Freedom to Assemble and the Freedom of Association

21 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2015

Date Written: February 6, 2015


The Constitution of India provides for freedom to assemble and the freedom to associate. Article 19 (1)(b) provides that all citizens shall have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms. While Article 19 (1)(c) accords all citizens the right to form associations or unions or cooperative societies. This article examines both rights in the context of Indian constitutionalism.

The freedom to assemble is of special interest within the realm of constitutional law, since it is enabled and restricted by an intersection of the constitutional text and the criminal procedure code. The freedom of association is not curtailed by any procedural code. It character and breadth is shaped only by the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court, and the limitations imposed by the Constitution. The reasoning of the Court is superficial when it comes to appreciating the freedom of association.

The Court has not considered the need to provide for greater conceptual clarity on the two necessity of the two freedoms. Nor has the Court engaged in a discussion of principles that must guide it when interpreting these freedoms. Instead the Court has engaged in a case by case analysis -- while crafting jurisprudence as it sees fit based on categories or classes of bearers of these freedoms. For instance, instead of engaging in a discussion on strikes, it creates classes of citizens who cannot strike- lawyers or government employees or members under the essential services regimes.

Keywords: Freedoms, Assemble, Association, Constitutional Law, Constitution Rights, Constitution of India 1950, India, Fundamental Rights

Suggested Citation

Guruswamy, Menaka, Freedom to Assemble and the Freedom of Association (February 6, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Menaka Guruswamy (Contact Author)

Supreme Court of India ( email )

D 1007
New Friends Colony
New Delhi, Delhi 110065

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