Significant Provisions


Emergency Provisions in the Constitution of India

The Emergency Provisions are mentioned from Article 352 to Article 360.

?      Article 352: Proclamation of Emergency – due to external intrusion or war the President of India can declare a state of emergency through a Proclamation. This Article suggests that such a Proclamation can be revoked or a varied Proclamation can also be issued. However, the decision of the Cabinet ministers to issue such a proclamation must be sent to the President in written form prior to his issuance of the same. According to the Article, all such Proclamations should be presented to both the Houses of the Parliament. The Proclamations, if not accepted by a resolution, will be counted as ineffective after one month. If the Proclamation is not accepted after the passing of a second resolution, then it will become ineffective after the expiry of 6 months of the second resolution. It is also mentioned in the Article that not less than two-thirds of the members of any of the Parliamentary Houses should be required to pass a resolution. There are certain rules specified in this Article regarding the President revoking or issuing a varied Proclamation during Emergency.

?      Article 353: Effect of Proclamation of Emergency – this Article states that the Proclamation of Emergency includes extending the executive power of the union to the states in the form of directions. The Parliament, as per this Article, can confer the power to make laws, upon the officers or authorities of the Union.

?      Article 354: Application of provisions relating to distribution of revenues while a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation – provisions made under Articles 268 to 279 can be modified or exceptions can be made by the President of India by an Order while the Proclamation period of emergency is going on. Information about all such Orders must be conveyed to both the Houses of Parliament.

?      Article 355: Duty of the Union to protect States against external aggression and internal disturbance – this Article states the fact that the Union or Center is solely responsible for defending the various states from all types of violence and aggressions erupting from outside and disturbances occurring within the nation’s territory.

?      Article 356: Provisions in case of failure of constitutional machinery in States – the President of India can take charge of a state if the reports submitted to him by the Governor suggest that the government of the state has become incapable of exercising the Constitutional powers. The President is also subjected to exercise the powers of the government of such state by Proclamation. The Proclamation issued under such circumstances become ineffective after 6 months from the date of issuance, if not revoked during this time period. All such Proclamations have to be presented to both the Houses of Indian Parliament and will expire after two months. The Legislative powers of such state shall also be exercised by the Parliament. In the Houses of Parliament there are certain rules and regulations regarding the expiry of the Proclamation and the time period normally depends upon the fact whether it has been revoked earlier or not.

?      Article 357: Exercise of legislative powers under Proclamation issued under article 356 – the powers of the Legislature shall be exercised by the Parliament during emergency. The Parliament has the right to delegate Legislative powers to the President of India or any such authority. The President of India, after the Proclamation of Article 356, can make laws and shall have access to the consolidated fund during the time period when the House of the People is not in operation.

?      Article 358: Suspension of provisions of article 19 during emergencies – any provision under Article 19 will not be effective during emergency and the states can make law and undertake executive action. However, only those laws and executive actions containing recital related to emergency during the Proclamation of Emergency are effective as per the Article.

?      Article 359: Suspension of the enforcement of the rights conferred by Part III during emergencies – the President of India can suspend all ongoing proceedings in any court of the nation during emergencies by an Order. The President can also call upon all pending court proceedings in case of emergencies. All such orders declaring the suspension of court proceedings have to be submitted to both the Houses of Parliament.

?      Article 360: Provisions as to financial emergency – a declaration shall be made by the President of India through a Proclamation regarding the financial crisis of the nation if such situation arises. Such a Proclamation can be revoked and has to be presented in both the Houses of the Parliament. The Proclamation thus issued will become null and void after two months if the same is not approved through a resolution passed by the Houses of Parliament. In case the Houses are not in session the Article suggests certain specific guidelines regarding the Proclamation. This Article also includes provisions relating to the salary and allowance reduction of those who are employed with Union and state departments. A provision relating to money bills and other financial bills passed by the state Legislature is mentioned in the Article. This provision states that all such bills have to be considered by the President during financial instability.


Special Provisions Relating to Certain Classes

The Constitution of India has listed the special provisions relating to certain classes in Part XVI. From Article 330 to Article 342.

?      Article 330: Reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the House of the People – this Article states that a certain number of seats should be reserved in the House of the People for both the Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes. However, clause b of the Article includes Schedule Tribes excluding those who live in the autonomous districts of Assam. Clause c of the Article includes the Schedule Tribes belonging to the autonomous Assam districts. It is also mentioned in this Article that the total number of such seats assigned to the Schedule Tribes of autonomous Assam districts should match the total number of seats allotted in the House of the People. The seats alloted to the Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes of a particular state or Union Territory should be proportional to the total number of seats reserved for such state or Union Territory in the house of the People.

?      Article 331: Representation of the Anglo-Indian Community in the House of the People – it is specified in this Article of the Indian Constitution that the President of India has the sole right to elect a maximum of 2 members belonging to the Anglo-Indian section to represent the entire community.

