Fundamental rights are those rights which are essential for the intellectual, moral and spiritual development of individuals. These rights are integral or indispensable for the existence and all-round development of individuals; hence, it’s called ‘Fundamental’ rights. These are enshrined in Part III of the Constitution of India.
Following rights are the fundamental human rights that every citizen of India has the liberty to enjoy; they form a vital aspect of the Indian constitution. They help in preserving human dignity and allow every citizen to live with self–respect. They accentuate the fundamental accord of India by guaranteeing the same rights to everyone irrespective of their religion, caste, creed, place of birth, etc.
- Right to Equality
- Right to Freedom
- Cultural and Educational rights
- Right to Freedom of Religion
- Right against Exploitation
- Right Constitutional Remedies
These are enshrined in Part III (Articles 12 to 35) of the Constitution of India.
The above statements are heavy–duty statements for an engineer like me. But these are the bread and butter things for Supreme Court lawyers who make their millions guarding fundamental rights of people. For the lawyers, things look pretty good. The fundamental rights are being challenged quite regularly these days; the lawyer’s profession is like that of a share trader. Share trader always earns his 0.5% irrespective of whether the buyer and seller make or lose money.
In the last week or so, a lot of fundamental things are being challenged in the Supreme Court. Are the Supreme Court’s comments indicative of the direction that we will see in India?
The first and foremost is a case of death of a four–month child of a couple, taking part in peaceful protests at Shaheen Baug. The incident was taken by the Supreme Court “Suo Moto.” (on their own) The child died as it was taken to the protests by its parents. The winter was harsh, and after the child was taken home, it died due to exposure. The Supreme Court has sent notices to both the Central and Delhi government to inquire how this happened. They are expected to report back within a specific time frame.
During the argument, two lady lawyers representing the child’s side made statements as to how CAA and NRC are wrong. They also argued that the poor child was called Pakistani/Terrorist. The Chief Justice Mr Bobde made a valid point. He told the ladies not to stray from the main case. He further said that the matters about CAA/NRC are already in the court, and the current case was not about these issues. Here the topic being discussed is the fundamental right of the child. Why was the child exposed to severe weather? As a minor, it had no control over where it was taken? Why it’s fundamental rights were not protected? Who gave the rights to the parents to expose it to the harsh weather?
People, in general, forget or do not bother about other people’s rights when they are not in the right frame of mind. They trample on the rights of the others. Their mind is so vitiated that they forget that others also have fundamental rights. When one forgets about the rights of their own child, they won’t bother about other people.
Another case is about the fundamental rights of people on the same subject. For a long time, people have blocked the road passing through Shaheen Baug. The Supreme Court said that the protesters have the fundamental right to protest. But many people and institutions have filed petitions in the Supreme Court on the same subject. The Court wondered why the protests are continuing when the matter is sub judice! The Court further said that they have the right to continue to protest. But what about the protesters blocking the road for others? What about the fundamental rights of local commuters who are required to face a long detour due to continued protests? In this event too, both the Central Government and Delhi Government have been asked to file their reply to the Court. The Court has told the protesters to talk to government agencies to give them a suitable place for protesting without disturbing the fundamental rights of others. The Supreme Court has also said that they will provide the final decision after hearing the protesters side!
Another compelling case is about SC/ST reservations. Here the Court has argued that the people in this category had to face discrimination over an extended part of history. The historical wrong needs to be corrected. But it does not mean that it becomes a fundamental right of this group of people. The government can take affirmative action in this case for giving them jobs, but the same rule cannot be applied later when the promotions are offered during the service. It is not a fundamental right of the human that needs to be corrected at every stage. Supreme Court gave a decision that since the matter does not involve fundamental rights, the group should go to the government for resolution. Supreme Court cannot provide a directive to the government.
Another tricky case that the Supreme Court is handling is the Sabrimala case. It applies to Muslim personal law also. For the Supreme Court that it is a significant case, hence they have formed a panel of nine judges to handle the case. The main argument here is whether religious bodies can give a diktat which overrides the fundamental right of women provided by the constitution! It is a classic case of the rights of institutions against the rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. In a democracy, it is always said that the constitution is supreme.
The last one year has been important for India as the Supreme Court has resolved a significant dispute about the Ram Janmabhumi. Both sides have accepted the result gracefully. I feel that all parties should show the same grace, in future, regarding other notable cases that will prove to us and the world that India is not an anarchic democracy, but it is a working democracy.
The most challenging point is discussed and the disputed is the right to freedom. Everybody has the right to freedom; all the people in our society have this fundamental right. A person or group demands its right and gets it. But while doing this, the group tramples on someone else’s right. In the case referred above, the protesters blocked the road. The blockage caused inconveniences to thousands of people who used the way every day. Such situations create issues which need to be resolved.
One fundamental right you and I have been denied since independence. It is the control over who governs us. Legislators who stand for elections are selected on the so–called winnability of the candidate. The candidates’ educational background, experience, achievements and most importantly, criminal background are never discussed openly. There are weak rules about these aspects. Now the Supreme Court is hearing a case where election commission has recommended that all this information about the candidates selected be declared in vernacular newspapers, and on the party’s website within a stipulated time of 24 to 48 hours of selection. At that time, parties should also announce why the candidate is suitable for selection. In Delhi Vidhan sabha election, the % of those with criminal background has gone up from 24 % to 43 % from 2015 to 2020! It is our fundamental right to know how a person with murder and rape cases is suitable for election!
It appears the only institution that can bring back normalcy to the current turmoil in India is Court. Let us hope that the liberals and persons who don’t accept anything against their thought process allow the nation to function normally. I sincerely hope that they change their thinking from “My way or Highway”!
This is added late in the blog. Nothing to do with fundamental rights but shows how tough the Supreme Court is. This morning they blasted the government and Telcos for not paying a single rupee out of 92000 crore Rupees due. By evening the government has started issuing notices circle wise to Telcos! Telcos are given time upto 11.59 pm tonight!