was originally a part of the Fundamental Rights under Article 31 but was removed by the 44th Amendment Act of 1978 and made a legal right under Article 300A in Part XII of the Constitution.

These rights are not absolute and are subject to reasonable restrictions as specified by the Constitution. They can be restricted by the State under specific circumstances, like the imposition of a state of emergency, and to balance these rights with the acts of the legislature and the executive, as well as to maintain public order, decency, morality, and health.

Right to Equality

The Right to Equality is one of the cornerstones of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India. Enshrined in Articles 14 to 18, this right underscores the principle of equality before the law and equal protection of the law to every citizen of India. It aims to eliminate any discrimination on various grounds and establishes the foundation for all citizens to live in dignity and with respect. Here's a breakdown of these Articles:

Article 14: Equality before the Law and Equal Protection of the Laws

Article 14 guarantees that the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. This means that every person, irrespective of their background, has the right to be treated equally by the law and is subject to the same legal rules and courts. This article also includes the concept of "equal protection of the laws," which means that laws should be applied equally and should be designed to ensure that equals are treated equally as well as unequals are treated unequally.

Article 15: Prohibition of Discrimination

Article 15 prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. It states that no citizen shall be subjected to any disability, liability, restriction, or condition on these grounds. However, this article also allows the State to make special provisions for women and children, and for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Article 16: Equality of Opportunity in Matters of Public Employment

Article 16 assures equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State, without any discrimination. However, like Article 15, it also permits the State to make provisions for the reservation of appointments or posts in favor of any backward class of citizens, which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State.

Article 17: Abolition of Untouchability

Article 17 abolishes "untouchability" and forbids its practice in any form. It is a landmark provision in the Indian Constitution that addresses a deep-rooted social evil in Indian society. The enforcement of any disability arising out of "Untouchability" is an offense punishable by law.

Article 18: Abolition of Titles

Article 18 prohibits the State from conferring any titles, except military or academic distinctions, and prohibits Indian citizens from accepting titles from any foreign State. This is aimed at ensuring that there is no creation of artificial distinctions among people that could lead to societal fragmentation.

The Right to Equality is fundamental for the creation and sustenance of a democratic society where every individual has the opportunity to live without being subjected to unjust discrimination. It lays the foundation for all other rights and liberties by establishing the legal principle of equality and nondiscrimination.

Right to Freedom

The Right to Freedom is one of the key fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India, covered under Articles 19 to 22. These articles collectively ensure the individual's liberty and freedom, subject to certain restrictions that may be imposed by the State. Here's a breakdown of these articles:

Article 19: Protection of Certain Rights Regarding Freedom of Speech, etc.

Article 19 guarantees six freedoms to the citizens of India:

  • Freedom of speech and expression: Allows individuals to express their opinions freely but includes reasonable restrictions for the sake of public order, security of the State, decency, morality, etc.
  • Freedom to assemble peaceably and without arms: Enables citizens to gather for peaceful purposes but can be restricted in the interest of public order.
  • Freedom to form associations or unions: This freedom can also be restricted in the interest of public order or morality.
  • Freedom to move freely throughout the territory of India: This ensures mobility rights across the country, subject to reasonable restrictions by the State.
  • Freedom to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India: Like the right to move, this can be restricted under reasonable grounds.
  • Freedom to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business: This is subject to reasonable restrictions and includes the right of the State to prescribe professional or technical qualifications necessary for practicing a profession or carrying out a trade.

Article 20: Protection in Respect of Conviction for Offences

This article provides protection in three aspects:

  • Ex post facto laws: No person shall be convicted of any offense except for the violation of a law in force at the time of the commission of the act.
  • Double jeopardy: No person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offense more than once.
  • Self-incrimination: No person accused of any offense shall be compelled to be a witness against themselves.

Article 21: Protection of Life and Personal Liberty

Article 21 guarantees that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law. This article has been broadly interpreted to include the right to privacy, right to live with human dignity, and more, making it a cornerstone for a vast array of rights related to the quality of life.

Article 21A: Right to Education

Inserted by the 86th Amendment Act, 2002, Article 21A makes the right to education a fundamental right for children aged 6 to 14 years, stating that the State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children in this age group.

