Right to Freedom (Articles 19, 20, 21, 22)


Right to Freedom [Article 19]

Freedom is the basic characteristic of a true democracy.

Following six rights are guaranteed by Article 19.

[1] Freedom of speech and expression.

[2] Freedom to assemble peacefully without arms.

[3] Freedom to form associations or unions.

[4] Freedom to move freely throughout the territory of India.

[5] Freedom to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India.

[6] Freedom to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

Originally, Article 19 contained seven rights.

But, the right to acquire, hold and dispose of the property was deleted by the 44th Amendment Act of 1978.

 

[1] Freedom of Speech and Expression

This freedom ensures free and frank speech, discussion and exchange of opinions.

It includes the freedom of the press.

However, these freedoms like freedom of speech and expression are not absolute.

The state is empowered to impose reasonable restrictions on the exercise of this right in the interest of the security of the state, public order, morality, etc.

 

[2] Freedom of Assembly

Every citizen has the right to assemble peaceably and without arms.

It includes the right to hold public meetings, demonstrations and take out processions.

This freedom can be exercised only on public land and the assembly must be peaceful and unarmed.

This provision does not protect violent, disorderly, riotous assemblies, or one that causes a breach of public peace or one that involves arms.

This right does not include the right to strike.

The State can impose reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right of assembly on two grounds, namely, sovereignty and integrity of India and public order including the maintenance of traffic in the area concerned.

 

[3] Freedom of Association

All citizens have the right to form associations or unions or co-operative societies.

It includes the right to form political parties, companies, partnership firms, societies, clubs, organizations, trade unions or anybody of persons.

It not only includes the right to start an association or union but also to continue with the association or union as such.

Reasonable restrictions can be imposed on the exercise of this right by the State on the grounds of sovereignty and integrity of India, public order and morality.

Subject to these restrictions, the citizens have complete liberty to form associations or unions for pursuing lawful objectives and purposes.

However, the right to obtain recognition of the association is not a fundamental right.

The Supreme Court held that the trade unions have no guaranteed right to effective bargaining or right to strike or right to declare a lock-out.

The right to strike can be controlled by an appropriate industrial law.

 

[4] Freedom of Movement

This freedom entitles every citizen to move freely throughout the territory of the country.

He can move freely from one state to another or from one place to another within a state.

The grounds of imposing reasonable restrictions on this freedom are two, namely, the interests of the general public and the protection of interests of any scheduled tribe.

The entry of outsiders in tribal areas is restricted to protect the distinctive culture, language, customs and manners of scheduled tribes and to safeguard their traditional vocation and properties against exploitation.

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 freedom of movement has two dimensions, viz, internal (right to move inside the country) and external (right to move out of the country and the right to come back to the country).

Article 19 protects only the first dimension.

The second dimension is dealt with by Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty).

 

[5] Freedom of Residence

Every citizen has the right to reside and settle in any part of the territory of the country.

This right has two parts: (a) the right to reside in any part of the country, which means to stay at any place temporarily, and (b) the right to settle in any part of the country, which means to set up a home or domicile at any place permanently.

This promotes nationalism and avoids narrow mindedness.

The State can impose reasonable restrictions on the exercise of these right on two grounds, namely, the interest of the general public and the protection of interests of any scheduled tribes.

The Supreme Court held that certain areas can be banned for certain kinds of persons like prostitutes and habitual offenders.

 

[6] Freedom of Profession

 All citizens are given the right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

This right is very wide as it covers all the means of earning one’s livelihood.

The State can impose reasonable restrictions on the exercise of this right in the interest of the general public.

Further, the State is empowered to:

[a] prescribe professional or technical qualifications necessary for practicing any profession or carrying on any occupation, trade or business; and

[b] carry on by itself any trade, business, industry or service whether to the exclusion (complete or partial) of citizens or otherwise.

This right does not include the right to carry on a profession or business or trade or occupation that is immoral (trafficking in women or children) or dangerous (harmful drugs or explosives, etc,).

The State can absolutely prohibit these or regulate them through licensing.

 

Protection in Respect of Conviction for an Offence [Article 20]

This Constitutional provision assures protection against arbitrary arrest and excessive punishment to any person who is alleged to have committed an offense.

No person shall be punished except for the violation of law which is in force when the crime was committed.

An accused cannot be compelled to be a witness against himself/herself.

No person shall be punished for the same offense more than once.

 

Protection of Life and Personal Liberty [Article 21]

The Constitution lays down that no person shall be deprived of his/her life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.

It guarantees that life or personal liberty shall not be taken away without the sanction of law.

It ensures that no person can be punished or imprisoned merely at the whims of some authority.

He/she may be punished only for the violation of the law.

 

Right to Education [Article 21 A]

By the 86th Amendment Act of the Constitution, a new article 21-A has been added after Article 21.

By this Amendment Act, Right to Education has been made a Fundamental Right and has been deleted from the list of Directive Principles of State Policy.

According to it, “The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen in such a manner as the State may by law determine”.

It further states that it is the responsibility of the parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to their child or ward between the age of six to fourteen years.

 

Prevention against Arbitrary Arrest and Detention [Article 22]

Our Constitution guarantees certain rights to the arrested person.

As per the provision, no person can be arrested and/or be detained in custody without being informed of the grounds for detention.

He /she has the right to consult and be defended by a lawyer of his/her choice.

The accused has to be produced before the nearest magistrate within a period of twenty-four hours of arrest.

These safeguards, however, are not available to foreigners as well as to those citizens detained under the Preventive Detention Act.

Preventive Detention

When the State feels that a person is likely to commit a crime or is a threat to the security of the State, he/she may be detained without trial for a limited period.

However, no person can be kept under detention for more than three months until permitted by an Advisory Board consisting of persons who are qualified to be appointed as judges of the High Courts.

Such a board is presided over by a sitting judge of a High Court.

Indian Polity MCQs (1000 Solves Multiple choice questions with answers)