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Legopedia

Article 19 of Indian Constitution – Right to Freedom

As citizens of India, we have certain fundamental rights. Fundamental Rights are enshrined under Part III of the Constitution of India. These fundamental rights are basic rights that we get right from birth. No individual or the State can take the same away from us. There are six Fundamental Rights in total namely, Right to Equality (Article 14-18), Right to Freedom (Article 19-22), Right against exploitation (Article 23 and 24), Right to Freedom of Religion (Article 25-28), Cultural and Educational Rights (Article 29 and 30) and Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32).

In this article, we will only take a closer look at Article 19, which deals with six fundamental freedoms.

Article 19 of the Indian Constitution prescribes and protects the following kinds of freedoms to all citizens of India –

a) Freedom of speech and expression.

b) Freedom to assemble peacefully and without arms.

c) Freedom to form associations or unions.

d) Freedom to move freely throughout the territory of India.

e) Freedom to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India.

f) Freedom to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade, or business.

Article 19(1)(a) – Freedom of Speech and Expression –

Freedom of speech is an indispensable element of any democratic country. It is the basis of civilization, and without it, liberty of thought would shrivel. Freedom of speech and expression provides the right to express one’s opinion freely without any fear through any medium. The word “press” is also included under this provision.

Article 19(1)(b) – Freedom of Assembly –

The Constitution allows us the right to hold meetings and take out processions. These processions and meetings may be restricted in the interest of public order or sovereignty.

This article has also been revived and interpreted by the Apex Court several times. Section 144(6) of the CrPC, can be imposed by the Government of India in some areas which make the assembly of five or more people an unlawful assembly.

This provision was challenged in the case of Kamla Kant Mishra and Ors. v. The state of Bihar on the ground that it violates Article 19(1) of the Constitution of India.

Article 19(1)(c) – Freedom of Association or Union –

The Constitution of India declares that all citizens of India shall have the right to form associations and unions. The Constitution of India declares that no citizen has a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(c) to be a voluntary association or a cooperative society. The right to be a member of the same is governed by the provisions of the statute. So, the right to be or to continue being a member of any society is a statutory right.

Article 19(1)(d) – Freedom to move freely throughout the territory of India –

No person can be restricted to move from one part of the State to another. The freedom of movement under Article 19 allows us to move from one state to another and anywhere within the State. There are certain exceptions to this freedom too.

Article 19(1)(e) – Freedom to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India –

As citizens of India, we can reside in any part of the country, which is subject to certain restrictions imposed by the State. An Indian Citizen can reside in any state except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Article 19(1)(g) – Freedom to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business –

The Constitution of India guarantees each citizen the right to conduct trade, profession, business, or occupation anywhere in the territory of India.

Also, Part 12 (Article 301-307) of the Constitution of India lists down the provisions relating to trade, commerce, and intercourse. Its objective is to remove barriers in the way of Interstate and Intra-state commercial and trading links.

Protection under Article 19(1)(g) is available to only the citizens of India, whereas, article 301 is available to everybody.

Reasonable Restrictions –

Every freedom comes with restrictions, without which there would be complete chaos in the society. Similarly, Article 19 also provides for ‘reasonable restrictions’ on these freedoms. Therefore, these rights are conditional. The State has the authority to reasonably limit or takes away these six rights on the following grounds –

  • Freedom of Speech and Expression
  1. Sovereignty and Integrity of India.
  2. Security of the State.
  3. Friendly relations with foreign States.
  4. Public order.
  5. Decency.
  6. Morality.
  7. Contempt of court.
  8. Defamation.
  9. Incitement to an offense.
  • Freedom to assemble peacefully and without arms
  1. Sovereignty and Integrity of India.
  2. Public Order.
  • Freedom to form associations or unions
  1. Sovereignty and Integrity of India
  2. Public order
  3. Morality
  • Freedom to move freely throughout the territory of India
  1. Interests of the general public
  2. Protection of the interests of any Scheduled Tribe
  • Freedom to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India
  1. Interests of the general public
  2. Protection of the interests of any Scheduled Tribe
  • Freedom to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business
  1. Interests of the general public
  2. State prescribed professional or technical qualifications
  3. State-run trade, business, industry, or service that excludes the participation of citizens or others either completely or partially.

CONCLUSION –

The Right to Freedom is one of the most important Fundamental Rights under the Constitution of India. Without freedom, there can’t be any democratic setup. People will not be able to grow and develop if they do not have the freedom to do anything. At the same time, providing people with absolute freedom could be very dangerous. It is important to put restrictions on freedom so that people don’t misuse their rights and co-exist with others peacefully. The State thus acts as a source of limiting the freedom of individuals. Our Constitution has very nicely mentioned the freedoms and the grounds on which they can be limited. This balance of power is necessary.

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by mayank barman

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