Article 22: Protection Against Arrest and Detention in Certain Cases

Article 22 offers protection to individuals arrested or detained under ordinary circumstances, specifying rights such as the right to be informed of the grounds of arrest, the right to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of their choice, and the right to be produced before the nearest magistrate within 24 hours of arrest. It also outlines the conditions under which preventive detention is allowed and the rights of detainees under such conditions.

These provisions collectively safeguard personal freedoms while allowing the State to impose certain restrictions for the greater good of the public and the nation.

Right against Exploitation (Articles 23–24)

The Right against Exploitation, enshrined in Articles 23 and 24 of the Indian Constitution, provides for a set of measures designed to protect individuals from various forms of exploitation and abuse. These articles are crucial in the fight against human trafficking, forced labor, and child labor, reflecting the Constitution's commitment to ensuring dignity, freedom, and justice for all citizens. Here's an overview of these articles:

Article 23: Prohibition of Traffic in Human Beings and Forced Labor

Prohibition of Traffic in Human Beings and Begar: Article 23(1) prohibits traffic in human beings, begar (forced labor without payment), and other similar forms of forced labor. The term "traffic in human beings" includes selling and buying of men, women, and children like goods and involves immoral traffic in women and children for immoral purposes.

Punishment for Violating Article 23: The State is empowered to impose penalties on those who indulge in these practices, ensuring legal consequences for those who exploit others.

Applicability to the State and Private Individuals: This prohibition applies not only to the State but also to private individuals, making it a comprehensive protection against exploitation.

Exceptions: The article permits the State to impose compulsory service for public purposes, including conscription for military service, as long as it does not discriminate on grounds of religion, race, caste, or class.

Article 24: Prohibition of Employment of Children in Factories, etc.

Prohibition for Children Below the Age of 14: Article 24 explicitly prohibits the employment of children below the age of fourteen years in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment. This article aims to protect children from the dangers and exploitation associated with work in hazardous industries.

Foundation for Child Labor Laws: This provision forms the basis for various laws and regulations designed to prevent child labor in India, ensuring that children are not exploited through labor and are instead given opportunities for education and development.

These articles collectively address significant forms of exploitation, underlining the Constitution's commitment to social justice and the protection of vulnerable groups. They serve as a legal framework for the development of laws and policies aimed at eradicating human trafficking, forced labor, and child labor, contributing to the creation of a more equitable and humane society.

Right to Freedom of Religion (Articles 25–28)

The Right to Freedom of Religion, as enshrined in the Constitution of India, is covered under Articles 25 to 28. This set of rights underscores the secular nature of the Indian state and provides every citizen the freedom to live by their religious beliefs and practices without any state intervention. Here's a closer look at these articles:

Article 25: Freedom of Conscience and Free Profession, Practice, and Propagation of Religion

Freedom of Conscience: This clause allows every individual the freedom to hold and think any religious beliefs without coercion.

Free Profession, Practice, and Propagation of Religion: Individuals are free to profess, practice, and propagate the religion of their choice. However, this freedom is subject to public order, morality, health, and other provisions relating to Fundamental Rights.

State's Right to Regulate: The State has the right to regulate or restrict any economic, financial, political, or other secular activity associated with religious practice.

Opening of Hindu Religious Institutions: This part of Article 25 mentions that any section of Hindus has the right to enter into Hindu religious institutions for worship in a public place. It indicates an inclusive approach towards untouchability and caste discrimination within religious practices.

Article 26: Freedom to Manage Religious Affairs

This article guarantees every religious denomination or any section thereof the right to:

Establish and Maintain Institutions for Religious and Charitable Purposes: Religious groups can set up and manage their institutions.

Manage Its Own Affairs in Matters of Religion: They have autonomy in matters directly related to religious practices.

Own and Acquire Movable and Immovable Property: Religious denominations can own property and manage it according to their religious needs.

Administer Such Property in Accordance with Law: The administration of property by religious groups is subject to general laws of the land.

Article 27: Freedom as to Payment of Taxes for Promotion of Any Particular Religion

This article ensures that no individual can be compelled to pay any taxes that are specifically appropriated for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious denomination. This provision upholds the principle of a secular state.

Article 28: Freedom as to Attendance at Religious Instruction or Religious Worship in Certain Educational Institutions

Prohibition of Religious Instruction in State-funded Educational Institutions: No religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds.

Exception in Educational Institutions Administered by the State but Established Under a Trust: In institutions administered by the State but established under any endowment or trust, this article permits religious instruction.