?      Article 332: Reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assemblies of the States – This Article of the Constitution states that a definite number of seats in every state’s Legislative Assembly should be alloted to the Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes. The Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes of the autonomous districts of Assam are also given seats in the Legislative Assembly. It is also specified that a person not belonging to the Schedule Tribes category of Assam state cannot contest the Legislation Assembly election from any of the constituencies of the districts of the state. Also, all areas outside the periphery of the districts of Assam should not hold any constituency of the Legislative Assembly of the Assam state. The total seats alloted to the state Legislative Assembly of Assam should be in proportion of the total population and the share of the SC/ST in such population.


As per Article332, the number of seats alloted to the SC/STs of a state should follow a proportion to the total number of seats assigned in the Assembly as the total population of the SC/STs in that state with respect to the total state population.

In case of such states as Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh, as per the Constitution Act 1987, if all the seats of the Legislative Assembly after the first census of 2000, belong to the Schedule Tribes, then only one seat shall be alloted to other communities. Also, the total number of seats alloted to the Schedule Tribes shall not be less than the existing number of seats in the Assembly of the state.

The Article suggests that the the total number of seats of Schedule Tribes in the Legislative Assembly of Tripura state should be proportional to the total number of existing seats in the Assembly. As per the Constitution Act 1992, the number of the Schedule Tribe members in the Legislative Assembly of Tripura shall not be less than the total number of seats already available in the Assembly.


?      Article 333: Representation of the Anglo-Indian community in the Legislative Assemblies of the States – according to this Article of the Constitution of India if the Governor of any state thinks it necessary to elect one representative of the Anglo-Indian community for the Legislative Assembly of that state then he can do the same. Also, if the governor feels that Anglo-Indian community does not have sufficient representation in the state Legislative Assembly then also he can elect one member of that community for the Assembly.

?      Article 334: Reservation of seats and special representation to cease after 289A – This Article holds the fact that after 60 years of the enactment of the Indian Constitution, certain provisions shall become ineffective. However, it is also specified that the Article will not be applied until and unless the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly gets dissolved because of some significant reason. The Provisions with which this Article deals with include reserving seats for Anglo-Indian community, Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes in the House of the People or in the Legislative Assembly.

?      Article 335: Claims of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to services and posts – The Article states that the various claims of the Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes shall be regarded accordingly. Relaxation of age, lower cut off marks and easier parameters of evaluation for the purpose of selecting SC/ST candidates to different posts and services will remain intact irrespective of the provisions mentioned in this Article.

?      Article 336: Special provision for Anglo-Indian community in certain services – as per this Article, for such posts of Union as postal and telegraph, customs and railway, the members of the Anglo-Indian community will be selected, for the first two years of the initiation of the Constitution, following the rules prevailing before 15th August, 1947. It is also specified that in every two years the total number of seats allotted to the Anglo-Indian community in different services and posts will go down by 10%. The Article states that these provisions will become ineffective after 10 years of the enactment of the Indian Constitution. However, clause 2 of this Article clearly mentions that if a candidate of the concerned community is eligible for any post other than the ones mentioned above then he will be selected with immediate effect.

?      Article 337: Special provision with respect to educational grants for the benefit of Anglo-Indian community – the provisions of this Article deal with the fact that grants to the Anglo-Indian community shall be offered in the first three years of the enactment of the Constitution following the same rules made on 31st March 1948. It is also stated that the amount of such grants will reduce by 10% in every three succeeding years. It is mentioned that after 10 years of the initiation of the Constitution of India all such grants will cease to exist. Moreover, the Article states that only when at least 40% of the admissions in educational units belong to communities other than Anglo-Indians, such grants will be offered to the said community.

?      Article 338: National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes – This Article covers the issues to be dealt with by the said Commission exclusively made for the Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes. As per the Constitution of India, the Article holds that the Commission should include a Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and other members all of whom are elected by the President of India. The Commission, according to the Article, has the power to investigate all matters that are related to the safeguard of the Sc/STs. The commission can also exercise its power by summoning any person from any part of the nation to interrogate him regarding a particular issue of the SC/STs. The Commission shall also take necessary measures to improve the socio-economic status of the Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes. A report specifying whether the safeguards of the ST/SCs are maintained properly shall be submitted to the President of India every year by the Commission.

?      Article 339: Control of the Union over the administration of Scheduled Areas and the welfare of Scheduled Tribes – the Article suggests that a Commission specifying the administration of Scheduled Areas and Welfare of Scheduled Tribes shall be formed by Order of the President after 10 years of the Indian Constitution’s enactment. The various procedures and powers of the commission are to be included in the said Order. Planning and execution of various schemes pertaining to the development of the Schedule Tribes included in the executive power of the Union is also mentioned in the Article.

?      Article 340: Appointment of a Commission to investigate the conditions of backward classes – this Article specifies that the President of India can form a Commission by Order that will look into the overall condition of the people belonging to the backward classes. This Commission is also supposed to recommend any state or union the necessary steps through which the underprivileged classes can improve their social and economic status. On the basis of the investigation done, the Commission shall submit a report to the President of India. The President, in turn, shall present such report with a memorandum to both of the Houses of the Indian Parliament and will prescribe the necessary steps to be taken to develop the condition of the backward classes.

?      Article 341: Scheduled Castes – this Article states that the President of India after taking the advice of the Governor of any state or Union Territory, has the right to demarcate tribes, races or castes or a part of any group as Scheduled Castes, in accordance with the law of the Constitution. The president can do the same by issuing a public notification. However, the Parliament of India can, by law, accept or reject the list containing the Scheduled Caste groups.

