Fundamental Rights of Indian citizen | Constitution of india

The Fundamental Rights are enshrined in Part III of the Constitution from Articles 12 to 35. In this regard, the framers of the Constitution derived inspiration from the Constitution of USA.
Part III of the Constitution is rightly described as the Magna Carta of India.
It contains a very long and comprehensive list of ‘justiciable’ Fundamental Rights. In fact, the Fundamental Rights in our Constitution are more elaborate than those found in the Constitution of any other country in the world, including the USA.

The Fundamental Rights are guaranteed by the Constitution to all persons without any discrimination.
They uphold the equality of all individuals, the dignity of the individual, the larger public interest and unity of the nation.
The Fundamental Rights are meant for promoting the ideal of political democracy. They prevent the establishment of an authoritarian and despotic rule in the country, and protect the liberties and freedoms of the people against the invasion by the State. In short, they aim at establishing ‘a government of laws and not of men’.
The Fundamental Rights are named so because they are guaranteed and protected by the Constitution,
which is the fundamental law of the land. They are ‘fundamental’ also in the sense that they are most essential for the all-round development (material, intellectual, moral and spiritual) of the individuals.
Originally, the Constitution provided for seven Fundamental Rights viz,

1. Right to equality (Articles 14–18)
2. Right to freedom (Articles 19–22)
3. Right against exploitation (Articles 23–24)
4. Right to freedom of religion (Articles 25–28)
5. Cultural and educational rights (Articles 29–30)
6. Right to property (Article 31)
7. Right to constitutional remedies (Article 32)
However, the right to property was deleted from the list of Fundamental Rights by the 44th Amendment Act, 1978. It is made a legal right under Article 300-A in Part XII of the Constitution. So at present, there are only six Fundamental Rights.

The Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution are characterised by the following:
1. Some of them are available only to the citizens while others are available to all persons whether citizens, foreigners or legal persons like corporations or companies.
2. They are not absolute but qualified. The state can impose reasonable restrictions on them.
However, whether such res-trictions are reasonable or not is to be decided by the courts.
Thus, they strike a balance between the rights of the individual and those of the society as a whole, between individual liberty and social control.
3. Most of them are available against the arbitrary action of the State, with a few exceptions like those against the State’s action and against the action of private individuals. When the rights
that are available against the State’s action only are violated by the private individuals, there are no constitutional remedies but only ordinary legal remedies.
4. Some of them are negative in character, that is, place limitations on the authority of the State, while others are positive in nature, conferring certain privileges on the persons.
5. They are justiciable, allowing persons to move the courts for their enforcement, if and when they are violated.
6. They are defended and guaranteed by the Supreme Court. Hence, the aggrieved person can directly go to the Supreme Court, not necessarily by way of appeal against the judgement of the high courts.
7. They are not sacrosanct or permanent. The Parliament can curtail or repeal them but only by a constitutional amendment act and not by an ordinary act. Moreover, this can be done without affecting the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution.
8. They can be suspended during the operation of a National Emergency except the rights guaranteed by Articles 20 and 21. Further, the six rights guaranteed by Article 19 can be suspended only when emergency is declared on the grounds of war or external aggression (i.e., external emergency) and not on the ground of armed rebellion (i.e., internal emergency).
9. Their scope of operation is limited by Article 31A (saving of laws providing for acquisition of estates, etc.), Article 31B (validation of certain acts and regulations included in the 9th Schedule) and Article 31C (saving of laws giving effect to certain directive principles).
10. Their application to the members of armed forces, para-military forces, police forces, intelligence agencies and analogous services can be restricted or abrogated by the Parliament(Article 33).
11. Their application can be restricted while martial law is in force in any area. Martial law means ‘military rule’ imposed under abnormal circumstances to restore order (Article 34). It is different from the imposition of national emergency.
12. Most of them are directly enforceable (self-executory) while a few of them can be enforced on the basis of a law made for giving effect to them. Such a law can be made only by the Parliament and not by state legislatures so that uniformity throughout the country is maintained (Article 35)

The term ‘State’ has been used in different provisions concerning the fundamental rights. Hence, Article 12 has defined the term for the purposes of Part III. According to it, the State includes the following:
(a) Government and Parliament of India, that is, executive and legislative organs of the Union government.(b) Government and legislature of states, that is, executive and legislative organs of state government.(c) All local authorities, that is, municipalities, panchayats, district boards, improvement trusts,(d) All other authorities, that is, statutory or non-statutory authorities like LIC, ONGC, SAIL, etc.
Thus, State has been defined in a wider sense so as to include all its agencies. It is the actions of these agencies that can be challenged in the courts as violating the Fundamental Rights.
According to the Supreme Court, even a private body or an agency working as an instrument of the State falls within the meaning of the ‘State’ under Article 12.

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Reference Indian polity by m. Laxmikanth
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Also Read full article on Fundamental Duties here.

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