The Fundamental Rights are enshrined in Part III of the Constitution from Articles 12 to 35. In this regard, the framers of the Constitution derived inspiration from the Constitution of USA (i.e., Bill of Rights).
Part III of the Constitution is rightly described as the Magna Carta of India. It contains a very long and comprehensive list of ‘justiciable’
Fundamental Rights. In fact, the Fundamental Rights in our Constitution are more elaborate than those found in the Constitution of any other country in the world, including the USA.
The Fundamental Rights are guaranteed by the Constitution to all persons without any discrimination. They uphold the equality of all individuals, the dignity of the individual, the larger public interest and unity of the nation.
The Fundamental Rights are meant for promoting the ideal of political democracy. They prevent the establishment of an authoritarian and despotic rule in the country, and protect the liberties and freedoms of the people against the invasion by the State. They operate as limitations on the tyranny of the executive and arbitrary laws of the legislature. In short, they aim at establishing ‘a government of laws and not of men’.
The Fundamental Rights are named so because they are guaranteed and protected by the Constitution, which is the fundamental law of the land. They are ‘fundamental’ also in the sense that they are most essential for the all-round development (material, intellectual, moral and spiritual) of the individuals.
Originally, the Constitution provided for seven Fundamental Rights viz,
- Right to equality (Articles 14–18)
- Right to freedom (Articles 19–22)
- Right against exploitation (Articles 23–24)
- Right to freedom of religion (Articles 25–28)
- Cultural and educational rights (Articles 29–30)
- Right to property (Article 31)
- Right to constitutional remedies (Article 32)
However, the right to property was deleted from the list of Fundamental Rights by the 44th Amendment Act, 1978. It is made a legal right under Article 300-A in Part XII of the Constitution. So at present, there are only six Fundamental Rights.
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