Rights Protected in the Indian Constitution

Written By
Insight Delhi, IAS
Written By
Insight Delhi, IAS

Rights Protected in the Indian Constitution

The Indian Constitution: Unlocking a Pandora's Box of Rights and Freedoms; What Lies Within Will Amaze You!

Hey there! Welcome to our Constitutional Cornerstone series, where we explore the pillars that uphold the Indian Constitution. Today, we are diving into the fundamental rights enshrined within this remarkable document. So, let's embark on this journey of discovery and unravel the rights that every citizen of India possesses.

"The Indian Constitution is not just a document, but a guiding light that illuminates our fundamental rights, empowering us to shape a better future. Discover the Constitutional Cornerstone that holds the key to unlocking our true potential.”

Key Features of the Indian Constitution

Before diving into the specifics of fundamental rights, it is important to understand the foundation they stand upon. The Indian Constitution, adopted in 1950, is one of the world's longest and most comprehensive constitutions. It serves as the supreme legal framework of the country, providing guidelines for governance, democracy, and societal norms. It incorporates various unique features that have shaped the nation's political and social landscape. Some of the key characteristics of Indian Constitution:

Federalism with Unitary Features:

  • India operates on a federal system with power distributed between the central government and state governments.
  • However, unlike pure federations, it has strong features of a unitary state, granting the central government certain overriding powers in emergencies and specific subjects.

Parliamentary System:

  • India adopts a parliamentary form of government where the executive is drawn from the legislature and remains accountable to it.
  • The Prime Minister, as the head of the majority party in parliament, wields significant power.

Separation of Powers:

  • The Constitution envisages a clear division of powers among the legislature, executive, and judiciary, preventing concentration of power in any one branch.
  • An independent judiciary serves as the guardian of the Constitution and protects individual rights.

Fundamental Rights:

  • The Constitution guarantees a set of fundamental rights to all citizens, including rights to equality, freedom, against exploitation, religious freedom, cultural and educational rights, and the right to constitutional remedies.
  • These rights form the bedrock of Indian democracy and protect individuals from arbitrary state action.

Directive Principles of State Policy:

  • While non-justiciable, these principles act as guidelines for the state to strive towards achieving social justice and economic welfare for its citizens.
  • They cover key areas like education, work, living standards, and uniform civil code.


  • India is a secular state, guaranteeing equal respect for all religions and prohibiting discrimination based on religion.
  • The state remains neutral in matters of faith and cannot promote any particular religion.

Single Citizenship:

  • India upholds the concept of a single citizenship, meaning all individuals within its territory are Indian citizens, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, or place of birth.

Flexibility and Rigidity:

  • The Constitution allows for amendments through a special procedure, ensuring its adaptability to changing times.
  • However, certain core features like federalism and fundamental rights are difficult to amend, maintaining its stability.

Borrowed and Evolved Features:

  • The Constitution draws inspiration from various sources, including the British Government of India Act, the US Constitution, and the Weimar Constitution of Germany.
  • However, it has been adapted and evolved to suit India's unique context and aspirations.

These are just some of the key features of the Indian Constitution. It is a complex and multifaceted document that continues to be debated and interpreted. Understanding its core principles is crucial for comprehending the Indian political system and its impact on the lives of its citizens.


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Core Fundamental Rights in Detail

The right to equality is a cornerstone of any democratic society. In India, this right is safeguarded by various articles in the Constitution. The Fundamental Rights are a set of six basic human rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India to all its citizens. They are seen as the foundation of the Indian democracy and are enshrined in Part III of the Constitution (Articles 12 to 35). These rights are crucial in protecting individuals from arbitrary state action and promoting equality, freedom, and justice for all.

The six Fundamental Rights in India are:

Right to Equality (Articles 14-18): This right guarantee equality before law, prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, and equality of opportunity in matters of public employment.

Breakdown of Articles 14-18:

Article 14: Equality before law - This article ensures that the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.

Article 15: Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth - This article prohibits discrimination against any citizen on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. It empowers the State to make special provisions for women and children.

Article 16: Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment - Article 16 ensures equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State. It prohibits discrimination based on religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence, or any of them.

Article 17: Abolition of untouchability - This article abolishes untouchability and forbids its practice in any form. It declares it to be an offense punishable by law.

Article 18: Abolition of titles - Article 18 abolishes titles, except military and academic distinctions, and forbids the State from conferring titles. It prohibits citizens of India from accepting titles from foreign states.

Right to Freedom (Articles 19-22): This right guarantee freedom of speech and expression, assembly, association, movement, residence, and right to practice any profession or occupation. However, these rights are subject to reasonable restrictions in the interests of the State, such as security of the State, friendly relations with foreign countries, public order, decency or morality.

