Freedom of assembly

                              Article 19 (1)(b) guarantees to all citizens of India rights "to assemble peaceably and without arms". The rights of assembly includes the rights to hold meetings and to take out processions. The right is however subject to the following restrictions. :----

          1) the assembly must be peaceable;
          2) it must be unarmed;
          3) reasonable restrictions can be imposed under clause 3 of article 19.

                       The right of assembly is implied in the very idea of the Democratic government. The right of assembly thus includes right to hold meeting and to take out processions. The right, like other individual right is not absolute but restrictive. The assembly must be non-violent and must not cause any breach of public peace. If the assembly is disorderly or riotous then it is not protected under article 19(1)(b) and reasonable restrictions may be imposed under clause (3) of article 19 in the interests of 'sovereignty and integrity of India' or 'public order'.

                         When a lawful assembly become unlawful.---- article 19(1)(b) saves existing Indian law regulating public meetings in the interest of public order if the restrictions are reasonable. If an assembly becomes unlawful it can be dispersed. Chapter viii of the Indian penal code lays down the conditions when an assembly becomes "unlawful". Under section 141 of the Indian penal code, an assembly of five or more parsons becomes an unlawful assembly if the common object of the persons composting assembly is-

    (a) to resist the execution of any law or legal process ,
    (b) to commit any mischief or criminal trespass,
    (c) obtaining possession of any property by force,
    (d) to compel a person to do what  he is not legally bound to do or omit which he is legally entitled to do,
     (e) to overawe the government by means of criminal force or show of criminal force or any public servant in the exercise of his lawful powers.

      An assembly which was not unlawful when assembled may subsequently become unlawful if it becomes violent or is likely to result in disturbance. Under section 129 of the criminal procedure code, 1973, such an assembly may be ordered to be dispersed if the disturbance to the public peace is reasonably apprehended. Section 151 of the Indian penal code makes it an offense not to disperse after a lawful command to disperse has been given.Section 107 of the criminal procedure code empowers magistrate to obtain security for  keeping the peace from any person who is likely to commit a breach of peace. Sector 144. Criminal procedure code. 1973 empowers the magistrate to restrain  an assembly, meeting or procession if there is a risk of obstruction, annoyance or injury to any parson lawful employed or danger to human life , health or safety or a disturbance of the public tranquility or a riot or a any affray. The police act, 1861 empowers a public officer to direct the conduct and prescribe the route and time of all assemblies and processions in the interest of public order. Under section 30 of this act, a prior license has to be taken by member of the public to take out a procession. A law conferring authority on the magistrate to grant or refuse a license to hold a meeting or a law from a magistrate has been held to be valid.
Unlike the American constitution which guarantees to the people the right to keep and bear arms, the Indian constitution does not guarantee any general right to carry arms to any assembly, lawful. However, the existing arms act prohibits possession and carrying of unlicensed offensive weapons. The prevention of seditious meeting act, 1911, prohibits public meeting likely to promote sedition or to cause a disturbance of public tranquility. It empowers the state government to declare the whole or any part of the state to be a 'proclaimed area'. Thereupon, no public meeting for the furtherance or discussion of any subject likely to cause disturbance for the excitement, or for the exhibition or distribution of any writing or printed matter relating to any such subject, shall be held in any such proclaimed area, (a) unless written notice of the intention to hold such netting and of the time and place of such meeting has been given to the district magistrate or the commissioner of police, as the case may be, at least three days previously, (b) unless permission to hold such meeting  has been obtained in writing from the above officers as the case may be. All the above-mentioned statutory provisions impose reasonable restrictions under clause (3) of article 19 on the right to freedom of assembly.


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