Fundamental Rights In India Will Be A Thing Of The Past And Here's Why

Fundamental rights in India are the rights guaranteed under Part III (Articles 12-35) of the Constitution of India.

There are six fundamental rights (Article 12 - 35) recognised by the Indian constitution: the right to equality (Articles 14-18), the right to freedom (Articles 19-22), the right against exploitation (Articles 23-24), the right to freedom of religion (Articles 25-28), cultural and educational rights (Articles 29-30) and the right to constitutional remedies (Article 32 and 226).

While the Constitution also creates other rights, such as the Right to Property, they are not fundamental rights. In cases of fundamental rights violations, the Supreme Court of India can be directly petitioned under Article 32 of the Constitution.

The Rights have their origins in many sources, including England's Bill of Rights, the United States Bill of Rights and France's Declaration of the Rights of Man.

Fundamental rights for Indians have also been aimed at overturning the inequalities of pre-independence social practices. Specifically, they have also been used to abolish untouchability and thus prohibit discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, gender or place of birth.

They also forbid trafficking of human beings and forced labour (a crime). They also protect cultural and educational rights of religious establishments. Right to property was changed from fundamental right to legal right.

The development of such constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human rights in India was inspired by historical examples such as England's of Rights (1689), the United States of Rights (approved on 17 September 1787, final ratification on 15 December 1791) and France's Declaration of the Rights of Man (created during the revolution of 1789, and ratified on 26 August 1789).

In 1919, the Rowlatt Act gave extensive powers to the British government and allowed indefinite arrest and detention of individuals, warrantless searches and seizures, restrictions on public gatherings, and intensive censorship of media and publications.

The public opposition to this act eventually led to mass campaigns of non-violent civil disobedience throughout the country demanding guaranteed civil freedoms, and limitations on government power. Indians, who were seeking independence and their own government, were particularly influenced by the independence of Ireland and the development of the Irish constitution.

Also, the directive principles of state policy in Irish constitution were looked upon by the people of India as an inspiration for independent India's government to comprehensively tackle complex social and economic challenges across a vast, diverse nation and population.

In 1928, the Nehru Commission composing of representatives of Indian political parties proposed constitutional reforms for India that apart from calling for dominion status for India and elections under universal suffrage, would guarantee rights deemed fundamental, representation for religious and ethnic minorities, and limit the powers of the government.

In 1931, the Indian National Congress (the largest Indian political party of the time) adopted resolutions committing itself to the defence of fundamental civil rights, as well as socio-economic rights such as the minimum wage and the abolition of untouchability and serfdom.

Committing themselves to socialism in 1936, the Congress leaders took examples from the Constitution of the Soviet Union, which inspired the fundamental duties of citizens as a means of collective patriotic responsibility for national interests and challenges.

The task of developing a constitution for the nation was undertaken by the Constituent Assembly of India, composed of non-elected representatives.

The Constituent Assembly first met on 9 December 1946 under the temporary presidency of Sachchidanand Sinha. Later, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was made its president.

While members of Congress constituted a large majority of the assembly, Congress leaders appointed persons from diverse political backgrounds to positions of responsibility for developing the constitution and national laws.

Notably, Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar became the chairperson of the Drafting Committee, while Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel became chairpersons of committees and sub-committees responsible for different subjects.

A notable development during that period having significant effect on the Indian constitution took place on 10 December 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and called upon all member states to adopt these rights in their respective constitutions.

The fundamental rights were included in the First Draft Constitution (February 1948), the Second Draft Constitution (17 October 1948) and final Third Draft Constitution (26 November 1949), prepared by the Drafting Committee.