Constitution of India (Fundamental Rights with Interpretation of Cases)

Constitution of India (Fundamental Rights with Interpretation of Cases)

Prepared by Assist. Professor Rekha Khandelwal

Constitution of India

Fundamental Rights Part – III in Constitution of India

Fundamental Rights ( An Introduction)

Fundamental Rights in India ( Part – III of Constitution of India) Origin , development and need

New Judicial trends in interpreting provisions of Part III

1. Widest Interpretation of provisions of Part III

In Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India[1]

The Supreme Court has decided that the provisions of Part III should be interpreted as comprehensively as possible. Giving the verdict, Bhagwati, J., said, “The correct way of interpreting the provisions of Part III is that attempt of the court should be to expand the reach and ambit of the fundamental rights rather than to attenuate their meaning and content”.

 In Gopalan’s case[2],

The court held that each article deals with different rights and has nothing to do with each other.In other words, they were mutually exclusive. This view has been held to be wrong in Maneka Gandhi’s case where the Court has taken the view that they are mutually exclusive but form a single scheme in the constitution that it is all part of the unified plan in the constitution.

The validity of a law infringing fundamental rights can be judged not only with reference to particular Article under which such a law is enacted but also with reference to other articles. In Gopalan’s case it was held that the validity of a deprivation law enacted under Article 21 could not be tested under Article 19. This view has now been overruled in Maneka Gandhi’s case and it has been held that a law depriving a person of his personal liberty under Article 21 must also satisfy the test of ‘reasonableness’ under Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution.

2. Natural Justice and due Process –

In Maneka Gandhi’s case, the Supreme Court has held that the ‘procedure’ depriving a person of his ‘life or personal liberty must be just, fair and reasonable’. It must satisfy the need for natural justice which is an essential component of proper proceedings under Article 21. “Natural justice is a distillate of due process” observed Krishna Iyer, J., the concept of natural justice and due process which were rejected in Gopalan’s case forming part of our Constitutional scheme guaranteeing fundamental rights.

3. Prisoners’ rights and Prison Reforms-

The Supreme Court has significantly extended the scope of Article 21 and held that its protection would be available to protect the fundamental rights of prisoners and to make prison reform effective. Criminals are also human beings and deserve to be imprisoned as human beings, not slaves, until they are hanged. Silent imprisonment in prison without judicial approval, handcuffs, hard labor, inhuman and degrading treatment with degradation and punishment violates the provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution. Quick trials and legal aid to poor prisoners are constitutional rights available to them and do not depend on the mercy of the state.

4. Expanding the role of writ of Habeas Corpus

Sunil Batra(No. 2)  v. Delhi Administration,[3]

The dynamic role of judicial remedy after the case provides the writ of habeas corpus with multifaceted vigor and operational utility as a g of freedom even in prison. Wherever a prisoner’s rights are violated under the Constitution or other laws, the writ power of the court is violated and the defense must be run. A habeas corpus writ can be issued not only to release a person from illegal detention but also to direct prison officials to provide necessary facilities to inmates and protect them from inhumane and barbaric behavior.

In ABSK Sangh (Rly.) v. Union of India[4]

It is held that any unregistered organization can apply for relief under Article 32 of the Constitution even if there is a general complaint. Thus, Article 32 is not limited to the protection of the fundamental rights of the individual, it is capable of administering justice wherever it is found and society is interested in it. “Access to justice through ‘class actions’, ‘public interest litigation’ and ‘representative proceedings’ is the modern jurisprudence”, declared Krishna Iyer, J., in the historic judgement of Judges Transfer case.

S.P. Gupta and others v. President of India and others,[5]

The seven – judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has set a at rest the controversy whether a person not directly involved can move the court for the redressal of grievances of persons who cannot approach the court because of poverty or any other reasons. The Court held that any member of the public having “sufficient interest” can approach the Court for enforcing constitutional or legal rights of such persons or group of persons even throw a letter.

5. Human Rights Jurisprudence-

 The Supreme Court has now moved to more of Human rights, particularly for protecting from inhuman and barbarous treatment. In Sunil Batra’s case Krishna Iyer, J., has said “today, human rights jurisprudence in India has Constitutional Status.”

In 1979, India became the party to ICCPR. Article 10 of the ICCPR states that “all persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humility and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human persons.” Article 5 of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 states, “No one shall be subject to the torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.

 In Prem Shankar v. Delhi Administration[6]

Krishna Iyer, J., said that in interpreting the Constitutional and statutory provisions. The Court must not forget the core principle found in Article 5 of UDHR, 1948. Homage to human rights which calls for prisons, prison staff and prisoners reform, his Lordsh

Suspension of Fundamental Rights-

Fundamental rights are the natural rights of individuals. But they have been imposed with certain restrictions to avoid misuse. Fundamental rights are not absolute rights, the Constitution gives for suspension and reduction of fundamental rights in the following situations-

Time of emergency in Country-

Article 358 states  that when the President declares a state of emergency under Article 352 the liberties granted by Article 19 are automatically suspended. And They will continue for a period of emergency.

 President’s order to suspend the rights under Article 359-

Article  359 empowers the President to suspend the right to go to court to exercise the powers conferred on him by the third part of the Constitution (except Articles 20 and 21) during a state of emergency.

Classification of Fundamental Rights-

The Fundamental Rights as incorporated in the Indian Constitution can be classified under the following six groups-

  1. Right to Equality (Articles 14-18)
  2. Right to Freedom ( Articles 19-22)
  3. Right against Exploitation ( Articles 23-24)
  4. Right to Freedom of Religion (Articles 25-28)
  5. Cultural and Educational Rights (Articles 29-30)
  6. Right to Constitutional Remedies ( Articles 32-35)

The 44th Amendment has abolished the right to property as a fundamental right as guaranteed by Article 19(1) (f). Article 31 of the Constitution, and hence, Article 19(1) (f) and Article 31 has been omitted.

Fundamental rights available against State and not against private individuals

The rights that are granted to citizens as fundamental rights are a guarantee against state action. As they are distinguished from the violation of such rights by private parties. Private action is adequately protected by the common law of the land.


[1] Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India AIR 1978 SC 597

[2] Gopalan’s case AIR 1950 SC 27

[3] Sunil Batra(No. 2)  v. Delhi Administration AIR 1980 SC 1579

[4] ABSK Sangh (Rly.) v. Union of India AIR 1981 SC 298

[5] S.P. Gupta and others v. President of India and others AIR 1982 SC 149

[6] Prem Shankar v. Delhi Administration AIR 1980 SC 1535

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