Fundamental Rights and the Indian Constitution

The Fundamental Rights in India enshrined in Part III of the Indian Constitution protect civil rights so that all Indians can live peacefully and harmoniously as citizens of India. Individual rights such as equality before the law, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of association and peaceful assembly, freedom to exercise religion, and the right to constitutional remedies for the preservation of civil rights through writs such as habeas corpus are examples of these. Violations of these rights are punished in accordance with the Indian Penal Code, at the discretion of the judiciary.

What are the Fundamental Rights?

The Fundamental Rights are defined as basic human freedoms that every Indian citizen has the right to enjoy in order to develop their individuality properly and harmoniously. These rights pertain to all citizens, regardless of race, location of birth, religion, caste, creed, color, or gender. They are enforceable in court, subject to specific limitations. The rights derive from a variety of sources, including England's Bill of Rights, the United States Bill of Rights, and France's Declaration of Human Rights.

Furthermore, fundamental rights are the basic human rights contained in the Indian Constitution and guaranteed to all people. They are applied without regard to race, religion, gender, or other factors. Significantly, courts can enforce basic rights under specific circumstances. Fundamental Rights are covered in Articles 12-35 of the Indian Constitution. These human rights are granted to Indians since the Constitution states that they are inviolable. The right to life, the right to dignity, the right to education, and so on are all examples of basic rights.

These are known as "fundamental rights" for two reasons

  • They are guaranteed by the Constitution, (enshrined Part III and Articles 12 to 35.

  • They are legally enforceable (can be enforced in court). In the event of a violation, a person may seek redress in a court of law.

Evolution of Fundamental Rights

Features of Fundamental Rights

Major features are 

  • Protected by Constitution − Fundamental rights are protected and guaranteed by the country's constitution, as opposed to conventional legal rights.

  • Some rights are solely available to citizens, while others are open to all individuals, whether citizens, foreigners, or legal entities such as businesses or firms.

  • Not Sacrosanct, Permanent, or Absolute − They are not sacred, permanent, or absolute, and Parliament can limit or eliminate them only by a constitutional amendment act.

  • The rights are conditional rather than absolute.

  • The state has the authority to put reasonable limits on them; however, the reasonableness of the restrictions is determined by the courts.

  • Rights are Justiciable − Because rights are justiciable, they can be enforced in court if they are violated.

  • In the event of a breach of a basic right, any aggrieved party may proceed straight to the Supreme Court.

  • Suspension of Rights − Except for the rights provided by Articles 20 and 21, rights can be suspended during the operation of a national emergency.

  • Furthermore, the six rights protected by Article 19 can be suspended only in cases of external emergency (war or external attack), rather than in cases of armed revolt (i.e., internal emergency].

  • Restrictions of Laws − The Parliament has the authority to limit or repeal their applicability to members of the armed forces, paramilitary forces, police forces, intelligence agencies, and similar services (Article 33).

  • Their use may be limited while martial law (military rule established under unusual circumstances) is in effect in any region.

Fundamental Rights (Article 12-35)

It is mentioned in the Part III of the Indian Constitution. Articles 12 to 35 define different provisions of fundamental rights, which are further categorized as 

Right to Equality (Articles 14–18)

The right to equality ensures equal rights for all people, regardless of religion, gender, caste, ethnicity, or place of birth. It guarantees equitable job chances in the government and protects against state discrimination in employment on the grounds of caste, religion, and so on. This right encompasses the eradication of titles as well as the right to be untouchable.

Right to Freedom (Articles 19–22)

Freedom is one of the most crucial concepts that each democratic society cherishes. The Indian Constitution protects citizens' freedom. Many rights are included in the freedom right, including 

  • Freedom of Speech

  • Freedom of Expression

  • Freedom of Assembly without Arms

  • Freedom of Association

  • Freedom of Practice Any Profession

  • Freedom to Reside in Any Part of the Country

Some of these rights are conditional on state security, public morality and decency, and positive ties with foreign countries. This means that the state has the authority to set reasonable restrictions on them.

Right against Exploitation (Articles 23–24)

This right implies a prohibition on human trafficking, slavery, and other types of forced labor. It also means a ban on youngsters working in manufacturing, among other things. The employment of minors under the age of 14 in dangerous situations is prohibited by the Constitution.

Right to Freedom of Religion (Articles 25–28)

This indicates the secular nature of the Indian government. All religions are treated with equal respect. There is religious freedom in terms of profession, practise, and dissemination. There is no official religion in the state. Everyone has the freedom to freely exercise their beliefs and to create and sustain religious and philanthropic organisations.

Cultural and Educational Rights (Articles 29-30)

These rights protect religious, cultural, and linguistic minorities' rights by allowing them to retain their legacy and tradition. Educational rights are intended to provide equal access to education for everyone.

Right to Constitutional Remedies (Articles 32)

If citizens' basic rights are infringed, the Constitution provides remedies. The government cannot violate or limit anyone's rights. When these rights are violated, the offended person may seek redress in court. Citizens can even go straight to the Supreme Court, which has the authority to issue writs upholding basic rights.

Doctrine of Fundamental Rights

Doctrine of Severabili

This is a theory that safeguards the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Article 13 states that any legislation in force in India prior to the beginning of the Constitution that is inconsistent with the principles of basic rights is invalid to the extent of the contradiction.

This means that only the elements of the legislation that are incongruous will be declared void, not the entire statute. Only clauses that are incompatible with basic rights will be declared null and invalid.

Doctrine of Eclipse

According to this doctrine, any law that infringes upon basic rights is not automatically invalid or null but rather becomes itself unenforceable, remaining alive but dormant.

This means that whenever a fundamental right (violated by the law) is upheld, the law is reinstated (resurrected).Another point to keep in mind is that the theory of eclipse only applies to pre-constitutional laws (laws passed before the Constitution came into existence) and not to post-constitutional legislation. This means that any post-constitutional law that violates a fundamental right is void from the start.


Fundamental rights protect citizens from the government and are necessary for the rule of law to exist. The government cannot infringe on these rights since the constitution expressly grants them to the people. The administration must protect these rights and answer to the courts. The basic rights are thus applicable to all people with acceptable limitations. These rights are only valid as long as they do not jeopardize state security, law and order, or decency standards.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Which is the most important fundamental right?

Ans. The right to constitutional remedies is regarded as the most essential basic right since it assures the protection of our fundamental rights.

Q2. When was the Doctrine of the Eclipse introduced?

Ans. Keshava Madavan Menon v. State of Bombay is the first case in which indications of the formation of this theory can be traced. The appellant in this case had a case against himself under the Indian Press (Emergency Powers) Act, 1931, in relation to a booklet published in 1949.

Q3. Who can claim fundamental rights?

Ans. Fundamental rights are exclusively available to Indian citizens. They are well-known. The Fundamental Rights (FR) are so named because the Indian Constitution guarantees and protects those (Articles 12 to 35).

Q4. Who has authority over fundamental rights?

Ans. The judiciary of India protects basic rights, and in the event of a breach, a person can approach the Supreme Court directly for justice under Article 32 of the constitution.

Q5. Why was Article 31 struck down?

Ans. The 44th Amendment completely removed Article 31 and Article 19(1) (f) from Part III, the Fundamental Rights of the Constitution. The Supreme Court reminded the State Government that before removing a person's private property, the State must obey the authority of law and the due procedure of law.

Updated on: 16-Feb-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started