Fundamental Rights and its features

Natural, Human, Legal and Moral Rights

In simple words, rights are the common claims of people which every civilized society recognizes as essential claims for their development, and which are therefore enforced by the state.

  • According to Laski, “Rights are those conditions of social life without which no man can seek in general, to be himself at his best.”
  • T. H. Green explained that “Rights are powers necessary for the fulfilment of man’s vocation as a moral being.”
  • Beni Prasad stated that “Rights are nothing more nor less than those social conditions which are necessary or favourable to the development of personality.

Various Kinds of Rights

Natural Rights:

  • These are universal rights which are inherent in every individual being a part of human nature. 
  • They are not conferred by law but only recognized and made enforceable by law. For example, right to life.

Human Rights:

  • Human rights are like natural rights in the sense that they are universal and are intrinsic in human nature. 
  • They are needed for dignified human life and are enjoyed irrespective of social, political, and other considerations. 

The Protection of Human Rights Act 1993 describes” Human Rights mean rights relating to life liberty, equality and dignity of the individuals guaranteed by the constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India.”

The United Nation Centre of Human Rights defines Human Rights as “those rights which are inherent in our nature and without which we cannot live as human beings”.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted in 1948, states human rights as “rights derived from the inherent dignity of the human person”.

Characteristics of human rights:

Human Rights are Inalienable: They are innate in all individuals irrespective of their caste, creed, religion, sex and nationality. Human rights are conferred to an individual even after his death. The different rituals in different religions bear testimony to this fact.

Human Rights are associated with human dignity: To treat another individual with dignity regardless of the fact that the person is a male or female, rich or poor is concerned with human dignity.

Human Rights are Irrevocable: Human rights are irrevocable as they cannot be taken away by any power or authority because these rights originate with the social nature of man in the society of human beings, and they belong to a person simply because he is a human being. As such human rights have similarities to moral rights.

Human Rights are essential for the fulfilment of purpose of life: Human life has a purpose. The phrase “human right” is applied to those conditions which are essential for the fulfilment of this purpose. No government has the power to curtail or take away the rights which are sacrosanct, inviolable, and immutable.

Human Rights are Dynamic: Human rights are not stationary, they are dynamic. Human rights go on expanding with socio-eco-cultural and political developments within the State. Judges must construe laws in such ways as are in tune with the changed social values.

Legal Rights:

  • Legal rights are rights which are guaranteed by any statute for the time being in force. 
  • For example, it could be a legal right of a son against his deceased father’s property or right of a citizen to vote.

Moral Rights:

  • Moral Rights are based on human consciousness. 
  • They are supported by the moral force of the human mind. These are based on human sense of goodness and justice. 
  • These are not assisted by the force of law. Sense of goodness and public opinion are the sanctions behind moral rights.
  • If any person disrupts any moral right, no legal action can be taken against him. 
  • The state does not enforce these rights. Its courts do not recognize these rights. Moral Rights include rules of good conduct, courtesy and of moral behaviour. These stand for moral perfection of the people.

Difference between Fundamental Rights and Human Rights

  • Fundamental Rights are defined as, ‘The Rights that ensures the civil liberty of the citizens of the country , irrespective of their race, cast, gender, place of birth or religion and allows the citizens of the country to lead their life as per their wants are known as fundamental rights.’ 
  • Human rights are defined as, ‘the basic rights and freedoms of a person, from birth which all Human beings are entitled to, and stays until death.’ As human rights are essential for all, no one is discriminated against based on religion, caste, gender, place of birth, etc.
Basis of DifferenceHuman RightsFundamental Rights
MeaningBasic rights of the people that promote fairness, equality, freedom and respect for all the people.The Rights that ensure the civil liberty of the citizens i.e., to lead their life as per their wants.
ScopeThese are universal i.e., accepted all over the globe.These are country specific i.e., only exists for the people of a particular country.
Guarded byThese are guarded internationally as they are universally accepted.These are guarded by the constitution as they are country specific.
Enforcement AuthorityEnforced by the organisation of the United Nations.Enforced by the law of a specific country.

Features Of Fundamental Rights In India

  • Integral part of the Constitution
    • Fundamental Rights have been made an integral part of the Constitution and hence cannot be taken away by ordinary legislation. Any law passed by any legislature in the country would be declared null and void if it is derogatory to the rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
  • Protected by Constitution
    • Fundamental Rights, unlike ordinary legal rights, are protected and guaranteed by the constitution of the country.
    • Some of the rights are available only to the citizens while others are available to all persons whether citizens, foreigners or legal persons like corporations or companies.
  • Not Sacrosanct, Permanent, or Absolute
    • They are not sacrosanct or permanent and the Parliament can curtail or repeal them but only by a constitutional amendment act.
    • The rights are not absolute but qualified.
    • The state can impose reasonable restrictions on them, however, the reasonability of the restrictions is decided by the courts.
  • They are Justiciable
    • The rights are justiciable and allow persons to move the courts for their enforcement, if and when they are violated.
    • Any aggrieved person can directly go to the Supreme Court in case of violation of any fundamental right.
  • Suspension of Rights
    • The rights can be suspended during the operation of a National Emergency except the rights guaranteed by Articles 20 and 21.
    • Further, the six rights guaranteed by Article 19 can be suspended only when there is an external emergency war or external aggression) [and not on the ground of armed rebellion (i.e., internal emergency].
  • Restriction of Laws
    • Their application to the members of armed forces, paramilitary forces, police forces, intelligence agencies and analogous services can be restricted or abrogated by the Parliament (Article 33).
    • Their application can be restricted while martial law (military rule imposed under abnormal circumstances) is in force in any area.
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