Ch – 6 Democratic Rights

Rights are the claims of a person over other fellow beings, over the society and over the government.

Rights are reasonable claims of a person recognised by society and sanctioned by law.

In most of the democratic countries, rights are written down in the constitution.

In Indian constitution, rights of a citizen which are fundamental to life are known as ‘Fundamental Rights’.

Fundamental Rights

Our Constitution mentions about six Fundamental Rights. They are:

a) Right To Equality:

  • It means that all persons are equal before the law.
  • The government can’t deny any person in India equality before the law or equal protection of the laws.
  • The laws apply same to all people of India. This is known as ‘Rule of Law’.
  • The government shall not discriminate anyone on the basis of religion, caste, race, sex or place of birth.
  • All citizens have equal opportunity in employment matters.
  • Every person can access the public places without the discrimination of caste or religion.
  • Reservations are made in government jobs in order to give equal opportunities to people belonging to Scheduled Classes and Tribes, Backward Classes, etc.
  • It is clarified in the Constitution that reservation is not a violation of the Right to Equality.

b) Right To Freedom:

  • Freedom means absence of interference in our affairs – be it other individuals or the government.
  • Indian Constitution guarantees the right to freedom by allowing:
    • Freedom of speech and expression
    • assembly in a peaceful manner
    • form associations and unions
    • move freely through out the country
    • reside in any part of the country
    • practice any profession or carry out any business
  • But your freedoms should not cause nuisance to others’ freedom or rights.
  • Sometimes for the larger interest, government can put restrictions on these freedoms.
  • Freedom of speech and expression is considered as the important right.
  • People can express their views through books, newspapers, television, radio, paintings, magazines, poetry, songs, etc.
  • But this freedom can’t be utilized to incite others to rebel against the government.
  • Citizens have the freedom to form unions and association to protect the interests of the members but these unions and associations should exist in harmony.
  • It also states that no person can be detained by police officials without any proper legal justifications.

c) Right Against Exploitation:

  • Human trafficking is prohibited.
  • It also prohibits forced labour or begar practice.
  • And most importantly, it prohibits child labour.
  • No one can employ a child below the age of fourteen in any shop or industry.

d) Right To Freedom Of Religion:

  • Every person has a right to profess, practice and propagate the religion he/she believes in.
  • Right to propagate doesn’t mean to compel another person by any means of force or coercion, to convert their religion.
  • Right to practice ones own religion doesn’t mean that one can do anything in the name of religion.
  • Religious practices like animal sacrifice as offerings to supernatural forces, forcing widows to wear white coloured clothes, etc. are not allowed.
  • No person can be discriminated on the basis of religion.
  • No religious instructions shall not be given in the government educational institutions.
  • Even in private educational institutions, no one can be forced to participate in any religious worship or take part in religious activities.

e) Cultural & Educational Rights:

  • Under this, any section of citizens with distinct language or culture have a right to conserve it.
  • Admission of a citizen to any government educational institution can’t be denied on the basis of religion or language.
  • Minorities have right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

f) Right To Constitutional Remedies:

  • Dr. Ambedkar called this right as ‘The Heart & Soul’ of the Indian Constitution.
  • If any citizen’s fundamental right is violated by another person, private bodies or even government, then he/she can approach Supreme Court or High Court to seek remedy.
  • If any action of executive or legislature violates the Fundamental rights, then it will be considered as invalid.

Apart from these six Fundamental Rights, there are certain other rights recognised by the International Covenant. These rights are not mentioned in our constitution, but are considered as the basic human rights by human rights activists all over the world.

  • Right to work
  • Right to safe and healthy working conditions
  • Right to adequate standard of living
  • Right to social security and insurance
  • Right to health
  • Right to education

National Human Rights Commission

  • It is an independent commission set up by law in 12 October, 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993 as amended by the Protection of Human Rights(Amendment Act)2006.
  • The Commission includes retired judges, officers and eminent citizens.
  • It focuses on helping the victims secure their human rights.
  • The commission is appointed by the President.
  • It has to consider the human rights provided by Indian Constitution as well as rights mentioned in the UN sponsored international treaties signed by India.
  • The commission can make independent inquiry into any case regarding the violation of human rights.
  • It can summon witnesses, question any official, demand any official paper, visit any prison for inspection, etc.
  • The findings are then presented to the government.
  • But it can’t punish the guilty, that is the responsibility of the court.
  • It can intervene in the court on the behalf of the victim.
  • Any citizen can approach the Commission for free.

Published by Priya Prakash

In the midst of winter, i found there was within me an invincible summer ~ Albert Camus

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