Right to Freedom – Article 19 – Polity – Module 4

All citizens shall have the right..

Right to Freedom

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 or co-operative societies;

(d) to move freely throughout the territory of India;

(e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and

* * * * *

(g) to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

(2) Nothing in sub-clause (a) of clause (1) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

(3) Nothing in sub-clause (b) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause.

(4) Nothing in sub-clause (c) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order or morality, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause.

(5) Nothing in sub-clauses (d) and (e) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of any of the rights conferred by the said sub-clauses either in the interests of the general public or for the protection of the interests of any Scheduled Tribe.

(6) Nothing in sub-clause (g) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the general public, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause, and, in particular, nothing in the said sub-clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it relates to, or prevent the State from making any law relating to,— (i) the professional or technical qualifications necessary for practicing any profession or carrying on any occupation, trade or business, or (ii) the carrying on by the State, or by a corporation owned or controlled by the State, of any trade, business, industry or service, whether to the exclusion, complete or partial, of citizens or otherwise.

  • 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 to shareholders of a company but not to foreigners or legal persons like companies or corporations, etc.
  • The State can impose ‘reasonable’ restrictions on the enjoyment of these six rights only on the grounds mentioned in the Article 19 itself and not on any other grounds.
  • 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 tranquility 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.
  • 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 Bombay High Court validated the restrictions on the movement of persons affected by AIDS.
  • 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).
  • In case Jindal vs Union of India 2004, waving of flags and hosting them on private building is also covered into this.
  • This freedom travels with the individual and is not held with the boundary of the country.[19(1)(a) ]
  • Expressing the views of others that is freedom of press is also derived from the same right.
  • Right to know for the fulfillment of the doctrine of discovery of truth is also derived from the same freedom Right to Information is also derived from the same article. 
  • However it is not absolute as libel and slander are not covered in the scope of the article.
  • Interpreted by various jurists, it is the basis to form societies, organizations, corporations, political parties.
  • In CPI (M) vs Bharat Kumar 1998, interpreting this article 19 (1)(c), Supreme Court explained that right to form Association is a means to an end, it is an end itself.  it is for the purpose of collective assertion, people can form association and thereby right to strike is covered within the scope of right to form association.  However right to band is not included within the scope of this right as it is in conflict with 19 (1)(g).
  • In Nathan And Others Vs State of Tamil Nadu 2003, it was interpreted that Government employees strike shall amount to band. Elaborating on judgement, Judiciary explained government employees strike to be ‘band’ shall not be covered under Doctrine of Edjusden Generis.  It shall be idiographiclly identified. 
  • Freedom of movement can be restricted in the interest of general public or for the protection of the interests of any scheduled tribes.
  • In case M.P. vs Bharat Singh 1967, it was interpreted that this will be subjected to two major checks.

1.  Jus Soli (lex luci) law of location

2.  Doctrine of Eminent Domain.

  • Under 19 (1) (g) it is not a qualified as certain trades are covered with license.
  • The professional or technical qualification necessary for practicing any profession, carrying on any occupation, trade or business.
  • In case Sodan Singh Vs New Delhi Municipal Corporation Committee 1989 even for the non license trade, table restrictions can be imposed in the name of public order.
  • In B R Enterprises Vs State Of U P 1999, it was interpreted that not covered under 19 (1) (g).

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