Political rights are those rights by which citizens are given share in the political life of the community including that of the management of government. They generally consist of the following rights.
1. Right to vote:
It is an important political right in a democracy. It implies that every adult citizen has the right to express his opinion by casting a vote at the time of election. Aliens, bankrupts, minors and certain criminals are often denied the right to vote. However, the present tendency is towards universal adult suffrage.
2. Right to be elected:
This implies that law should not forbid any citizen from holding any of the public offices. One can contest in the election and represent himself in the government. Of course, the State can prescribe certain minimum qualifications for the representatives. This is gift of democracy, which gives equal right to all citizens.
3. Right to public offices:
No citizen should be prohibited to hold any public office under the State on the grounds of religion, caste, race, sex or language or any of them. All are equally eligible for the highest office. This is a gift of democracy which gives equal right to all citizens..
4. Right to petition:
Citizens have the right to send petitions individually or collectively to the competent authority, either executive or legislative, for the redress of grievances. In a democracy, the rulers cannot ignore the legitimate grievances of the people. The legislative chamber in democracy serves as a forum for ventilation of public grievances,
5. Right to criticize government:
Democracy is said to be a government by discussion and criticism. The right to criticize the government should not be restricted. There should be free and frank criticism of policies of government on the proper path. This is what is meant by saying that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”
6. Right to residence:
A citizen is free to live in any part of the country provided it does not endanger the safety of the State. This right is regarded as a political right because of the fact that it is exclusively reserved for the citizens and denied to aliens who have no access to political rights, whereas citizens have it in full. Permanent membership of the State, therefore, depends on permanent residence.
7. Right to protection while staying abroad:
This is again enjoyed only by the citizens. Every citizen, while staying abroad, can seek protection from the home State, if he is in difficulty. If an Indian staying in America suffers injuries from an American and the American State does not redress his grievances, the Indian Government may intervene on behalf of its citizen.
8. Right to public meeting:
Last but not the least is the right to public meeting. This is associated with the right to from associations. A citizen should have the freedom to prohibit any one from holding a meeting in the public interest. John Stuart Mill has gone to the extent of saying that “the entire world has no right to silence a fool.”