This article is written by Mishu Jain of 2nd Semester of B.A.LLB of Manipal University Jaipur School of Law, an intern under Legal Vidhiya
Freedom refers to a state where someone is free to do as per, they like without any interference or restrictions from others. Following its independence, India joined the ranks of nations that grant its citizens one of the world’s lengthiest and bulkiest constitution. Among all of its provisions, Article 19 is an outstanding symbol of freedom and the nation’s democratic ideal. The Indian Constitution grants the right to freedom under Articles 19, 20, 21A, and 22.
One of the six fundamental rights guaranteed to its citizens by the Indian Constitution is the right to freedom, which includes the freedom of speech and expression, form associations, freedom of personal liberty, freedom to live a life of dignity, etc. These rights are typically enshrined in a nation’s constitution or international treaties. It is vital to comprehend the extent of these provisions as well as any applicable exceptions.
In this article, the author has attempted to address the right to freedom embodied in article 19 particularly, as well as judicial opinions and interpretations of article 19 that broaden its provisions.
Freedom, Rights, Constitution, Article 19, Liberty, Fundamental Rights, Restrictions, Dignity.
In response to international attitude that was prominent following the end of World War II, the chapter on Fundamental Rights that was originally intended to be included in Part III of the Indian Constitution was left out. It was the fervent hope and unwavering demand of our founding fathers and liberation warriors that a guarantee of fundamental rights for the Indian people should be included in a future constitution.
The Indian Constitution’s provision of fundamental rights generally fits under a few categories. One of them is the right to freedom guaranteed by Article 19, which includes the freedom to form associations or unions, the freedom to move freely throughout India, the freedom to live and work anywhere in the country, the freedom to practice and profess one’s religion, and the freedom to engage in any kind of employment, trade, or business. The Constitution (44th) Amendment Act, 1978 eliminated Articles 19(1) (f) and 31, which protected property rights, and it went into force on June 20, 1979.
All Indian people are entitled to six essential freedoms under Article 19. Among them are:
- Freedom of Speech and Expression: It permits people to freely express their thoughts, feelings, and convictions. Nonetheless, reasonable restrictions apply for the protection of morality, decency, public order, and India’s sovereignty and integrity.
- Freedom to Assemble Peacefully and Without Arms: This clause permits people to come together without using weapons in a peaceful manner. Reasonable limitations are also applied to this freedom in order to protect public order, Indian sovereignty, and national integrity.
- Freedom to Form Unions or Associations: Under this freedom, people can organize unions or associations: It encompasses the freedom to establish political organizations, businesses, alliances, society, clubs, etc.
- Freedom to Move Anywhere on Indian Territory: This guarantees a citizen’s ability to travel anywhere on Indian Territory without restriction.
- Freedom to Live and Reside in Any Part of the Indian Territory: This right gives a citizen the ability to live and settle anywhere in the nation.
- The freedom to practice any profession and to carry on any trade, company, or occupation: It is a fundamental right that allows persons to engage in a wide range of activities.
ARTICLE 19(1) (A): THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND EXPRESSION IN INDIA
Every Indian person is entitled to the state-guaranteed freedom of speech and expression. Freedom of speech and expression is the right to speak up and the right to express oneself by any medium-by words of mouth, writing, photos, signs, internet etc. Each and every citizen is entitled to information sharing and to the freedom to hold and express opinions. “Freedom of speech and expression” is an expression with numerous interpretations. It encompasses the freedom of the spread of ideas, their publication and distribution.
The right of citizens to freely express their ideas, opinions, and thoughts is guaranteed by Article 19(1) (a). This involves having the freedom to express oneself verbally, in writing, in print, visually, or by any other way. For the sake of India’s sovereignty and integrity, the security of the State, goodwill with other countries, public order, decency or morality, contempt of court, defamation, incitement to commit an offense, or the sovereignty and integrity of Parliament, reasonable restrictions may be placed on this right.
The following elements have been progressively incorporated to the definition of freedom of speech and expression over time by the creativity, perception, and judgment of judges:
Freedom of press – “All democratic organizations are built on the foundations of freedom of speech and the press because without these, public education—which is crucial to the smooth operation of the political system—cannot occur” as said by patanjali sastri, j.
In the case of, Romesh Thappar v. State of Madras, The Supreme Court ruled that the right to free speech and expression includes the right to freedom of the press.
