Q.1. Explain the correctness of the following statement, “Rights are necessary for the very sustenance of a democracy.”
Ans. It is absolutely correct to say that rights are necessary for the very sustenance of a democracy. Rights are the heart and soul of democracy. In a democracy, every citizen has the right to vote and the right to be elected to government. For democratic elections to take place, it is necessary that citizens should have the right to express their opinion, form political parties and take part in political activities.
Rights also perform a very special role in a democracy. They protect minorities from the oppression of the majority. They ensure that interests of the minorities are protected and majority does not act as per its whims and fancies. Rights are guarantees which can be used when things go wrong. Things may go wrong when some citizens may wish to take away the rights of others. Generally, the majority wants to dominate the minority. The government should protect the citizens’ rights in such a situation. Sometimes elected governments may not protect or even attack the rights of their own citizens (as happened in Yugoslavia under Milosevic). Therefore, some basic rights of the citizens are written down in the constitution of most democracies.
Q.2. What is a secular state? In which way does our constitution make India a secular state? [V. Important]
Ans. A secular state is one that does not confer any privilege or favour on any particular religion. It does not punish or discriminate against people on the basis of religion they follow. It implies that the government cannot compel any person to pay any taxes for the promotion or maintenance of a particular religion or religious institution. There shall be no religious instruction in the government educational institutions. In private institutions, no person can be compelled to take part in a religious activity. A secular state is one that does not establish any one religion as official religion.
Indian secularism practises an attitude of principled and equal distance from all religions. The Preamble to Indian constitution declares India to be a secular nation. There is no official religion in India. The Indian state is neutral and impartial in dealing with all religions. Right to freedom of religion is a Fundamental Right. Every citizen of India has a right to profess, practise and propagate the religion he/she believes in. Every religious group or sect is free to manage its religious affairs.
Q.3. State the provisions of the Cultural and Educational Rights. [Important]
Ans. For the simple reason that the working of democracy gives power to the majority, it is the language, culture and religion of minorities that needs special protection. Therefore, the cultural and educational rights of the minorities are specified in the constitution.
(i) Any section of citizens with a distinct language or culture has a right to conserve it.
(ii) Admission to any educational institution maintained by government or receiving government aid cannot be denied to any citizen on the ground of religion or language.
(iii) All minorities have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
(iv) Full compensation has to be paid if the state seeks to acquire the property of a minority educational institution.
Q.4. Explain what is meant by the ‘Right to Constitutional Remedies’.
Ans. Rights guaranteed by the constitution are useless if there are no special provisions to guarantee them. The Fundamental Rights in the constitution are enforceable. We have the right to seek the enforcement of these rights by moving to the High Courts or the Supreme Court. This is called the Right to Constitutional Remedies which is provided by Article 32 of the constitution. This itself is a Fundamental Right. This right makes other rights effective. It is possible that sometimes our rights may be violated by fellow citizens, private bodies or by the government. When any of the rights are violated we can seek remedy through a court. If it is a Fundamental Right we can directly approach the Supreme Court or the High Court of a state. Dr. Ambedkar called the Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32) the ‘heart and soul’ of our constitution. There can be no law or action that violates the Fundamental Rights. Such a law can be declared null and void by the Supreme Court.
Q.5. What can a person do in case of the violation of Fundamental Rights? What is PIL and how does it work? [Important]
Ans. In case of any violation of Fundamental Right, the aggrieved person can approach the High Court or the Supreme Court for remedy. Moreover any person can go to court against the violation of the Fundamental Right, if it is of social or public interest. It is called the Public Interest Litigation (PIL).
Under this any citizen or group of citizens can approach the Supreme Court or the High Court for the protection of public interest against a particular law or action of the government. One can write to the judges even on a postcard. The court will take up the matter if the judges find it in public interest. Even a newspaper article or report can be treated as a PIL by the court.
Q.6. Mention four new rights which the constitution of South Africa has guaranteed to its citizens. [Important]
Ans. The scope of rights has been expanding and new rights are evolving over time. They are the result of the struggle of the people. New rights emerge as societies develop or as new constitutions are made.
The constitution of South Africa guarantees its citizens several kinds of new rights.
(i) Right to privacy, so that citizens or their home cannot be searched, their phones cannot be tapped, their communication cannot be opened.
(ii) Right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being.
(iii) Right to have access to adequate housing.
(iv) Right to have access to health care services, sufficient food and water; no one can be refused emergency medical treatment.
Q.7. The Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression does not come without qualifications. Explain.
Ans. Freedom of speech is one of the essential features of any democracy. Our ideas and personality develop only when we are able to freely communicate with others. You may disagree with a policy of government, you are free to criticise the government. You may publicise your views through pamphlet, magazine or newspaper. However, you cannot use this freedom to instigate violence against others. You cannot incite people to rebel against the government, nor can you use it to defame others by saying false and mean things that cause damage to a person's reputation. This is called freedom of speech with qualifications.
Q.8. Discuss the provisions included in the Right against Exploitation
Ans. Once the right to liberty and equality is granted it follows that every citizen has a right to not to be exploited yet the constitution makers thought it was necersary to write down certain clear provisions to prevent exploitation of the weaker sections of the society. The constitution mentions three weaker sections of the society. The constitution mentions three evils and declares these as illegal. First, the constitution prohibits traffic in human beings, i.e., selling and buying of human beings. Secondly, it prohibits ‘‘begar’’ or forced labour in any form. Finally the constitution prohibits child labour. No one can employ a child below the age of fourteen to work in a factory or mine.