INTRODUCTION TO FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES OF INDIAN CITIZENS
There are six Fundamental Rights of Indian citizens. These rights are peculiar in the sense that without
these, no one can live in a democratic manner. Therefore framers of the Indian Constitution provide
some Fundamental Rights for Indian citizens. Democracy can not work if the people do not have rights.
Inclusion of Fundamental Rights prevents the government. from becoming despotic. Fundamental Rights
are essential for moral and material development of the people also. People can develop their best self
and personality through these rights. Though these rights are some guaranteed by the Constitution, yet
the state can take back these rights temporarily during proclamation of emergency to maintain public
order, security and so on. At the same time these rights are justifiable also. The courts can protect and
safeguard them, if someone’s rights are violated. After all, Fundamental Rights are indispensable for
good life and for the full development of human personality. Besides, this unit introduces you to
Fundamental Duties of Indian citizens. These duties are enshrined in Part IV of the Constitution. These
are some responsibilities or obligations of the citizens to perform for peace and prosperity of our country.
MEANING OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS.
Fundamental Rights fulfil some basic and essential conditions of good life for human progress. These
are fundamental in the sense that in the absence of these rights citizens cannot develop their personality
and their own self. These rights are not the same as ordinary rights of citizen. Fundamental Rights are
enshrined in the Constitution. These are Constitutionally protected and guaranteed to the citizens while
ordinary rights are protected by the ordinary law of the country. Fundamental Rights are inviolable in
ordinary situation. Only under reasonable circumstances, these rights are suspended temporarily. Right
to Life, Freedom of Speech and Expression, Right to Equality, Right to Religion, Right to Personal
Liberty, Right to Education are some important Fundamental Rights of Indian citizen .Every state
incorporates these Fundamental Rights in their own Constitution and citizens can enjoy them . If
anybody’s Fundamental Rights are violated by force he or she can go to the court seeking legal
assistance. Democratic countries like India, Japan, France, Switzerland and many other countries
individuals without which democracy becomes meaningless. The Constitution of India has embodied a
number of Fundamental Rights in Part III. Citizens can enjoy these rights within some definite limitations.
The six categories of Fundamental Rights are discussed below:
I. RIGHT TO EQUALITY ((Article 14 – Article 18): It implies equality before the law and equal protection
of the laws within the territory of India. No man is above the law of the land. Every person is subject to
the ordinary law and amendable to the jurisdiction of the ordinary tribunals. Any discrimination is
prohibited and equality of opportunity in matters of public employment under the state is ensured. There
is no distinction between officials and private citizen and no discrimination on the basis of caste, creed,
religion, sex etc . But right to equality does not mean absolute equality or universal application . Some
exceptions are allowed by the Indian Constitution and these limitations are as follows :
· The President or the Governor of a state shall not be answerable to any court for the power exercised or
act done by him
· No criminal proceeding shall be instituted against the President or the Governor during term of office
· Imposition of taxes upon different trades and professions
· Making special provisions for women and child
· Making special provisions for advancement of any socially, economically and educationally
backward classes like SCs and STs including special employment opportunities, which is called
II. RIGHT TO FREEDOM (Article 19 – Article 22):
This right is the most significant and important for the citizens. This right confers some positive rights to
promote the ideal of liberty .Article-19 is the most important which guaranteed six freedom to all citizens.
These are – 19 (1) All citizens shall have the right –
(a) To freedom of speech and expression ;
(b) To assemble peacefully and without arms ;
(c) To form associations or unions ;
(d) To move freely throughout the territory of India ;
(e) To reside and settle in any part of the territory of India ; and
(g) To practice any profession , or to carry on any occupation, trade or business
Article 20 and 21 guarantee the right to life, dignity and status. Under Article 20, no person accused of
any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself. Similarly, under Article 21, no person
shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.
Article 22 provides some safeguards against arbitrary arrest and detention.
Like the Right to Equality, Right to Freedom is not absolute. The state can impose reasonable
restrictions upon these rights incorporated in Article-19 to maintain a balance between individual liberty
and social control. When a proclamation of emergency is made under Article 352, provisions of Article-19
itself remain suspended (Art. 358)
III. RIGHT AGAINST EXPLOITATION (Article 23 – Article 24):
Indian Constitution recognizes dignity of the individual against any form of exploitation either by the state
or by the privileged section of the society. Therefore, Right against exploitation prohibited traffic in
human beings and forced labour and employment of child in factories, mines or in any other ‘hazardous
employment’. No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or minds
or engaged in any other hazardous employment (Artcle 24)
The provisions of Article 23 and Article 24 absolute and the state is firm on restoration of dignity and
status of the individual against any immoral purposes.
