Dalai Lama once said that, “Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free.”
Rights means legal, social or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement there are fundamental normative rules about what is allowed for people or owed to people. The term right is closely associated with the word ‘freedom’. Freedom is the power or right to act, speak or thing as one wants without hindrance or restraint and the absence of a despotic government. It is essential for moral, intellectual and spiritual development of individuals as it leads to enhance expressions of creativity and original thoughts, increase productivity, and an overall high quality of life.
John F Kennedy once stated that, “the best road to progress is freedom’s road and life without Liberty is like a body without spirit.”
In India, right to freedom is a constitutional and fundamental right granted to all its citizen who reside and are settled in any part of the territory of India. It is clearly provided in Article 19 to Article 22 which is considered as the heart of constitution as it gives the basic and most vital right to the citizens of India.
First of all, Article 19 which states the six freedom that are guaranteed to the citizen of India. They are the following:
· FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND EXPRESSION
Everyone has right to freedom of opinion and expression, to hold opinion without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
In a landmark judgement of the case Maneka Gandhi v/s state of India the supreme court held that, ‘the freedom of speech and expression has no geographical limitations. Here right to freedom of speech and expression means the right to express one’s own conviction and opinion freely by words of mouth, writing, picture, painting or any other mode.
Freedom of speech and expression is indispensable in a democracy. In the case of Romesh Thappar v/s state of Madras(1950), it was rightly observed that, ‘freedom of speech and of the press lay at foundation of all democratic organisations, for without free political discussion no public education, so essential for the proper functioning of the process of popular government, is possible.’
The freedom of speech and expression include liberty to propagate or publish the view of oneself and the others. Freedom of speech also includes freedom of silence which is a legal principle that guarantees any individual the right to refuse to answer questions from legal enforcement officer or Court officials. In India, the right to silence has been granted to the accused by virtue of the pronouncement in the case of Nandini sathpathy v/s P.L. Dani.
In present scenario the protest against Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 and National register of citizen (NRC) confront unresolved quest on identify citizenship and is a good example to present the application of the article 19. As citizens of India are freely showing their displeasure about the act of the current government in the form of traffic obstructions, rallies, violent or nonviolent campaigns, symbolic display, boycotts and even lawsuits etc.
· FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY
In our country all citizens of India have right “to assemble peaceably and without arms”. The right to Assembly includes the right to hold meeting and to take out processions.
· FREEDOM TO FORM ASSOCIATION OR UNION OR CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY
The right ensures organisation or permanent relationship between its member in matter of common concern. It thus includes the right to form companies, societies, partnerships, trade unions, and political parties and the right to continue with the association.
· FREEDOM TO MOVE FREELY
All the citizens of India have right to move freely throughout the territory of India without any kind of restriction. They can move not only from one state to another but also from one place to another within the same state.
· FREEDOM TO RESIDE AND SETTLE
Under article 19 every citizen of India has right to reside and settle in any part of the territory. The object of this clause is to remove internal barrier within India or any of its part.
· FREEDOM OF PROFESSION, OCCUPATION, TRADE OR BUSINESS
Under this clause we the citizen of India have right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.
It is to be noted that as per article 352 of constitution that as soon as proclamation of emergency is declared on the ground of war or external aggression all freedoms guaranteed would be suspended but it would be revived once the emergency situation is ceased.
Further the constitution of India guarantees the right to life and personal liberty, which in turn cites specific provisions in which these rights are applied and enforced:
According to Article20, no one can be awarded punishment which is more then what the law of the land prescribed at the time. This article is known as safeguard against self incrimination. Other principle in this article is known as the principle of double Jeopardy, that is, no person can be convicted twice for the same offence, which has been derived from Anglo – Saxons law. This principle was first established in Magna Carta.
One of the benchmark cases: state of Rajasthan v/s hat Singh and state of (NCT Delhi) v/s Navjot Sandhu (2005) it was stated that prosecution and punishment under two sections of an Act, the offences under two sections being distinct from each other, does not amount to double jeopardy. The striking feature of article 20 is that it cannot be suspended during an emergency period.
Other than the article 20, Article 21 states protection of life and personal freedom. It declares that no citizen can be denied his life and liberty except by law, this means that a person’s protection of life and personal liberty can be disputed only if that person has committed a crime. That is why article 21 has become the foundation stone of part III of the constitution. Although, the right to life does not include the right to die and hence any attempts of suicide is an offence.
Lastly, Article22 which reads as protection against arrest and detention in certain cases or safeguard against arbitrary arrest and detention. It also provides those procedural requirements which must be included in any procedure enacted by the legislature. Article 22 deals with two separate matters. They are the following:
a) Person arrested under ordinary law of crime
b) Person detained under the law of preventive detention
In respect to the country which is a developing nation. Freedom means so much to the citizen as it enhances expressions of creativity and originality of thoughts, increases productivity and, an overall high quality of life. It reinforces all other human rights, allowing society to develop and progress. And that is why laws provide an opportunity to the citizen by the guidance of its articles but unfortunately due to lack of literacy, communication, innocuousness of major population and poverty people are unaware of their own basic rights. Hence, demand for legal awareness rises as it empowers people to demand justice, accountability and effective remedies at all levels. Therefore, it indirectly affects the authority and power of judicial system by granting them immense power to protect its citizens. There cannot be a overnight change in a nation but yes if every educated individual join hand to help the people in need then surely there will be a day when our country would have full access to their rights ultimately leading to the growth of the nation.
Author Details: Tarana Azmi and Yash Sinha (Fairfield Institute of Management & Technology Affiliated by GGSIP University)
The views of the author are personal only. (if any)