The definition of “freedom” is essentially “not to be constrained in any way.” Freedom encompasses a variety of individual rights, including the freedom of movement, the freedom of speech and self-expression, the freedom of religion, the freedom to travel, the freedom to work, the freedom of self-identity, the freedom to own property, etc. The state should lessen its meddling in the business of individuals in order to grant them these rights. It ought to function as a base state. These freedoms are essential liberties that any democratic state offers to its citizens. These liberties have been outlined as fundamental rights in the Constitution even in a democratic nation like India.
What is the right to freedom
The Indian Constitution defines the right to freedom as the essential liberties guaranteed by Articles 19 to 22. The purpose of these rights is to uphold the values of liberty expressed in the Preamble in newly independent India, to eliminate individual inequities, and to guarantee everyone the right to a life of dignity.
Article 19 of the Indian Constitution
Article 19(1) of the Indian Constitution provides six freedoms to the citizens. These six liberties are solely available to citizens, or to natural individuals who have the legal status of “citizenship.” It implies that in order to assert rights under Article 19 there must first be a determination of citizenship under Part II of the Constitution. These rights are not available to foreign nationals, juristic entities, registered companies, or organisations.
- Freedom of speech and expression (Article 19(1)(a)),
- Freedom of assembly (Article 19(1)(b)),
- Freedom of association (Article 19(1)(c)),
- Freedom of movement (Article 19(1)(d)),
- Freedom to residence and settlement (Article 19(1)(e)),
- Freedom of profession, occupation, trade or business (Article 19(1)(g)).
Restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression
Clause(2) of Article 19 provides reasonable restrictions applicable to this freedom. These restrictions comprise the following:
Sovereignty and integrity of India
It alludes to the State’s unified borderlands. The 16th Amendment Act of 1963 included this ground as an addition. It was included to censor comments that would be damaging to national integrity and encourage the nation’s demise, compromising its sovereignty.
Security of the State
The security of every country is constantly under attack. This ground limits freedom of speech and expression because there have been attempts to topple the current government or encourage violence in the nation, which would endanger the State. Romesh Thappar v. State of Madras (1950), the Court made it clear that it does not just pertain to routine public order violations that do not pose a threat to the State.
Friendly relations with a foreign state
The First Amendment Act of 1951 included this justification for limiting freedom of speech and expression that would endanger the continuation of friendly and cordial ties with other nations. The government monitors any negative propaganda against foreign nations and sets fair limits because international ties are crucial to the economic and social development of any nation. Additionally, it is because of the rule of international law that holds States accountable for any crimes committed by citizens within their borders.
The 1951 First Amendment Act added this ground as well. This guarantees that harmful words and modes of expression cannot disturb the peace, safety, and tranquilly of the nation. With the use of this restriction, the State is able to control public gatherings, outlaw loud noises, punish speech that might cause riot and violence, disturb the peace, or pose a hazard to public safety. The State also passed measures to retaliate against statements that offended religious emotions under this Provision. The sole prerequisite is that there must be a proper connection between the achievement and the restriction imposed; it cannot be too far-fetched.
Section 144 of the CrPC was affirmed as legitimate in Babulal Parate v. State of Maharashtra (1961) because the Magistrate does not have any arbitrary powers. Prior to issuing an order, the magistrate must make a factual finding, and the order is subject to challenge.
Decency and morality
This ground forbids any language or expression that is obscene or vulgar, including any art, sculpture, publication, etc. The IPC’s Sections 292 to 296 deal with offences involving obscenity.
Contempt of court
Section 2 of the 1971 Contempt of Courts Act contained a definition of it. There are two varieties of it: criminal and civil. Criminal contempt is defined as any act or publication that damages the reputation of courts, biases or impedes proceedings, or obstructs the administration of justice. Civil contempt is defined as willful disobedience of any order, judgement, etc. of the Court. The court stated in the Namboodiripad case from 1970 that “freedom of speech goes far but not far enough to condone a case of true contempt of court.”
Everyone has a right to respect and good name. Therefore, the State would prohibit any speech or expression that would subject someone to mockery and hostility. Nobody has the right to violate another person’s reputational rights. There are a few exceptions to it, though.
Incitement to an offence
The First Amendment Act of 1951 included this provision to prohibit speech that would cause a breach of the peace or any offence. The Supreme Court ruled in State of Bihar v. Shailabala Devi (1952) that inciting murder or any other violent acts would jeopardise the security of the State and that this ban is therefore appropriate.
