Some of the main features of the Indian bill of rights are as follows:
(1) An Elaborate and Comprehensive Bill of Rights:
The Indian Bill of Rights is an elaborately detailed and a comprehensive charter of rights and freedoms. Part III, containing 24 Articles (from 12 to 35).These enumerate the fundamental rights of the People. Initially, there had been laid down seven fundamental rights but with the deletion of the Right to Property (44th Amendment) from this part, the number has come down to six. Each right covers several rights. For example, Right to Equality has 5 parts and Right to Freedom enumerates all the fundamental freedoms of the people.
(2) No Natural Rights:
Unlike the US Constitution which guarantees the rights mentioned in the constitution as well as all other rights enjoyed by the people, the Constitution of India does not give any recognition to the natural or un-enumerated rights. It grants only the fundamental rights written in its Part III.
(3) Special Rights and Protections for the Minorities:
The Indian Bill of Rights guarantees some special rights to the minorities. It guarantees cultural and educational rights of the minorities. The constitution abolishes untouchability and grants special protections to women and children.
(4) Negative and Positive Rights:
The Indian Bill of Rights contains both negative and positive rights. Some rights are negative in the sense that these impose restrictions on the state and thereby protect the rights and freedoms of the people. For example Art. 15 prevents the state from making discrimination on the basis of caste, colour, creed, religion, place of birth and sex.
Article 18 prohibits the grant of any title except for titles in recognition of any military or academic distinction. Hence, these are negative rights. The positive rights are one which permit the citizens to enjoy certain freedoms. For example Art. enumerates the six fundamental freedoms enjoyed by the people. Hence the Constitution provides for both negative and positive rights.
(5) Lack of Social and Economic Rights:
The Constitution does not include social and economic rights in the list of fundamental rights. It grants civil rights and freedoms. Social and economic rights like Right to Work, Right to Leisure, Right to Social Security etc., have not been incorporated in Part III of the constitution.
(6) Difference between the Citizens and Aliens:
In the grant of rights, the Constitution makes a distinction between the citizens and aliens. While all the rights stand granted and guaranteed to all the citizens, only some rights are available to the aliens.
(7) Rights are not Absolute:
The fundamental rights enumerated in the Constitution are not absolute. These have not been concluded in absolute terms. Some restrictions have been placed on their enjoyment. While describing the nature and content of each right, the Constitution also describes its limitations.
(8) Rights are equally binding upon the Union, the States and other State Authorities:
The Constitution makes the rights binding upon all authorities. It stands clearly stated in the Constitution. The Union, the States, the Parliament and in-fact all State authorities are bound by these rights.
(9) Enforcement of Rights:
The Constitution not only grants but also guarantees the fundamental rights. Part III, contains a special constitutional provision, a fundamental right under Art. 32, which provides legal and constitutional protection to the rights. The citizens have been given the right to seek the protection of the courts for getting their rights enforced.
(10) Parliament has the power to amend Fundamental Rights:
The fundamental rights contained in the constitution can be amended by the Parliament. This can be done in accordance with the power and procedure laid down in Article 368 of the Constitution. The Parliament has, in practice, exercised this power on several occasions.
(11) Provision for the Suspension of Rights:
The Constitution provides for the suspension of fundamental rights under certain circumstances. For example, when an imposition of a national emergency is made by the President under Article 352, the fundamental freedoms can be suspended. However, such a suspension gets automatically vacated when the proclamation of emergency ceases to operate.
(12) Right to Property is now not a Fundamental Rights:
Initially, the citizens enjoyed the fundamental right to property. However, because of the hindrances by this right in the way of implementation of some socio-economic reforms in the society, it was deleted from Part III and made a legal right under Article 300A.
(13) Right to Education of Children:
By 86th constitutional amendment, the children between the age group of 6—14, have been granted the fundamental right to education. It contains provisions for compulsory and free education of Children.
(14) Constitutional Superiority of Fundamental Rights:
The fundamental rights incorporated in the Constitution stand at a higher pedestal than ordinary laws and the Directive Principles of State Policy. No Law can violate the Fundamental Rights of the People of India. These features clearly bring out the nature of Indian Bill of Rights. The Constitution grants and guarantees fundamental rights and freedoms to all the people of India. These constitute a vital pillar of Indian Democracy.