[Model Answer QP2022 GS2] “Right to movement and residence throughout the territory of India are freely available to the Indian citizens, but these rights are not absolute”. Comment

Article 19(1)(d) and (e) are complementary to each other and confer a right upon the citizens to move freely or/and to reside and settle in any part of the country.  

Freedom of movement

  • Article 19(1)(d) provides for the right to move freely throughout the territory of India. This means the right to locomotion, i.e., the right to move as per one’s own choice. This right includes the right to use roads and highways. 
  • This right is protected against only state action and not private individuals.
  • Moreover, it is available only to the citizens and to shareholders of a company but not to foreigners or legal persons like companies or corporations, etc.
  • The freedom of movement has two dimensions, viz, internal (right to move inside the country) and external (right to move out of the country and right to come back to the country). Article 19 protects only the first dimension.
  • Restriction as per  Article 19(5)
    • The Supreme Court held that the freedom of movement of prostitutes can be restricted on the grounds of public health and in the interest of public morals.
    • The entry of outsiders in tribal areas is restricted to protect the distinctive culture, language, customs and manners of scheduled tribes and to safeguard their traditional vocation and properties against exploitation.
In Chambara soy v. Union of India (2007), some unscrupulous elements had blocked the road due to which the petitioner was delayed in taking his ailing son to the hospital and his son died on arrival at the hospital. The Supreme Court held that the right of the petitioner to move freely under Article 19(1)(d) has been violated due to the road blockage. The Court held that the State is liable to pay the compensation for the death of the petitioner’s son due to the inaction on the part of the State authorities in removing the aforesaid blockage

Freedom of residence

Article 19(1)(e) states that it is the fundamental right of every citizen to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India. 
In the case of U.P. Avas Evam Vikas Parishad v. Friends Co-op. Housing Society Ltd.(1995), it was held by the Supreme Court that the right to residence under Article 19(1)(e) includes the right to shelter and to construct houses for that purpose. 

Reasonable restrictions on right to freedom of movement and residence- Article 19(5)

As per Article 19(5), the right to freedom of movement and residence could be restricted on the following grounds:

  • In the interests of the general public, or 
  • For the protection of the interests of any Scheduled Tribe.
Conclusion: Case of Externment: 
According to the Supreme court, Person cannot be denied the right to reside, move freely throughout the country on flimsy grounds. Externment orders prevent the movement of a person in certain areas. The top court said that the drastic action of externment should only be taken in exceptional cases to maintain law and order.

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