Freedom of Attendance: No person attending any educational institution recognized by the State or receiving aid out of State funds shall be required to take part in any religious instruction or to attend any religious worship without their consent (or the consent of their guardian, in the case of minors).

These articles collectively ensure that the State remains neutral in matters of religion, providing a framework that respects and accommodates the diverse religious landscape of India. This set of rights facilitates the coexistence of multiple religions, ensuring that individuals have the freedom to practice their religion while also laying down the principle that the State shall not discriminate against or favor any religion.

Cultural and Educational Rights (Articles 29–30)

The Cultural and Educational Rights enshrined in the Constitution of India under Articles 29 and 30 are designed to protect the rights of cultural and linguistic minorities, allowing them to preserve their heritage and ensuring their right to education. These rights reflect the country's commitment to its diverse and pluralistic society, acknowledging the importance of safeguarding minority groups' culture, language, and script. Here's an overview of these articles:

Article 29: Protection of Interests of Minorities

Right to Conservation of Language, Script, or Culture: Article 29(1) guarantees any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script, or culture of its own the right to conserve the same.

No Discrimination in Admission to Educational Institutions: Article 29(2) states that no citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language, or any of them. This ensures that educational institutions are accessible to all, regardless of their background.

Article 30: Right of Minorities to Establish and Administer Educational Institutions

Right to Establish and Administer Educational Institutions: Article 30(1) allows all religious and linguistic minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. It ensures minorities have the right to preserve and develop their culture and educates their community members.

State's Power to Regulate Educational Institutions: While minorities are free to manage their institutions, the State can still impose regulations to ensure the maintenance of educational standards. Article 30(2) specifies that the State shall not, in granting aid to educational institutions, discriminate against any institution on the basis that it is under the management of a minority, whether based on religion or language.

These articles collectively provide a robust framework for cultural and educational rights, allowing for the preservation and continuation of India's diverse cultural heritage. By protecting these rights, the Constitution facilitates the strengthening of national unity and integrity, ensuring that India's multicultural fabric remains intact and vibrant. These rights highlight the importance of tolerance, mutual respect, and understanding in a pluralistic society, contributing significantly to the democratic ethos of the country.

Right to Constitutional Remedies (Articles 32–35)

The Right to Constitutional Remedies, as provided under Articles 32 to 35 of the Constitution of India, is a fundamental right that empowers citizens to seek enforcement of their fundamental rights. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the principal architect of the Indian Constitution, regarded Article 32 as the heart and soul of the Constitution. This set of rights ensures that the rights conferred by the Constitution are not just nominal but are effectively protected and enforced. Here's a brief overview:

Article 32: Remedies for Enforcement of Rights Conferred by this Part

Right to Move the Supreme Court: Article 32(1) guarantees the right to approach the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by Part III of the Constitution. It acts as a protector of fundamental rights.

The Power of the Supreme Court to Issue Writs: The Supreme Court is empowered under Article 32(2) to issue directions, orders, or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto, and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the fundamental rights.

Right to Constitutional Remedies as a Fundamental Right: Article 32 itself is a fundamental right. Dr. Ambedkar emphasized its importance, stating that without Article 32, the Constitution would be null and void.

Parliament's Power to Empower Any Other Court: While the Supreme Court is the primary protector of fundamental rights, Article 32(3) allows Parliament to empower any other court to exercise within the local limits of its jurisdiction all or any of the powers exercisable by the Supreme Court.

Restriction on the Issuance of Writs: Article 32(4) states that the right to move the Supreme Court shall not be suspended except as otherwise provided for by the Constitution. This is a reference to the power of the government to impose a state of emergency under Article 359, during which the rights conferred by Part III may be temporarily suspended.

Article 33: Power of Parliament to Modify the Rights Conferred by this Part in their Application to Forces, etc.

This article allows Parliament to modify the application of fundamental rights for members of the armed forces, police forces, and intelligence organizations to ensure proper discharge of their duties and maintenance of discipline among their ranks.

Article 34: Restriction on Rights Conferred by this Part While Martial Law is in Force in any Area

Article 34 provides that Parliament may indemnify any person in the service of the Union or a State or any other person in respect of any act done by them in connection with the maintenance or restoration of order in any area where martial law was in force.

