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Invoking Fundamental Rights

  • The Constitution of India lays down the principles that make our society democratic.
  • The Democratic principles are listed under ‘Fundamental Rights’ that are an important part of the Constitution.
  • These ‘Fundamental Rights’ are available to all Indians equally.

FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS of the Indian constitution

The Fundamental Rights are defined as basic human freedoms which every Indian citizen has the right to enjoy for a proper and harmonious development of personality. These rights apply to all citizens, irrespective of race, place of birth, religion, caste, creed, colour or gender. They are enforceable by the courts, subject to certain restrictions.

The seven fundamental rights are:

  • Right to equality
  • Right to freedom
  • Right against exploitation
  • Right to freedom of religion
  • Cultural and educational rights
  • Right to constitutional remedies
  • Right to Life and personal liberty

Rights literally mean those freedoms which are essential for personal good as well as the good of the community.

Fundamental rights for Indians have also been aimed at overturning the inequalities and social practices.

The marginalised have drawn on these rights in two ways

  • They have forced the government to recognise the injustice done to them by insisting on their Fundamental Rights
  • They have insisted that the government enforce these laws.

In some instances, the struggles of the marginalised have influenced the government to frame new laws, in accordance with the Fundamental Rights.


Dalits, sometimes called Untouchables are people who are regarded as ‘low caste’ and have been marginalized for centuries.


The word 'Dalit' comes from the Indo-Aryan word ‘dal’ which means 'suppressed', or 'crushed'. Dalits include carcass handlers, poor farmers, landless labourers, scavengers, sweepers and washer men.


Untouchability is the individual discrimination against certain classes of persons

Types of Untouchable Practices:

  • Prohibited from eating with other caste members
  • Separate glasses in village tea stalls
  • Segregation in seating and food arrangements in village functions and festivals
  • Prohibited from entering into village temples Prohibited from entering dominant caste homes
  • Prohibited from using common village path
  • Separate burial grounds
  • No access to village’s wells and ponds
  • Sub-standard wages
  • Bonded Labour
  • Segregation of children in schools

In 1950, the National Constitution of India legally abolished the practice of "untouchability", as stated in Article 17 of the Constitution.

Article 17
Abolition of Untouchability

"Untouchability" is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. The enforcement of any disability arising out of "Untouchability" shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.

Let us see the how Article 17 benefited the Dalits

  • The Dalits could now rely on the Constitution to defend them, if they were treated badly by some individual or community, or even by the government.

  • No one could prevent Dalits from educating themselves

  • They could enter temples and use public facilities like wells.

  • They could fight against any discrimination and seek equality

  • They now had the right to freedom of religion and cultural

Untouchability is a punishable crime now. The Constitution ensures that the culture of these marginalized groups are not dominated nor wiped out by the culture of the majority community.


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