Question – The Indian Constitution has tried to strike a balance between individual liberty and the interests of the society. Comment.- 15 January 2022
Answer – One of the basic goals of fighting the Indian freedom struggle was that the citizens of India should get the rights of freedom which they were not able to get through the British Empire. Freedom is a natural right of the individual, and such a natural right cannot be taken away by any government.
Various rights related to freedom have been provided to the citizens of India in Article 19 to 22 of the Indian Constitution. These four articles are the form of rights of personal liberty. This freedom is also the cornerstone of Fundamental Rights.
Among these 6 fundamental freedoms have a prominent place, that fundamental freedom is as follows-
- to freedom of speech and expression;
- to assemble peaceably and without arms;
- to form associations or unions;
- to move freely throughout the territory of India;
- to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and
- to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business
To strike a balance between individual liberty and the interests of society
The freedoms guaranteed by the Preamble or Fundamental Rights are not limitless but limited. If these are left unchecked, freedom can create a situation of anarchy, racism and anti-social activities in the society. Therefore, the Constitution strikes a balance between individual liberty and wider social interests by imposing ‘reasonable restrictions’ on the use of this right for certain purposes.
- The State can impose reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right to hold meetings on two grounds – namely, the sovereignty and integrity of India and the management of traffic in the area concerned including public order. Similarly, the assembly of five or more persons may be prohibited under section 141 of the IPC on certain specified grounds.
- Reasonable restrictions can be imposed on freedom of association based on the sovereignty and integrity of India, public order and morality.
- Free circulation and freedom of residence everywhere in the interests of the common people (for example, the Supreme Court has ruled that the freedom of transmission of prostitutes can be restricted on public health grounds) and the safety and interests of any Scheduled Tribe (for the protection of the specific culture of the tribes).
- Freedom of profession can be restricted for the interests of the general public through licensing for certain types of occupation, determination of professional or technical qualifications, etc. Immoral and risky profession/profession/business or trade is not covered under this right.
A better balance between individual liberty and social interests will result in the establishment of a rules-based system in which citizens can participate fully and effectively in the social and political process of the country.