Apart from elections and institutions, another essential element of a true democracy is the enjoyment of rights. Every individual has certain rights and duties. Amnesty International has reported that human rights are being violated in the Guantanamo Bay prison. People in Saudi Arabia are being denied their basic citizens’ rights. The Kosovo massacre is another example of the most blatant human rights violation. Rights in South Africa were also violated under the apartheid government. All these instances give an idea of what it means to live in the absence of basic rights.
Rights are the reasonable claims of persons which are recognised by society and sanctioned by law. Rights in democracy are essential, as every citizen should have the right to vote and the right to be elected. People should have the right to express their opinion and form political parties.
Like constitutions of all democratic countries, the Indian Constitution also mentions the rights; some rights are given special status and they are called Fundamental Rights. Our Constitution guarantees equality, liberty and justice to all the citizens. The Fundamental Rights mentioned in the Constitution are – Right to Equality, Right to Freedom, Right against Exploitation, Right to Freedom of Religion and Cultural and Educational Rights. The citizens have a right to seek the enforcement of the Fundamental Rights. This is called the Right to Constitutional Remedies. Over the years, the scope of rights has expanded. Rights like right to freedom of press, Right to Education and Right to Information have been derived from the Fundamental Rights. In India, an independent organisation called the National Human Rights Commission was established to ensure deprived sections of society are able to exercise their rights.