Fundamental rights are those rights which are available to all the citizens of India without any discrimination based on religion, race, and class etc. These rights are provided by the Constitution of India to the citizens of India. Part III of the Constitution of India from articles 12 to 35 deal with fundamental rights. Different rights are provided to the citizens through part III of the Constitution like right to equality, right to freedom, right against exploitation, and right to constitutional remedies etc. Article 19 provides the citizens of India different freedoms like freedom of free speech and expression, right to form associations, unions, right to reside and settle in the territory of India, and to assemble peaceably and without arms etc. Article 19 (1) (b) deals with the right to assemble peaceably and without arms. This current paper will explain article 19 (1) (d) along with different case laws.
Freedom to Assemble:
As mentioned previously, article 19 (1) (b) deals with the right to assemble. Article 19 (1) states as follows “Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech etc
(1) 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;
(d) to move freely throughout the territory of India;
(e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and
(g) to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business”.
Like other fundamental rights this right guaranteed by the Constitution is not absolute in nature and is subject to restrictions. The right provided under article 19 (1) (b) can be restricted under article 19 (3). Article 19 (1) (b) is restricted because like right to speech and expression right to assemble is also a civil and political right. Right to assemble allows people to gather politically by organizing political meetings, hunger strikes etc but those meetings should be unarmed and peaceful. An assembly can be dispersed if the assembly is unlawful. Section 141 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) states different circumstances where an assembly of five or more persons becomes unlawful. Article 19 (3) states as follows “Nothing in sub clause (b) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub clause”. So the restrictions imposed by the law against this article should be reasonable and should be in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order. In the case of Himmatlal vs Police Commissioner, Bombay, the court held that rule 7 of the rules framed by police commissioner is void as it violates article 19 (1) (b). It was held that the state can make only reasonable restrictions but not rules prohibiting public gatherings. So the state can restrict article 19 (1) (b) only through reasonable restrictions and cannot make any rules to restrict that freedom.
Fundamental rights are provided to the citizens of India through part III of the Constitution of India. One of those fundamental rights is the right to assemble. Article 19 (1) (b) of the Constitution of India guarantees right to assemble. According to this article citizens of India have the right to assemble but without any arms and peacefully. So the citizens can assemble for hunger strikes etc but not to fight with arms. It prohibits violence. Though the citizens are guaranteed with this right, this right is also restricted so that this right is not misused through article 19 (3). But this right is only available to the citizens of India and foreigners cannot exercise this right. Any citizen of India can assemble but that assembly shouldn’t disturb integrity or public order of India.
- Udai Raj Rai, Fundamental Rights and their Enforcement, 2011
- Arijit Tarafdar, Article 19, Constitution of India- The rights and their Restrictions, Northeast law journal, June 2, 2021.
- Arun K Thiruvengadam, The Constitution Of India, A contextual Analysis, 2017.
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