Article 19 of Indian Constitution

20 Jan 2023  Read 3760 Views

Remember the Shreya Singhal Case in which she posted a comment that led to her arrest? After that incident, a constitutional provision got noticed, which is not only crucial for a democratic country but also provides a safe environment to lead the nation. In this blog, we will discuss Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. Let’s start with the basic information:

There are six freedoms guaranteed by Article 19(1) of the Indian Constitution.

  1. Freedom of Speech and Expression
  2. Freedom of Assembly
  3. Freedom to form Associations or Unions or Cooperative Societies
  4. Freedom of movement
  5. Freedom to reside and settle
  6. Omitted by 44th Amendment
  7. Freedom of Profession, occupation, trade or business

An organised Society is the precondition of civil liberties. The result would be ruined if people were given complete and absolute liberty without social control. Liberty has got to be limited to be effectively possessed. One, for his own liberty, must not offend the liberties of others. Hence, certain restrictions are provided in clauses 2 to 4 of Article 19 of the Constitution. The thing which needs to be noted is that the restrictions imposed should be reasonable and to identify a reasonable restriction, there are two tests which need to be determined:

  1. The restriction should fall under the ambit of clauses 2 to 4 of Article 19 of the Constitution.
  2. There must exist a reasonable restriction

To understand Article 19, you must know that the following clauses are read together:

  1. Article 19 (1) (a) and Article 19 (2)
  2. Article 19 (1) (b) and Article 19 (3)
  3. Article 19 (1) (c) and Article 19 (4)
  4. Article 19 (1) (d), Article 19 (1) (e) and Article 19 (5)
  5. Article 19 (1) (g) and Article 19 (6)

Article 19 (1) (a) and Article 19 (2)

Article 19(1)(a) talks about the freedom of speech and expression, which means that one has a right to express their own views and opinions freely by any mode, be it writing, printing, word of mouth etc. The expression also includes publications; hence, freedom of the press is one of the rights this clause contains. Freedom of speech and expression includes:

  1. Right to Information
  2. Right to vote
  3. Freedom of the press
  4. Right to reply
  5. Right to silence

The restrictions imposed on Article 19(1)(a) are mentioned under Article 19(2):

  1. Security of State
  2. Public Order
  3. Decency or Morality
  4. Defamation
  5. Incitement of an offence
  6. Contempt of Court
  7. Friendly relations

Vinod Dua v. Union of India (2021)

The accused journalist was claimed to have uploaded a video on social media by making false allegations for which he was prosecuted for offences punishable under Sections 124-A and 505 (1) (b) of IPC. Since the statements were neither intended to incite people nor showed a tendency to create disorder or disruption of public peace by resorting to violence, the accused was held to be within permissible limits. Therefore, the prosecution was held unjust and violative under Art.19(1)(a).

Article 19 (1) (b) and Article 19 (3)

Article 19 (1) (b) guarantees the right to assemble peaceably and without arms. It includes right to hold meetings regarding the discussions. This right is subject to restrictions mentioned under Article 19(3):

  1. It must be unarmed
  2. The assembly must be peaceable
  3. It must be in favour of the public interest
  4. It must be in the interest of the Sovereignty and Integrity of India

Himmat Lal v. Police Commissioner (1972)

The Supreme Court struck down the rule that authorised the police commissioner to impose a complete ban on all public meetings and processions. The Court held that the state could only render regulations in support of the right of assembly of citizens and could inflict reasonable restrictions in the interest of public order. Still, no rule could be prescribed prohibiting all meetings or processions altogether.

Article 19 (1) (c) and Article 19 (4)

Article 19(1)(c) states that every citizen has the right to form associations, cooperative societies or unions. An association means a group of persons who came together to fulfil a certain objective which may be for the members’ or the general public’s welfare or a scientific, charitable or any other purpose. The restriction for Article 19 (1) (c) is given under Article 19 (2) as:

  1. Interests in the sovereignty and integrity of India
  2. Interest in public order or morality

Damyanti v. Union of India (1971)

The Supreme Court upheld members’ right to an association to continue the association with its arrangement as willingly agreed upon by the persons forming the association.

  • The right to form an association contains the right not to be a member of an association.
  • The right under Article 19(1)(c) doesn't prohibit the state from making reservations or recommending weaker sections to the cooperative societies and their managing committees.
  • No previous restraint can be imposed on the right to form an association.
  • There is no fundamental right to recognise the association or union government.
  • The right to form an association comprises of no right to accomplish the objects of the association.

Article 19 (1) (d), Article 19 (1) (e) and Article 19 (5)

The rights to move anywhere freely and to reside and settle wherever in the country are granted under Article 19(1)(d) and (e), which are mutually exclusive. The freedom to unrestricted movement is granted by Article 19(1)(d) across the entire Indian territory. The ability to use roads and highways is a part of this right. The restrictions under this provision are given under Article 19 (5):

  1. Interest of the general public
  2. For safeguarding the interests of Scheduled Tribe

Chambara soy v. Union of India (2007)

The Supreme Court held that the right to move freely under Article 19(1)(d) of the petitioner has been violated because of the road blockage. The Court held that the State is liable to compensate for the death of the petitioner’s son because of the fault on the part of the State authorities in removing the aforesaid blockage.

Article 19 (1) (g) and Article 19 (6)

Article 19 (1) (g) guarantees the citizens to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business. It is regulated by the restrictions imposed under Article 19 (6):

  1. It should be in the interest of the public.
  2. He/ she must be qualified to practice that profession.
  3. Enables the state to render any law or state monopolies for any trade, business, service, or industry.

In Anuradha Bhasim v. Union of India (2020)

It was stated that Article 19(1)(g) protects the freedom of trade and commerce through the internet subject to the restrictions provided under Article 19 (6).

About the Author: Gurpreet Kaur Dutta | 82 Post(s)

A legal content writer who pursued BBA-LL.B.(H) from Amity University Chhattisgarh. She has a keen interest in corporate and IPR sectors. 

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