Article 20 of the Indian Constitution
Article 20 provides protection to persons in respect of conviction in certain offences. It guarantees mainly three types of protection, namely:
Prohibition of ex-post-facto laws:
Ex-post facto laws are those that impose penalty for an action that was legal at the time it was taken but was later deemed illegal. Retrospective criminal legislation is prohibited under Clause (1) of Article 20, meaning that no law can be passed that forbids an act having effect for the past. Therefore, no one may be punished more severely than what could be imposed by the legislation in effect at the time of the offence. It does not forbid the imposition of civil liability; only retroactive criminal legislation is forbidden. Therefore, taxes may be levied later. Disciplinary actions are not covered by this principle either.
Immunity from double jeopardy
According to the legal adage “Nemo debet bis vexari,” no one shall be put in jeopardy twice for the same offence. This principle is stated in the 5th Amendment of the American Constitution, which states that “no person should be liable to being put twice in peril of life or limb for the same offence.” This notion was incorporated not only into the Indian Constitution but also into Section 300 of the Code of Criminal Procedure from 1973 and Section 26 of the General Clauses Act from 1897.
In Leo Roy v. Superintendent District Jail (1957), the judgement was upheld because the punishment was not for the same offences as when the defendant was sentenced under the Sea Customs Act of 1878 and then later convicted under the Indian Penal Code of 1860 for the crime of criminal conspiracy.
Protection against self-incrimination
This sentence states that no one can be forced to testify against themselves.
Three components of this provision are-
- The person must be accused of any offence.
- Protection against self-incrimination.
- There must be a compulsion to give evidence against himself/herself.
Article 21 of the Indian Constitution
Article 21 was dormant until the Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India (1978) case arrived, which expanded its purview and significantly changed the court mindset toward the protection of life and liberty of the individual. It brought out several ideas to give Article 21 more significance, including:
It demonstrated that protection from severe laws would not be possible under Article 21 as it was understood in the AK Gopalan case (1950). Consequently, the case was dismissed.
It reaffirmed the Gopalan case’s ruling that Articles 14, 19, and 21 are not mutually exclusive. Consequently, all of the conditions of Articles 14, 19, and 21 must be met by any bill passed by the legislature.
Personal rights afforded by Article 19 should not be excluded by reading the term “personal liberty” in Article 21 in a constrained and limiting interpretation.
It redefined the phrase “process established by law,” which now calls on the law to meet the standards of fairness and justice.
Following the Maneka Gandhi case, Article 21 has taken on a “very activist role,” which aids in broadening its scope to include a number of essential rights that aren’t stated expressly in the Constitution.
Article 22 of the Indian Constitution
In order to protect the arrested person’s right against arbitrary detention and arrest by the police, Article 22 offers a number of protections. The legislature is empowered to pass legislation governing preventative detention as well.
Rights of an arrested person
A person who has been arrested has the following four rights under paragraphs (1) and (2) of Article 22:
Right to know the reason(s) for an arrest: The accused has the right to know the reason(s) for his arrest as soon as possible after the arrest. This right is given so that there won’t be any misunderstandings and that they can get ready to defend themselves.
Right to legal counsel and representation: The right of the accused to legal counsel and representation of his choosing should not be denied. If for any reason the accused does not appear with counsel, amicus curiae must be made available to him.
The right to appear before a magistrate within 24 hours is guaranteed to any person who is detained or arrested. This requirement excludes travel time. This protection is offered to guarantee that there won’t be any arbitrary or unlawful arrests.
Right not to be held in custody for longer than the specified time: Without the magistrate’s permission, no one may be held in custody for longer than the specified time.
Therefore, having the right to freedom entails having the freedom from all forms of pressure, including mental and physical ones, in every aspect of one’s life. It also indicates that one is not constrained by anyone. As we exercise the freedoms guaranteed to us by Articles 19 to 22 of our Constitution, we should keep in mind that one’s rights end where another person’s rights begin. Therefore, there are reasonable limitations to prevent people from using their freedom in an illogical or illegal manner.
Constitutional Law Of India- Dr. J.N. Pandey
Introduction to the Constitution Of India- Durga Das Basu
Constitution Of India- V.N. Shukla
Romesh Thappar v. State of Madras 1950 AIR 124, 1950 SCR 594
Babulal Parate v. State of Maharashtra 1961 AIR 884, 1961 SCR (3) 423
State of Bihar v. Shailabala Devi 1952 AIR 329, 1952 SCR 654
Leo Roy v. Superintendent District Jail 1958 AIR 119, 1958 SCR 822
Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India 1978 AIR 597, 1978 SCR (2) 621
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