Article 19

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Introduction

With its enshrinement of fundamental rights that enable Indian citizens to express their thoughts, gather in peace, and actively participate in determining the future of their country, Article 19 of the Indian Constitution is a shining example of freedom and expression. This crucial clause protects the right to speech, expression, association, mobility, residence, and occupation while recognizing the significance of democratic values and individual liberties. Article 19 is the cornerstone of India’s constitutional framework, guaranteeing that the voices of its people are heard freely while keeping the delicate balance between individual liberties and the welfare of the country. Its objective is to foster a pluralistic and egalitarian society.

What does Article 19 states?

 Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech etc

(1) All citizens shall have the right

(a) to freedom of speech and expression;

(b) to assemble peaceably and without arms;

(c) to form associations or unions;

(d) to move freely throughout the territory of India;

(e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and

(f) omitted

(g) to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business

(2) Nothing in sub clause (a) of clause ( 1 ) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence

(3) Nothing in sub clause (b) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub clause

(4) Nothing in sub clause (c) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order or morality, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub clause

(5) Nothing in sub clauses (d) and (e) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of any of the rights conferred by the said sub clauses either in the interests of the general public or for the protection of the interests of any Scheduled Tribe

(6) Nothing in sub clause (g) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the general public, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub clause, and, in particular, nothing in the said sub clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it relates to, or prevent the State from making any law relating to,

(i) the professional or technical qualifications necessary for practising any profession or carrying on any occupation, trade or business, or

(ii) the carrying on by the State, or by a corporation owned or controlled by the State, of any trade, business, industry or service, whether to the exclusion, complete or partial, of citizens or otherwise

Analysis of Article 19
  • Expression and freedom of speech [Articles 19(1)(a) and 19(2)]
    All citizens have the right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a). One of a citizen’s most prized rights is their freedom of speech and expression, which is the cornerstone of a democratic society. It is the first prerequisite for liberty and has a significant impact on how the general population feels.
  • Definition of the right to free speech and expression
    The right to express oneself through any means, including words, writing, images, signs, and the internet, is known as freedom of speech and expression. Every citizen has the right to be informed and to express their opinions, as well as the right to possess an opinion. ‘Freedom of speech and expression’ has a broad definition. It includes the freedom of ideas to be spread, to be published, and to be circulated.
  • Dimensions of speech and expression freedom
    The courts have acknowledged a number of aspects of the right to free speech and expression. The following list includes some of the elements or rights that make up freedom of speech and expression:

