Criticism of Fundamental Rights
The Fundamental Rights enshrined in Part III of the Constitution have met with a wide and varied criticism. The arguments of the critics are:
2. No Social and Economic RightsThe list is not comprehensive as it mainly consists of political rights. It makes no provision for important social and economic rights like right to social security, right to work, right to employment, right to rest and leisure and so on. These rights are made available to the citizens of advanced democratic countries. Also, the socialistic constitutions of erstwhile USSR or China provided for such rights.
3. No Clarity They are stated in a vague, indefinite and ambiguous manner. The various phrases and words used in the chapter like ‘public order’, ‘minorities’, ‘reasonable restriction’, ‘public interest’ and so on are not clearly defined. The language used to describe them is very complicated and beyond the comprehension of the common man. It is alleged that the Constitution was made by the lawyers for the lawyers. Sir Ivor Jennings called the Constitution of India a ‘paradise for lawyers’.
4. No Permanency They are not sacrosanct or immutable as the Parliament can curtail or abolish them, as for example, the abolition of the fundamental right to property in 1978. Hence, they can become a play tool in the hands of politicians having majority support in the Parliament. The judicially innovated ‘doctrine of basic structure’ is the only limitation on the authority of Parliament to curtail or abolish the fundamental right.
5. Suspension During EmergencyThe suspension of their enforcement during the operation of National Emergency (except Articles 20 and 21) is another blot on the efficacy of these rights. This provision cuts at the roots of democratic system in the country by placing the rights of the millions of innocent people in continuous jeopardy. According to the critics, the Fundamental Rights should be enjoyable in all situations—Emergency or no Emergency.
6. Expensive Remedy The judiciary has been made responsible for defending and protecting these rights against the interference of the legislatures and executives. However, the judicial process is too expensive and hinders the common man from getting his rights enforced through the courts. Hence, the critics say that the rights benefit mainly the rich section of the Indian Society.
7. Preventive DetentionThe critics assert that the provision for preventive detention (Article 22) takes away the spirit and substance of the chapter on fundamental rights. It confers arbitrary powers on the State and negates individual liberty. It justifies the criticism that the Constitution of India deals more with the rights of the State against the individual than with the rights of the individual against the State. Notably, no democratic country in the world has made preventive detention as an integral part of their Constitutions as has been made in India.
8. No Consistent Philosophy According to some critics, the chapter on fundamental rights is not the product of any philosophical principle. Sir Ivor Jennings expressed this view when he said that the Fundamental Rights proclaimed by the Indian Constitution are based on no consistent philosophy. The critics say that this creates difficulty for the Supreme Court and the high courts in interpreting the fundamental rights.
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