Article 32 of Indian Constitution: Right to constitutional remedies

The Constitution of India is one of the most comprehensive documents in the world, guaranteeing a wide range of fundamental rights to its citizens. Article 32 of Indian Constitution is one such right that is of paramount importance as it ensures that citizens have access to justice when their fundamental rights are violated. In this blog post, we will explore what Article 32 of the Indian Constitution is, its significance, and  how it works.  

Introduction: 

Article 32 of Indian Constitution is often referred to as the “heart and soul” of the Constitution. It provides citizens with the right to move the Supreme Court of India (and in some cases, the High Courts under Article 226) for the enforcement of their fundamental rights.

This article is a significant safeguard against any arbitrary action by the State that violates the fundamental rights of citizens.  

What is Article 32 of Indian Constitution ?

The fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of India are not absolute, and there  may be situations where these rights are violated by the State or its agents. Article 32  provides citizens with a legal recourse to seek redressal in such cases.

The right to move the Supreme Court under Article 32 is not a mere procedural right but a substantive right  in itself. This means that the Supreme Court can issue writs, orders, or directions to enforce fundamental rights, and the violation of such writs is punishable under law.  

The writs that can be Issued by the Supreme Court under Article 32 include habeas  corpus, mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, and quo warranto. These writs are powerful  tools that the Supreme Court can use to ensure that the State or its agents do not violate  the fundamental rights of citizens.

For instance, if a person has been illegally detained  by the State, they can file a writ of habeas corpus under Article 32 to seek their release.  

Article 32 is also significant as it provides an avenue for citizens to challenge the  constitutionality of laws and government actions. This means that citizens can  approach the Supreme Court to strike down laws that violate their fundamental rights  or the Constitution’s basic structure.  

Purpose of Article 32:  

The primary objective of Article 32 of Indian Constitution is to serve as a safeguard for citizens against the  infringement of their fundamental rights. It ensures that the Supreme Court acts as the guardian of the Constitution, possessing the authority to issue writs, orders, or directions  to enforce these rights.

This provision empowers individuals to seek redressal directly from  the highest court of the land, enabling them to challenge any unlawful action or deprivation  of their rights. 

Writs Under Article 32 of Indian Constitution:  

Article 32 empowers the Supreme Court to issue various types of writs to safeguard  fundamental rights. These include: 

  1. Habeas Corpus: This writ protects against unlawful detention or imprisonment, ensuring  that no person is held unlawfully. 
  2. Mandamus: This writ commands a public official, corporation, or government authority  to perform their duty or refrain from an unlawful action.
  3. Prohibition: This writ is issued to a lower court or authority to prevent it from exceeding  its jurisdiction or acting in violation of the law. 
  4. Certiorari: This writ is used to quash an order or decision of a lower court or authority if it is found to be illegal or without jurisdiction. 
  5. Quo Warranto: This writ is employed to question the authority or legality of a person holding a public office. 

Significance of Article 32  

  1. Cornerstone of Fundamental Rights: It provides citizens with a powerful tool to seek  justice and protection against the violation of their rights. 
  2. Access to Justice: It empowers individuals to directly approach the Supreme Court, the  highest judicial authority in the country, to seek redressal for the infringement of  their fundamental rights. 
  3. Balancing Power: It acts as a check on the actions of the government, making sure they don’t go beyond their powers and violate the rights of the people. 
  4. 4. Preserving Liberty: It acts as a crucial safeguard to protect the personal liberties and freedoms of citizens from undue interference by the government or any other entity. 
  5. 5. Social Change: Article 32 enables citizens to raise important social issues through Public Interest Litigation that allows individuals or groups to file cases on behalf of marginalized or disadvantaged sections of society. 

Important case laws of Article 32: 

1. Bandhua Mukti Morcha vs Union Of India & Others 

In this public interest litigation case, the Supreme Court of India directed the State of Uttar Pradesh to eliminate the use of child labor in the carpet industry, issue welfare directives prohibiting child labor under the age of 14, and provide children with access to education and health facilities in an effort to abolish child labor.

2. Kharak Singh v. State of UP

Other surveillance clauses of Regulation 236 were upheld by the Court on the grounds that the right to privacy was not guaranteed by the Constitution and that other actions of the police observing his movements could not be said to impose a physical restriction on the Petitioner’s rights under Article 19.

The minority opinion advocated a broader perspective, recognizing the right to privacy as a necessary component of personal liberty under Article 21. It also considered the psychological consequences of ongoing surveillance on the individual being watched, and ruled that the entire Regulation was unlawful.

3. Premchand v. Excise Commissioner

The majority decision established parameters for the Supreme Court’s use of Article 142 (1). The court emphasized that its decisions under this article must not only be consistent with the fundamental rights protected by the Constitution, but also with the substantive matter of the relevant statutory provisions. As a result, Article 142 does not allow the Supreme Court to violate Article 32 (right to constitutional remedies).

4. L.Chandra Kumar v. Union of India

The landmark case Chandra Kumar v. Union of India established the constitutionality of Articles 32A and 323B, which addressed the exclusion of High Court jurisdiction in service matters. The decision highlights an important distinction between courts of law and tribunals.

Limitations and challenges to Article 32:  

  1. Article 32 is not absolute and can be suspended during a national emergency. 2. The Supreme Court’s power to issue writs under Article 32 is limited to the enforcement of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution and cannot  be extended to other rights. 
  2. The process of obtaining relief under Article 32 can be time-consuming and expensive. 
  3. Delays in Case Disposal: The high volume of cases filed under Article 32 has resulted in a backlog and delays in the disposal of cases. 
  4. Limited Accessibility for Vulnerable Sections: Factors such as lack of awareness, financial constraints,and lack of basic necessities, illiteracy, poverty, and  discrimination can prevent individuals from accessing the justice system. 

Conclusion: 

In conclusion, Article 32 of Indian Constitution is an essential right that ensures  citizens have access to justice when their fundamental rights are violated. It is a significant  safeguard against arbitrary action by the State and its agents and provides an avenue for  citizens to challenge unconstitutional laws and government actions.

As citizens of India, it  is crucial that we understand our fundamental rights, including the right to constitutional  remedies under Article 32, and use them to safeguard our liberties and freedoms. 

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