Article 35: Legislation to Give Effect to the Provisions of this Part

This article specifies that Parliament shall have the power to make laws prescribing punishment for those acts that are declared to be offenses under this Part III of the Constitution. It also allows Parliament to make laws regarding the recommendation or requirement of acts necessary for implementing the rights conferred by this Part.

The Right to Constitutional Remedies is a critical component of the Constitution, ensuring that the promise of fundamental rights is not merely theoretical but can be practically enforced and protected against any violation by the state or other entities.

Right to Information

The Right to Information (RTI) is a fundamental democratic right that empowers citizens to seek information from public authorities, thereby promoting transparency and accountability in the working of the government. In India, this right was explicitly recognized and codified through the Right to Information Act, enacted in 2005. Although not enumerated among the original Fundamental Rights in the Constitution of India, the RTI is considered an extension of Article 19(1)(a), which guarantees the freedom of speech and expression. The Supreme Court of India has, through various judgments, upheld the right to information as an integral part of the right to freedom of speech and expression.

Key Features of the Right to Information Act, 2005:

The Act mandates that public authorities must disclose a wide range of information to the public and maintain records for easy access. This includes the functions and duties of the authorities, the decision-making processes, and related details.

Under Section 4 of the RTI Act, public authorities are required to proactively publish certain categories of information so that the public will need to use the mechanism of the Act less frequently.

One of the significant features of the Act is the time-bound response to RTI requests. Public authorities are required to provide the information requested by an applicant within thirty days of the request or within forty-eight hours if the information concerns the life or liberty of a person.

The Act specifies that fees for requesting information should be reasonable and that individuals below the poverty line are exempt from paying such fees.

The Act establishes the Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions as high-level authorities to deal with complaints and to ensure adherence to the provisions of the Act.

While the Act aims for maximum disclosure and transparency, it also lists certain categories of information that are exempt from disclosure (Section 8), such as information affecting the sovereignty and integrity of India, information forbidden to be published by any court of law, information that would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature, and so on.

Third Party Information: The Act also includes provisions to protect sensitive third-party information, where such information cannot be disclosed without consulting the third party unless the public interest in disclosure outweighs any possible harm or infringement on privacy.

The enactment of the Right to Information Act was a significant step towards ensuring an informed citizenry, which is essential for the functioning of a true democracy. It has been used extensively by citizens, activists, and organizations to uncover corruption, to hold public officials accountable, and to make informed decisions regarding public issues.

Right to Privacy

The Right to Privacy is recognized as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. This recognition was solidified by the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) vs Union Of India And Others (2017). This unanimous decision by a nine-judge bench asserted that the Right to Privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.

Key Aspects of the Right to Privacy:

The Right to Privacy encompasses protections against intrusions into one's personal life, home, family, marriage, motherhood, childbearing, and education among other matters. It is not confined to any specific aspect of privacy but is considered a right to be left alone, to live a life of dignity, and to make personal choices.

In the digital era, the Right to Privacy has taken on additional significance, covering data protection and privacy. The judgment acknowledged the need for regulations to protect individuals' data, as personal data can be easily collected, stored, and analyzed with modern technology.

The Right to Privacy, though fundamental, is not absolute and can be subject to reasonable restrictions for legitimate state interests. However, any restriction must be justified through a proportionality test that ensures a balance between individual rights and societal interests.

The Puttaswamy judgment has implications for various laws and practices, including those relating to surveillance, personal data collection by the state and private entities, and Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (which was subsequently read down in part by the Supreme Court in 2018, decriminalizing consensual homosexual acts among adults in private).

Following the judgment, there has been a push for comprehensive data protection legislation in India. The Personal Data Protection Bill has been drafted and discussed to ensure that data collection and processing are done in a manner that respects privacy.

Privacy also extends to healthcare and reproductive choices. The judgment has implications for laws and policies related to abortion, contraception, and medical records, ensuring that individuals' choices and autonomy in these sensitive areas are protected.

The judgment has been used to challenge and change laws that intrude into the private lives of individuals, including the exception to marital rape in the Indian Penal Code.

The Right to Privacy judgment by the Supreme Court of India is a cornerstone in the evolution of constitutional jurisprudence in the country, broadening the scope of fundamental rights and ensuring that individual dignity, autonomy, and personal liberty are preserved in the face of technological advancements and state surveillance.

