Fundamental Rights Missing
India has long been selling itself as a secular and democratic country in the region of South Asia, yet its politics and laws suggest otherwise. Even with a long tradition of peaceful democratic takeovers, the state has not ensured fundamental rights to its people, especially the right to hold property (a basic right protected by the Pakistani Constitution). The Constitution’s 44th Amendment Act in 1978 removed the right to property and instead made a constitutional right under Article 300A which states that, “ No person can be deprived of his property except by authority of law.”
While this was done under the influence of Indian socialism so that property did not get concentrated in a small number of hands, it also gave great power to the state to interfere into peoples’ lives. This is a great tool in the hands of a security and money obsessed right wing government that doesn’t care for social justice or curbing greed.
It then follows that other individual rights would also come under question in India – now the right to life and liberty. After 70 years of partition, their Supreme Court is now finding it difficult to accept that privacy is a fundamental human right, which the government cannot curtail. A petition was filed by a group of plaintiffs against the government’s mandatory Aadhaar Programme that demand personal information. They argue that the constitution gives them the liberty to live their life. This right to liberty includes freedom from encroachment on their privacy and the scheme cannot be mandatory. It can be argued that the Aadhaar Programme is for social justice and will help people get loans, but when they have to give up their personal data, and submit themselves to potential abuses by government monitoring and harassment, it is a direct infringement of human rights and their constitution (until their legislators amend it to their advantage).
Power hungry and extremely rigid policy makers are at the helm of affairs in India and its case also shows that a long standing democracy can be full of flaws and constitutional errors.