?      Article 342: Scheduled Tribe – a group belonging to a tribe or an entire tribal community of a state or an Union Territory can be declared as Scheduled Tribe by the President of India through issuing a public notice. The President consults with the Governor of the concerned state or Union Territory before specifying a tribe as Scheduled Tribe. The Parliament of India can decide upon canceling or keeping the particular ST in the list of Scheduled Tribes. However, the public notification issued for declaration of the Scheduled Tribe can be saved by the Parliament.


Other provisions


Article 369 {Temporary power to Parliament to make laws with respect to certain matters in the State List as if they were matters in the Concurrent List}

Article 370 {Temporary provisions with respect to the State of Jammu and Kashmir}

Article 371 {Special provision with respect to the States of Maharashtra and Gujarat}

Article 371A {Special provision with respect to the State of Nagaland}

Article 371B {Special provision with respect to the State of Assam}

Article 371C {Special provision with respect to the State of Manipur}

Article 371D {Special provisions with respect to the State of Andhra Pradesh}

Article 371E {Establishment of Central University in Andhra Pradesh}

Article 371F {Special provisions with respect to the State of Sikkim}

Article 371G {Special provision with respect to the State of Mizoram}

Article 371H {Special provision with respect to the State of Arunachal Pradesh}

Article 371I {Special provision with respect to the State of Goa}

Article 372 {Continuance in force of existing laws and their adaptation}

Article 372A {Power of the President to adapt laws}

Article 373 {Power of President to make order in respect of persons under preventive detention in certain cases}

Article 374 {Provisions as to Judges of the Federal Court and proceedings pending in the Federal Court or before His Majesty in Council}

Article 375 {Courts, authorities and officers to continue to function subject to the provisions of the Constitution}

Article 376 {Provisions as to Judges of High Courts}

Article 377 {Provisions as to Comptroller and Auditor-General of India}

Article 378 {Provisions as to Public Commissions}

Article 378A {Special provisions as to duration of Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly}

Basic Structure






The basic structure doctrine is an Indian judicial principle that the Constitution of India has certain basic features that cannot be altered or destroyed through amendments by the parliament. Key among these “basic features”, are the fundamental rights granted to individuals by the constitution. The doctrine thus forms the basis of a limited power of the Indian Supreme Court to review and strike down constitutional amendments enacted by the parliament which conflict with or seek to alter this “basic structure” of the constitution.

In 1965, The “basic features” principle was first expounded by Justice J.R. Mudholkar in his dissent in the case of Sajjan Singh v. State of Rajasthan.

In 1973, the basic structure doctrine triumphed in Justice Hans Raj Khanna’s judgment in the landmark decision of Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala. Previously, the Supreme Court had held that the power of parliament to amend the constitution was unfettered. However, in this landmark ruling, the court adjudicated that while parliament has “wide” powers, it did not have the power to destroy or emasculate the basic elements or fundamental features of the constitution.

In 1975, Indira Nehru Gandhi v. Raj Narain, a Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court used the basic structure doctrine to strike down the 39th amendment and paved the way for restoration of Indian democracy.

In 1980, The Constitution (Forty-Second Amendment) Act had been enacted by the government of Indira Gandhi in response to the Kesavananda judgment in an effort to reduce the power of the judicial review of constitutional amendments by the Supreme Court. In the Minerva Mills case, Nani Palkhivala successfully moved the Supreme Court to declare sections 4 & 55 of the 42nd amendment as unconstitutional. Chief Justice Yeshwant Vishnu Chandrachud explained in the Minerva Mills judgment that since the power of Parliament to amend the constitution was limited, as had been previously held through the basic structure doctrine in the Kesavananda case, the parliament could not by amending the constitution convert this limited power into an unlimited power (as it had purported to do by the 42nd amendment). In addition, the court also ruled that the parliament’s “power to amend is not a power to destroy”.

The basic structure doctrine applies only to constitutional amendments. It does not apply to ordinary acts of parliament, which must itself be in conformity with the constitution.

In Kesavananda there were differing opinions even among the majority for what the “basic structure” of the constitution comprised.

Chief Justice Sikri, writing for the majority, indicated that the basic structure consists of the following:

  • The supremacy of the constitution.
  • A republican and democratic form of government.
  • The secular character of the Constitution.
  • Maintenance of the separation of powers.
  • The federal character of the Constitution.

Justices Shelat and Grover in their opinion added three features to the Chief Justice’s list:

  • The mandate to build a welfare state contained in the Directive Principles of State Policy.
  • Maintenance of the unity and integrity of India.
  • The sovereignty of the country.

Justices Hegde and Mukherjea, in their opinion, provided a separate and shorter list:

  • The sovereignty of India.
  • The democratic character of the polity.
  • The unity of the country.
  • Essential features of individual freedoms.
  • The mandate to build a welfare state.

Justice Jaganmohan Reddy preferred to look at the preamble, stating that the basic features of the constitution were laid out by that part of the document, and thus could be represented by:

  • A sovereign democratic republic.
  • The provision of social, economic and political justice.
  • Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship.
  • Equality of status and opportunity.

