Article 19 of Constitution of India



The Constitution of India is one of the lengthiest written constitutions in the world contain a preamble, 470 articles, 12 schedules and 5 appendices. India is a better place to live because the citizens have a right to freedom as a fundamental right. The fundamental rights of the Constitution of India confirm equality among the people and the harmony of the nation. Article 19 is enshrined as a most versatile fundamental right in the Indian Constitution.

Now a question arises what is freedom? – Freedom is the power or right to act, speak or think as one wants without any restraint.[1]

Article 19 ‘Right to Freedom‘ is guaranteed by the Constitution of India to all people without any discrimination on race, caste and gender. Rights under the article are available only to the citizens of India and shareholders of a company stated in India.

Rights under article 19 give a citizen the right to freedom in a certain way.

Right to Freedom means –

  • the right to think, speak and act,
  • the right to seek information from any authority,
  • the right to freedom from forced labor,
  • the right to choose an occupation, residence etc.

Under Article 19 a citizen can

  • freely express their thoughts and speech,
  • assemble in a public land without carrying any arm,
  • start or join any social union or association,
  • move deliberately from north to south or east to west within the territory of the nation,
  • inhabit or settle temporarily or permanently anywhere within the dominion of India,
  • choose any occupation on their interest.

When did Article 19 come into effect?

Article 19 is a fundamental right well settled in the Constitution of India. It comes into effect from the midnight of 26th January 1950. The rights under Article 19 are available for all citizens living within the territory of India including Jammu and Kashmir.

Protection of Six Rights:-

Article 19 of the Indian Constitution assures six rights to all citizens of India. The rights are as follows –

  • Article 19(1)(a) – Right to freedom of speech and expression;
  • Article 19(1)(b) – Right to assemble peaceably and without arms;
  • Article 19(1)(c) – Right to form associations or unions;
  • Article 19(1)(d) – Right to move freely throughout the territory of India;
  • Article 19(1)(e) – Right to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India;
  • Article 19(1)(g) – Right to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.[2]

Initially, Article 19(1) of the Constitution of India provided seven rights to freedom. The right to freedom to hold, acquire and dispose of the property was eliminated by the 44th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1978. The property right is altered as a constitutional right from the fundamental right.

These six rights promote oneness in society and make the nation strong. These rights are exclusively preserved against the state action. The state can apply any law to impose reasonable restrictions on these rights on the grounds of public order and offence.

If any of the rights mentioned in Article 19(1) are infringed, the citizen can easily approach the High Court of the states as per Article 226 of the Supreme Court of India under Article 32 for the enforcement of the fundamental rights.

A brief explanation of these six rights are stated below –

Freedom of speech and Expression:– 

Article 19 (1)(a) of a fundamental right allow the people of India to express their thoughts and expressions, opinions openly in any manner. In a democratic state like India, freedom of speech and expressions is the safeguard for the functioning of a democratic procedure. An individual in India freely express his views in the social, political and economical matter.

Right to freedom of speech and expression is considered as the first condition of liberty of thought, expression and belief mention in the features of the preamble of the Indian Constitution.

The supreme court of India stated that the right to freedom of speech and expression consists of certain right they are –

  1. Right to freedom of the press.
  2. Right to freedom of commercial speech –
  3. Right to information.
  4. Right to telecast.
  5. Right to criticize.
  6. Right to silence.
  7. Right to Co-curriculum activities.
  8. Right to choose personal appearance.

The state may enforce reasonable restrictions mentioned on Article 19(2) on these rights on the grounds of–

  1. Beach of sovereignty and integrity of the nation.
  2. Ensures safety peace and unity among the people of India.
  3. In case of defamation and offence.
  4. Protect the state.
  5. Maintain good relations with foreign state etc.

Case laws:-

The Supreme Court of India has ruled in favour of the right to freedom of speech and expression over the year. Some of the cases are –

  1. In secretary ministry of I & B, Govt. of India V. Cricket Assn. of Bengal (1995)2 SCC (161), the apex court held that the right to impart and receive information from electronic media was included in the right to freedom of speech and expressions. The airwaves were public property hence the distribution of airwaves in the private channel as well as government channels was to be done on an impartial basis.
  2. S. Rangarajan Etc v. P. Jagjivan ram (1989 SCC 574), the apex court stated that right to criticize is a fundamental right under Article 19 (1)(a)  of the right to freedom of speech and expressions. A person can openly criticize a political party.

