Indian Constitution at Work These are examples of clear discrimination. In one instance the discrimination is based on caste and in another it is based on gender. Do you think that such discrimination is justified? Right to equality tries to do away with such and other discriminations. It provides for equal access to public places like shops, hotels, places of entertainment, wells, bathing ghats and places of worship. There cannot be any discrimination in this access on the grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. It also prohibits any discrimination in public employment on any of the above mentioned basis. This right is very important because our society did not practice equal access in the past. The practice of untouchability is one of the crudest manifestations of inequality. This has been abolished under the right to equality. The same right also provides that the state shall confer no title on a person except those who excel themselves in military or academic field. Thus right to equality strives to make India a true democracy by ensuring a sense of equality of dignity and status among all its citizens. Have you read the Preamble to our Constitution? How does it describe equality? You will find that the Preamble mentions two things about equality: equality Article 16 (4): Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State. Chapter 2: Rights in the Indian Constitution of status and equality of opportunity. Equality of opportunity means that all sections of the society enjoy equal opportunities. But in a society where there are various kinds of social inequalities, what does equal opportunity mean? The Constitution clarifies that the government can implement special schemes and measures for improving the conditions of certain sections of society: children, women, and the socially and educationally backward classes. You may have heard about ‘reservations’ in jobs, and in admissions. You would have wondered why there are reservations if we follow the principle of equality. In fact Article 16(4) of the constitution explicitly clarifies that a policy like reservation will not be seen as a violation of right to equality. If you see the spirit of the Constitution, this is required for the fulfilment of the right to equality of opportunity. YOU ARE THE JUDGE You have received a post card from Hadibandhu, who identifies himself as a “member of the dalit community” in Puri district in Orissa. Men from this community refused to follow a custom that required them to wash the feet of the groom and guests of the ‘upper caste’ during marriage ceremonies. In revenge, four women from this community were beaten up and another was paraded naked. The post card writer says “Our children are educated and they are not willing to do the customary job of washing the feet of upper caste men, clear the left-overs after the marriage feast and wash the utensils.” Assuming that the facts given above are correct, you have to decide: Does this case involve violation of Fundamental Rights? What would you order the government to do in this case? Chapter 2: Rights in the Indian Constitution has ruled that this right also includes right to live with human dignity, free from exploitation. The court has held that right to shelter and livelihood is also included in the right to life because no person can live without the means of living, that is, the means of livelihood. Preventive detention Ordinarily, a person would be arrested after he or she has reportedly committed some offence. However there are exceptions to this. Sometimes a person can be arrested simply out of an apprehension that he or she is likely to engage in unlawful activity and imprisoned for some time without following the above mentioned procedure. This is known as preventive detention. It means that if the government feels that a person can be a threat to law and order or to the peace and security of the nation, it can detain or arrest that person. This preventive detention can be extended only for three months. After three months such a case is brought before an advisory board for review. On the face of it, preventive detention looks like an effective tool in the hands of the government to deal with anti-social elements or subversives. But this provision has often been misused by the government. Many people think that there must be greater safeguards in this law so that it may not be misused against people for reasons other than that which are really justified. In fact, there is a clear tension between right to life and personal liberty and the provision for preventive detention. Other freedoms You can see that under the right to freedom there are some other rights as well. These rights however are not absolute. Each of these is subject to restrictions imposed by the government. For example right to freedom of speech and expression is subject to restrictions such as public order, peace and morality etc. Freedom to assemble too is to be exercised peacefully and without arms. The government may impose restrictions in certain areas declaring the assembly of five or more persons as unlawful. Such powers can be easily misused by the administration. The genuine protest against an act or policy of government by the people may be denied Indian Constitution at Work permission. However, if the people are aware and vigilant in regard to their rights and choose to protest against such acts of administration such misuse becomes rare. In the Constituent Assembly itself, some members had expressed their dissatisfaction about restrictions on rights. want to Rights of accused Our Constitution ensures that persons accused of various offences would also get sufficient protection. We often tend to believe that anyone who is charged with some offence is guilty. However, no one is guilty unless the court has found that person guilty of an offence. It is also necessary that a person accused of any crime should get adequate opportunity to defend herself or himself. To ensure a fair trial in courts, the Constitution has provided three rights: • no person would be punished for the same offence more than once, • no law shall declare any action as illegal from a backdate, and • no person shall be asked to give evidence against himself or herself. Chapter 2: Rights in the Indian Constitution convert from one religion to another. However, some people resent conversions on the ground that these are based on intimidation or inducement. The Constitution does not allow forcible conversions. It only gives us the right to spread information about our religion and thus attract others to it. Equality of all religions Being a country which is home to several religions, it is necessary that the government must extend equal treatment to different religions. Negatively, it means that government will not favour any particular religion. India does not have any official religion. We don’t have to belong to any particular religion in order to be a prime minister or president or judge or any other public official. We have also seen that under the right to equality, there is a guarantee that government will not discriminate on the basis of religion in giving employment. The institutions run by the state will not preach any religion or give religious education nor will they favour persons of any religion. The objective of these provisions is to sustain and nurture the principle of secularism. Activity Make a list of public religious activities that take place in your village or city. Which of these involve an exercise of right to religious freedom? Discuss what could have happened if this right was not available to people in your locality. CULTURAL AND EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS When we talk of the Indian society, the image of diversity comes before our minds. India is not made up of a monolithic society. We are a society that has vast diversity. In such a society that is full of diversity, there would be social sections which are small in numbers compared to some other groups. If a group is in minority, will it have to adopt the culture of the majority? Our Constitution believes that diversity is our strength. Therefore, one of the fundamental rights is the right of the minorities to maintain their culture. This minority status is not dependent only

RELOAD if chapter isn't visible.