The interpretation of the basic structure has since evolved in numerous other court rulings since theKesavananda judgment.



Part II of the Indian Constitution consists of the following articles:

  • Article 5. Citizenship at the commencement of the Constitution.
  • Article 6. Rights of citizenship of certain persons who have migrated to India from Pakistan.
  • Article 7. Rights of citizenship of certain migrants to Pakistan.
  • Article 8. Rights of citizenship of certain persons of Indian origin residing outside India.
  • Article 9. Persons voluntarily acquiring citizenship of a foreign State not to be citizens.
  • Article 10. Continuance of the rights of citizenship.
  • Article 11. Parliament to regulate the right of citizenship by law.

Citizen is a native or naturalized member of a state or other political community. The citizenship is a state of being a citizen of a particular social, political, or national community. The major issues in Constituent assembly on citizenship For the constitution assembly, to arrive at a final draft for Citizenship was one of the most arduous tasks while framing the constitution.

The problem was partition of India on one hand and India being recreated by uniting the princely states on the other. India’s partition into India and Pakistan caused millions of people cross the border. Partition on the basis of religion forced  The Hindus and Sikhs who were born in Pakistan side came to India and Muslims who were born in India migrated to Pakistan. Apart from that, there were people who had left their homeland India and started living abroad and now wanted to come back as the country was a free nation.

Constitution as Part II. The problem of citizenship was basically as follows: The people who were born and living in Pakistan and migrated to India were to be provided Indian Citizenship. The people who were born and living in India and migrated to Pakistan were to be excluded and debarred from Indian Citizenship. People who migrated to Pakistan in 1947 but returned back to live in India permanently had to be provided Citizenship. The people who were born in India, but living abroad but came back, had to be provided citizenship.

Article 5 : Citizenship at the commencement of the Constitution. At the commencement of this Constitution, every person who has his domicile in the territory of India and- who was born in the territory of India; or either of whose parents was born in the territory of India; or who has been ordinarily resident in the territory of India for not less than five years immediately preceding such commencement, shall be a citizen of India. Article5 refers to the Citizenship on January 26, 1950. This article provided that the ordinary resident in the territory of India since or before January 26, 1945 were deemed to be Indian Citizens

Article 6. Rights of citizenship of certain persons who have migrated to India from Pakistan. Notwithstanding anything in article 5, a person who has migrated to the territory of India from the territory now included in Pakistan shall be deemed to be a citizen of India at the commencement of this Constitution if- he or either of his parents or any of his grand-parents was born in India as defined in the Government of India Act, 1935 (as originally enacted); and (i) in the case where such person has so migrated before the nineteenth day of July, 1948, he has been ordinarily resident in the territory of India since the date of his migration, or (ii) in the case where such person has so migrated on or after the nineteenth day of July, 1948, he has been registered as a citizen of India by an officer appointed in that behalf by the Government of the Dominion of India on an application made by him there for to such officer before the commencement of this Constitution in the form and manner prescribed by that Government: Provided that no person shall be so registered unless he has been resident in the territory of India for at least six months immediately preceding the date of his application. Article 6 deals with those persons who migrated to India from Pakistan. India as defined in the Government of India Act, 1935 means undivided India.

These persons were divided into two categories.

Category 1: Those who came before July 19, 1948

Category 2: Those who came after July 19, 1948

Those who came from Pakistan to India before July 19, 1948 would automatically become Indian Citizens. Those who came after July 19, 1948 would become Indian Citizens provided they had been registered in the form and manner as prescribed by the Government of India.

Article 7: Rights of citizenship of certain migrants to Pakistan. Notwithstanding anything in articles 5 and 6, a person who has after the first day of March, 1947, migrated from the territory of India to the territory now included in Pakistan shall not be deemed to be a citizen of India: Provided that nothing in this article shall apply to a person who, after having so migrated to the territory now included in Pakistan, has returned to the territory of India under a permit for resettlement or permanent return issued by or under the authority of any law and every such person shall for the purposes of clause (b) of article 6 be deemed to have migrated to the territory of India after the nineteenth day of July, 1948. Article 7 deals with those persons who had migrated to Pakistan but returned to India from Pakistan with intention to live here permanently. Please note that this article deals with the “permit system”. The permit system was introduced in July 19, 1948. This system provided that a person who is desiring to return back to India with an intention to permanently reside was required to get a separate permit

Article 8: Rights of citizenship of certain persons of Indian origin residing outside India. Notwithstanding anything in article 5, any person who or either of whose parents or any of whose grand-parents was born in India as defined in the Government of India Act, 1935 (as originally enacted), and who is ordinarily residing in any country outside India as so defined shall be deemed to be a citizen of India if he has been registered as a citizen of India by the diplomatic or consular representative of India in the country where he is for the time being residing on an application made by him therefor to such diplomatic or consular representative, whether before or after the commencement of this Constitution, in the form and manner prescribed by the Government of the Dominion of India or the Government of India. Article 8 deals with those persons who were living abroad. The article provides that any person who was born or his parents /grandparents were born in undivided India but living abroad and wants to return to India would need to be registered at the as Citizen of India by the diplomatic or consular representative of India in that country.

