Chapter 5. Democratic Rights

• Rights are claims of a person over other fellow beings, over society, and over government.
• Rights are reasonable claims of persons recognised by society and sanctioned by law.
• Rights are necessary for very sustenance of democracy. Rights protect minorities from oppression of majority.

Rights in Indian Constitution
• Rights that are fundamental to our life are given a special status. They are known as Fundamental Rights.
• Fundamental Rights are an important basic feature of India’s Constitution. They are enforceable by courts.
• Fundamental Rights are guaranteed against actions of Legislatures, Executive, and any other authorities instituted by government.
• Our Constitution provides for six Fundamental Rights. six Fundamental Rights are:
• Right to Equality
• Right to Freedom
• Right against Exploitation
• Right to Freedom of Religion
• Cultural and Educational Rights
• Right to Constitutional Remedies

Right to Equality
• Constitution says that government shall not deny to any person in India equality before law or equal protection of laws. It means that laws apply to all, regardless of a person’s status. It is known as Rule of Law.
• Rule of law means that no person is above law. There cannot be any distinction between a political leader, government official and an ordinary citizen.
• Right to Equality says that government shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. Every citizen shall have access to public places like shops, restaurants, hotels, & cinema halls.
• There shall be no restriction with regard to use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads, playgrounds, and places of public resorts maintained by government or dedicated to use of general public.
• Right to Equality says that all citizens have equality of opportunity in matters relating to employment or appointment to any position in government. No citizen shall be discriminated against or made ineligible for employment on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.
• reservation given to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes is not against Right to Equality.
• Equality does not mean giving everyone same treatment, but equality means giving everyone an equal opportunity to achieve whatever one is capable of. Sometimes it is necessary to give special treatment to someone to ensure equal opportunity.
• Our Constitution under Right to Equality has forbidden practice of untouchability in any form. Constitution made untouchability a punishable offence.

Right to Freedom
• Freedom means absence of constraints.
• Our Constitution gives freedom to all citizens. All citizens have right to:
• Freedom of speech and expression
• Assembly in a peaceful manner
• Form associations and unions
• Move freely throughout country
• Reside in any part of country, and
• Practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.
• Freedom is not an unlimited licence to do what one wants. government can impose certain reasonable restrictions on our freedom in larger interests of society.
• Freedom of speech and expression is one of essential features of any democracy. We are free to criticise government or activities of association through a pamphlet, magazine, newspaper. We cannot use this freedom to instigate violence against others.
• Citizens have freedom to hold meetings, processions, rallies & demonstrations on any issue. Such meetings have to be peaceful. They should not lead to public disorder or breach of peace in society.
• Citizens have freedom to travel to any part of country. We are free to reside and settle in any part of territory of India.
• Citizens have freedom to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade, or business of one’s choice. No one can force anyone to do or not do a certain job.
• Constitution says that no person can be deprived of his/he life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law. It means that no person can be killed unless court has ordered a death sentence. It means that a government or police officer cannot arrest or detain any citizen unless he/she has proper legal justification.

Right against Exploitation
• Every citizen has a right not to be exploited.
• Constitution mentions three specific evils and declares these illegal.
• First, Constitution prohibits ‘traffic in human beings.’ Traffic means selling and buying human beings, generally women, for immoral purposes.
• Second, our Constitution prohibits forced labour or begar in any form. Begar is a practice where worker is forced to render service to ‘master’ free of charge or at a nominal remuneration.
• Third, our Constitution prohibits child labour. No one can employ a child below age of fourteen to work in any factory or mine or in any other hazardous work, such as railways and ports.

Cultural and Educational Rights
• Constitution specifies cultural and educational rights of minorities:
• Any section of citizens with a distinct language or culture has a right to conserve it.
• Admission to any educational institution maintained by government or receiving government aid cannot be denied to any citizen on ground of religion or language.
• All minorities whether religious or linguistic have right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

Right to Freedom of Religion
• Every person has right to profess, practice, & propagate religion he or she believes in. Every religious group or sect is free to manage its religious affairs.
• Constitution says that government cannot compel any person to pay any taxes to promote or maintain any particular religion or religious institution.
• There shall be no religious instruction in government educational institutions. In educational and in private educational institutions no person shall be compelled to take part in any religious instruction or to attend any religious worship.

Right to Constitutional Remedies
• Sometimes our rights may be violated by other citizens, private bodies, or by government.
• If Fundamental Rights are violated, Right to Constitutional Remedies allows citizens to directly approach Supreme Court or High Court of a State.
• There can be no law or action that violates Fundamental Rights.
• Supreme Court and High Courts have power to issue directions, orders, or writs for enforcement of Fundamental Rights.
• Dr. Ambedkar known as Right to Constitutional Remedies, ‘the heart and soul’ of our Constitution.

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