Further, he held that the fundamental right to equality (under Article 14 of the Constitution of India) would be applicable to foreigners and authorities cannot refuse to register their marriages.
The basic human rights enshrined in Articles 12 to 35 of the Constitution, are guaranteed to all the citizens, the Court said.
While the rights under Articles 15 (prohibition of discrimination),16 (equal opportunity in public employment), 19 (rights like free speech etc), 29 (protection of minorities’ interests) and 30 (rights of minorities to maintain educational institutions) are applicable only to citizens of India, the other fundamental rights are available not only to the citizens of India but also to non-citizens (foreigners), the Court held.
Majority of the countries adhere to natural justice principles and grant basic rights to foreign nationals, the Court stated.
“The founders of the Constitution were concerned not to deny any basic right to the non-citizens that would be damaging to their existence or deprive them of liberty an equality,” the Court observed.
It noted that the rights contained under Articles 15, 16 and 19 are conferred on “citizens” while the rights under Articles 14 and 21 are conferred on “any person.”
“This distinction between ‘a citizen’ and ‘a person’ was engrafted in our Constitution by its framers with a specific intent – to grant certain fundamental rights to its citizens only and to grant certain rights to any person or individual, which mean some of the rights are available to all the citizens of the country while some are for even non-citizens,” the Court underscored.
These fundamental rights are meant to spread the concept of democracy and to defend people’s freedom and liberties, the Court underscored.