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Indian Polity / Fundamental Rights

Right to Freedom in India

Articles 19 to 22 of the Indian Constitution talk about Right to personal freedoms or particular freedoms. These rights include freedom of speech, protection against arbitrary prosecution and arrests, right to live, right to get compulsory primary education by children, etc.

Right to Personal Freedom

  • Article 19 talks about rights about freedom of speech, expression, residence, movement, etc.

    • Article 19 (1)(a): It talks about Right to freedom of speech as well as expression. It is applicable to only Indians and not foreigners.

      Freedom of speech and expression is very extensive in nature. Expression can be by any means like speech, writing, drama, painting, cinema, etc.

      However, it can be restricted on the reasons of morality, public decency, maintaining healthy relations among the people and also on the grounds of contempt of court, law and order and security of India.

      However, these restrictions are not applicable to the discussions in the Parliament and State Legislatures.

    • Article 19 (1)(b): It talks about freedom to assemble without lethal arms. However, Sikh community has some exemptions. They can assemble with their traditional sword (Kirpan).

    • Article 19(1)(c): It talks about freedom to form associations and unions. However, some people or officers like armed forces, police people, etc. cannot form association against the Government and also some communities, who are practicing certain professions that are unethical, are not allowed to form unions. For example, sex worker's association, beggar's association, etc.

    • Article 19(1)(d): It talks about freedom of movement in any part of India. But in certain areas, limitations can be imposed on movement. For example, Cantonment roads, University roads, etc.

    • Article 19(1)(e): It talks about freedom to settle down or freedom of residence in any part of India. However, in certain agency areas, other than the aborigines, it is not allowed for others to settle down.

    • Article 19(1)(g): It talks about freedom to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation or trade. However, some professions are not allowed which are unethical.

  • Article 20 provides protection against arbitrary prosecution, double punishment and self incrimination. It means any person shall neither be prosecuted nor be punished except for violating the law that is in force at the time of committing the crime.

    Similarly, a person shall not be penalized for more than one time for the same crime. No person shall be compelled to be witness against himself that is there is no self incrimination. However, belongings of the person can be taken as witness against himself.

  • Article 21 says no person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.

  • Article 21A talks about free and compulsory primary education for all the children within the age group of 6 to 14 years. This Article was inserted into the Constitution in the 86th Constitutional amendment in year 2002.

  • Article 22 talks about protection against arbitrary arrest and detention. The protections are -

    • There should be a reason for arrest.

    • Warrant must be there for the arrest. Warrant has to be given by the court. However, all the arrests do not require warrants like those with cognizable crimes.

    • Within 24 hours from the time of taking into custody, the arrested person should be produced in front of a magistrate so that the court will check the legality of the arrest.

      If the arrest is done during holidays, the person has to be produced at the residence of the magistrate. However, these protections are not available against arrests made under preventive detention acts.

Extra Information

  • Supreme Court invoked the doctrine of "Due process of law" from America in 1978 in Maneka Gandhi case. "Procedure established by law" provides protection against executive wrong only, whereas "Due process of law" provides protection against legislative wrongs also.