The Constitution of India provides certain fundamental Rights to every citizen of India. These fundamental rights are mentioned in part III from articles 12 to 35 in the Constitution of India. According to the law, any ordinance, custom, or usage cannot take away these fundamental rights from the citizens. If any fundamental right forms a part of the basic structure of the Constitution, then even a constitutional amendment cannot take away that fundamental right. Article 19 of the Constitution of India deals with different types of freedoms. Article 19 1 (c) deals with the freedom to form associations. According to Article 19 1 (c) of the constitution of India, every citizen has the right to form associations, unions, and cooperative societies. The freedom of association is not curtailed by any procedural law. This research paper will focus on Article 19 1 (c) of the Constitution of India.
FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION:
As previously mentioned, Article 19 1 (c) of the Constitution of India deals with freedom of association. Article 19 1 states as follows “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 2 [or co-operative societies]; (d) to move freely throughout the territory of India; (e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; 3 [and] 4 (g) to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.” Like other fundamental rights provided under article 19, the right to form associations is not absolute and subject to restrictions. Article 19 (4) of the Constitution of India empowers the state to impose reasonable restrictions on Article 19 1 (c) on certain grounds.
GROUNDS ON WHICH THE FREEDOM TO FORM ASSOCIATION CAN BE RESTRICTED:
- Public Order: To maintain peace and public order, the right to form associations can be restricted.
- Morality: If the acts of any individual involve obscenity or indecency, then the freedom to form association can be restricted.
- Sovereignty: For the sovereignty of the country, the freedom to form associations can be restricted.
- Integrity of the country: This freedom will be restricted if it causes any disturbances in the country.
In the case of Hazi Mohammad Ibrahim vs District School Board Malda (AIR 1958 Cal. 401), the Court had decided that the restriction stating the teacher had to take prior permission from the board to engage in political activities in reasonable. In the case of Damayanti vs Union of India ( AIR 1971 SC 966), the court held that the right to form an association necessarily implies that the person forming the association has also the right to continue to be associated with only those whom they voluntarily admit to the association. It will be a violation of the right to form the association if that particular law takes away the membership of a person who had voluntarily joined the association. The right to form an association is not available to all citizens to the same extent. A government officer cannot have this right to the same extent as a private person does. The government officer cannot say that the rules of his duty are obstructing him to exercise his right to form associations and unions. Article 33 of the Constitution of India states that “ Parliament may, by law, determine to what extent any of the rights conferred by this Part shall, in their application to,— (a) the members of the Armed Forces; or (b) the members of the Forces charged with the maintenance of public order; or (c) persons employed in any bureau or other organization established by the State for purposes of intelligence or counter intelligence; or (d) person employed in, or in connection with, the telecommunication systems set up for the purposes of any Force, bureau or organization referred to in clauses (a) to (c), be restricted or abrogated so as to ensure the proper discharge of their duties and the maintenance of discipline among them.]”, It states the power of the Parliament to determine to what extent the rights conferred under part III of the constitution are applied to the Armed forces. In the case of O.K.A Nair vs Union of India (AIR 1976 SC 1179), the Court held that the civilian employees of Defence establishments answer the same description of the members of the armed forces within the meaning of article 33 of the constitution and therefore were not entitled to form trade unions.
The Constitution of India guarantees certain fundamental rights to the citizens of India. One of those fundamental rights is the right to form associations which is provided in the form of Article 19 of the Constitution of India. This right is not available to all the citizens of India to the same extent and also this right like all other fundamental rights is not absolute, it has some restrictions. The right to form associations also includes the right to form unions or cooperative societies. Therefore associations and unions play a very important role in an individual’s life. The Constitution of India doesn’t deprive any of its citizens of forming an association but it is the duty of the citizen to form an association that doesn’t violate Article 19 of the Constitution of India. If the peace and integrity of the nation are disturbed by the association or unions then the State will interfere.
- Nirali, Freedom of Association, Legal Services India, http://www.legalservicesindia.com/
- Menaka Guruswamy, Freedom to Assemble and Freedom of Association, https://papers.ssrn.com/
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