Q. Mention the six freedoms as guaranteed under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. Also, comment on the way in which the constitution has attempted to strike a balance between individual liberty and interests of society.
Article 19 of the Constitution provides for following six fundamental forms of freedom:
- Freedom of speech and expression
- Freedom to assemble peacefully without arms
- Freedom to form associations or unions or co-operative societies
- Freedom to move freely throughout the territory of India
- Freedom to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India
- Freedom to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.
Balancing individual liberty and social interests
Liberty as conceived by the preamble or the fundamental rights is not completely absolute but qualified. If left unchecked, liberty can create the conditions of lawlessness in the society, breed separatism & antinational activities. Hence, the balance between individual liberty and larger social interests has been achieved in the Constitution by putting ‘reasonable restrictions’ on the exercise of this right for certain purposes viz.:
- In case of freedom of speech and expression, State can impose reasonable restrictions on the grounds of sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, contempt of court, defamation, public order, decency and morality and incitement to an offence.
- Reasonable restriction is imposed 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. Similarly, assembly of five or more persons may be restricted under section 141 of IPC on certain specified grounds.
- Reasonable restrictions can be imposed on freedom of association on the grounds of sovereignty and integrity of India, public order and morality.
- Freedom of movement and freedom of residence are subject to the interests of the general public (For example SC held that the freedom of movement of prostitutes can be restricted on the ground of public health) and the protection and interests of any scheduled tribe (to prevent distinctive culture of tribals).
- Freedom of profession can be restricted in the interest of general public by way of licensing, prescribing professional or technical qualifications for certain trades etc. Immoral and dangerous profession/business or trade is not included under this right.
A right balance between individual liberty and societal interest will lead to a rule based order where citizens can participate fully and effectively in the social and political process of the country.