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Process of Amendment of Fundamental Rights of India

The process of amending the Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Constitution of India is governed by the provisions for constitutional amendment laid out in Article 368 of the Constitution. Fundamental Rights are protected and guaranteed by the Constitution, reflecting the core values and principles deemed essential for the functioning of a democratic society. However, the Constitution also provides a mechanism for its own amendment, including the amendment of Fundamental Rights, ensuring the document remains dynamic and can adapt to changing circumstances and needs.

Article 368: Power of Parliament to amend the Constitution and Procedure

Initiation of Amendment: An amendment to the Constitution, including changes to the Fundamental Rights, can be initiated by the introduction of a bill for the purpose in either House of Parliament. The bill must then be passed in each House by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting.

No Role for State Legislatures in Some Cases: In the case of amendments that do not fall under the proviso of Article 368, such as those not affecting the federal structure or certain specified provisions, the amendment does not require to be ratified by the Legislatures of the States.

Special Majority and Ratification: For amendments that affect the federal structure of the Constitution or certain specified provisions (including the election of the President, the extent of the executive power of the Union and the States, etc.), after being passed by the special majority, the bill must also be ratified by the Legislatures of not less than one-half of the States. Upon such ratification, the bill is then presented to the President of India for assent.

Presidential Assent: The President must give their assent to the amendment bill. There is no provision for the President to withhold assent to a Constitutional Amendment Bill.

Limitations: Although Article 368 provides a comprehensive mechanism for amending the Constitution, the Supreme Court of India, in the Kesavananda Bharati case (1973), ruled that the Parliament cannot alter the basic structure of the Constitution. This doctrine implies that the essential features of the Constitution, including the rights conferred by the Part III (Fundamental Rights), cannot be abrogated, though they can be reasonably amended.

Examples of Amendments Affecting Fundamental Rights

The 24th Amendment Act, 1971: Enabled the Parliament to dilute Fundamental Rights through amendments to the Constitution.

The 42nd Amendment Act, 1976: Known as the "Mini-Constitution," it made several changes to the Constitution, including the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy.

The 44th Amendment Act, 1978: Reversed many changes made by the 42nd Amendment during the Emergency and restored civil liberties by changing certain provisions related to Fundamental Rights.

The process of amending Fundamental Rights, therefore, while constitutionally provided for, is subject to the doctrine of the basic structure, ensuring that the fundamental ethos and the essential features of the Indian Constitution are preserved.

Article 31B and Ninth Schedule

Article 31B and the Ninth Schedule of the Indian Constitution form a unique legal framework designed to protect certain laws from being challenged and invalidated on the grounds of contravention of the Fundamental Rights provided by the Constitution. This framework was created to address specific situations where the government felt it necessary to implement laws that, while potentially infringing upon Fundamental Rights, were deemed essential for achieving social welfare and reform objectives.

Article 31B

Introduced by the 1st Constitutional Amendment Act in 1951, Article 31B provides a protective shield to the laws included in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution. It states that none of the Acts and Regulations specified in the Ninth Schedule shall be deemed to be void or ever to have become void on the grounds that such an Act or Regulation infringes any of the Fundamental Rights. This means that any law included in the Ninth Schedule is immunized from judicial review, even if it violates the Fundamental Rights enshrined in Part III of the Constitution.

Ninth Schedule

The Ninth Schedule was also introduced by the 1st Constitutional Amendment Act in 1951. Initially, it contained only 13 laws that were primarily related to agrarian reform and land tenure issues. Over the years, however, successive governments have added a large number of laws to the Ninth Schedule, covering a wide range of subjects far beyond the original agrarian focus.

Judicial Scrutiny and the Basic Structure Doctrine

The protective cover provided by Article 31B and the Ninth Schedule has been subject to significant judicial scrutiny. The landmark judgment in the Kesavananda Bharati case (1973) introduced the doctrine of the basic structure of the Constitution. According to this doctrine, while the Parliament has wide powers to amend the Constitution, it cannot alter its basic structure.

Following this doctrine, in the I.R. Coelho case (2007), the Supreme Court ruled that laws placed in the Ninth Schedule after April 24, 1973 (the date of the Kesavananda Bharati judgment), would not enjoy a blanket immunity from judicial review and could be subject to scrutiny if they are seen to violate the basic structure of the Constitution. This meant that the Ninth Schedule could no longer be used as a convenient repository for placing laws beyond the reach of judicial review, especially if such laws were seen to damage the essential elements of the Constitution's basic structure, including Fundamental Rights.

