Constitution of Law (Fundamental Rights of Citizens in India)

Constitution of Law (Fundamental Rights of Citizens in India)

Prepared by Assist. Professor Rekha Khandelwal

Constitution of India

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Fundamental Rights in India( An Introduction)

Origin and Development of Fundamental Rights

Origin and Development of Fundamental Rights

‘Part III of the Constitution contains a long list of fundamental rights. This Chapter of the Constitution of India has very well been described as the Magna Carta of India.’[1]

‘Magnacarta is the first written document relating to the fundamental rights of citizens. In 1689 the Bill of Rights was written consolidating all important rights and liberties of the english people. In France Declaration of Rights of Man and the Citizen ( 1789)declared the natural, inalienable and sacred rights of Man.Americans incorporated the Bill of Rights in their Constitution.The Americans were first to give Bill of Rights a Constitutional status.The framers of Constitution of India took inspiration from this and incorporated a Full Chapter in the Constitution dealing with fundamental rights. But the declaration of fundamental rights in the Indian Constitution is the most elabotrate and comprehensive yet framed by any State.’[2]

In Case of A.K. Gopalan v. State of Madras,

‘The inclusion of chapter on fundamental rights in the Constitution of India, according to the trend of modern democratic thought, is an essential condition of a free society, which is the idea of maintenance. The goal of the Declaration of Fundamental Rights is to ensure that certain rights, such as life, liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of belief, are deemed unreliable in all circumstances and and that the shifting majority in Legislature of the Country should not have a free hand in interfering with these fundamental rights.[3]

In Case of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnet

‘J. explaining the nature and the purpose of the Bill of Rights observed “The very purpose of Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the Courts. Depending on the outcome of the election, the right to life, liberty and property, free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly and other fundamental rights cannot be submitted for voting.”[4]

“Fundamental rights are the rights of good offspring. These are natural rights that are in the nature of the external conditions necessary to make human potential as open as possible. These safe and guaranteed conditions are called fundamental rights. It is generally agreed that these natural rights are inherent in human beings and the state cannot strip them of them.”[5]

Need for Fundamental Rights

Hartado v. People of California,.‘Fundamental Rights were deemed essential to protect the rights and liberties of the people against the encroachment of the Power delegated by them to their Government.  The rights have limitations upon the powers of the Government,  legislative as well as executive and they are essential for the protection of public and private rights.’[6]

In Case of Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India[7]

Bhagwati, J., observed: “This fundamental right represents the fundamental values provided by the people of this country since Vedic times and is considered to protect the dignity of the individual and to create conditions in which every human being can develop his or her whole personality. They have set an “example of guarantee” on the basic structure of human rights and imposed a negative responsibility on the state not to encroach on individual freedoms in its various dimensions.” The Rights are considered as fundamental because they are most essential for the attainment by the individuals or his full intellectual, moral and spiritual status.

Moti Lal v. State of Uttar Pradesh,[8]

The purpose behind incorporating fundamental rights in the constitution is to establish a ‘government of law, not of man’. The law aims to establish the rule of law. The aim is not only to provide security and equality of citizenship to the people living in this land and therefore help in the process of nation building, but also and not less important to provide certain standards of conduct, citizenship, justice and fair play.’

In Case of  M. Nagraj v. Union of India[9]

The Supreme Court speaking about the significance of the fundamental rights- That fundamental rights are not the gifts from the State to citizens. Part III does not assures fundamental rights but assure their existence and give them preservation. Individuals have fundamental human rights independently based on any constitution that they are human race. These rights are important because they have internal values. Its aim is to withdraw certain subjects from the area of political controversy to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish it as a legal principle enforced by the courts.

Striking a balance between individual liberty and social need.-

If individuals are allowed to have absolute freedom of speech and action the result would be chaos, ruin and an anarchy. On the other hand, if the State has absolute power to determine the extent of personal liberty the result would be tyranny.

The Indian Constitution attempts to make a balance between the conflicting interests of individuals and of the society. The Constitution attempts it by enumerating what are fundamental rights and by setting limits within which they can be curtailed.The Constitution permits ‘ reasonable’ restrictions to be imposed on individual’s liberties in the interest of Society.


[1]  V. G. Ram Chandran – Fundamental Rights and Constitutional Remedies., Vol.1(1964), p.1

[2] Dr. J. N. Pandey, ‘ Constitutional Law of India’ Central Law Agency

[3] A. K. Gopalan v. State of Madras, AIR 1950 SC 27.

[4] West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnet 319 US 624

[5] B.K. Sharma, Introduction to the Constitution of India, PHI, p. 58(2007)

[6] 28 Led 232, per Mathew, J

[7] AIR 1978 SC 597 at p. 619

[8] AIR 1951 All. 257

[9] AIR 2007 SC 71

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