Right to Freedom

2019 ias preliminary exam test series

Article 19 – Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc.

(1) All citizens shall have the right-
(a) to freedom of speech and expression;
(b) to assemble peaceably and without arms;
(c) to form associations or unions;
(d) to move freely throughout the territory of India;
(e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India;
(g) to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

Explanation:

Originally, Article 19 contained seven rights. But, the right to acquire, hold and dispose of property was deleted by the 44th Amendment Act of 1978.

These six rights are protected against only state action and not private individuals. Moreover, these rights are available only to the citizens and not to foreigners.

The State can impose ‘reasonable’ restrictions on the enjoyment of these six rights only on the grounds mentioned in the Article 19 itself.

Freedom of Speech and Expression

It implies that every citizen has the right to express his views, opinions, belief and convictions freely by word of mouth, writing, printing, picturing or in any other manner. The Supreme Court held that the freedom of speech and expression includes the following:

(a) Right to propagate one’s views as well as views of others.

(b) Freedom of the press.

(c) Freedom of commercial advertisements.

(d) Right against tapping of telephonic conversation.

(e) Right to telecast, that is, government has no monopoly on electronic media.

(f) Right against bundh called by a political party or organisation.

(g) Right to know about government activities.

(h) Freedom of silence.

(i) Right against imposition of pre-censorship on a newspaper.

(j) Right to demonstration or picketing but not right to strike.

The State can impose reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the freedom of speech and expression on the grounds of sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, contempt of court, defamation, and incitement to an offence.

Freedom of Assembly

Every citizen has the right to assemble peaceably and without arms. It includes the right to hold public meetings, demonstrations and take out processions. This freedom can be exercised only on public land and the assembly must be peaceful and unarmed.

This provision does not protect violent, disorderly, riotous assemblies, or one that causes breach of public peace or one that involves arms.

This right does not include the right to strike.

The State can impose reasonable restrictions on the exercise of right of assembly on two grounds, namely, sovereignty and integrity of India and public order including the maintenance of traffic in the area concerned.

Under Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code (1973), a magistrate can restrain an assembly, meeting or procession if there is a risk of obstruction, annoyance or danger to human life, health or safety or a disturbance of the public tranquillity or a riot or any affray.

Under Section 141 of the Indian Penal Code, as assembly of five or more persons becomes unlawful if the object is (a) to resist the execution of any law or legal process; (b) to forcibly occupy the property of some person; (c) to commit any mischief or criminal trespass; (d) to force some person to do an illegal act; and (e) to threaten the government or its officials on exercising lawful powers.

Freedom of Association

All citizens have the right to form associations or unions or co-operative societies. It includes the right to form political parties, companies, partnership firms, societies, clubs, organisations, trade unions or any body of persons.

It not only includes the right to start an association or union but also to continue with the association or union as such. Further, it covers the negative right of not to form or join an association or union.

Reasonable restrictions can be imposed on the exercise of this right by the State on the grounds of sovereignty and integrity of India, public order and morality. Subject to these restrictions, the citizens have complete liberty to form associations or unions for pursuing lawful objectives and purposes. However, the right to obtain recognition of the association is not a fundamental right.

The Supreme Court held that the trade unions have no guaranteed right to effective bargaining or right to strike or right to declare a lock-out. The right to strike can be controlled by an appropriate industrial law.

Freedom of Movement

This freedom entitles every citizen to move freely throughout the territory of the country. He can move freely from one state to another or from one place to another within a state. This right underline the idea that India is one unit so far as the citizens are concerned.

The grounds of imposing reasonable restrictions on this freedom are two, namely, the interests of general public and the protection of interests of any scheduled tribe. The entry of outsiders in tribal areas is restricted to protect the distinctive culture, language, customs and manners of scheduled tribes and to safeguard their traditional vocation and properties against exploitation.

The Supreme Court held that the freedom of movement of prostitutes can be restricted on the ground of public health and in the interest of public morals.

The freedom of movement has two dimensions, viz, internal (right to move inside the country) and external (right to move out of the country and right to come back to the country). Article 19 protects only the first dimension. The second dimension is dealt by Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty).

Freedom of Residence

Every citizen has the right to reside and settle in any part of the territory of the country. This right has two parts: (a) the right to reside in any part of the country, which means to stay at any place temporarily, and (b) the right to settle in any part of the country, which means to set up a home or domicile at any place permanently.

This right is intended to remove internal barriers within the country or between any of its parts. This promotes nationalism and avoids narrow mindedness.

The State can impose reasonable restrictions on the exercise of this right on two grounds, namely, the interest of general public and the protection of interests of any scheduled tribes.

The right of outsiders to reside and settle in tribal areas is restricted to protect the distinctive culture, language, customs and manners of scheduled tribes and to safeguard their traditional vocation and properties against exploitation. In many parts of the country, the tribals have been permitted to regulate their property rights in accordance with their customary rules and laws.

Freedom of Profession, etc.

All citizens are given the right to practise any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business. This right is very wide as it covers all the means of earning one’s livelihood. The State can impose reasonable restrictions on the exercise of this right in the interest of the general public. Further, the State is empowered to:

(a) prescribe professional or technical qualifications necessary for practising any profession or carrying on any occupation, trade or business; and

(b) carry on by itself any trade, business, industry or service whether to the exclusion (complete or partial) of citizens or otherwise.

Thus, no objection can be made when the State carries on a trade, business, industry or service either as a monopoly (complete or partial) to the exclusion of citizens (all or some only) or in competition with any citizen. The State is not required to justify its monopoly.

This right does not include the right to carry on a profession or business or trade or occupation that is immoral (trafficking in women or children) or dangerous (harmful drugs or explosives, etc,). The State can absolutely prohibit these or regulate them through licencing.

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