Competitive Exams: Fundamental Rights Part 1

Right to Freedom (Art 19 − 22)

  • Personal liberty is the most important of all the Fundamental Rights.

  • Taken together these four Articles from 19 to 22 form a chapter on personal liberties which provides the backbone of the chapter on the Fundamental Rights.

Article 19

Aticle 19 of the Constitution guarantees to the citizens of India the following six fundamental rights/freedoms:

  1. freedom of speech and expression

  2. to assemble peacefully and without arms

  3. to form associations or unions

  4. to move freely throughout the territory of India

  5. to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India.

  6. Right to Property (It was removed by the 44th Constitutional Amendment, 1978 and transferred to Art. 300 A).

  7. to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

It Includes

  • The six basic freedoms prescribed in Article 19 are not absolute. The State can impose reasonable restrictions on the grounds of security of the State, friendly relations with the foreign States, public order, decency, morality, contempt of court, defamation etc.

  • The right to form associations, unions etc. Does not give right to strike.

  • The Indian Constitution does not provide for the freedom of Press separately. It is implicit in Article 19, which grants freedom of speech and expression.

Right to Information

  • A proper freedom of information regime is a vital aspect of open government and a fundamental underpinning of democracy.

  • It is only where there is a free flow of information that accountability can be ensured, corruption avoided and the public's right to know is satisfied.

  • Freedom of information is also a crucial prerequisite for sustainable development.

  • Resource management, social initiatives and economic strategies can only be effective if the public is informed and has confidence in the government.

Article 20

Protection in respect of conviction for offences This protection is available against the following three types of convictions:

  1. Ex-post facto legislation

    1. This means enacting a law and giving it a retrospective (i.e.. From a previous date/year) effect.

    2. This power has been conferred to the Parliament bv the Constitution.

    3. It is applicable only for civil legislations while criminal legislationsatnnot be given retrospective effect.

  2. Double Jeopardy

    1. This means that an individual can be punished for a crime only once and also not beyond the period prescribed by the authority:

    2. If a civil servant is dismissed on criminal charges, his dismissal does not come under Double Jeopardy and he could be well prosecuted further in the Court.

  3. Prohibition against self incrimination. It is the duty of the prosecution to prove the offence.

Article 21

Protection of Life and Personal Liberty

  • No person shall be deprived of his/her life and personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.

  • Over the period, this Article has undergone a sea change and has become the most important Fundamental Right.

  • The Supreme Court, through a liberal interpretation of the Article, has derived a number of inferred rights.

  • The Article stands not merely for the right to life and personal liberty, but also for the right to dignity and all other attributes of human personality that are essential for the full development of a person.

  • Article 21 has become the ‘Foundation stone of Part IIP of the Constitution.’

  • In some judgements, the Supreme Court held that the right to clean and hygienic conditions of life is a part of Right to Life.

  • Article 21 protects an individual both against legislative and executive actions.

  • Domiciliary visit by Police during night is an invasion of personal liberty and hence Art 21.

  • Right to travel abroad: Part of personal liberty and hence part of Art 21

  • Right to have primary education is a fundamental right under Art_21.

  • Art 21 includes the principles of Natural Justice

  • Right to health and medical assistance: It is the professional obligation of all doctors, whether government or private, to extend medical aid to the injured immediately to preserve life without waiting for legal formalities.

  • Right to get pollution free water & air: Protection of ecology and environment come under Art 21.

  • A minor girl's right to bear child: Bearing child is a natural right of a woman.

  • Right to free legal aid and speedy trial are guaranteed under Art 21. According to Supreme Court-This is the State's duty and not Government Charity.

  • Rights against hand-cuffing: There must be clear and present danger of escape breaking out of police control and for this there must be clear material evidence.

  • In Chakma migrants case, Supreme Court declared that even non-citizens are entitled for right to life.

  • Right against inhuman treatment. According to Art 21 use of third degree method by police is violative of Art 21.

  • Telephone tapping is an invasion on right to privacy, hence violates Art 21

  • Prevention of sexual harassment of working women comes under Art 21. It is the duty of the employer or any other responsible person in workplace to prevent sexual harassment of working women.

Article 22

Protection against arrest and detention in certain cases

  • The Authority cannot arrest or detain a person without properly informing him/her of the grounds for such arrests/detention.

  • The detained/arrested person must be produced before the nearest Magistrate within 24 hours of arrest (excluding the holidays and time taken during the journey).

  • The period of the detention cannot be extended beyond what is authorized by the Magistrate.

Right against Exploitation (Art 23 & 24)

Article 23

Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour

  • Traffic in human beings and beggar and other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited.

  • Any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.

  • Traffic in human beings means selling and buying men and women like goods and includes immoral traffic in women and children for immoral and other purposes.

  • One shall not be forced to provide labour or services against his will even if remuneration is paid.

  • If remuneration is less than minimum wages, it amounts to forced labour under Article 23.

Article 24

Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc

  • The essence of Article 24 is the prohibition of employment of children below 14 years of age in hazardous jobs.

  • This provision is in the interest of public health and safety of the lives of children.

  • In NIC Mehta vs State of Tamil Nadu case, the Supreme Court held that the State authorities should protect economic, social and humanitarian rights of children, working illegally in the Public and Private sectors.