Article 9: Persons voluntarily acquiring citizenship of a foreign State not to be citizens. No person shall be a citizen of India by virtue of article 5, or be deemed to be a citizen of India by virtue of article 6 or article 8, if he has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of any foreign State. Under article 9 of the constitution, any person who has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign country, even if qualified for Indian Citizenship under any of the provisions of the constitution will not be a Citizen of India.

Article 10: Continuance of the rights of citizenship. Every person who is or is deemed to be a citizen of India under any of the foregoing provisions of this Part shall, subject to the provisions of any law that may be made by Parliament, continue to be such citizen.

Article 11: Parliament to regulate the right of citizenship by law. Nothing in the foregoing provisions of this Part shall derogate from the power of Parliament to make any provision with respect to the acquisition and termination of citizenship and all other matters relating to citizenship. The nature of provisions from Article 5 to 9 show that the objective of the constituent assembly was not to make a permanent law for citizenship. Ours is a Republic Country and various offices are to be occupied by the persons who are elected by the citizens. So, keeping this in view, it was necessary for the Constituent Assembly to make some provisions which could precisely determine that who is a Citizen of Independent Indian Dominion and who is not, at the time of the commencement of the constitution. Further, the constituent also gave plenary power to the parliament of India to deal with the question of nationality. Article 10 and more precisely Article 11 give the power to the parliament to make law in this connection as and when it suits to the demands of the circumstances. The power in parliament vested by Article 11 embraced not only acquisition but also the termination or any other matter related to Citizenship. Using the power vested in parliament by Article 11 of the Constitution of India, a comprehensive law “The Citizenship Act, 1955” was passed by the parliament. This act has been amended from time to time to make space for provisions as and when required.


An Overseas Citizen of India is a lifetime visa status. It is the closest thing to dual citizenship that India offers.

Who can be an OCI?

(This list was expanded as of 9 January 2015)

  1. A person who used to be an Indian citizen
  2. A person with at least one parent, grandparent,or great-grandparent who is/was an Indian citizen
  3. A person married to an Indian citizen or an existing OCI for at least two continuous years

The following groups of people cannot have OCI status:

  • Anyone who was ever a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh
  • Anyone whose parents or grandparents were citizens of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, or Sri Lanka
  • Anyone who served in a foreign military or worked in a foreign defense department

What are the benefits of being an OCI?

  • Lifelong multiple entry visa to India
  • You never have to report to the FRRO regardless of the length of your stay
  • You can eventually become a citizen of India if you remain an OCI for 5 years and live in India for at least 1 year(short breaks are now allowed)
  • You can use special counters during immigration
  • You don’t need a student visa to study in India
  • You don’t need an employment visa to get a job
  • You can open a special bank account in India, just like an NRI
  • You can make investments in India
  • You can buy non-farm property and exercise property ownership rights
  • Your can use your OCI card to apply for a driver’s license, open a bank account, or get a PAN card
  • You get the same economic, financial, and education benefits as NRIs (e.g. reserved admission quotas), and you can adopt children like an NRI
  • You pay the Indian resident fee when visiting a national parks, monuments, museums or wildlife sanctuary (of course it is ultimately up to the discretion of the man issuing tickets)

What are the drawbacks?

  • You may not purchase agricultural land or farm houses
  • You may not vote
  • You may not hold a government job
  • You may not be elected to a political position
  • You may not travel to restricted areas without permission

How do you become an OCI?

You can apply through the Indian embassy in your country of residence or within India at the local FRRO.

Here is a sample of documentation you will need (see your local consulate for a specific list):

  • Proof of present citizenship
  • Proof of former Indian citizenship (for you or your relative)
  • Proof of renunciation of Indian citizenship (if applicable)
  • Proof of relationship to an Indian citizen

The entire process can take several months in some cases. Fees vary from nationality to nationality. If you apply in India, the fee is Rs. 15,000 for an adult or Rs. 8,000 for a minor. You can convert a PIO card to an OCI card if you qualify, and the fees are very nominal.

PIO (Person of Indian Origin) used to be a 15 year visa for non-Indian citizens, but it has since been removed.

Fundamental Rights

The Constitution of India guarantees certain Fundamental Rights to the Citizens of India.

The Indian constitution contains a chapter on fundamental rights. Part III (Art. 12-35) contains fundamental rights of Indian citizens. The fundamental rights are called fundamental because they are basic to the development of human personality.

The Indian fundamental rights, contrasted with such rights contained in the U. S. bill of rights, present several peculiarities. First, the fundamental rights in India are far more elaborate than in the U. S. A. Thus, for example, the U. S. bill of rights (first ten amendments) only names some rights. The Supreme Court, through the process of judicial review decides the limitations on these rights. In India, determination of limitations on fundamental rights is not left to judicial interpretation. The constitution itself contains (clauses 2-6 in Art. 19) such limitations. The limitations contemplated by the constitution are-

  • public order,
  • security of the state and
  • sovereignty and integrity of India.

In the face of these limitations, the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution cannot be said to be absolute.