The right to free speech and expression includes the :-

  • (A) Freedom of the press, which is arguably the most significant freedom. The Constitution does not specifically address press freedom. It is suggested by Article 19(1)(a) and has unquestionably been determined to be a crucial part of the freedom of speech and expression. Pre-censorship of the press is prohibited, as are pre-emptive halts to the publication of articles or other items of public concern in newspapers, freedom of circulation, and the avoidance of undue levies on the media, among other things.
    However, constraints can be put in place for the sake of justice, provided they pass Article 19(2)’s standard.
  • The Hon’ble Supreme Court ruled in Bennett Coleman & Co v. Union of India (1972) that the freedom of the press incorporates the people’s right to free speech and expression. “Freedom of the press is both qualitative and quantitative,” it was said. In both circulation and content, freedom exists.
  • Romesh Thappar v. The State of Madras (1950), a landmark case, saw the Supreme Court make the following observation: “Freedom of speech and of the press lay at the foundation of all democratic organizations, for without free political discussion no public education, so essential for the proper functioning of the processes of popular government, is possible.” In this instance, the court determined that the freedom of circulation is equally crucial to the freedom of publication.
  • (B) Right to information: The Supreme Court noted that the right to information derives from the idea of freedom of speech in the case of State of U.P. v. Raj Narain (1975). The Court further ruled that the citizens of this nation have a right to know about every public act and everything that their public functionaries conduct in a public fashion. Every citizen must have a right to know what their government is doing; this is a fundamental tenet of a democracy. Transparency and accountability in governance can only flourish when the general public is informed of the actions of the government. As a result, the ability to gather and share information is a crucial fundamental right.
  • The Right to Information Act, 2005, which is in place in India, guarantees a citizen’s right to obtain access to information that is under the jurisdiction of public bodies.
  • (C) Right to be informed of the candidates’ backgrounds before an election: The Hon’ble Supreme Court ruled in Union of India v. Association For Democratic Reforms (2002) that voters have a basic right to be aware of the background of any candidate running for office, including any criminal convictions.
  • (D) Right to reply: The Supreme Court declared in LIC v. Prof. Manubhai D. Shah (1992) that Article 19(1)(a) protects the right to reply, including the right to have that reply broadcast in the same news media as something that was published about or in reference to a citizen.
  • (E) Right to silence: In addition to the ability to speak, everyone has the option of remaining silent. The Supreme Court maintained the right to silence of three children who were expelled from school for refusing to sing the National Anthem in the case of Bijoe Emmanuel v. State of Kerala (1986). The Supreme Court ruled that if someone has legitimate conscientious objections based on their religious beliefs, they cannot be forced to sing the National Anthem. As a result, the right to talk and to express oneself encompasses the right to remain silent and to do nothing.
  • Right to fly the national flag:- Flying the national flag is permitted. In the 2004 case Union of India v. Naveen Jindal, the Supreme Court determined that flying the national flag with respect and dignity is a fundamental right protected under Article 19(1)(a) because it is an expression of one’s allegiance, feelings, and sentiments of pride for the country. The National Flag may, however, be flown with acceptable limitations and cannot be flown for profit or any other reason.

The following reasons could be used to limit the right to freedom of assembly, according to Clause 3 of Article 19:
  • In the interest of maintaining public order or the sovereignty and integrity of India.
    Articles 19(1)(c) and 19(4) provide for the freedom to form organizations, unions, or cooperative societies.
    The ability to organize into organizations, unions, or cooperative societies is provided for under Article 19(1)(c). An association is a collection of people who have banded together to accomplish a certain goal, whether it is for the members’ benefit, the welfare of the public at large, a scientific, charitable, or any other reason.
Freedom to form associations , unions etc.
  • The ability to establish businesses, societies, trade unions, partnership firms, clubs, etc. falls under the category of the right to create organisations and unions. The right extends beyond the simple act of forming an association and covers all aspects of its founding, management, and operation.

The following are some of the aspects of the right to form associations:

  • The ability to join an association voluntarily is referred to as the right to create associations. Additionally, it contains the choice to remain a member of the group or not.
    In the case of Damyanti v. Union of India (1971), the Supreme Court recognized the right of an association’s members to maintain the association with the members who freely agreed to create the association.
  • The right not to join an association is a part of the right to organize one.
  • The state is not prohibited from setting reservations or electing members from weaker sections to the managing committees of cooperative organizations under Article 19(1)(c).
  • The freedom to form an association cannot be subject to any restrictions beforehand.
    .
  • Fair limitations on the ability to form associations
    The ability to form associations, unions, and cooperative societies, among other things, may be subject to reasonable limits under Article 19(4) for the following reasons:
  • In the interest of public morality or order, or in the interest of India’s sovereignty and integrity.
    Movement and residence without restriction [Article 19(1)(d), 19(1)(e), and 19(5)]
    The rights to travel around freely and to live and settle wherever in the nation are granted under Article 19(1)(d) and (e), which are mutually exclusive.

liberation of movement
The freedom to unrestricted movement is granted by Article 19(1)(d) across the entirety of Indian territory. This refers to the freedom to move however one chooses, or the right to movement. The ability to utilize roads and highways is a part of this right.

In Chambara soy v. Union of India (2007), dishonest individuals obstructed the road, causing the petitioner to be late transporting his ill son to the hospital, where the child passed away. According to the Supreme Court, the road barrier infringed the petitioner’s right to freedom of movement under Article 19(1)(d). The Court ruled that because the State authorities did nothing to remove the aforementioned obstruction, they are responsible for compensating the petitioner for the death of their son.

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