Citizens have had basic rights, which were given special status by the constitution's architects and dubbed the Fundamental Rights. Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Indian Constitution were revealed to be linked as a result of these rights, and when taken together, they protected the people from government arbitrariness. The "Golden Triangle of the Indian Constitution" was named after these articles, with Golden denoting "importance" for Indian citizens' freedom and Triangle denoting "reading together and collectively understanding" these laws.
I. Article 14
Article 14 pertains to 'equality before the law,' declaring that no individual within India's geographical borders should be denied equality before the law or equal protection under the law. Discrimination on the basis of race, caste, religion, sex, creed, or birthplace is forbidden by the state. This means that everyone must be treated equally in terms of rights and obligations by the government. In order to maintain equality for all, 'equal protection of the laws,' on the other hand, requires the state to pay special attention to some persons who are suffering unique or extraordinary circumstances. This checks the government's arbitrary actions, if any exist, and protects a person's dignity. To ensure equality among all people, the basic concept of this article is that equals should be treated equally and unequals should be treated unequally.
II. Article 19
The right to freedom is discussed in Article 19. This liberty comprises a few specific behaviors that are considered a person's basic right. The rights under this article include the right to free speech and expression; To congregate in a peaceful and non-violent
manner; To form organizations or unions; To travel freely within India's territory; To live and establish in any part of India's territory; and to practice any profession or to run a business, trade, or occupation. These rights are subject to specific limitations in order to protect the country's peace and order, as well as to ensure that people do not abuse them for their own personal gain. Any citizen who exercises his right beyond the limits set by the constitution will be charged with a crime.
III. Article 21
Article 21 of the Indian Constitution was established by the Government of India Act of 1935. It states that no one's life or personal liberty may be taken away from them unless they follow the legal procedure. Article 21 is one of the essential rights given to all Indian citizens and is found in the third part of the Indian constitution. Life and Personal liberty are protected under Article 21. This constitutional provision is one of the most commonly utilized and interpreted in the sphere of law enforcement. The most delicate issue covered in the
article is the protection and security of a person's life and liberty. Perhaps this is also the most frequently violated clause of our Constitution. Various courts in our country have interpreted Article 21's constitutional validity in everyday situations.
Safeguarding the Provisions
The Golden Triangle's three elements, Article 14 (Right to Equality), Article 19 (Right to Freedom), and Article 21 (Right to Life and Personal Liberty), are crucial to the concept of rule of law because they ensure that citizens' rights are fully protected by ensuring that the government does not infringe on these rights arbitrarily. Article 14 is considered largely as a basic right against arbitrariness. Furthermore, by codifying the notion of 'Equality before the Law,' it keeps a check on the laws. The Golden Triangle, consisting of three essential provisions of the Indian Constitution, due to its sensitive and important status need protection from potential threats such as amendments which may deprive the people to exercise these rights. Since the articles of the Golden Triangle are provided under Part III of the Indian Constitution, they are a part of the Fundamental Rights.
The issue of whether basic rights could be amended under Article 368 was questioned in the case of Shankari Prasad Singh Deo vs. Union of India[i] . Based on Article 368, which provides that a constitutional amendment is legitimate if it abridges any of the essential rights, the Supreme Court held that Parliament had the jurisdiction to change Part III of the Constitution, which is the Fundamental Rights.
In IC Golaknath and others vs. State of Punjab[ii], the Supreme Court overturned this decision, ruling that the Parliament lacked the authority to amend Part III of the Constitution in conformity with the Rule of Law norm. The Constitution (24th Amendment) Act of 1971, on the other hand, featured a new clause that restored Parliament's ability to amend the constitution by adding, altering, or removing any article in accordance with Article 368 procedure.
In the case of Kesavananda Bharati vs. the State of Kerala[iii], the Apex Court overruled the Golaknath case decision. It said that the Parliament's amending powers are not unlimited, but are subject to specified constraints, meaning that the Parliament's essential structure could not be destroyed or changed. The parliament was unable to revise or modify the constitution since the rule of law was considered an essential part of it.
This was Maneka Gandhi vs Union of India[iv].
Maneka Gandhi was a journalist whose passport was issued under the Passport Act of 1967 on June 1, 1976. She received a letter from the regional passport officer in New Delhi on July 7, 1977, requiring her to relinquish her passport in the public interest within seven days under section 10(3)(c) of the Act.
The petitioner contacted the authorities as soon as she received notice of the impoundment, demanding precise, detailed explanations for why her passport will be kept, as required by Section 10(5) of the Passport Act. In the "interest of the general public," the authorities, on the other hand, have said that the reasons will not be made public. In response, the petitioner filed a writ petition under Art 32, asserting that Section 10(3)(c) of the Act was invalid, citing constitutional violations of Articles 14, 19, and 21.
The seizure of the petitioner's passport is a violation of Article 21, and it is also a violation of Article 14 because the State has enacted no law restricting or prohibiting a person's rights in such a circumstance. It also violates Article 14 because its justifications are unquestioned and arbitrary. Part III of the Constitution establishes fundamental rights that are neither exclusive nor exclusive." Any law restricting a person's personal liberty must pass a test based on one or more of Article 19's fundamental rights. When discussing Article 14, the term "ex-hypothesi" must be addressed.
The concept of reasonableness must be conveyed during the operation. Article 21 substitutes "method established by law" for "due process of law," which is defined as procedures free of arbitrariness and irrationality.
The phrase "in the public interest" is neither ambiguous nor imprecise; rather, it is protected by a set of guidelines derived from Article 19. It is true that fundamental rights are pursued in circumstances where the state has violated an individual's rights. This does not, however, imply that the right to freedom of expression and speech is limited to India. The fact that the state's acts are constrained by its jurisdiction does not indicate that Fundamental Rights are as well.
The case of A.K. Gopalan was overturned, with the court ruling that the provisions of Articles 14, 19, and 21 have a special link, and that every statute must pass the mentioned articles' standards. These bans are mutually irreconcilable, according to the majority in Gopalan. As a result, in order to correct its prior error, the court found that these provisions are not mutually exclusive and are interdependent.
The legal system has emphasized the importance of Articles 14, 19, and 21, stating that they should be read collectively when dealing with a scenario involving one of these articles. The Golden Triangle was born when it was understood that the rights to equality, freedom, and personal liberty, when united, can play a vital role in operating the judicial system, keeping the government in check, and preserving individuals' rights. The constitution recognizes both the importance of guaranteeing fundamental rights to defend people's interests and the importance of creating citizens' Fundamental Duties so that the government can monitor them.
i1951 AIR 458, 1952 SCR 89
ii1967 AIR 1643; 1967 SCR (2) 762
iii(1973) 4 SCC 225; AIR 1973 SC 1461
iv1978 AIR 597, 1978 SCR (2)
This article is written by Aadiya Sinha of Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law.