Article 19 of the Indian Constitution: – The Constitution bestows certain express rights in order to uphold the Preamble’s ideal of Liberty. The Constitution of India guarantees Indian citizens 6 fundamental rights in the nature of “freedom”.
Most basic of all freedoms granted to Indian citizens
In the case, Romesh Thapar vs. Madras (Air1950 Sc) J. Patanjali Shastri (J.P.S) has said that the founding of the republic and democratic society lies in the freedom of speech and the press, because without any free political debate no public education, which is so important to the good functions of the government, is insurmountable. It allows us to express our thoughts and ideas freely in any way, such as printed, visual or vocal. Any media of communication such as signs, images, or films can be used. Freedom of expression and speech would be nothing if the ideas could not be propagated.
The freedom of printing is therefore also included in speech freedom. Four purposes addressed are freedom of speech:
- Contributes to truth discovery.
- Allows a person to fulfill themselves.
- It improves a person’s ability to make decisions.
- It helps to balance stability with social transformations.
This law includes not only the ability to share your ideas with others but also the capacity to proclaim and propagate contrary points of view. As a result, The term “freedom of speech and expression” refers to a wide range of ideas.
Any modern State cannot guarantee absolute individual rights. Therefore, the guarantee of each of these rights is limited by our own constitution by granting the ‘State’ the right, by its laws, to impose reasonable restrictions as necessary as the Community’s overall interest.
The Indian Constitution is working hard to “balance the freedom of the individual with the control of society.” Since our constitutional system is designed to build a ‘welfare state,’ constitutional makers have not relied on the identity of unregulated individual rights.
In accordance with laissez-faire philosophy, however, the aim was to ensure that individual freedom had to bring to the common good when collective interests were concerned; rather than leave it to the courts, the reasons and the extent of permissible state regulation of individual rights were determined.
In Article 19 itself, clauses (2) to (6), the founders of Our Constitution set the permitted limitations.
Constitution provides right to freedom of speech & expression
but in the following areas, the state may impose further limitations: –
- The rule of law
- Court disobedience
- Morality or decency
- Governmental security
- Incitement to commit a crime
- Friendly foreign country relations
It is clear that freedom of expression does not confer on a person the right to commit immoral or illegal acts or to encourage others to force or illegal reversal of government. No one person may exercise his or her right to free expression in such a way that it infringes on the right of another.
The right to assemble is limited by the need to be peaceful, arms free and, in the interests of public order, subject to reasonable constraints imposed by the ‘state.’ To put it another way, the right to meet and assemble must not be used to cause public disorder or a breach of the peace, or to jeopardize (harm one’s legal rights or claims) India’s sovereignty or integrity.
Any citizen has right to form associations or organizations
Subject to the reasonable limitations imposed by the government, in the interest of national security or morality or national sovereignty. Such freedom thus prevents any group of people from participating or undermining the sovereignty or integrity of a criminals conspiracy or association which poses a threat to public peace, illegal activity, strikes, or disturbance (to make things weaker).
While each citizen shall have a right to move
Freely or to live and live in all parts of the country, such right shall, in order to serve the general public or to protect any Scheduled Tribe, be subject to the restriction imposed by the State in its interests (STs).
Each citizen shall have the right
Subject to a reasonable restriction imposed by the State for the public interest and subject to any laws which apply in respect of the exercise of qualification for a profession or technical profession or allow the State to conduct any business or business itself for the public interest.
Test of reasonable Restriction
The Supreme Court of India ruled that the Supreme Court of India established the following guidelines to determine whether or not the statutory provisions are reasonable and infringe on fundamental rights guaranteed by Article 19:
- The courts will determine if a law is reasonable, not the legislature.
- Reasonable means that legislation is not arbitrary and that it does not exceed what in the public interest is necessary. The restriction has no time or duration limitations.
- Both existing social and social values are designed to meet the constraints.
- The restriction should be reasonable from both a substantiating and a procedural point of view (fair, sensible, and practical).
- Restrictions imposed following the implementation of the Principles of State policy may be considered reasonable.
- There must be a purposeful test of reasonability, which means that whatever a judge or court believes to be reasonable is irrelevant, but rather what a normal person would think.
- The limitation must be reasonable and relevant to the law’s intended purpose.
- The reasonability of the restriction must be determined by a court, not due to the law itself.
- Prohibition may result in restrictions.
The following are some notable cases that have influenced the scope of this right over time:-
Right to be informed
Prabhu Datt vs U.O.I, SC AIR 1982
The High Court held in this case that the freedom of the press is included in the right of access to information, news, and opinions about government activities.
SC AIR 2002: Union of India (U.O.I.) vs. Association for Democratic Reforms (A.D.R.)
The apex court held that people have the right to learn about a candidate before voting. Consequently, the law prohibits the electoral commission from investigating the wealth, debts, education, and other information of the candidate.
The Scope of Article 19
CPI (M) vs. Bharat Kumar, (AIR 1998 ), SC
The Supreme Court ruled in this case that bundhs organized by different political parties are inappropriate because they restrict citizens’ ability to exercise their right to freedom.
Ranjit Udeshi vs U.O.I, AIR 1965 SC
The sale of books containing obscene/indictive material was forbidden for the bookseller.
Hamdard Dawakhana vs Union of India(U.O.I.) AIR 1960 SC
In that case, the Supreme Court observed that the freedom of speech does not protect odious and deceitful promotions.
Indian Express Newspaper(I.E.N) vs Union of India (U.O.I.)AIR 1985
The apex court held that press freedom was not used in Article 19, but was understood in Article 19. (1) A. It is the Court’s duty to safeguard press freedom.
In T.K. Rangarajan v. Govt. of Tamil Nadu
The Supreme Court held that government officials have no fundamental, statutory, moral, or fair right to strike. The employees are not allowed to strike by a statutory provision.
In a democratic Welfare state (D.W.S), although inequities exist to a certain extent as assumed by such employees, the machinery for redressing grievances provided for by various statutory provisions must be used.
The unlawful strike affects society as a whole. In a society where unemployment is widespread and many skilled persons look forward to jobs in government departments or in government companies, strikes in any equal/fair environment cannot be justified.
If employees do more work honestly, diligently, and effectively, such a gesture would not only be valued by the authorities but also by individuals at large, to remedy their complaints, rather than go on strike.
The reason is that, while government employees, they are part of the governing body and are obliged to society in a democracy/republic.
The government officials have no right to strike, pursuant to a decision of the Supreme Court in T.K. Rangarajan v. Tamil Nadu Government.
Conclusion of the Article 19 of the Indian Constitution
According to India’s Constitution, one of the most important basic rights is the right to freedom. Without freedom, there can be no democratic establishment. People will not be able to grow and develop if they do not have the freedom to do anything. At the same time, giving people complete freedom could be extremely dangerous. It is critical to limit freedom so that people do not abuse their rights and can coexist peacefully with others. The State thus works to limit the freedom of individuals. Our Constitution clearly states the freedoms that can be restricted, as well as the reasons why they can be restricted. This power balance is important.