Legal Rights: Definition and Meaning

Every human being, living in any jurisdiction or State, by default has certain rights, which cannot be compromised by in normal circumstance. The government ensures all such legal rights, which is also considered as the ‘freedom’ of an individual. These freedoms or rights are thus customary designed and upheld by the respective government’s legal framework, which therefore ensures that the same parties may also redefine or change them.

Though these legal rights are pretty common across the world; however, we cannot say that it is universal in nature, as it (to and some extent) differs from one country to another and also from time to time. These rights will be handled by whichever of the regular courts they conflict with if they are violated. A constitutional right is of higher degree, as these rights that a citizen has against the state, as opposed to an ordinary right, which generally imposes a matching obligation on another person (and, in some cases, the state).

What are Legal Rights?

An accepted and safeguarded interest and protection is referred to as a legal right. Besides, violating a legal right is an offence. Every citizen is subject to legal rights. All citizens have equal access to legal rights without caste, creed, or sex discrimination. Legal rights are those that are recognised by law and upheld by the state, not always in a court of law.

Essential Conditions of Legal Rights

According to Salmond, there are five prerequisites that must be met −

The Inheritor/Subject of the

This individual shall be the rights' owner. The object of the legal right is him. Such a person is referred to as an heir. Example: Y spends Rs 20,000 on a van. The right's subject in this instance is Y.

The unborn child is the owner of the property, even if he is unsure of his ownership status in the case of a bequest to the unborn child.

The subject of the Obligation or the person who Caused the Incident:

It is the responsibility of another person or persons to respect and acknowledge the person's right. A person of incidence is someone with such a legal obligation. Example: If A has a legal claim against B, B is obligated to respect A's right.

Contents or Subject Matter of Legal Right:

The legal right's subject matter is a crucial component. It addresses the topic of legal rights. It has to do with acting in a certain way or exercising forbearance. It requires the person to refrain from acting against or to support the person who has a legal right. Example: Y spends Rs 20,000 on a van. The right's subject in this instance is Y. Y is the subject, and he is entitled to exclude others.

The Object of Legal Rights is:

The entity or thing over which the legal right is exercised is known as the object of the legal right. Example: A spends Rs. 1,000,000 on the car. The item in this case is an automobile.

Title of the Legal Right:

The title refers to the method by which the person receives the right or has it granted to them. Certain circumstances result in the acquisition of a right from its prior owner. Example: Through a gift, a purchase, a will, etc.

Types of Legal Rights

A court of law has the authority to uphold legal rights both against individuals and the government. An accepted and safeguarded interest is referred to as a legal right. Additionally, violating a legal right is against the law. Every citizen is subject to legal rights. All citizens have equal access to legal rights without caste, creed, or sex discrimination.

Perfect and Imperfect Rights

The following characteristics define the perfect right −

  • It is sanctioned by the law.

  • The law makes it enforceable. So, if this right is violated, someone can go to court to have it enforced.

All fundamental rights, such as the right to equality and the freedom of religion, are therefore perfect rights because they can be enforced by the state.

The following characteristics define the imperfect right −

  • It is sanctioned by the law.

  • It is not legally enforceable. This implies that a person cannot file a lawsuit for the infringement of a partially valid right.

Imperfect rights are any claims or obligations that have a deadline.

Positive and Negative Rights

The type of correlative duty that a right carry with it serves as the basis for classifying that right as positive or negative.

Positive duties must be carried out in order to exercise positive rights.

Negative rights are similar to negative duties in that they hinder a person from performing an action. The right to life guaranteed by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, for instance, is a negative right because it forbids killing another person.

Real and Personal Rights

"Real right," also known as "right in rem," is the obligation imposed on the populace as a whole. It is accessible for use against the entire world. Torts or criminal activity are legitimate rights.

A personal right, also known as a right in persona, can be used against a specific person and corresponds to the duty that has been placed on that person. Therefore, in most cases, a personal right result from a contractual responsibility. A good example is the personal right to breach of contract.

Proprietary and Personal Rights

A property has a proprietary right attached to it if the owner and his assets are involved. The assets must be worth something financially. As an illustration, consider the rights to property ownership, patents, goodwill, etc.

A person's life, or his place in society, is tied to a personal right. These rights are for the individual's social and economic well-being. instance: the right to life.

Public and Private Rights

Public rights are those that are granted to a person by the state, the federal government, or the constitution. Examples include the right to vote and the use of public parks.

Private individuals or persons are associated with private rights. Example: Two people have private rights as a result of their agreement in a contract.

Inheritable and Uninheritable Rights

Inheritable rights can be passed down from one generation to the next, meaning that they continue to exist even after their possessor has passed away. As an illustration, a son has the right to inherit his father's assets following his passing.

When their owner passes away, untransferable rights expire. All personal rights, for instance, are not transferable.

Right of Reproduction and Right of Realisation

A person has the legal right to repossess his own property. He has the right to use, get rid of, ruin, alter, or exclude others from his property. Therefore, a person has complete ownership of the property thanks to this privilege.

A right in real estate is an ownership interest in someone else's property. right of way over the neighbor's field, for instance. Thus, it is not a fundamental right.

Legal Rights-related Theories

The interest theory and will theory describe the theories related to Legal Rights. Interest theory emphasizes on the interests of an individual and supports and assists in developing it in long term sense. On the other hand, will theory emphasizes on the idea that individuals have a sense of agency or free will, which allows them to make conscious choices and decisions.


Where there is a right, there is a remedy, or "Ubi jus ibi remedium," A case can be filed in court if someone's rights are violated. They are eligible for relief in the form of payment. The court may require the specific execution of the contract if the compensation does not satisfy the plaintiff's claim. The Specific Relief Act controls it.


Q1. In India, what is a legal right?

Ans. These include the freedoms of thought and expression, peaceful assembly without the use of force, association, mobility throughout our nation, residence and settlement in any location within India, and the practise of any profession.

Q2. What kinds of legal rights are there?

Ans. Primary rights come in three different varieties. These three types of rights are natural, moral, and legal. Three categories can be used to define legal rights. These include civic rights, political rights, and fundamental rights.

Q3. Is the protection of human rights a legal right?

Ans. While human rights are universally acknowledged; constitutional rights are guaranteed by the nation's constitution. Legal rights are not contained in the Constitution but are clearly defined by different governments.

Q4. How strong are legal rights?

Ans. The strength of legal rights index gauges how well bankruptcy and collateral rules safeguard borrowers' and lenders' rights, hence facilitating lending.

Updated on: 21-Feb-2023

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