Breakdown of Articles 19-22:

Article 19: Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc. - Article 19 guarantees six freedoms:

  • Freedom of speech and expression
  • Freedom to assemble peacefully and without arms
  • Freedom to form associations or unions
  • Freedom to move freely throughout the territory of India
  • Freedom to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India
  • Freedom to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade, or business

However, these freedoms are subject to reasonable restrictions imposed by the State in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation, or incitement to an offense.

Article 20: Protection in respect of conviction for offenses - Article 20 provides protection against ex post facto laws and double jeopardy. It also ensures that no person accused of an offense shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.

Article 21: Protection of life and personal liberty - Article 21 guarantees the protection of life and personal liberty, stating that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.

Article 22: Protection against arrest and detention in certain cases - Article 22 provides protection against arrest and detention in certain cases. It ensures safeguards against arbitrary arrest and detention by providing various rights to persons arrested or detained.

Right against Exploitation (Articles 23-24): This right prohibits trafficking in human beings and forced labour, and employment of children below the age of 14 years in any factory or mine or in any other hazardous employment.

Breakdown of Articles 23-24:

Article 23: Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labor - This article prohibits trafficking in human beings and forced labor. It states that traffic in human beings and all forms of forced labor are prohibited, and any contravention of this provision shall be an offense punishable in accordance with the law.

Article 24: Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc. - Article 24 prohibits the employment of children below the age of fourteen years in any factory, mine, or other hazardous employment. It further provides that the State may, by law, regulate the working conditions of children employed in any industry or occupation.

Right to Freedom of Religion (Articles 25-28): This right guarantee freedom of conscience and free profession, practice, and propagation of religion. It also prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion and allows for the establishment and administration of educational institutions by religious minorities.

Breakdown of Articles 25-28:

Article 25: Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice, and propagation of religion - This article guarantees to every individual the freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion subject to public order, morality, and health. It also allows the State to regulate or restrict any economic, financial, political, or other secular activity associated with religious practices.

Article 26: Freedom to manage religious affairs - Article 26 grants religious denominations or any section thereof the freedom to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes, manage their own affairs in matters of religion, own and acquire movable and immovable property, and administer such property in accordance with law.

Article 27: Freedom as to payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion - Article 27 ensures that no person shall be compelled to pay any taxes, the proceeds of which are specifically appropriated in payment of expenses for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious denomination.

Article 28: Freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions - Article 28 provides that no religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds and that no person attending any educational institution recognized by the State or receiving aid out of State funds shall be required to take part in any religious instruction or worship without his consent.

Cultural and Educational Rights (Articles 29-30): This right protects the right to conserve one's culture, language or script and the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

Breakdown of Articles 29-30:

Article 29: Protection of interests of minorities - Article 29 safeguards the interests of minorities by granting them the following rights:

  • Protection of the interests of minorities based on religion, language, script, or culture.
  • The right of citizens belonging to minority communities to conserve their distinct culture, language, or script.
  • No citizen can be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on grounds of religion, race, caste, language, or any of them.

Article 30: Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions - Article 30 provides the following rights to minorities, whether based on religion or language:

  • The right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
  • The State cannot discriminate against any educational institution maintained by a minority community in granting aid solely on the grounds that it is under the management of a minority, whether based on religion or language.

Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32): This right guarantees the right to move the Supreme Court or High Courts for the protection of any other fundamental right. It is considered the keystone of the Fundamental Rights as it empowers individuals to seek judicial protection against any violation of their fundamental rights.


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Limitations and Exceptions

While fundamental rights are a symbol of freedom and empowerment, they are not absolute. The Constitution recognizes that there may be reasonable restrictions placed on them to prevent abuse and protect public welfare. Certain fundamental rights may be limited to ensure harmony and the greater good of society. Instances like some limitations on the right to freedom of speech and expression highlight the delicate balance between individual rights and societal interests.

Evolution and Controversies Surrounding Fundamental Rights

Over the years, the interpretation of fundamental rights has evolved through judicial pronouncements. The Indian judiciary has played a crucial role in shaping and expanding the scope of these rights, ensuring they keep pace with societal changes. However, controversies and debates continue to emerge surrounding specific fundamental rights. Some of these debates revolve around issues like the right to privacy, freedom of speech online, affirmative action, and gender equality.


Understanding our fundamental rights is essential for every citizen to be informed, empowered, and capable of protecting their liberties. The Indian Constitution provides a solid framework of fundamental rights that safeguard the core values of equality, freedom, and justice. As responsible citizens, let us exercise our rights responsibly and stay vigilant in upholding the principles enshrined within our Constitution. After all, knowledge of our rights paves our path to a more inclusive and equitable society.

So, as we conclude today's exploration, join us next time as we uncover yet another vital aspect of the Indian Constitution and delve deeper into the rights and responsibilities bestowed upon us by this remarkable document.