Articles 19 to 22 of the Indian Constitution deal with the different facets of the Fundamental Rights. These four articles form a charter of personal liberties, which provides the backbone of the chapter on Fundamental Rights. Of these, Article 19 is the most important and it may rightly be called the key-article embodying the “basic freedoms” under the Constitution, guaranteed to all citizens.
What are the Six basic freedoms guaranteed by the constitution?
Article 19 embodies the six basic freedoms. Originally, these freedoms were seen as a right to property was also included them. This freedom was taken off from fundamental rights and was put as a constitutional right under article 300-A via 44th amendment act. The six freedoms are as follows:
- to freedom of speech and expression;
- to assemble peaceably and without arms;
- to form associations or unions or cooperative societies
- 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.
The words or cooperative societies have been inserted via the 97th amendment Act 2011.
Freedom of Speech under Article 19(1)
Freedom of speech right to express one’s opinion freely without any fear. Freedom of speech and expression is not absolute. As of now, there are eight restrictions viz. Security of the state; Friendly relations with foreign states; Public Order; Decency or morality; Contempt of Court; Defamation; Incitement to offence and Sovereignty and integrity of India. These eight restrictions were embodied in their current form in the first amendment, necessitated by Romesh Thapar v. State of Madras (1950) case.
Media and Freedom of Speech
The Constitution does not make any special / specific reference to the Freedom of Press or any other media. The freedom of the press is regarded as a ‘species of which freedom of expression is a genius.” The Supreme Court has laid emphasis in several cases o the importance of maintaining freedom of the press in a democratic society. The press seeks to advance the public interest by publishing facts and opinions without which a democratic electorate cannot make responsible judgments.
Freedom of Assembly under Article 19(2)
Everybody has the right to hold meetings and take out processions, which should be unarmed and peaceful. This right may be restricted in the interest of the public order or sovereignty and integrity of the country. There are various tools to handle unlawful or armed assemblies. The Section 144 (Code of Criminal Procedure) can be imposed by the government which makes assembly of five or more people an unlawful assembly in certain areas. Section 129 (Code of Criminal Procedure) authorizes police to disperse any unlawful assembly which may cause disturbance to public peace.
Freedom of Association, Union and Cooperatives
The constitution declares that all citizens will have the right to form associations or unions or cooperatives. The word “cooperatives” has been added via the 97th amendment act.
Freedom of Movement
The freedom of movement is guaranteed by the constitution and citizens can move from one state to another and anywhere within a state. A person free to move from any point to any point within the country’s territories. There are certain exceptions such as Scheduled Tribes areas and army areas.
Freedom of Residence
An Indian Citizen is free to reside in any state except Jammu & Kashmir. Again this is subject to certain restrictions.
Freedom of Trade & occupation:
The constitution of India guarantees each of its citizen to do trade, occupation or business anywhere in the country.