Freedom of commercial speech– The Supreme Court ruled in the case of Tata Press Ltd. v. Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. that the freedom of speech and expression included the right to commercial speech and advertisements, which could only be restricted by the provisions of Article 19(2). The Supreme Court ruled that even though advertising is just a business transaction, it nevertheless disseminates information about the offered product. The information made available through the adverts benefits the general public. The unrestricted exchange of commercial information is essential in a democracy.
Right to broadcast – With the development of technology, the idea of speech and expression has changed to encompass all forms of communication and expression. The broadcast and electronic media would fall under this category.
The Supreme Court ruled in Odyssey Communications (P) Ltd. v. Lokvidayan Sanghatana that a citizen’s ability to watch movies on Doordarshan, the state channel, is protected as a basic right under Article 19(1) (a).
Right to information – The freedom of “speech and expression” includes the ability to receive information as well as the ability to express, publish, and spread information. This was stated by the Supreme Court in a number of rulings that covered the right to information in a variety of circumstances, such as ads that provide residents with important information.
A fundamental tenet of democracy is that all citizens ought to be informed about the actions of their government. The public’s awareness of government actions is a prerequisite for the establishment of openness and accountability in governance. Therefore, one of the most significant fundamental rights is the ability to acquire and share information. The Right to Information Act, 2005, established in India guarantees citizens rights to safe access to data managed by public entities.
Right to criticize– According to S. Rangarajan v. P. Jagjivan Ram, everyone is entitled to express his or her opinions on any matters of public importance. Restricting expression is not justified when it comes to open criticism of government operations and policies. Both the individual and democracy are at risk from intolerance. It’s not necessary for everyone to sing the same song in a democracy.
Right to silence or not to speak – The right to speak is accompanied with the freedom to remain silent or to keep quiet. Three children who were dismissed from school for refusing to sing the national anthem had their right to silence protected by the Supreme Court in the case of Bijoe Emmanuel v. State of Kerala, 1986. The Court ruled that if a person has legitimate conscientious objections because of his or her religious beliefs, he or she cannot be forced to sing the National Anthem. Thus, the freedom to speak and to express oneself encompasses the freedom to remain silent and to refrain from speaking.
A basic right guaranteed by Article 19/21 can now be enforced even against entities other than the State or its agents, according to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court. The court adopted this stance in holding that the freedom of speech and expression protected by Article 19(1) (a) cannot be restricted for any reason beyond those specified in Article 19(2).
Enforcing Rights Against Private Entities: According to this understanding, the state must make sure that private entities follow the Constitution’s rules. It creates a number of legal opportunities for the enforcement of constitutional rights, such as the right to free expression against private social media companies or the enforcement of privacy rights against private physicians.
The freedom of speech and expression is subject to reasonable restrictions and is not an absolute right. According to Article 19(2), Nothing in sub clause (a) of clause (1) will interfere with the operation of any current laws or prohibit the State from enacting new laws so long as those laws place reasonable limitations on the exercise of the rights granted by the aforementioned sub clause in the interests of the India’s sovereignty and integrity, state security, friendly relationships with other countries, public order, decency or morality, or with regards to contempt of court, defamation, or incitement to commit an offense.
In the case of state of UP v Raj Narain, The Supreme Court noted that the idea of right to know originates from the foundation of freedom of speech. The Court further ruled that the citizens of this nation have a right to be informed about every public act and action taken by their public servants.
ARTICLE 19 (1) (B): RIGHT TO ASSEMBLY PEACEABLY WITHOUT ANY ARMS
With this right, people can assemble in peace and without carrying weapons. It serves as the cornerstone of any democracy by permitting public discussions, processions, and protests. Those who carry weapons or assemble violently are not protected by this right, nevertheless. In the sake of maintaining public order as well as India’s sovereignty and integrity, the state may put reasonable restrictions on this right. The purpose of organizing a meeting or assembly is to educate the public and spread ideas. Therefore, the freedom of speech and expression must logically follow the right to assemble.
Article 19(1) (b) guarantees the freedom to assemble in peace and without weapons. This covers the freedom to stage public gatherings, go on hunger strikes, and lead processions. But there must be no weapons and a peaceful gathering. It is important to remember that neither government property nor privately owned land may be used for gatherings.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court noted in Asha Ranjan v. State of Bihar and Ors.  that the freedom of individuals to organize peaceful protests, marches, and other activities is unquestionably a basic right protected by Article 19(1)(a) and Article 19(1)(b).