However, whenever the state restricts fundamental rights by legislation, the courts have the right to examine whether the limitations imposed are “reasonable or not.” The courts are free to strike down any law imposing unreasonable restriction on the enjoyment of fundamental rights. The courts in India enjoy a limited degree of judicial review with respect to fundamental rights.

Yet, in view of these limitations, some critics argue that the Indian constitution gives fundamental rights with one hand and takes them away with the other. It should also be pointed out that provision of preventive detention under Art. 22 is a gross violation of the individual liberty under Art. 21. The power of the state to detain persons without trial is not to be found in any other democratic country like the U. S. A. Further, in case of proclamation of emergency under Art. 352, fundamental rights guaranteed under Art. 19 remain suspended by virtue of Arts 358 and 359.

Again, the Indian constitution is based on the theory of Parliamentary sovereignty and not constitutional sovereignty, as is the case in the U. S. A. Consequently, the Parliament may easily tamper with Indian fundamental rights. The capacity of the judiciary to afford protection to the fundamental rights is very limited. The Supreme Court verdict that the fundamental rights are not amendable was subsequently reversed. In the Keshavanand Bharati case, Supreme Court held that the Parliament may amend the entire constitution. It cannot only alter any basic feature of the constitution.

The processes of amendment given in Art 368 are far easier than the one given in Art 5 of the U.S. constitution. Consequently, the Union Parliament with a qualified majority may now easily amend any fundamental right contained in Part III of the constitution.

Kinds of fundamental rights

The Indian constitution originally provided 7 categories of fundamental rights. But one fundamental right, that to property was removed from the list of fundamental rights by 44th amendment. Right to property now is an ordinary legal right. Thus there are now 6 categories of fundamental rights. These are:

 (1) Right to equality (Arts. 14-18).

In this category there are five rights

  • Equality Before Law:- Equality before law is well defined under the Article 14 of the Constitution which ensures that every citizen shall be likewise protected by the laws of the country. It means that the State will not distinguish any of the Indian citizens on the basis of their gender, caste, creed, religion or even the place of birth. The state cannot refuse equality before the law and equal defense of the law to any person within the territory of India. In other words, this means that no person or groups of people can demand for any special privileges. This right not only applies to the citizens of India but also to all the people within the territory of India. Equality means that equals should be treated equally.
  • Abolition Of Discrimination On Grounds Of Caste, Race, Sex Or Religion:- The right of Social Equality and Equal Access to Public Areas is clearly mentioned under the Article 15 of the Constitution of India stating that no person shall be shown favoritism on the basis of color, caste, creed language, etc. Every person shall have equal admittance to public places like public wells, bathing ghats, museums, temples etc. However, the State has the right to make any special arrangement for women and children or for the development of any socially or educationally backward class or scheduled castes or scheduled tribes. This article applies only to citizens of India.
  • Equality in public employment, Article 16 of the Constitution of India clearly mentions that the State shall treat everyone equally in the matters of employment. No citizen shall be discriminated on the basis of race, caste, religion, creed, descent or place of birth in respect of any employment or office under the State. Every citizen of India can apply for government jobs. However, there are some exceptions to this right. The Parliament may pass a law mentioning that specific jobs can only be filled by candidates who are residing in a particular area. This requirement is mainly for those posts that necessitate the knowledge of the locality and language of the area. Apart from this, the State may also set aside some posts for members of backward classes, scheduled castes or scheduled tribes which are not properly represented in the services under the State to uplift the weaker sections of the society. Also, a law may be passed which may entail that the holder of an office of any religious institution shall also be a person professing that specific religion. Though, this right shall not be granted to the overseas citizens of India as directed by the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2003.
  • Abolition of untouchability, Article 17 of the Constitution of India abolishes the practice of untouchability in India. Practice of untouchability is declared as a crime and anyone doing so is punishable by law. The Untouchability Offences Act of 1955 (and now Protection of Civil Rights Act in 1976) states punishments for not allowing a person to enter a place of worship or from taking water from a well or tank.
  • Abolition of titles. Article 18 of the Constitution of India prohibits the State from granting any titles. Citizens of India are not allowed to accept titles from a foreign State. Titles like Rai Bahadurs and Khan Bahadurs given by the British government have also been abolished. Nevertheless, academic and military distinctions can be conferred upon the citizens of India. The awards of ‘Bharat Ratna’ and ‘Padma Vibhushan’ cannot be used by the beneficiary as a title and is not prohibited by the Constitution of India. From 15 December 1995, the Supreme Court has sustained the validity of such awards

 (2) Rights to freedom.

(Arts. 19-22) these now include six freedoms-

  • Freedoms of speech and expression,
  • Freedom of assembly without arms of association,
  • Freedom of movement,
  • Freedom of residence and
  • Freedom of profession oroccupation.

Each one of these six freedoms is subject to some restrictions. For rights can never be absolute. Individual rights must be reconciled with the interests of the community. It is logical that equal rights for all must mean limited rights for any. Hence, the state may impose ‘reasonable restrictions’ upon the exercise of any of these rights.