In summary, Article 31B and the Ninth Schedule were designed to protect certain laws from challenges based on the infringement of Fundamental Rights. However, the Supreme Court's judgments have made it clear that this protection is not absolute and that the preservation of the Constitution's basic structure is paramount.

Property Rights of India

Property rights in India have undergone significant changes over the years, both in legal and constitutional terms. Historically, the right to property was a fundamental right under the Constitution of India. However, this status has been altered, and property rights are now considered a constitutional right but not a fundamental right. This shift underscores the evolving approach of the Indian legal system towards property rights, balancing individual rights with the need for state-driven land reforms and redistribution for public welfare.

Historical Context and Constitutional Amendments

Original Constitution: Initially, the right to property was guaranteed as a Fundamental Right under Article 19(1)(f) (right to acquire, hold and dispose of property) and Article 31 (compulsory acquisition of property). These provisions aimed to protect individuals' property rights from arbitrary state action.

44th Amendment Act of 1978: The significant change came with the 44th Amendment Act of 1978, which removed the right to property from the list of Fundamental Rights. Article 19(1)(f) and Article 31 were repealed, fundamentally altering the legal framework governing property rights.

Article 300A: After the 44th Amendment, the right to property was transformed into a constitutional right under Article 300A of the Constitution. Article 300A states, "No person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law." This means that while the state retains the power to acquire private property, it must do so according to the procedure established by law, ensuring legal protection against arbitrary deprivation of property.

Implications of the Change

The shift from a fundamental right to a constitutional right means that individuals no longer can directly approach the Supreme Court under Article 32 for infringement of property rights. However, they can still seek redress in High Courts under Article 226 of the Constitution.

The state's power of eminent domain allows it to acquire private land for public purposes, but this power is now balanced with the requirement to provide adequate compensation and follow a fair procedure as mandated by law.

The demotion of property rights from the status of a fundamental right was primarily aimed at facilitating land reforms and enabling the state to implement policies for equitable distribution of land and resources. This was seen as essential for addressing historical inequalities and promoting social justice.

Today, the legal framework governing property rights in India includes various statutes, such as the Land Acquisition Act, the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, and state-specific laws governing land tenure, inheritance, and transfer of property. The judiciary continues to play a crucial role in interpreting and enforcing property rights, ensuring a balance between individual rights and the public interest.

In summary, property rights in India have transitioned from being a fundamental right to a constitutional right, reflecting the state's commitment to land reforms and social welfare while still providing a legal framework to protect individuals from arbitrary deprivation of property.

Conclusion

The Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Constitution of India represent the cornerstone of the democratic framework of the country, safeguarding the rights and freedoms of its citizens against infringement by any entity, including the state itself. These rights, ranging from the Right to Equality to the Right to Constitutional Remedies, embody the aspirations of the Indian polity towards creating an egalitarian society where dignity, liberty, and equality are not just ideals but lived realities for every citizen.

Over the years, the interpretation and application of these Fundamental Rights have evolved through landmark judgments and constitutional amendments, reflecting the dynamic and adaptive nature of India's constitutional democracy. The judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court of India, has played a pivotal role in this evolution, expanding the scope of these rights through doctrines such as the basic structure doctrine and the right to privacy being recognized as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21.

The inclusion of Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Duties in the Constitution further complements the Fundamental Rights, providing a framework for governance that aspires towards social welfare and the promotion of a civic conscious society. The balance between these components of the Constitution underscores the vision of India as a nation that values both individual freedoms and the collective good.

However, the journey towards fully realizing these rights for every citizen continues. Challenges such as social discrimination, economic inequality, and political repression pose ongoing threats to the realization of Fundamental Rights. The state and civil society, therefore, have a continuous responsibility to safeguard these rights, ensuring that the constitutional mechanisms for protection and enforcement are accessible and effective for all.

In conclusion, the Fundamental Rights of India serve as the bedrock upon which the edifice of the nation's democratic values is built. They reflect the commitment to justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity as enshrined in the preamble of the Constitution. As India continues to evolve, these rights stand as both the foundation and the ideals towards which the nation strives, ensuring that the promise of a democratic and just society remains a tangible reality for every Indian.

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Barristery.in: Fundamental Rights of India
Fundamental Rights of India
The role of Fundamental Rights in a country like India, which follows a democratic framework, is paramount. These rights are enshrined in Part III of
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