Reasonable Restrictions


The basic rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution are not absolute rights. This means that countries may limit the extent to which you can exercise these rights. It is here that the concept of reasonable restriction comes into play with Article 19 of the Constitution, which deals with freedom and the grounds for each restriction.

Section 19(1) provides for six freedoms, i.e., freedom of speech and expression, freedom of assembly without arms, freedom of association and association, freedom of movement throughout Indian territory, and freedom of movement anywhere in Indian territory. Six liberties of freedom of residence and establishment were established in India, and the freedom to practice any profession or to pursue a profession, trade, or business.

Corresponding to these six freedoms, Articles 19(2) to 19(6) set out the specific grounds on which States may impose appropriate restrictions. We don’t need to enact laws just to limit our freedoms under restrictive clauses. Where laws enacted by a government restrict these freedoms, such restrictions must be reasonable.

However, the term “reasonable” is not defined in the Constitution and requires no test. It is in this context that the Supreme Court’s role in constitutional interpretation comes into play. Over time, in various cases, the Supreme Court has established various tests and principles related to the concept of reasonable limitations.

Grounds for Restrictions

Section 19(2)

– Section 19(2) allows the Government to restrict freedom of speech and expression under Section 19(1)(a). There are many controversial cases surrounding Article 19(2), as freedom of speech and expression is one of the most fundamental rights a person should have. Restrictions and laws that appear to limit freedom of expression have always been questioned and challenged.

The fact that freedom of the press falls within Article 19(1)(a) adds to the list of cases where restrictions on free speech are contested. Freedom of speech and expression includes the right to express one’s opinion without fear of government sanctions. It encompasses many aspects such as the right to dissent, the right to criticize, the right to freedom of expression, the right of artists to express themselves through art and to display it without fear of undue censorship, Including the right to protest. stage etc.

Article 19(2) draws a line between legal and illegal speech. It presents many grounds for governments to intervene and impose restrictions on free speech. We have already mentioned this at the beginning of this article.
Sovereignty and Integrity of India – This ground was added by the 16th Amendment Act of 1963 to limit categories of speech that could undermine the integrity and sovereignty of India’s state. Speeches calling for secession from the Indian Federation are restricted as a threat to India’s sovereignty. The Supreme Court ruled in Kedarnath Singh v. Bihar State [9] that speeches amounting to sedition confuse and endanger the authority of governments, thus affecting the sovereignty of nations. It is therefore the government’s duty to ensure that they are limited in order to prevent anarchic situations.
National security may be at stake if actions aimed at overthrowing governments are carried out. Therefore, for the sake of national security, such situations should be limited. Words and signs that encourage violence are restricted.

Friendly Relations with Foreign Countries – Apart from peace at home, there are other things governments must ensure. Relations with foreign countries. Restrictions could be imposed on all forms of speech that could jeopardize India’s relations with other countries. Public Order – Restrictions for public order were described above. The basis for public order was added in late 1951 by the First Amendment. It is synonymous with public peace and quiet. As already noted, the provision speaks of “for the sake of public order” rather than the broader concept of “maintenance of public order”.

This means that reasonable restriction protections apply to laws that restrict not only speech that directly affects public order, but also speech that may affect public order. Governments can therefore impose restrictions for the sake of public order.
Decency and Morality – These are other reasons governments can impose restrictions on people. Individual rights and interests are overridden by the collective interests of society as a whole. There are some socially agreed upon morals that are expected of individuals. Morality and propriety are therefore two elements of her that change from time to time, and this transformation should also be reflected in the legal framework.
Section 19(3) – Section 19(3) authorizes states to impose restrictions on freedom of unarmed assembly. Freedom of assembly under Article 19(1)(b) includes the right to protest, the right to assemble, etc. However, this freedom may be limited on the grounds of India’s sovereignty and integrity and for the sake of public order. According to the Constitution, Congress should be peaceful and unarmed.

For the sake of public order, there are some laws that limit freedom of assembly. Chapter VIII of the Indian Penal Code treats illegal assembly as a threat to public peace.

Section 19(4) – Under Section 19(4), the Government has the power to restrict freedom of association in the interests of public policy or the sovereignty and integrity of India.
If there is an advisory board to which the notice is served and there are objections to the notice, these may also be raised and the advisory board will have to decide whether the association is unlawful. The Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to delegate powers to the government to impose restrictions without permitting the judiciary to review the adequacy of the grounds because it is the judiciary’s duty to review the adequacy of the order. was dropped.

Section 19(5) – For the benefit of the general public and of the designated tribes, the Government may impose appropriate restrictions on freedom of movement, residence and residence within the territory of India as may be necessary. increase. The voters’ intention was to strengthen the unity of India, as India is a “confederation of nations”, but the administration had a well-established separation of powers between the states and the central government. With respect to reasonable restrictions on the freedom of a person, two cases should be mentioned.

Article 19(6) – On grounds of public policy, the Government may impose reasonable restrictions on the freedom of employment, employment, trade or business. Apart from the above reasons, it is unconstitutional to restrict the freedom to choose one’s job, and the restriction need not destroy the industry or the company itself, but even if it creates an unsustainable situation, such limitations shall be deemed unconstitutional, except in adverse circumstances.


Absolute freedom is always detrimental to the smooth functioning of society, as the personal interests of every individual take precedence. This will lead to national decline and even anarchy. As makers and enforcers of laws, governments should have the power to impose restrictions on freedom. However, there must be a balance between the freedoms granted and the restrictions imposed. This balance depends on the validity of the limits. The Constitution protects only reasonable limits, and courts establish principles for measuring the reasonableness of limits.

In the case of A.K. Gopalan v. State of Madras. Das, J., had opined that reasonable restrictions are imposed on the enjoyment of fundamental rights due to the fact that in certain circumstances, individual liberty has to be subordinated to certain other larger interests of the society

Meaning of ‘Reasonable Restrictions’ under Article 19 of Indian Constitution (
Reasonable restrictions under Article 19 and administrative discretion – iPleaders
Reasonable Restrictions on Fundamental Rights – Law Corner

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