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The Constitution of India is a matter of pride for the country. The document was drafted by the 389-member Constituent Assembly, chaired by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, over 2 years, 11 months, and 18 days. The Indian Constitution is an amalgamation of the best from multiple other Constitutions – the British, the American, the Irish, the Soviet, the Canadian and the Australian, among others.
The best part of the Constitution is dedicated to creating the Governance structure for the Union of India. It also delineates the Fundamental Rights and Duties of the Citizen of the country. The Constitution was announced on 26th November, 1949 and came into full effect on 26th January, 1950, the day we therefore celebrate as the Republic Day of India. Here we present to you a list of legal concepts arising out of the Constitution that you are bound to find fascinating:
Does India allow Dual Citizenship?
The short answer to this one is no. Article 9 of the Indian Constitution clearly disallows Dual Citizenship. You would need to renounce your Indian Citizenship before accepting the citizenship of a foreign country.
The long of it, involves a lot more paperwork.
In 2015, the earlier (more restrictive) Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) program was withdrawn in favor of the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) program – an initiative that was misleadingly touted in certain media articles as Dual Citizenship. The OCI status gives a lifetime visa free travel access to India, without a need for any further registration for any period of stay.
But, OCI status holders do not hold an Indian passport, cannot vote or work in India, are not allowed to purchase agricultural land or hold any constitutional posts in the country.
In the recent years, this directive has received a lot of attention – but India stood by its Constitution, keeping security issues in mind.
Doesn’t Government Censorship violate the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression?
Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution is the cornerstone of our modern, liberal democracy – it guarantees Indian citizens the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression.
However, the power of this article is moderated by Article 19(2), that lists reasonable restrictions like public order, decency and national security concerns, among others, that can allow the state to curb the fore-mentioned right to free speech. While this controlling legislation has been widely debated, it has been deemed to be a necessary protection in a cultural and religious mélange like India.
In 2015, the debate around censorship vs. Freedom of Expression got the spotlight when Shreya Singhal, a young law student from Delhi, challenged Sec 66A of the IT Act, a controversial law allowing arrests for offensive online content. The Supreme Court passed a landmark judgment by repealing said law and upholding the Constitution.
The debate around freedom of expression is most prominent in the circles of arts, and the CBFC (aka Censor Board) is often criticized to be thwarting Constitutional Rights. In 2016, PM Modi set up a panel headed by Shyam Benegal to review the functioning of the Board – in keeping with the rising demand for greater liberty of expression.
Does India have an Official Language?
Yes, according to the Constitution of India, Hindi, in Devanagari script, is defined as the official language of the country. The English language is also mentioned as the secondary language for official uses of the Union. However, India does not have a National Language.
In 2015, BJP spokesperson and advocate, Ashwini Upadhyay, filed a petition at the Delhi High Court seeking direction to the Centre to declare Hindi as India’s National Language. The bench hearing the petition observed that the Constitution did not provide for a National Language, and the petition was withdrawn. While some politicians have recently expressed very strong opinions on why Hindi should be announced as the National Language of the country, as of this date it is not.
Does the Constitution guarantee a Right to Privacy?
The articles 12-35 of the Indian Constitution constitute the Fundamental Rights of the Indian Citizen. However, none of the articles explicitly cover the Right to Privacy – defined simply as the right to be ‘left alone’.
In 1962, in the case of Kharak Singh vs. The State of UP, a landmark judgment was passed by the Supreme Court. The highest judiciary in India concluded that the Right to Privacy was precluded in the Fundamental Right to Protection of Life and Personal Liberty. Later, in Govind vs. The State of MP, the court however asserted that while Right to Privacy is a Fundamental Right, it might be subject to reasonable restrictions on the basis of compelling public interest.
In 2011, the legislation of the Privacy Bill was based on the Constitutional interpretation that the Right to Privacy is in fact a Fundamental Right.
Are there any other Constitutional directives that you find fascinating and engaging? Share with us by commenting below or writing to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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