Firstly, the state may impose restrictions on the exercise of the right to freedom of speech and expression on eight grounds. These are:

  1. defamation,
  2. contempt of court,
  3. decency or morality,
  4. security of the state,
  5. friendly relations with other states,
  6. incitement of offence and,
  7. sovereignty and
  8. integrity of India.

Secondly, the freedom to assemble is subject to two restrictions. The assembly must be peaceable and the members of assembly must not bear arms. However the Sikhs are allowed to carry ‘Kirpan’ as part of their religious creed. In the U.S.A. right to bear arms is fundamental right. In India, this right is denied in the interest of public order.

Thirdly, the right to form associations or unions does not entitle persons to enter into criminal conspiracy either against individuals, groups or against the state.

Fourthly, the right to move freely or to reside and settle in any part of India, does not cover trespass into homes or restricted areas. State also may restrict this freedom to protect the aboriginal tribes.

Finally, the right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business are also subject to reasonable restrictions. Thus professions or, trade or, business must not be harmful to the interest of the community. The state may also prescribe qualifications for particular profession or, technical occupation. The state may itself carry on trade or business to the exclusion of citizens.

Power of Courts to enforce freedom of citizens of India

Every Indian citizen has the power to move the High Court or the Supreme Court for protecting and securing his personal freedom. The Courts are empowered to issue writs in the nature of habeas corpus. The courts can order the presence of detained or imprisoned person and set him free in case there is no legal justification for his detainment or imprisonment.

Rights to Freedom during National Emergency

The rights to freedom under Article 19 of Indian constitution are suspended during the period of National Emergency declared by the President of India.

Further, during the period when the National emergency is in operation, the President is empowered to suspend the right of citizens to move the Supreme Court for the enforcement of their personal freedom.


Each one of the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the constitution of India is hedged by many restrictions. They are not absolute. This led to the criticism that Indian freedom is a myth and not reality for what has been given with one hand has been taken away with the other.

This criticism is unfair. For fundamental rights can nowhere be absolute. For logically, one can be absolutely free only when all others are absolute, slaves Individual freedom to be real must be social and hence must be limited.

There is a difference in the scheme of limitations on fundamental rights in the U.S. constitution and in the constitution of India. In the U.S.A. the restrictions are not mentioned in the constitution itself. This is left to judicial interpretations. In India on the other hand, the restrictions are mentioned in the constitution itself. It is not left to the vagaries of judicial interpretation.

On the whole fundamental rights everywhere are restricted or, limited. As Mr. Justice Mukherji observed in A. K. Gopalan vs. State of Madras case” There cannot be any such thing as absolute or uncontrolled liberty wholly freed from restraints.”


These freedoms are however not without limitations.

(3) Rights against exploitation (Arts. 24 and 25)

Include prohibition of traffic in human beings and prohibition of child labour.

(4)  Rights to freedom of religion (Arts. 25-28)

Include  freedom of conscience and freedom of religion. Citizens are free to profess and practice any religion. These provisions make India a secular state.

 (5) Cultural and Educational rights (Arts. 29-30)

Include right to protection of language, script and culture given to the minorities. The minorities are also given the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their own.

(6)   Right to constitutional remedies (Arts. 32-35)

Provides for enforcement of fundamental rights through the judicial process.Dr BR Ambedkar  expressed it to be the heart and soal of Indian constitution.

Thus the constitution contains an elaborate scheme of fundamental rights. But the fundamental rights in India are not absolute. They are hedged by many limitations. Indeed, fundamental rights cannot be absolute anywhere in the world. Countries differ only in their degree of limitations on fundamental rights.


The Constitution of India begins with a Preamble which describes the nature of the Indian State and the objectives it is committed to secure. K.M. Munshi describes the Preamble as the political horoscope of the constitution. Thakur Dass Bhargawa says Preamble is the most precious part and the soul of the constitution.

The Preamble reads:

We, the People of India having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic and to secure to all its citizens;

Justice, social, economic, political;

Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

Equality of status and opportunity; and to promote among them all;

Fraternity, assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation ;

In our Constituent Assembly this, twenty sixth day of November 1949 do hereby Adopt, Enact and Give to ourselves this Constitution.

The words ‘Socialist ‘Secular” and ‘Integrity were initially not there in the Preamble. These were added by the 42nd Amendment (1976) of the Constitution.

Preamble: Features:

I. The Source of Authority:

Popular Sovereignty:

The Preamble categorically accepts the principle of Popular Sovereignty. It begins with the words: ‘We the people of India’. These words testify to the fact that the people of India are’ the ultimate source of all authority. The Government derives its power from them.

II. Nature of State:

The Preamble describes five cardinal features of the Indian state:

(1) India is a Sovereign State:

The Preamble proclaims that India is a sovereign state. Such a proclamation denotes the end of rule over India. It testifies to the fact that India is no longer a dependency or colony or possession of British Crown. As a sovereign independent state, India is free both internally and externally to take her own decisions and implement these for her people and territories.

(2) India is a Socialist State:

In 1976, the Preamble was amended to include the word ‘Socialism’. It is now regarded as a prime feature of the State. It reflects the fact that India is committed to secure social, economic and political justice for all its people. India stands for ending all forms of exploitation as well as for securing equitable distribution of income, resources and wealth. This has to be secured by peaceful, constitutional and democratic means. The term ‘India is a Socialist state’ really means, ‘India is a democratic socialist state.’

