During Indian freedom struggle, the leaders of the freedom movement had realized the importance of rights and demanded that the British rulers should respect rights of the people. The Motilal Nehru committee had demanded a bill of rights as far back as in 1928. It was therefore, natural that when India became independent and the Constitution was being prepared, there were no two opinions on the inclusion and protection of rights in the Constitution.
The Constitution listed the rights that would be specially protected and called them ‘fundamental rights’.
The word fundamental suggests that these rights are so important that the Constitution has separately listed them and made special provisions for their protection. The Fundamental Rights are so important that the Constitution itself ensures that they are not violated by the government.
Fundamental Rights are different from other rights available to us.
- While ordinary legal rights are protected and enforced by ordinary law, Fundamental Rights are protected and guaranteed by the constitution of the country.
- Ordinary rights may be changed by the legislature by ordinary process of law making, but a fundamental right may only be changed by amending the Constitution itself.
- Besides this, no organ of the government can act in a manner that violates them.
Judiciary has the powers and responsibility to protect the fundamental rights from violations by actions of the government. Executive as well as legislative actions can be declared illegal by the judiciary if these violate the fundamental rights or restrict them in an unreasonable manner. However, fundamental rights are not absolute or unlimited rights. Government can put reasonable restrictions on the exercise of our fundamental rights.
- Equality before law
- Equal protection of laws
- Prohibition on discrimination on ground of religion
- Equal access to shops, bathing ghats, hotels etc.
- Equality of opportunity in employment
- Abolition of titles
- Abolition of untouchability
- Right to speech and expression
- Right to Assemble peacefully
- Right to Form association
- Right to Move freely throughout the territory of India
- Right to Reside and settle in any part of India Practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business
- Right to life and liberty
- Rights of the accused and convicts
- Prohibition of forced labour;
- Prohibition of employment of children in hazardous jobs
- Freedom of conscience and profession;
- Freedom to manage religious affairs; freedom to give religious instructions in certain institutions
- Protection of language, culture of minorities;
- Right of minorities to establish educational institutions
- Right to move the courts for issuance of writs
Bibliography : NCERT – Indian Constitution At Work
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