July 31, 2021
either/view ⚖️
Rights and duties

To: either/view subscribers

Know Your Rights

Edition 1

Good morning. “Everything I learned I learned from the movies,” wrote Audrey Hepburn. If not everything, most of us are aware of several legal rights today because of the films we have watched. For many of us who have not studied law, films have been our law gurus.

It is mainly because the story or an incident revolving around the main character helps us understand our rights. This has inspired either/view to do something new. Nah, we are not going to make films. For a change, how about we tell you a story and show how the characters manage to tackle the situation using their rights and existing laws?  

Sounds good, right? We have planned to help you start your Saturday mornings with a light-hearted conversation that will help you in knowing your rights. 

Before we kick start this wonderful journey, today we will look at some key legal terms and their meanings.

Where should we begin? Right, Constitution.

We might have hated studying it while in school. But, from the houses we live to the governments that rule us, everything revolves around the Constitution. Well, what exactly is it?

Earlier, India was divided and ruled by kings. However, after the British rule, we wanted a set of guidelines to govern us. Leaders collectively decided that we will have a democratic country with a Union government in the center after independence. 

Now, every Indian looked at them to show the new path. They wondered what’s the way forward and formed a committee to draft new guidelines. 

These people met, discussed and debated. They also analysed existing laws in India and the constitutions of other countries. Finally, they brought in the Indian Constitution that ensured that the largely diverse country could hold on and live together. 

There are two points you should always keep in mind.

  1. The constitution is above all.
  2. While amendments can make changes to the constitution, its basic structure cannot be changed completely.

The Constitution of India has 448 articles in 25 parts and 12 schedules. Have you always found these terms very confusing? Then welcome to the club, you are not alone.

Let’s try and break this down

We will first take a look at parts and articles. There are 25 parts, which are the main divisions in the constitution. Then, there are 448 articles which are the subdivisions under each of the parts. For example, Part III deals with fundamental rights. Under this, there are 24 articles from Article 12 to 35. Similarly, Articles 36 to 51 are contained in part IV that deals with Directive Principles. 

Now, it’s time for examples.

Back to films, we know there are many genres like romance, comedy, thriller and horror. There are many films that fall under each of these genres. The number of films under each category is not equal. 

Well simply put, 

Parts of the Constitution – Genres

Articles in the Constitution – Films

Apart from parts and articles, there are 12 schedules in the Constitution. 

They are just the additional details that are not mentioned in the articles. They have details like the number of seats allotted to each state and union territory in Rajya Sabha and the total list of recognised languages in India. 

Like Rancho in 3 Idiots cleverly says that a pencil could have been used instead of inventing a space pen, you might turn around and say that it could have simply been written under articles. 

But, just like the space pen reduces the complicated use of a pencil, schedules lessen the complexity of articles. Wondering how?

For instance, Article 1 in the Constitution states that India will be a Union of States comprising states and union territories. If the names of the states and union territories were added to the article, it would have made it look more complex. When such additional information is presented in a separate provision, it will be easy for us to read.

Additionally, it would be a tiring procedure to make an amendment to the article every time a new state is introduced or other changes are made. This way, the amendments can be made only to the additional details provided under the schedules. It is more convenient to make such changes to the schedules than in the articles. 

We could call the Constitution ‘the supreme law of India’. It has laid down rules and guidelines for everyone from the central and state governments to each and every citizen in the country. It also introduced fundamental rights and duties that we cannot rob or be robbed of.

This brings us to the next question.

Do you know the difference between a fundamental right and a fundamental duty?

While both terms look similar, they talk about different things. The fundamental right is a privilege and the fundamental duty is a responsibility.

For example, imagine you are an employee in a company. You have the right to ask for your salary. You also have a duty to complete the project, which you can’t evade. Similarly, as a human being, you have the right to speak. But you can’t speak when the national anthem is being played, because it’s your duty to respect the flag and the anthem.

Remember, just like you don’t have the right to ask for an extra salary for free, you don’t have the right to spread hatred through your speech.

Here is a small story to make you understand the difference between a fundamental right and a fundamental duty.

Raghul was 6 years old and he didn’t go to school. One day, his uncle Raju visited him. He asked Raghul to request his father to send him to school. Since Raghul’s father was strict, he was afraid to ask him. Raju encouraged him to ask, saying that it was his right to study

Then, both Raghul and his uncle went and met his father. Raghul asked his father to send him to school. When Raghul’s father did not budge in, he insisted that it was his responsibility to send Raghul to school.

So here, Raghul should use his ‘right to education’, whereas Raghul’s father has the duty to provide opportunities for his child ‘to educate’. This is the simple difference between a fundamental right and fundamental duty.

While you can exercise your fundamental right to avail your privilege, you must oblige to the duties you are morally expected to perform.  

Now, that’s clear. Here is another question.

What is the most complicated relationship you have ever seen? Friendship? Love? 

No, there is nothing more confusing than the relationship between these four things.

Law, Bill, Act and Ordinance

It looks like you agree that this is the most complicated relationship you have ever known. However, the key to any relationship is understanding. Let’s try and understand these four terms.

Bill A draft legislation submitted in the Parliament.

Act When the Parliament passes the legislation and the President assents the Bill, it becomes an Act.

Law An Act either creates a new Law or makes some additions to the existing Law.

Ordinance When the Parliament is not functioning and there is an emergency to pass a law, an Ordinance is issued. On the recommendation of the Union Cabinet, the President will promulgate a Law. This is called Ordinance. However, this is valid only for 6 months and the Parliament session should be conducted within the timeline to pass the Ordinance to a law.

It’s a bit like this – You and your mom are going to another town for shopping. You like a shirt and show it to her, this is bill. She also agrees to buy it, this is an act. You pay and buy it, this is the law. And when you wear it, it is the law being used. 

What if you couldn’t go to another town? You go to a nearby shop and buy a shirt. But it is just temporary, as you will go tomorrow to another town and buy a shirt. This is an Ordinance.

Wait, we are not done yet.

If your mother says no, nothing happens. The Bill gets dropped. No shirt, no law. 

That’s it for today. Starting next Saturday, we will publish more interesting things related to your rights as citizens of India.

Happy weekend!