In the 1972 case of Himmat Lal v. Police Commissioner, Bombay, and the Supreme Court overturned a regulation that gave the police commissioner the authority to completely prohibit any public gatherings and processions. It was decided that the state could only create laws to support citizens’ freedom to assemble and could apply reasonable limitations to maintain public order, but it was not allowed to create a rule that forbade gatherings or processions completely.
ARTICLE 19 (3)
Restrictions on the right to assemble freely
Nothing in Article 19(1) (b) of the Constitution will impact the functioning of any current laws in as much as it pertains to prohibit the State from passing any legislation that places reasonable limitations on the exercise of that right in the sake of India’s sovereignty, integrity, or public order. Following the Constitution’s promulgation, additional restrictions on sovereignty and integrity were added.
ARTICLE 19 (1) (C): FREEDOM TO FORM ASSOCIATIONS OR UNIONS
The freedom to organize into groups, unions, or cooperative societies is granted under this clause. An association is a collection of people who have joined forces to accomplish a common goal, which could be for the welfare of the members, the scientific community, charity, or any other reason. Since the ability to create associations is necessary for the formation of political parties, which are essential to a democracy’s operation, this right is seen as the lifeblood of democracy. It encompasses the freedom to establish political associations, companies, collaborations, society, clubs, etc.
The following are some aspects of the right to form associations:
- The freedom to organize associations includes the freedom to voluntarily join one.
- It also covers the freedom to decide whether or not to stay a member of the association.
- The freedom to organize an association encompasses the freedom to choose not to join one.
- The state may reserve positions in cooperative organizations and their managing committees, or it may designate weaker parts, without violating Article 19(1) (c) rights.
- The freedom to organize an association cannot be restricted in any way beforehand. The government’s recognition of a group or union is not a fundamental right.
- The freedom to establish an association comprises no right to accomplish the goals of the association.
- The right to recognition does not accompany the right to organize an association.
- The freedom to organize does not include the freedom to strike.
- The freedom to organize does not include the freedom to disclose competition to other unions.
In the case of Damyanti v. Union of India, 1971, the Supreme Court affirmed the freedom of association members to maintain their organization in the form that they voluntarily chose.
ARTICLE 19(4) – REASONABLE RESTRICTIONS ON THE ABILITY TO SET UP AN ASSOCIATION.
Like other individual freedoms, the right to associate is not unrestricted. Article 19(4) gives the State the authority to place reasonable limitations on the freedom of unionization and organization in the interest of “public “order,” “morality,” or “Indian sovereignty or integrity.” As long as current laws do not conflict with the fundamental right to association, they are preserved.
ARTICLE 19 (1) (D): FREEDOM TO MOVE FREELY THROUGHOUT THE TERRITORY OF INDIA
Every Indian citizen is guaranteed the freedom to move within their nation’s borders because to this right. It implies that a person’s ability to move within any region of India or across states cannot be restricted unreasonably. They are able to move not only across states but also within a single state. No law may restrict this freedom except in the manner specified by Article 19(5). The Constitution emphasizes that, as far as its citizens are concerned, the whole region is one entity. Therefore, the goal was to instill a sense of nationalism among Indian residents rather than narrow-mindedness.
This right is not accessible to foreign nationals or other legal entities, such as corporations or firms, but only to citizens and shareholders of a company. There are two aspects to freedom of movement: internal, or the ability to travel within the nation, and external, or the ability to leave the nation and return. Article 19 solely safeguards the initial dimension and Article 21 addresses the second dimension (Right to life and personal liberty).
In the case of Kharak Singh v. State of UP, 1963, the Supreme Court ruled that the freedom to travel around India’s territory encompasses the right of mobility, which implies the freedom to go wherever and however one pleases.
In the case of Chambara Soy v. state of Orissa, the petitioner’s son passed away before they could get him to the hospital because someone had blocked a route. The Supreme Court ruled that the petitioner’s freedom of movement under Article 19(1) (d) had been infringed by the blocking of the route. The Court determined that because the State’s officials failed to remove the aforementioned obstruction, the State is responsible for compensating the petitioner for the death of their son.
ARTICLE 19 (1) (E): FREEDOM TO RESIDE AND SETTLE IN ANY PART OF TERRITORY OF INDIA.
