OpinionGuest's View

Article 19 in the Constitution of India 1949

With India coming up with new policies and laws, many citizens lack the knowledge of Indian laws and Penal codes that are existing and are being implemented in the constitution.

Many times, this lack of knowledge turns into ignorance and is carried forward from generation to generation. However, Indians demand a new law everytime a crime is committed, there is a huge chance the law already exists.

Also, the citizens lacking the knowledge of the law and Indian Penal Codes (IPC) often are misguided by the government officers as well. The laws are misused to impose fear in citizens’ minds. And the citizens avoiding the trouble do as per told by policemen and other government officials. This is also the primary reason for the unending and unstoppable corruption in the country.

To begin with, let us understand Article 19 which focuses on the defence and promotion of freedom of expression and freedom of information and is known to be available only for the citizens of the country; can only exercise restrictions against the state. Article 19 is also called “Part of Backbone”.

History of Article 19

When the constitution was made, they stressed the fact that the country was under foreign rule for more than two hundred years and citizens of India did not have fundamental rights.

Emergency and Press Censorship

In 1975, Indira Gandhi announced the Internal Emergency that proved to be the darkest period after Independence. Newspapers were the only media for mass communication. Amidst this, the government came up with the rule saying that any media cannot publish anything without the government’s permission.

At the same time, several clauses were made under article 19 for democratic India, and to keep the smooth functioning of the country, certain restrictions were made under each clause.

 

Article 19 (1)

Article 19 regulates the “Right of Citizens” that provides citizens six freedoms to enjoy various liberties.

Article 19 (1) is divided further as 19 (1) (a) gives the following rights to the citizens–

Right to express one’s view, Right to remain silent, Freedom of Press, Freedom of commercial advertisements.

Additionally, it promises, Freedom of speech and expression (FOSE) that provides the Right to Information, the right to express their own ideas, the right to keep any communication secret.

To understand better, let us take a real-world example of Section 377. The development of decriminalization of homosexuality is recognized under “The right to express”.

Taking an incident, when the National Anthem was sung in a school in Kerala, students of “Jehovah Belief” were standing in an attention position but they did not sing the National Anthem. When the school noticed this, it concluded as the disrespect of the National Anthem and expelled those kids. V.J. Emmanuel, on whose petition the Supreme Court delivered a landmark judgment on the freedom of expression, challenged the State Department of Education in 1986, stands as one of the pillars of free speech in India. It pertained to the suspension of his children on July 26, 1986, on the ground that they refused to recite the national anthem during the morning assemblies. Emmanuel filed a writ petition in the Kerala High Court seeking to restrain authorities from preventing their school attendance, though to no avail. He subsequently appealed the decision in the Supreme Court, which found that their expulsion was in violation of Articles 19 and 25 of the Constitution and held that “no provisions of the law in the country expressly obligates individuals to sing the national anthem” under National Honour Act 1971.

Armed with the Supreme Court order, Emmanuel got his children readmitted to the school. The justice was made to the students under the Right to remain silent.

#BIJOE EMMANUEL V. STATE OF KERALA

Article 19 is influenced by the 1st Amendment of the Constitution of the USA with the title “Freedom of speech or the Press”.

Freedom of the press is covered under FOSE. Having said that, the state has the power to limit Article 19 (1) with eight restrictions under 19 (2) that are mentioned below–

Sovereignty & Integrity of India, Security of state, Friendly Relations with Foreign states, Public Order, Decency/Morality, Contempt of Court, Defamation, and Incitement to an offense.

 

Freedom of Assembly

Under Freedom of Assembly, clause 19 (1) (b) was born that states “Right to assemble peacefully”.

The above rights are curtailed under clause 19 (3) that restricts under Sovereignty, Integrity, and Public order.

The rights are limited under Legal Process, Criminal Trespass, Criminal Force against Public Officers, Using force on Citizens, and Possession of property.

This is the sole reason if anybody wants to take out a rally then the rally needs to be permitted or licensed by the police by informing the objective of the assembly. If the above restrictions are violated, then the rally becomes unlawful.

Under 129 CrPC if the state’s police tell to disperse and if the rally participants refuse to do so then under 151 IPC police can arrest the participants of the rally.

 

Clause 19 (1) (c) Freedom of Association was emerged and regulated in 19 (4) with the restrictions being Sovereignty, Integrity, Public order, and Morality. The State can make reasonable restrictions and can curtail the rights of 19 (1) (c).

Under 19 (1) (c) citizens of India can make associations and unions & can take part in the same. However, the Right to strike or the right to lockout does not come under 19 (1) (c).

 

19 (1) (d) clause states Freedom of Movement

The objective of the above clause is to bring nationality in all citizens.

The liberty provided to the citizens under the above clause is the right to go anywhere within the Indian Territory without any restriction.

19 (1) (d) is curtailed under 19 (5) that states, in the interest of the General Public this right can be curtailed including the protection of scheduled tribes.

 

19 (1) (e) states the Freedom of Residence

The objective of the above clause is to remove India’s internal barriers. The citizens are free to reside and settle anywhere within the territory of India.

Generally, freedom of Residence and Movement are used together that is the reason why 19 (1) (d) and 19 (5) restrictions are the same.

 

19 (1) (g) states Freedom of Profession, Occupation, Trade or Business

Freedom of 19 (1) (g) is regulated under 19 (6) that states, in the interest of the general public, the state can make reasonable restrictions.

The restrictions are:

  1. Before practicing any occupation, you must have technical/professional qualification.
  2. The state has the power to control trade or business with citizen’s partial or complete exclusion. In other words, state monopoly.

Although Article 19 was introduced for the liberties of the citizens so that India in a true sense becomes ‘democratic’ but the citizens themselves are not aware of the liberties given to them. The laws when studied are either misunderstood or misinterpreted. So, here’s an effort to make the laws simpler and easy to understand to make every citizen aware, what his country offers to him.

Author - Ila Dhond

Content Editor, GoaChronicle.com
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