Freedom to Assemble peaceably and without arms:-

Article 19(1)(b) of the fundamental rights grants citizens to peacefully assemble in a public meeting and attend processions without carrying any weapons. The right to assemble does not include the right to strike. The provision is not liable in case of violation, riots and breach of peace. The state can impose restrictions on this provision on the grounds mentioned in Article 19 (3) of the Constitution of India on maintaining public order sovereignty and Integrity of India.

In case of any risk of human life or emergency, a magistrate may restrain this provision under Sec.144 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

An unlawful assembly of five or more people is restrained by the law as per Sec.141 of the Indian penal code, 1860.

Case laws:

In Himmat lal v. Police commissioner (AIR1973 sec 87), the apex court held that the police permission of the region is must hold a public meeting in a public place.

Freedom to Form Association:-

Article 19(1)(c) is heart of the constitution because without this right the democratic state cannot be established. Act 19 (1)(c) gives the right to freedom to form association within the territory of India. As per this provision, a citizen can start or join a political party, company, firms, organization and trade union.

Article 33 of the Indian constitution stated that the member of armed forces, bureau, telecommunication and government employees are not allowed to form political Union or Association under article 19(4) the authority of the law can impose a reasonable restriction on the grounds of maintaining peace on the state, friendly relation with other state, sovereignty, etc.

Case laws

In the BCCI V. Cricket Association of Bihar (2016 8 SCC 535), the apex court held that the right to form association does not include the right to carry on business or other activity and the state can impose regulation on such business chosen by such association so long as the initial voluntary composition of the union endures unaffected.

Right to Movement:-

Article 19(1)(d) of the fundamental right entitles the citizen of India to move freely within the territory of India. A citizen can move from one state to another state freely.  The purpose of this provision to enhances national harmony among the states.

Reasonable restrictions can be imposed by the authority of law under Article 19(5) of the Indian Constitution on the ground of protecting the interest of Schedule Tribes and the interests of the public.

As per article 19(5) visits of the Tribal areas are restricted to protect the cultural, custom and language of the tribes.

Case law:-

1) In the State of Uttar Pradesh v. Kaushalya (AIR 1964 SCC 416), the Supreme Court stated that the right to movement of prostitution can be restricted on grounds of public health.

Freedom of Residence:-

Article 19 (1)(e) grants the citizen to reside and settle in any part of India. This provision was added by the 44th Constitutional Amendment Act 1978.[3] A citizen can permanently or temporarily reside in any state of India.

The main object of this provision is the protect harmony and nationalism. As per Article 19(5) of the Constitution of India, the state may apply reasonable restriction on the ground is of protecting the interest of public and interest of the tribes. The right to freedom of residence and freedom of movement are parallel in nature.

Freedom of Profession:

 Article 19(1)(g) of the constitution of India entitles every citizen to practice any profession or carry on any occupation, trade, or Business[4] depends on their interests. Under Article 19(6) of the Indian constitution, the authority of law may empower the state to impose the reasonable reaction on the freedom of profession on grounds in the interest of general public.

 Further, the state is empowered to-

  1.  Prescribe professional or technical qualifications necessary for practicing any profession or carrying on any occupation, trade or business; and
  2. Carry on by itself any trade, business, industry or service whether to the exclusion of citizens or otherwise.[5]

 A person practicing any trade or business has the right to close anytime he wanted. Any profession or business immoral in nature is strictly prohibited under the eye of law. This provision is not liable for practicing any unlawful occupation.

 Case law

 In Unni Krishnan V. State of Andhra Pradesh (AIR 1993 SC 2178), the Supreme Court stated that establishing an educational institution cannot be regarded as trade in India. Trade carried on for a profit. Imparting education cannot be allowed to become commerce.


Article 19 secures the right of citizen over the years. These six rights are human rights as well as the natural rights of every citizen. In the 21st century, many citizens are untouched by these rights because they are not much aware. On the other hand, some citizens take advantage of these rights. However, real change happens when the people in the country obey the norms and laws of the land and maintain nationalism.


[1] What is Freedom? | Live Science





Author: Shreeparna Goswami,
2nd year Shyambazar Law College

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