The Indian Constitution gives its citizens a whole lot of rights to protect them against unjust harassment. But in order to exercise these rights and raise questions when they are violated, it’s necessary to learn about them first.
Here’s a quick 5-minute selection of laws and rights that can help you avoid getting taken for a ride in India.
When detained or arrested, you have the right to keep quiet.
That’s right: you’re not legally obliged to talk to the police without a lawyer by your side, even if you have committed the crime you’ve been brought in for.
Article 20(3) of the constitution protects you from being forced to incriminate yourself.
A woman has special rights when it comes to being arrested.
If you’re a woman, there has to be a female constable present to escort you to the police station at any given time.
And if the police comes to arrest you between sunset and sunrise, you can refuse to go with them (unless a magistrate has given prior permission).
Yep, even if there’s an arrest warrant in your name!
If you’ve been detained/arrested by the police, they must take you to a magistrate within 24 hours.
If the police keep you in a lock-up without producing you in court within one day, they’re technically breaking the law!
There are two different categories of offences: cognizable and non-cognizable.
Chances are, you probably heard these terms at some point while studying civics back in school. However, not many people can tell the difference between these two.
A non-cognizable offence (or “N.C.”) means it’s a less serious crime, and the police can’t arrest you without a court order telling them to do so. Some offences that fall under this are shoplifting, pickpocketing, failure to renew a license, etc.
A cognizable offence is one where the police doesn’t need a court order to arrest you, because the offence is too serious to delay action. Things that come under this category are murder, rape, kidnapping etc.
Despite the social stigma, live-in relationships are actually recognized by the law.
Surprising as it may sound in the case of India, it’s true.
In order to protect women under the Domestic Violence Act (DVA), the Supreme Court has specifically said that if a man and woman basically live like a married couple, their relationship is to be treated like a marriage.
Living together, having kids together, sharing financial resources, and sharing domestic responsibilities all fall within the purview of this.
Kids born to unmarried parents who are in a live-in relationship have full right to inherit their property. Similarly, women who are abandoned by their live-in partners can, on the basis of this law, ask for financial reparations in court (just like in marriages).
Service charge and service tax are totally different.
Before you drop a tip for the waiter the next time you go out for a meal, check the menu and the bill carefully!
Service tax is the legal amount of 14.5% that a restaurant can charge you – but only air-conditioned restaurants. Yep, that open-air udipi is ripping you off if they levy a service tax on you!
Plus, service tax is only calculated on 40% of the bill amount. To break it down: if your bill is ₹100 (yes, this is totally hypothetical, so roll with it), the service tax you pay is 14.5% of ₹40. That is, ₹5.80.
Service charge, on the other hand, is not technically mentioned by the law. You’re only obliged to shell it out if the restaurant mentions this before you order (for example, on the menu).
Keeping these few things in mind can help you avoid getting cheated unnecessarily, whether it’s by the police, a restaurant, or even your partner!