Every Indian citizen is entitled, per Article 19(1) (e), “to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India.” It should be mentioned that the freedom to live anywhere in the nation and the freedom to move around freely go hand in hand. As a result, the majority of situations examined under Article 19(1) (d) also apply to Article 19(l) (e). The clause’s goal is to eliminate internal obstacles in India or any of its regions. The freedom to live wherever in the State of India is indicated by the phrases “the territory of India” as they are used in this article.
The Supreme Court held in U.P. Avas Evam Vikas Parishad v. Friends Co-op Housing Society Ltd. (1995) that the right to shelter and to build buildings for that purpose are included in the right to residence under Article 19(1)(e).
ARTICLE 19 (5)
Legislation may reasonably restrict this freedom under Article 19(5) for the benefit of the public at large or to safeguard the interests of any Scheduled Tribe.
ARTICLE 19 (1) (G): FREEDOM TO PRACTICE ANY PROFESSION, OR TO CARRY ON ANY TRADE, OCCUPATION, OR BUSINESS.
Article 19 (1) (g) of the Indian Constitution grants all citizens the freedom to engage in any profession and to establish and run any kind of business, trade, or occupation. Article 19 (1) (g), grants everyone a broad and general right to do any certain trade of their choosing. However, this does not grant the right to engage in any behavior deemed unlawful by the law, to have a specific employment, or to occupy a specific position at the discretion of an individual.
In Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan (1997), the Honorable Supreme Court noted that sexual harassment of working women in the workplace is a violation of Article 19(1) (g) of the Fundamental Rights. In this instance, the court established thorough rules and legally obligatory directives to stop instances of sexual harassment of women at public and private sector workplaces.
ARTICLE 19 (6)
Reasonable restrictions on the freedom of profession, occupation, trade, or business Article 19(6) states that the following are permissible ways to restrict the fundamental right under Article 19(1) (g): by imposing reasonable restrictions in the interest of the general public; by state monopoly. Sub clause (i) of Article 19(6) gives the state the authority to establish a law, “the professional or technical qualifications necessary for practicing any profession or carrying on any occupation, trade or business”. Additionally, Sub clause (ii) of Article 19(6) empowers the state to make laws for creating state monopolies, either partially or completely, in respect of any trade, business, industry, or service; the right of a citizen to engage in commerce is subordinated to the state’s right to create a monopoly in its favor.
One of every person’s fundamental right is the freedom. We might therefore conclude that the degree to which persons are able to use their right to freedom determines the worth of that right. It is the cornerstone of representative democracy. This right additionally necessary to ensure that the democratic process runs smoothly. More than just a formal clause, Article 19 of the Indian Constitution is a representation of the democratic principles that India holds dear. Article 19 remains a hotly contested topic of interpretation in India’s dynamic socio-political environment. It continues to be an essential component of the Constitution, guaranteeing the survival of democracy in the biggest democracy in the world. Article 19 remains an essential component of the Indian judicial system. A careful analysis of Article 19’s written content, modifications, and the seminal judgments that have affected its interpretation is necessary to comprehend and appreciate it. Since a human being is born with it, it is a natural right. As such, it is a fundamental right that the people should not be denied.
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 Romesh Thappar v. State of Madras, 1950 SCR 594
 Tata Press Ltd. V Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd., 1995 SCC (5) 139
 Odyssey Communications Pvt. Ltd vs. Lokvidayan Sanghatana & Ors, 1988 AIR 1642
 Right to Information Act, 2005, no.22, acts of parliament, 2005 (India)
 S. Rangarajan v P. Jagjivan Ram, AIR 1942 FC 23
 Bijoi Emmanuel v state of Kerala, 1986 3 SC 615
 State of UP v Raj Narain, 1975 4 SCC 428
 Asha Ranjan v. State of Bihar and Ors., 2017 (4) SCC 397
 Himmat Lal v. Police Commissioner, Bombay, 1973 AIR 87
 Damyanti v Union of India, 1971 AIR 966
 Kharak Singh v State of UP and other, 1963 AIR 1295
 Chambara Soy v state of Orissa, (2007) 2 ORISSA LR 728
 U.P. Avas Evam Vikas Parishad v. Friends Co-op Housing Society Ltd., 1996 AIR 114.
 Vishaka v state of Rajasthan, 1997 AIR SCW 3043
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