Laws and rights every Indian should know


The Indian judicial system has granted its citizens a great deal of power. Sadly, not everyone is aware of this power. It is crucial for you to understand the rights and laws that apply to you as an Indian citizen.

Have you ever been the victim of victimisation, discrimination, or exploitation but chose not to take action because you weren't sure whether you could or couldn't? So now is the time to educate yourself on the law and become aware of your rights as an Indian citizen. Let’s start with the basic fundamental rights followed by other important ones.

1. Right to Information, Article 19 (1)(a)

A law passed by the Indian Parliament known as the Right to Information (RTI) establishes the right to information as a basic right for all Indian people. Parliament passed this Right to Information on June 15, 2005, and it officially took effect on October 12, 2005.

Any Indian citizen may seek information from any public authority under the RTI Act, and the authority is required to respond as soon as possible or within thirty days.

The information must be given within 48 hours if the petitioner's life or freedom are at stake.

2. Right to Equality, Article 14

The Indian Constitution's Right to Equality (Article 14) guarantees equality before the law within Indian territory. Anyone and everyone who is on Indian soil, including corporations and foreigners as well as citizens of India, is subject to this law.

Classification is allowed under Article 14 as long as it is "reasonable," but class legislation is not allowed. It is appropriate to classify people into groups when:

  • The classification is based on discernible differences that separate the grouped individuals or things from those who are not included in the group.
  • The disparity makes sense in connection to the act's goal.

3. Right to Education, Article 21 (A)

On August 4, 2009, the Indian Parliament passed the Right to Education Act (RTE). In accordance with Article 21(a) of the Indian Constitution, this law outlines the specifics of the importance of free and compulsory education for children aged 6 to 14 in India.

Every child between the ages of 6 and 14 has the fundamental right to access an education, and RTE establishes minimum standards for primary institutions.

According to this rule, all private schools must reserve 25 percent of their seats for students (to be reimbursed by the state as part of the public-private partnership plan).

Additionally, it forbids any unrecognised schools from operating, and it stipulates that there will be no donation or capitation fees, as well as no parent or child interviews for admittance.

The Act also states that until the end of elementary school, no kid shall be held back, expelled, or compelled to pass a board exam.

Additionally, there is a facility for additional instruction for drop outs to bring them up to level with pupils their own age.

4. Right to Life, Article 21

According to Article 21, no one, not even the government, has the right to take your life. Under passing laws to protect you, the government is required by this law to take the necessary steps to protect life. 

In addition, the right to life requires the government to protect you if your life is in danger by taking the necessary measures.

When making decisions that could put you in risk or have an impact on your life expectancy, public authorities should also take into account your right to life.

You can be entitled to an investigation if a family member passes away due to state involvement.

The majority of Indians are aware of some of our fundamental legal rights, but there are a few that you may not be aware of. 

5. Right to File an FIR

A police officer is not permitted to decline to file a FIR, as stated in Indian Penal Code 166 A. A police officer who declines to submit a FIR for a cognizable violation is subject to punishment under Section 166A(c) of the Indian Penal Code if they are an Indian citizen. 

The police officer in these situations "will be responsible for prosecution and punishment," according to the Supreme Court. How should I use this right?

Visit the police station (preferably close to the crime scene) and provide the officer in charge of that area all the information you have. Additionally, Section 154 of the CrPC offers the informant the option of providing information verbally or in writing.

What should you do if your rights are violated?

The following steps may be taken if the responsible officer in charge declines to submit a first information report about the commission of a crime within his territorial authority in accordance with Section 154(3):

(a) Approach the Superintendent of Police

The informant may submit a written complaint to the Superintendent of Police, the Commissioner of Police, or any other senior official of the law.

If the Superintendent of Police believes that the information reveals the commission of a crime that is punishable by law, he or she may decide to conduct an inquiry on their own or assign a police officer under his or her supervision to do so.

(b) Complaint to Judicial Magistrate

The informant is legally allowed to file a complaint with the Judicial Magistrate or Metropolitan Magistrate under Section 156(3) read with Section 190 of the criminal procedure if no FIR is filed even after submitting a complaint to senior police officials. This will allow the police to begin their investigation.

(c) Legal Remedy

If the Police's inactivity on the complaint or failure to register a FIR resulted in frustration or the deprivation of any person's life or liberty, as provided by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, a Writ Petition may be brought in the appropriate High Court to seek damages or compensation.

6. Right to claim a Refund

Every consumer is entitled to a full refund under the terms of the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 if they are dissatisfied with their purchase or are unable to use the services they have paid for.