(3) India is a Secular State:

By the 42nd Amendment, the term ‘Secular’ was incorporated in the Preamble. Its inclusion simply made the secular nature of the Indian Constitution more explicit. As a state India gives special status to no religion. There is no such thing as a state religion of India. India guarantees equal freedom to all religions. All religions enjoy equality of status and respect.

(4) India is a Democratic State:

The Preamble declares India to be a Democratic State. The Constitution of India provides for a democratic system. The authority of the government rests upon the sovereignty of the people. The people enjoy equal political rights. The people freely participate in the democratic process of self rule.

They elect their government. For all its acts, the government is responsible before the people. The people can change their government through elections. The government enjoys limited powers. It always acts under the Constitution which represents the supreme will of the people.

(5) India is a Republic:

The Preamble declares India to be a Republic. Negatively, this means that India is not ruled by a monarch or a nominated head of state. Positively, it means that India has an elected head of state who wields power for a fixed term. President of India is the elected sovereign head of the state. He holds a tenure of 5 years. Any Indian citizen can get elected as the President of India.

III. Four Objectives of the Indian State:

The Preamble lists four cardinal objectives which are to be “secured by the state for all its citizens”.

These are:

(1) Justice:

India seeks to secure social, economic and political justice for its people.

(i) Social Justice:

Social Justice means the absence of socially privileged classes in the society and no discrimination against any citizen on grounds of caste, creed, colour, religion, sex or place of birth. India stands for eliminating all forms of exploitations from the society.

(ii) Economic Justice:

Economic Justice means no discrimination between man and man on the basis of income, wealth and economic status. It stands for equitable distribution of wealth, economic equality, end of monopolistic control over means of production and distribution, decentralisation of economic resources, and securing of adequate opportunities to all for earning their livelihoods.

(iii) Political Justice:

Political Justice means equal, free and fair opportunities to the people for participation in the political process. It stands for the grant of equal political rights to all the people without any discrimination. The Constitution of India provides for a liberal democracy in which all the people have the right and freedom to participate.

(2) Liberty:

The Preamble declares liberty to be the second cardinal objective to be secured. It includes liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship. The grant of Fundamental Rights (Part III) including the right to freedom is designed to secure this objective. Liberty of faith and worship is designed to strengthen the spirit of secularism.

(3) Equality:

The Preamble declares Equality as the third objective of the Constitution. Equality means two basic things:

(i) Equality of status i.e. natural equality of all persons as equal and free citizens of India enjoying equality before law.

(ii) Equality of opportunity i.e. adequate opportunities for all to develop. For securing the equality of status and opportunity, the Constitution of India grants and guarantees the fundamental Right to Equality.

(4) Fraternity:

Promotion of Fraternity among the people is the fourth objective is to promote Fraternity among all the people. Fraternity means the inculcation of a strong feeling of spiritual and psychological unity among the people. It is designed to secure dignity of the individual and unity and integrity of the nation.

IV. Date of Adoption and Enactment:

In its final paragraph, the Preamble specifies the important historical fact that the Constitution was adopted on 26 November, 1949. It was on this day that the Constitution received the signatures of the President of the Constituent Assembly and was declared passed.

V. Self-made Constitution:

The Constitution of India is an adopted, enacted and self-made constitution. It was adopted and enacted by the Constituent Assembly acting as the elected representative body of the people of India. The Preamble states the philosophical foundations of the Constitution India and enumerates its objectives.

It constitutes a Key for the interpretation of the Constitution. It is a part of the Basic Structure of the Constitution. Through, it’s Preamble, the Constitution a commits itself to Democracy, Republicanism, Socialism, Secularism, Liberalism and Welfare State. The Preamble states the objectives which the Constitution is committed to secure for all the people of India.



Part IV-A was added by the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976. It encompasses Part IV, Article 51A enu­merating Ten Fundamental Duties of the Citizens of India.

There is no provision in the Constitution for direct enforcement of any of these Duties nor for any sanction to prevent their violation.But it may be expected that in determining the Consti­tutionality of any law, if a Court finds that it seeks to give effect to any of these duties, it may consider such law to ‘be reasonable’ in relation to Article 14 or 19, and thus save such law from unconstitutionality.

Directive Principles Of State Policy

An important feature of the constitution is the Directive Principles of State Policy. Although the Directive Principles are asserted to be “fundamental in the governance of the country,” they are not legally enforceable. Instead, they are guidelines for creating a social order characterized by social, economic, and political justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity as enunciated in the constitution’s preamble.

Article 37 of the Constitution declares that the DPSP “shall not be enforceable by any court, but the principles therein laid down are nevertheless fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the state to apply these principles in making laws.” It is not a mere coincidence that the apparent distinction that is drawn by scholars between the ICCPR rights and ESC rights holds good for the distinction that is drawn in the Indian context between fundamental rights and DPSP. Thus the bar to justiciability of the DPSP is spelled out in some sense in the Constitution itself.


Determinants and Nature of Indian Politics, Election and Voting Behavior, Coalition Governments.





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