Difference Between Legal Rights and Fundamental Rights


The state grants and recognizes several rights of individuals which are essential to their life and liberty. These rights have legal sanction, as they are not only conferred by the state government through a legal process but are also enforceable in a court of law on their violation. Moreover, in contemporary times, rights are considered vital in the rule of law society as they ensure a dignified living to an individual for their overall development and protect them against arbitrary action and abuse of power by any authority.

Further, as rights are granted by the state therefore it is the duty of the state to protect them. Although not all the rights are equal henceforth there exists a classification which marks an order between different rights on the basis of their relevance.

What is the meaning of Legal Rights?

Every right which has a legal sanction is a legal right. Legal sanction basically means the authority to enforce and implement the right by legal methods. Primarily rights are granted to citizens by the state as it is the duty of the ruler to protect the ruled and provide them all those circumstances which are essential for a good life.

Therefore, whenever the state recognizes a certain claim of an individual, it becomes a right, although in the modern times, rights are generally provided through enactment of laws. For instance, there are numbers of rights in different statutes and especially in the Constitution, all these rights are legal rights as a claim can be made in the court for their enforcement, unlike natural rights which do not have any legal authority.

Moreover, rights of an individual not only imposes a corresponding duty on the state to protect them but also binds others not to violate them.

What is the meaning of Fundamental Rights?

Fundamental Rights are those rights which are granted by the Constitution and recognized by the judiciary while interpreting the Articles 14 to 32 within the confines of Part – III. There are primarily seven fundamental rights as codified in the Constitution of India although the Supreme Court and the High Courts have also recognized several other fundamental rights as well which constitute the core of these rights. Further, these rights are called fundamental as they are vital to the life of an individual because in their absence an individual does not even have a life.

Additionally, these rights are considered sacrosanct as they form a crucial part of the basic structure doctrine of the Indian Constitution, consequently, an amendment of the Constitution can amend them in entirety but cannot abrogate their essence. Further, their violation is a gross constitutional abuse, therefore, it is made a fundamental right for their protection to directly approach the higher judiciary for instant enforcement.

Difference Between Legal Rights and Fundamental Rights

The given table defines the crucial distinction between the Legal Rights and the Fundamental Rights −

Basis

Legal Rights

Fundamental Rights

Definition

A right which can be enforced by legal procedure is a Legal Right.

A right which is recognized by the Constitution as a Fundamental Right.

Enactment

Statutory enactments and the Constitution provide a number of rights to individuals and legal persons.

The Constitution of India is the only source of Fundamental Rights.

Authoritative Value

Legal Rights have different amounts of significance depending on their nature and relevance.

Fundamental Rights are the essential to the rule of law therefore forms the parts of the Basic Structure of the Constitution.

Amendment & Abrogation

A normal statutory Legal Right can be altered or abrogated by an amendment of the Legislature.

A Fundamental Right can be altered but cannot be abrogated in essence from the Constitution, not even by a constitutional amendment.

Enforceability

A statutory Legal Right can be made enforceable by any court of the country.

A Fundamental Right can be made enforceable either by the High Court or the Supreme Court directly.

Jurisdiction

The jurisdiction of a Court and procedure of protecting a Legal Right is determined by the concerned statute.

The High Court and the Supreme Court have concurrent writ jurisdictions for enforcement of a Fundamental Right under Articles 226 and 32.

Distinction

A constitutional, human, statutory and fundamental right is also a Legal Right.

Fundamental Rights are only those rights which are enshrined in Part-III of the Constitution.

Remedy

Courts in India are usually inclined to order enforcement of rights.

A person is entitled to compensation along with enforcement in case of contravention of right.

Contravention Measurement

When a Legal Right is contravened by an act of the legislature then its legal validity is tested on the parameters of constitutional violation and statutory abuse.

An inconsistency with a fundamental right is checked on the doctrine of basic structure because a Fundamental Right can only be altered or abrogated only by a constitutional amendment.

Examples

Right to Vote; Property; Contest Election; Maintenance; compensation; Protection against exploitation and assault; security of personal data etc.

Right to life and liberty; freedom of speech and expression; equality of treatment; protection of religion and minority interests; education among others.

Conclusion

All the Fundamental Rights are Legal Rights but all the Legal Rights cannot be Fundamental Rights as it is only the Constitution which has the authority to grant a right such a sacrosanct value. Though there are only seven specific Fundamental Rights in the Constitution however the Supreme Court has broadened the number by expanding the scope of different rights through its liberal interpretations.

Consequently, several rights constitute the essentials of Fundamental Rights and have the same status. Nevertheless, there exists an efficient hierarchy for the enforcement of almost all the recognized rights of an individual not only against the state but also against non-state actors including the citizenry.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the essential of legal rights?

A right or an interest that is acknowledged and safeguarded by the law. It is a right, whose observance is obligatory, and whose violation is improper. The first necessary component of a legal right is the existence of a person who is the owner or proprietor of the right.

What is the difference between constitutional legal and fundamental rights?

Courts have the authority to revoke any statute or executive action that infringes a person's fundamental rights. Contrarily, political action is typically used to uphold constitutional rights, with the role of the courts being far less significant.

Updated on: 10-Oct-2023

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