Article 19 of the Indian Constitution

Article 19 of the Indian Constitution

Article 19 of the Indian Constitution

Article 19 talks about various liberties which are given to only Indian Citizens against the State. This Article is also known as a backbone of Part III of the Indian Constitution. The citizens enjoy various liberties without the interference of government. But these freedoms are not absolute in nature and have a reasonable restriction that can be imposed by the State.

Article 19(1) provides that all citizens shall have the right-

  • to freedom of speech and expression;
  • to assemble peaceably and without arms;
  • to form associations or unions;
  • to move freely throughout the territory of India;
  • to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India;
  • to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

However the government can curtail these various freedoms in the interest of public and state. These restrictions are:

  1. Security of the state
  2. Friendly relations with foreign states
  3. Public Order
  4. Decency or morality
  5. Contempt of Court
  6. Defamation
  7. Incitement to offence
  8. Sovereignty and integrity of India.

Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India guarantees various fundamental rights to all its citizens and one of the right is right to freedom of speech and expression. With this guaranteed right a citizen can express himself freely and attain his individuality in a democratic country. For a certain purpose, the right can be curtailed by the government under clause 2 of Article 19.

Freedom of speech and expression has been divided into 3 parts – receive, express and secrecy i.e. right to receive information, right to express yourself through writing singing painting or any other medium and right to remain silent.

In a landmark judgment of the case Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India,[i] the Supreme Court held that the freedom of speech and expression has no geographical limitation and it carries with it the right of a citizen to gather information and to exchange thought with others not only in India but abroad also.

  • Freedom of Press

The constitution of India doesn’t specifically mention the liberty of the press. Freedom of the press is included in Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution. Thus the press is also subject to the restrictions that are provided under Article 19(2) of the Constitution. Before Independence, there was no constitutional or statutory provision to guard the liberty of the press. As observed by the council in Channing Arnold v. King Emperor[ii]”The freedom of the journalist is a standard part of the freedom of the subject and to whatever length, the subject generally may go, so also may the journalist, but aside from statute, his privilege is not any other and no higher. The range of his assertions, his criticisms or his comments is as wide as, and no wider than that of the other subject”. The Preamble of the Indian Constitution ensures to all or any its citizens the freedom of expression. Freedom of the press has been included as a part of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 of the UDHR. 

In Romesh Thapar v. State of Madras,[iii] Patanjali Shastri, Chief Justice observed: “Freedom of speech and of the press lay at the foundation of all democratic organisations, for without free political discussion no public education, so essential for the proper functioning of the process of popular government, is possible.

  • Freedom to assemble peaceably and without arms

Article 19 (1) (b) guarantees freedom to assemble peacefully without arms. Under this right, we can hold meetings and form assembly or associations without disturbing the public peace and safety. Under clause 3 of Article 19 reasonable restriction can be imposed by the government if they find the assembly to be unlawful. Assembly is said to be unlawful when the agenda is to interfere with legal process, to do criminal trespass, to use criminal force on any public servants or officials, to use criminal force on any general public or to wrongfully possessing someone else property.

  • Freedom to form associations or unions

Article 19 (1) (c) gives freedom to form association or union. In this right, a citizen can form a group, partnership or company, etc, with anyone formally or informally without the interference of government.

Article 19 (4) regulate the reasonable restrictions on the formation of association. Government can restrict the right if it is against sovereignty, and integrity, public order and morality.

In Ramkrishna v. President, District Board,[iv] Nellore, a Government order requiring municipal teachers not to join unions other than those officially approved was held to impose prior restraint on the right to form association and union, which was in the nature of administrative censorship, and hence invalid.

  • Freedom to move and reside throughout the territory

Article 19 (1) (d) and (e) provides the freedom to move throughout the territory and to reside anywhere in territory respectively. There right are complementary to each other and hence has the same restriction under clause 5 of Article 19. the restriction can be enforced in the interest of the general public or due to the scheduled tribe’s areas.

These rights are guaranteed under constitution with the aim of removing internal barriers within the country and to make the country one and unite.

  • Freedom to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business

In article 19 (1) (g) constitution guarantees right to practice any trade and profession which is regulated by the article 19 (6) in which government can impose restriction in the interest of general public I.e. to have professional or technical qualifications for the certain trade profession or occupation and state can in some trade or business do expulsion of citizens completely or partially.

In State of Kerala v. Joseph Antony,[v] the State of Kerala had imposed a ban on the use of mechanised fishing nets and mid-water trawlers in territorial waters. This was done to protect the livelihood of other poorer fishermen and to protect the pelagic fish wealth of the territorial waters. The Supreme Court held that the restriction was a reasonable restriction, and not violative of Art 19(6).

Article 19 of the Indian Constitution

[i]AIR 1978 SC 597

[ii]AIR 1914 PC 116, 117

[iii]AIR 1950 SC 124.

[iv]AIR 1952 Mad.253

[v]AIR 1994 SC 721

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