Chapters :
  • THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

  • DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ABSOLUTE AND QUALIFIED RIGHTS

  • CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS AND CASE STUDIES

  •  ARTICLE 13

  • RIGHT TO EQUALITY

  • ARTICLE 14

  • EQUAL PROTECTION OF LAWS

THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

INTRODUCTION

The Fundamental Rights, inspired from the ‘Bill of Rights’ of the USA are incorporated in Part III of the constitution. These rights are elaborately discussed and meticulously drafted by the members of Constituent Assembly. Part III is described as ‘Magna Carta’ of the constitution because of its significance. It guarantees civil and political rights to all the citizens and in some cases to the aliens as well. These rights are both enforceable and justifiable. They pose limitations on the actions of both the executives and the legislature. These rights are extensively discussed from Article 12 to Article 35 of the constitution.

Note:

Enforceable: It means that no authority or any individual can violate the fundamental rights and are mandatorily applicable.

Justiciable: It means that, in the case of violation of fundamental rights, the aggrieved can approach the Courts for its restoration.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ABSOLUTE AND QUALIFIED RIGHTS

 

ABSOLUTE RIGHTSQUALIFIED RIGHTS

Absolute rights are those rights which cannot be infringed upon or restricted by any law.

Example: The right under Article 17(Abolition of Untouchability) is absolute. This right cannot be diminished or suspended by any law under any circumstance.

Qualified rights are those rights which are subjected to lawful, reasonable restrictions under certain circumstances.

Example: The right under Article 19 (Freedom  of speech and expression) can be restricted lawfully to maintain public order, integrity of the country, etc.

 

CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS AND CASE STUDIES

 

DEFINITION OF STATE

The term ‘State’ has been used several times in the articles under Part III. Thus, Article 12 gives the definition of State for the purposes of this part.

 ARTICLE 12: THE STATE UNDER PART III IS COMPOSED OF

  1. Executive and Legislative organs of the Union;
  2. Executive and Legislative organs of the States;
  3. Local authorities such as the Panchayats, Municipalities, District Boards, Etc;
  4. The Statutory and Non-Statutory authorities such as SEBI, NHRC, LIC, ONGC, etc;

The Supreme Court held that even the private bodies and agencies that work as agencies of the State come under the definition of State under Part III.

ARTICLE 13

 “….It says that all the laws that deviate from or violate the fundamental rights shall be declared as void. Thus, it provides for the doctrine of judicial review. The power of judicial review is conferred on the Supreme Court under article 32 and the High Courts under article 226….”

The term ‘Law’ in this article includes the following

  1. Permanent laws enacted by the Parliament and the State Legislatures;
  2. Executive Orders, Rules, Byelaws, Notifications, etc;
  3. Temporary laws such as the ordinances promulgated by the President and the State Governors and
  4. Customs that have the same force as laws.
Note: Article 13 says that a constitutional amendment is not a law, thus cannot be challenged for violating the fundamental rights under Part III. But the Supreme Court held that a constitutional amendment can be challenged if it violates the fundamental rights that form the basic structure of the constitution.

RIGHT TO EQUALITY

Equality is the prerequisite for any democratic society to survive. A mature democracy is one, wherein every citizen of the country will enjoy Political, Legal, Economic And Social Equality. It ensures that no individual is treated as a second-class citizen and every individual gets the opportunity to lead a dignified life. In the constitution of India, Articles 14 – 18 are devoted solely for the provisions that deal with the Right to Equality.

RIGHT TO EQUALITY
Article 14Equality before the law and equal protection of laws
Article 15Prohibition of discriminations on the grounds ONLY of religion, race, caste, sex and place of birth
Article 16Equality in opportunities in the matters of Public Employment
Article 17Abolition Of Untouchability and prohibition of its practice
Article 18Abolition Of Titles, except military and academic titles

ARTICLE 14

It says that “…The state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or equal protection of laws within the territory of India…”

EQUALITY BEFORE LAW:

It means that no one is above the law of the land. That is, irrespective of a person’s caste, place of birth, economic status and other privileges, he will be treated in the same way any other person would be treated in the eyes of the law. Thus, the article gives a slightly negative connotation.

EQUAL PROTECTION OF LAWS:

It means that all the persons in similar circumstances will be protected equally by the law by providing them with equal opportunities. That is, likes will be treated alike. Thus, the article gives a slightly positive connotation.

Any person: The term ‘any person’ denotes that, Article 14 is applicable not just to the citizens but also to the foreign nationals.

Article 14 aims to establish ‘Equality of Status and Equality of Opportunities.’ It gives a general view about the ideal of equality enshrined in the Preamble. Articles 15, 16, 17 and 18 provides for specific applications of Article 14.

 

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