By Ms. HariniYadav. D
“Constitution is not a mere lawyers document, it is a vehicle of Life, and its spirit is always the spirit of Age.”
- Dr. B.R.Ambedkar
In the words of the prominent leader come reformist Dr. Ambedkar, the Constitution is not just a lawyer’s handbook, it is pertinent for every citizen to know the rights and obligations enshrined in it. Moreover, the Indian Constitution is regarded as the law of the land and every other law must adhere to the provisions of the Constitution, if not, they will be rendered null and void. Therefore, it is important that people residing in India are aware of their Constitutional rights and the author sincerely hopes that this article helps the readers become enlightened of the Constitutional principles.
2.FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS GUARANTEED UNDER THE CONSTITUTION
Generally, the Indian Constitution provides various political and democratic rights. However, the fundamental rights are crucial, in the sense that it cannot be abrogated/abridged or taken away by the State.[i] It is attested in the Part III of the Constitution and the six types of freedoms are protected under this part, namely,
• Right to Equality (Art.14-18)
• Right to freedom (Art.19-22)
• Right against exploitation (Art. 23-24)
• Right to freedom of religion (Art.25-28)
• Culture and educational Rights(Art.29-30)
• Right to Constitutional remedies (Art.32)
• Right to Equality
The right to equality mandates the State to treat every citizen equally and to offer them equal protection. Therefore, if a law (Act, rules, regulations, notifications) favours one section of people over others, it will be declared void unless the law was enacted in furtherance of promotion of socially backward and weaker class and can pass the test of reasonable classification. The test of reasonableness encompasses two conditions. Firstly, the differentiation must be intelligible. Secondly, there must be a rational nexus between the differentiation and the object sought to be achieved.[ii]
• Right to Freedom
The right to certain freedoms under Article 19 comprises of freedom of speech and expression, freedom to move lawfully throughout the territory of India, freedom to lawful assembly and freedom to practice any trade. Inspite of these rights being fundamental in nature, reasonable restriction can be imposed in nature, in pursuance to the sovereignty of the state, public order, morality, health and friendly nations between other states.
Recent examples include: Introduction of Lockdown during pandemic by Indian Government. Although the citizens have a right to move freely throughout Indian territory, they were prohibited because of the global pandemic. Similarly, the right to life is essential and it is also known as the heart and the soul of the Constitution.[iii] Although, the provision includes only life and personal liberty, the Supreme Court has broadened the scope of Article 21 and has brought the rights namely- right to clean environment, hygiene, water , reputation, dignity , privacy, livelihood, shelter, health under the ambit of Article 21.
• Right against exploitation
• Right to freedom of religion
India is a secular state. Although it does not recognize any particular religion, it allows the people to practise, propagate and profession any religion subject to public order, health and morality.[vi]
• Culture and educational Rights
The Constitution encourages the rights of the minorities by allowing them to conserve their language and culture.[vii] It also promotes the establishment of the educational institutions for minorities.[viii]
• Right to constitutional remedies
The Constitution not only guarantees the fundamental rights but also aims to protect them. Article 32 of the Constitution is a remedy to enforce the fundamental rights. The Supreme Court can issue five writs for the enforcement of the fundamental rights - writ of habeas corpus, mandamus, certiorari, quo warranto and prohibition. The writ of habeas corpus is issued to prevent unlawful detention. Further, the Court issues the writ of mandamus to direct a public body/authority to do something. The writ of certiorari is issued to review the order of the lower court. The quo warranto is issued to an authority, to show what powers he/she exercises and the writ of prohibition is issued to authority to prevent a particular from being done. Any aggrieved person can approach the Supreme Court, if his/her fundamental right is being violated. However, the Supreme Court has broadened the scope of such locus. Hence, nowadays, even if the person is not aggrieved, he/she can approach the Supreme Court to enforce the fundamental rights of other people in the way of a Public Interest Litigation (also known as PIL).
Therefore, it is imperative that every citizen is aware of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. It is also pertinent to know the remedies available to the citizens to enforce such fundamental rights and the author believes that this piece of work would have enhanced the reader’s knowledge about the fundamental rights.
[i] INDIA CONST. art. 13.