Right to Freedom – Description and Restrictions
The right to freedom is enshrined under Article 19 of our Constitution and guarantees six basic freedoms such as right to freedom of speech & expression, assembly, movement, residence etc. These rights are available only against State action and not against private individuals. These rights are available only to citizens but not to foreigners.
Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression
- The Constitution guarantees right to freedom of speech and expression to every citizen and SC states that it includes
- Right to propagate one’s view as well as of others;
- Right to Freedom of press;
- Right to Freedom of Ads;
- Right against tapping of phone;
- Right to telecast or broadcast;
- Right against imposition of pre censorship on a newspaper;
- Right to Freedom of silence;
- Right to knowledge about govt activities.
- Restrictions – This right is subjected to reasonable restrictions that can be imposed by state relating to defamation, contempt of court, security of state, decency or morality, sovereignty and integrity of India, friendly relation with foreign state, public order etc. The ambit of decency or morality is not restricted to sexual morality but seeking vote on ground of religion/caste in a secular state is against the norm of decency or morality.
Right to Freedom of Assembly
- The constitution guarantees right to freedom of assembly peacefully and without arms. It includes right to hold public meetings, demonstrations etc. only on public land. It doesn’t include right to strike.
- This right is subject to reasonable restrictions to maintain public order and Sovereignty & Integrity of India such as
- Section 144 of CrPC states that a magistrate may by order restrain an assembly, meeting or procession if he thinks that there is a risk of annoyance or danger to human life/health or safety or risk of a disturbance of public tranquillity or a riot or a an affray.
- Section 141 of IPC states that an assembly of 5 or more persons becomes unlawful if aim of assemble is against law such as occupy property of some person by force or theft or to threat govt or its officials.
Right to form Associations
- Every citizen is free to form associations or unions such as political parties, companies, clubs, societies, firms, trade unions or any organization of persons. It includes right to start and continue with association or union that has been formed. However right to get recognition of association is not a fundamental right.
- But reasonable restrictions can be imposed on this right to maintain public order and Sovereignty & Integrity of India. The SC held that trade unions have no guaranteed right to strike or right to declare lockout, these rights can be detained by rule of law to maintain public order, security of state etc.
Right to Freedom of Movement
- Every citizen of India is free to move in entire territory of country. Any person can move or visit freely in any state or area under territory of India.
- But the reasonable restrictions can be imposed on grounds of public interest and protection of Scheduled tribes (ST’s) such as
- Ban on entry of outsiders in territory of ST’s to protect their culture, customs, language etc.
- The SC held that right to freedom of movement of a prostitute can be restricted on ground of public health and morals.
Right to Freedom of Residence and Profession
Right to Freedom of Residence
- Every citizen of India has right to reside anywhere in the whole territory of India. This right promotes nationalism and avoid narrow mindedness. Again this right can be restricted for public interest and protection of ST’s i.e. restriction on right to reside/settle in reserved area for ST’s or certain areas can be banned for prostitutes and habitual offenders.
Right to Freedom of choose any Profession
- Every citizen is free to practice or carry out any profession, occupation, trade and business. But state is empowered to carry out any business itself and to make rules to practice any profession in interest of general public such as professional/technical qualifications, ban on immoral profession or trade (trafficking) etc.
Almost every right under Article 19 (Right to Freedom) is restricted to maintain public order, sovereignty & integrity of India, security of state etc.