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Indian Polity / Fundamental Rights

Features of Fundamental Rights in India

One of the most important features of fundamental rights of Indian Constitution is that they are justiciable in nature. This feature differentiates the importance of fundamental rights from other Constitutional and legal rights. Justiciability means moving the Supreme Court against the violation of fundamental rights or to enforce the fundamental rights through Article 32 by means of Constitutional remedies in the form of writs.

The Constitution of India guarantees six fundamental rights. They are Right to Equality (Articles 14 to 18), Right to Freedom (Articles 19 to 22), Right against Exploitation (Articles 23 to 24), Right to Freedom of Religion (Articles 25 to 28), Cultural and Educational Rights (Articles 29 to 30) and Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32)

Salient Features of Fundamental Rights in Indian Constitution

The key features of fundamental rights of Indian Constitution are

  • A vast list of fundamental rights are guaranteed only to the citizens of India against the arbitrary powers of the State.

  • Some fundamental rights are positively worded and some are negatively worded. Positively worded rights impose an obligation on the State to take some measures, whereas negatively worded rights restrict the State in doing certain actions that would curb the freedom of individuals.

  • Some fundamental rights are also made available to foreigners like Right to Equality before law under Article 14, Right to life and liberty under Article 21, etc.

  • There are some self executory fundamental rights and some are not self executable. The non self executory fundamental rights are not implementable automatically. For their implementation, subsequent legislation is required.

    For example, Untouchability is a crime under Article 17 and for its implementation, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 was brought in. Similarly, Child labour is a crime under Article 24 and for its implementation, Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 was brought in.

  • Certain fundamental rights are limitedly available to certain sections of the society like Armed Forces, Police Forces, Para-military Forces, etc. They have certain restrictions on fundamental rights like Right to form associations, Right to Freedom of speech, etc.

    Moreover, all the fundamental rights are not equally available all the time, like in case of Emergency, most of the fundamental rights are suspended.

  • Parliament of India may impose certain reasonable restrictions on fundamental rights.

  • Parliament of India can amend the Articles related to the fundamental rights by means of Constitutional Amendment Act provided the amended provisions do not violate the basic structure of the Indian constitution.

  • One of the important characteristics of fundamental rights is that they are inalienable, that means they cannot be transferred. Similarly, fundamental rights are not absolute. They come with certain limitations.

  • Article 13 of the Constitution says that any Law which is not consistent with the Constitution or fundamental rights, will be declared as ultra vires and subsequently null and void.

    Law means any Act of the Parliament or State legislatures, any Ordinance of the President or Governor, advertisements of the Government, notifications given by the Government, conventions and customs recognized by the Government, etc.

The importance of fundamental rights in the life of the citizens of India is immense in nature. That is why, they are guaranteed by the Constitution of India.

Extra Information

  • England was the first country to provide list of rights to their citizens in the year 1215 known as "Magna Carta", the meaning of which is "the Great Charter of the Liberties".

  • USA is the first country providing guarantee to the fundamental rights by incorporating them into its Constitution.

  • Article 13 provides the power of "Judicial Review". It is the power of Supreme Court or High Court to examine the constitutionality or legality of a law or order by the Central Government or State Government and declaring them as invalid because they are unconstitutional.

    Though the word or the expression "Judicial Review" is not mentioned in the Article 13, it is one of the important features of fundamental rights of India, because it can declare a law, which is not consistent with the fundamental rights, as null and void.