IV. RIGHT TO RELIGION (Article 25- Article 28):
Indian Constitution has adopted secular ideology and declared India as a secular state, which observes
and attitude of neutrality and impartiality towards all religion . There is no state religion in India. The state
will neither establish a religion of its own nor confer any special patronage upon any particular religion .
Every person is guaranteed the freedom of conscience and freedom to profess, practice and propagate
his own religion subject to public order, morality and health . Every religious group has been given the
freedom to manage religious affairs, own and acquire movable and immovable property and administer
such property in accordance with law. Right to religion is also subject to certain limitations. The state has
the right and duty to intervene if any religious activity creates public disorder, immorality and so on.
V. RIGHT TO CULTURE AND EDUCATION (Article 29 – Article 30):
The Constitution of India guarantees cultural and educational rights for all section of people irrespective
of their religious, racial and cultural diversities. These rights are non-political in real sense. To reserve
religious and cultural interest of each community, the Constitution of India incorporated these cultural
and educational rights under Article 29 and Article 30. Article 29 guarantees to every minority or section
of the people to preserve its language, script and culture notwithstanding the provisions of Article-343
under which the official language of the union shall Hindi in Devanagari script. The state shall not impose
upon any minority group any culture other than the community’s own culture Article 29(1). Clause (2) of
Article 29 provides that no citizen may be denied admission to State and State aided educational
institutions on the grounds only of religion, race, caste or language. Article 30 provides that all
communities shall have the right to establish and administer educational Institutions of its choice and the
state shall not discriminate against them in making grants on grounds of religion, race or language.
There is implicit in the right conferred by Article 30 (1), the right to impart instruction in their own
institutions to the children of their own community in their own language.
This right has also some limitations. The State can regulate its affairs in the interest of efficiency of
instruction, discipline, morality and public order.
VI. RIGHT TO CONSTITUTIONAL REMEDIES (Article 32):
A right without remedy is a meaningless formality. Indian Constitution enumerates various rights to its
citizen and in order to make these rights effective, it includes some means or remedies in the form of the
Right to Constitutional Remedies under Article 32. Article 32 guarantees to every citizen the right to
move the Supreme Court or High Courts for enforcement of Fundamental Rights by Constitutional
means. Both the Supreme Court under Article 32 and the High Courts under Article 226 can issue
necessary writs for the purpose. When a citizen feels that his Fundamental Rights have been violated,
he can move the court for redressal. The Supreme Court under Article 32, Section 2) and High court
under Article 226 may issue to safeguard the Fundamental Rights in the nature of habeas corpus,
mandamus, prohibition, quo-warranto and certiorari. These are some instruments and means to make
Fundamental Rights more effective. The courts have the power to enforce Fundamental Rights by
issuing these writs against any authority of the State. The Indian Constitution lays down that any act of
the executive or of the legislature which violates Fundamental Rights shall be void and the courts are
empowered to declare it as void (Art. 13). Thus, the Constitution of India has made the judiciary as “the
protector and guarantor of Fundamental Rights”. On the other hand, this Constitutional right is the “heart
and soul” of the Constitution as it can only make Fundamental Rights effective.
However the right to move the court for protection of Fundamental Rights may be suspended during an
emergency except those rights provided by Article 20 and Article 21.
Fundamental Duties are like some noble advice of which some are civic duties and others are moral
duties. They are not legally binding upon the citizens and even the courts can not enforce them. So,
Fundamental Duties are not enforceable by the courts of our country. No one can be punished if he/she does not perform his/her duties. Though there is no legal force behind these duties, yet they are integral part to the Constitution of India. These duties have moral impact and educative value upon the citizens. Therefore people obey these duties on moral obligation for welfare of the people. After all inclusion of Fundamental Duties in the Constitution is considered necessary towards progress, peace and prosperity of the country.
When the Constitution came into force in 1950, no Fundamental Duties were enshrined in the
Constitution of India. By the 42nd Amendment to the Constitution of India in 1976, ten Fundamental
Duties have been added to our Constitution. These duties are important and necessary for the vital
interest of our country. These Fundamental Duties are covered by Article 51 A incorporated in a new
chapter, Part IV-A of the Constitution. Under this Article, it shall be the duty of every citizen of India
(i) To abide by the Constitution and respect the National Flag and the National Anthem;
(ii) To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom;
(iii) To protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India ;
(iv)To defend the country ;
(v)To promote the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India ;
(vi) To preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture ;
(vii) To protect and improve the natural environment ;
(viii) To develop the scientific temper and spirit of inquiry ;
(ix) To safeguard public property ;
(x) To strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity
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