The Constitution of India offers basic freedom to all its citizens, individually and collectively. These form of rights is classified into 6 categories under Article 12 to 35 contained in Part III of the Indian Constitution. These rights are termed Fundamental Rights. 

Fundamental Rights are applied without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, etc. Also, Fundamental Rights are enforceable by the courts, subject to certain conditions.

Fundamental Rights are an important part of the Indian Polity subject. This subject plays a crucial role in the three stages of the UPSC Civil Services examination – Prelims, Mains and also in Interview.

Why Are They Called Fundamental Rights?

These rights are called Fundamental Rights because of two reasons.

  1. They are basic rights that are essential for the overall development and harmonious growth of every Indian citizen.
  2. They are justiciable (enforceable by courts). A person can approach a court of law in case of a violation.

The 6 Fundamental Rights of the Indian Constitution are

  1. Right to Equality (Article 14-18)
  2. Right to Freedom (Article 19-22)
  3. Right against Exploitation (Article 23-24)
  4. Right to Freedom of Religion (Article 25-28)
  5. Cultural and Educational Rights (Article 29-30)
  6. Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32)

These rights are often a matter of discussion under different circumstances. Therefore, UPSC aspirants must keep a check on current affairs 2023 topics related to Fundamental Rights to score well in the upcoming UPSC exam.

Right to Equality (Article 14-18)

This Fundamental Right is comprised in Articles 14 to 18 of the Indian Constitution.

Article 14 is about Equality before Law. It states that the State shall not deny any person equality before the law or equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.

Article 15 is about eliminating or barring discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.

The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on the basis of religion, race, caste, gender, place of birth or any combination of these factors.

It also states that  

No citizen shall be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition with regard to

(a) access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment; or 

(b) the use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly out of State funds or dedicated to the general public.

Article 16 ensures equal opportunity for all citizens relating to public employment. In areas pertaining to employment or appointment to any position under the State, all citizens shall have equal opportunity. 

(2) No citizen will be denied or discriminated against solely on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residency or any combination of these factors.

Article 17 is about the Abolition of Untouchability. 

According to this Article, “untouchability” has been abolished, and its practice in whatever form is prohibited. The imposition of any impairment resulting from “Untouchability” is a criminal act punishable by law.

Article 18 is about the Elimination of Any sort of Titles.

(1) The State shall not grant any title that is not a military or scholarly distinction. 

(2) No Indian citizen may accept any title from a foreign state.

(3) No individual who is not a citizen of India shall accept any title from any foreign State while holding any office of profit or trust under the State without the President’s assent. 

(4) No individual holding a profit or trust post under the State will accept any present, compensation or office of any sort from or under any foreign State without the President’s assent.

Right to Freedom (Article 19-22)

The Indian Constitution guarantees basic freedom to its citizens. The right to freedom includes the following:

  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of expression
  • Freedom of assembly without arms
  • Freedom of association
  • Freedom to practise any profession 
  • Freedom to reside in any part of the country

Right against Exploitation (Article 23-24)

This right protects citizens against any form of prohibited forced labour, such as trafficking in human beings and begar and other similar forms, and any violation of this clause is a breach that is punishable by law.

This right also provision to act against any form of child labour. The right states that no child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.

Right to Freedom of Religion (Article 25-28)

This right aims at preserving the secularity in the country. This right ensures that all religions are treated with equal respect. There is religious freedom in terms of profession, practice and propagation of religious thoughts. There is no official religion in the State. Everyone has the freedom to practise their beliefs freely and to create and sustain religious and philanthropic organisations.

Cultural and Educational Rights (Article 29-30)

Articles 29 and 30 of the Indian Constitution address Indian citizens’ cultural and educational rights. 

This fundamental right aims to preserve the culture of India’s minority populations.

The Constitution gives certain rights to minorities to preserve the country’s variety and offer opportunities for all groups, especially marginalised ones, to safeguard, preserve and promote their culture.

Educational rights are for ensuring education for all without any discrimination.

Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32 -35)

If citizens’ basic rights are infringed, the Constitution provides for remedies. The Constitution provides legal remedies to safeguard these rights against State or other institutions/individual violations. It allows Indian people to petition the Supreme Court or High Courts for the enforcement of their rights. 

The Supreme Court shall have the authority to issue directives, orders or writs, including writs in the form of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, as necessary, to enforce any of the rights given by this part.

Aspirants must be thorough with the topic of Fundamental Rights, and it can be a part of the Prelims, Mains and UPSC Interview. Any changes or discussions related to these rights would form a part of trending news. Therefore, aspirants must be thorough with their current affairs 2023 topics to ensure they get all critical information.