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Know Your Fundamental Rights !


Fundamental Rights (FR) is something common to all democracies and form the very basics of it. There has been a long history associated with it and they have evolved over a long period of time. It form the essence of any civilised society. FR are common from world oldest democracy to world largest democracy in one form or another, though the very nature of FR differ from country to country. they could be milder in one nation but quite rigid in another. Somewhere it might be too easy to change , modify or abrogate on the whims and fancy of the government, whereas on other hand it could be quite rigid in another and might be at arms distance from government and it’s institutions. FR are actually a set of rules and instructions prescribed in the constitution which has to be honoured by government of day in it’s true spirit. They are sacrosanct in nature and has to be followed in absolute sense. There might be lot of doubts in your head like what they exactly are and why they are so called, how does it control government power , who enforce that control and how does it benefit common citizens , we will try to cover all of these together in this post.

What are Fundamental Rights and why they are so called ?

– Fundamental Rights are set of rules and instructions described in the constitution which are binding on the government. They grant a basic set of rights to every citizen irrespective of caste , creed or colour and limit the power of government in some aspects. They form the bedrock of free fair  and dignified life for every individual. They are called so because Fundamental rights grant a set of freedom and protection to citizens which are fundamental in nature. They are very much required to put a limit on state power so that state don’t become an autocratic state and always honour the fact that it has been formed by people to make their life better. Government and all of it’s machinery has to follow them in true spirit. They not only enforce state to not to encroach on citizen rights but also force it to ensure that society as a whole also don’t encroach on individual’s rights.

What they looks like and who control government bad intentions of overriding them ?

– FR are simple instructions and form a standard operating procedure (SOP) in the matter of governance. For example Article 14 in Indian constitution speak about Right to Equality before law and state that every citizen of India enjoy equality before law and state (Centre , state or local administration ) can’t make any law which go against this principle. All citizen should be same in respect to law of land and it is applicable to all in equal sense no matter person is poor , rich , politician or a beaurocrat.

Different organ of government are entrusted with the responsibility to honour the FR by means of checks and balances. Judiciary act as a guardian of FR and can strike or make any act or law illegal if it encroach on Fundamental Rights.If a citizen feel that any of her FR are being violated then she can go to judiciary for remedy of same. For example an IT company has terminated woman employee who was pregnant. That women approach the court because under FR there is equality of opportunity (Article 16) granted to every citizen irrespective of gender and her termination violated the same. Court took the cognisance of matter and order the organisation to revoke the termination.

What restrain parliament to make a law to change FR?

– Parliament can’t make a law which violate or go against FR as article 13 of Indian constitution state that parliament or any of the state machinery can’t make a law which violate or infringe on any of the Fundamental rights. This article in itself is a Fundament Right and to change or amend a Fundamental right special majority is required in the parliament. Even if a government is able to muster the majority and pass the law to change or amend a FR then it is always open for judicial scrutiny and court has all the power to declare that Law as null and void. In the past there has been various instances where government of the day tried to  infringe on FR and court the declared the same as Null and void. During various judgement Supreme court (SC) has laid down set of basic structure of the constitution and had declared that any law which violate the basic structure will be declared null and void. For example when last government came up with a bill to grant reservation to Muslims it was strike down by SC as constitution don’t permit reservation based on religion.

Another restraint for government is that Under Article 32 going to court for any violation of FR in itself is Fundamental Right and government has no right to do any modification there.

Fundamental Rights in India

to be continued in next article…

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