In truth, printing "No exchange or refund" on bills and invoices is against the law and constitutes an unfair business conduct.

What should you do if your rights are violated?

You can issue a legal notice if the business does not refund your money. File a complaint for a lack of service in the consumer forum if the money is still not returned. Additionally, you have the option of filing a criminal cheating case against the defaulters.

7. Right of parents to be maintained by their children

Parents (father or mother, whether biological, adoptive, or stepfather or stepmother, whether senior citizen or not) have the right to demand support from their adult children under Section 125 of the Cr. P.C.

What should you do if your rights are violated?

Present the court with sufficient evidence that your children, who are able to support you, have not done so. Any person who is responsible for paying maintenance may be the target of a maintenance application.

8. Right to Equal pay for Equal work

Equal pay for equally hard labour is required by the Equal Remuneration Act of 1976, a piece of legislation. They should receive equal compensation if two or more people performed the same task in similar situations.

What should you do if your rights are violated?

When an employer violates these rules, employees have the right to submit a complaint with the relevant labour authorities. After confirming the case's merits, the relevant labour authority may open an investigation and take the necessary measures. Employers are obligated to keep records of the specifics of their employees' compensation, which should be included in these registers.

9. Rights of a woman when arrested

No woman may be taken into custody before sunrise or after sunset (After 6 pm and before 6 am), with the exception of extraordinary circumstances, according to section 46 of the criminal procedure code (CrPc). Additionally, a male police officer is never allowed to arrest a woman.

What should you do if your rights are violated?

If a woman finds herself in a circumstance where the arresting police authority violates the legal procedure for an arrest, she must:

  • Refuse to be arrested if the legal procedure is not followed.
  • Get in touch with her attorney to seek advice and a remedy.
  • Remind the arresting police officers of her legal rights.
  • Express concerns to the SHO of the police station where she was detained.
  • Has the option to file a complaint with the local magistrate.

Know More: Arrest of women in India - Laws, Legal Procedure and Rights of arrested Women

10. Right to take legal action if a police officer snatches your vehicle’s keys.

According to the Motor Vehicle Act of 1988, you have the right to file a lawsuit against a traffic police officer who grabs your automobile or motorcycle's key.

What should you do if your rights are violated?

Take pictures of the situation and lodge a complaint against the traffic police officer if they snatch your car keys without cause.

11. Right under the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961

A pregnant woman cannot be fired by a corporation, according to the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961. A maximum of three years in prison could be used as punishment. Employees in the public and private sectors are subject to this rule. 


12. Right against the cheque bounce

According to Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act of 1881, bouncing a check is an infraction that is subject to a fine of up to double the amount of the cheque, up to two years in prison, or both.

What should you do if your rights are violated?

In the event that a check you were paid with bounces, you should immediately get in touch with a lawyer and serve legal notice on the party responsible. You can pursue criminal charges against the person and/or have him/her put in jail if you don't get paid within 15 days of the legal notice.

Know More: Cheque Bounce Under Section 138 Of Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881

13. Right to free legal aid

The government passed this law in accordance with Article 39-A of the Indian Constitution to offer free legal aid to anyone who cannot afford to hire an attorney.

14. Hindu Marriage Act, Section 13

According to the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, either a husband or a wife may file a divorce petition with the court on the grounds of adultery (a physical relationship outside of marriage), physical or mental Harrasment, impotence, leaving the house unaccompanied, converting to another religion while still a Hindu, insanity, incurable illness, or failing to provide information about the spouse for seven years.

15. Income Tax Act, 1961

If you violate tax laws, the tax collection officer has the authority to have you arrested, but first they must send you a notice. The Tax Commissioner alone determines how long you will be held.

As per the citizen charter (Indian Oil Corporation website)

Few individuals are aware that the gas company is responsible for compensating the victim with Rs. 50 lakh if their gas cylinder explodes while they are cooking food. Customers must file a FIR at the closest police station and submit it to the relevant gas agency in order to be eligible for this compensation.

16. Maximum Retail Price Act, 2014

Any shopkeeper is not allowed to charge more than the advertised price of any good, but customers are free to haggle for a lower price.

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Author Bio: Adv. Chaitanya A. Mahadadalkar is a distinguished advocate specializing in Civil law, Criminal law as well as multiple other fields of law. With over 7 years of legal experience, Adv Chaitanya brings a wealth of expertise in cases related to all legal fields. He has also spent a significant amount of time practicing at different tribunals like NGT, DRT, CAT, etc. For the past few years, Adv Chaitanya has also been serving as a legal aid counsel as well as his legal expertise and unwavering dedication to his clients have earned him widespread respect and admiration in the legal community.