Freedom of Association
Man is a social animal .He cannot develop keeping himself aloof from his fellowmates in the community. No man can live and progress in isolation. He needs people around to communicate with in order to survive in the society. He cannot afford to live in a shell or act timid, far and distant from the other individuals in the surrounding. Continuous existence will be troublesome if he detaches himself or stays disconnected and totally separate from the people residing in the society and also from their actions and activities. If a person shuns the society around to live in seclusion, he will not be able to lead a comfortable and a stable life.Necessity compels man to live together and form relationships with other individuals. He will find himself incapable to satisfy his day to day needs and other necessities if he restrains from interaction and networking. He will remain unsatiated if he does not have the cooperation and coordination of his fellow beings. He should keep himself involved in some kind of a group or association or a club etc which would assist him in communication with the others as well as help in self awareness. Participation in different organizations, groups will aid an individual in keeping himself updated and informed with regard to the daily happenings and instances occurring in the society. In today’s era, a man cannot live in his own self made zone, reluctantand nervous or be it adamant and rigid to step into the outside world, having the perception that he would be able to sustain himself withoutsocial interaction , companionship , bonding or discussion. If a man believes so , then most evidently he is carrying a misapprehension in his head and definitely is living in a bubble at the same moment. So , these associations , clubs and groups will not only help an individual socialize and develop warm and cordial relations with others but also at the same time will give him an opportunity to put forth his own thoughts and opinions relating to any issue or a particular agenda in the society. When he joins a certain group or an association, the same serves as a helping hand to him in promotion and acknowledgement of his views, choices and interests and also inspires others to come ahead and share their own ideologies. People engaged in a certain group or in an organization having common aims and goals should strive together to achieve the same.
While working together in a group, or a club or in an association, an individual needs to assure that harmony is maintained. It is also important to bear in mind that the discipline and order existing in the society is preserved while discharging the respective functions as well as during the execution of the different activities . These associations and groups should also motivate their members to do better , come up with new ideas and also remain supportive of one another . The person occupying a supreme authority in these associations should pay heed to the conceptions of his own members and also incorporate them in any of the future projects or ventures , if essential so that it helps in the development of the society.
An association or a group will not be able to function efficiently if there is lack of unity and support. It is completely an individual’s prerogative and it is left upto his discretion when it comes to joining and becoming a member of a group or an organization. He has the right to act as per his own will when it comes to indulging himself into any kind of these clubs or societies. He should see with which association or group he is able toresonate with, pertaining to his own mindset and thought process and should accordingly be a part of the same. He should join them in relation to his own potential and capabilities. Different clubs like the Rotary Club, Lions Club, Leo Club etc help to strengthen the bond with other individuals as well as connect and stay linked with the world at large. If there is no right given to form political parties , the parliamentary democracy will not be able to run smoothly. These associations, groups, various clubs help one to stay aware about the different events taking place in the society on daily basis. These basically support the individuals to go vocal about their opinion as well as aid them in getting to know the same of others. These associations and groups provide assistance to develop an identity and attain a reputed status to the persons immersed in them .They also play an effectiverole in enhancing the knowledge of an individual, help him to imbibe the necessary values while working in order to achieve the fruitful results. It undoubtedly at the same time benefits him by offering an occasion for interacting with people from different fields and maintaining healthy and friendly equations with them.
They also facilitate and make way for give and take of different ideas and convictions. They encourage free flow of opinions in a systematic and a well-organized manner. They inculcate the feeling of confidence among the people engaged in it and give a chance to them to express their own perspective. They serve as a potent source of information and knowledge to everyone around. Involvement in these groups and clubs would help an individual to survive socially. These clubs, societies, trade unions and organizations should work with a common aim, legitimate purpose and also in the interest of the community. But at the same time, it is pivotal to note that these organizations or political parties should not engross themselves in any kind of illegal or unlawful activities. They should not work with the purpose of giving rise to acrimony between everyone in the society or creating differences among them. They play a vital role in influencing the minds of the people, so the same should be usedfor making the democracy stronger . They should endeavor towards harmonizing all the masses which in turn would inspire them to work for a better tomorrow. The right to carry out a strike or a lockout can be controlled or restricted by an appropriate industrial legislation and the validity of the same can be tested with clause (4) under Article 19(1) (c).
Article 19(1) (c) of the Constitution of India guarantees to all its citizens the right “to form associations, or unions or Co- Operative Societies.” Under clause (4) of the Article 19 , however ,the State may by law impose reasonable restrictions on this right in the interest of public order or morality or the sovereignty and integrity of India.
Grounds on which this freedom gets restricted:
1. Sovereignty and Integrity of India: To safeguard the sovereignty of the country the freedom to form association can be restricted. This freedom will also be restricted if it causes any disturbance or affects the oneness of the country .
2. Public Order: To maintain safety, public peace, order and tranquility of the country, the right to form association can be restricted.
3. Morality: This freedom can be restricted if any of the individual’s activities involve indecency or obscenity.
The right to form association includes the right to form companies, societies, partnerships,, trade union and political parties. The right guaranteed is not merely the right to form association but also to continue with the association as such. The freedom to form association implies also the freedom to form or not to form, to join or not to join , an association or union.
In Damayanti v. Union of India, the validity of Hindi Sahitya Sammelan Act, 1962 was challenged as violative of Article 19(1)(c). The petitioner was a member of an association . The Act changed the composition of the association and introduced new members. The result of this alteration was that the members who voluntarily formed the association were now compelled to act in the association with other members in whose admission they had no say. The Supreme Court held- The Act violated the rights of the original members of the society to form an association guaranteed under Art 19 (1)(c). “ The right to form an association ” , the Court said , “ necessarily implies that the person forming the association have also the right to continue to be associated with only those whom they voluntarily admit in the association. Any law by which members are introduced in the voluntary association without any option of being given to the members to keep them out , or any law which takes away the membership of those who have voluntarily joined it, will be a law violating the right to form association.” The Hindi Sahitya Sammelan Act does not merely regulate the administration of the affairs of the original society , what it does is to alter the composition of the society itself. The result of this change in the composition is that the members who voluntarily formed the association are now compelled to act in the association with other members who have been imposed as members by the act and in whose admission to membership they had no say. Such alteration in the composition of the association itself clearly interferes with the right to continue to function as members of the association which was voluntarily formed by the original founders. The Act, therefore violates the right of the original members of the society to form an association guaranteed under Article 19 (1)(c).
Regarding the plea that the Act imposes reasonable restriction under clause (4) of Art 19, the Court said that clause (4) cannot be called in to claim validity for the Act. Under clause (4), of Art 19 reasonable restrictions can be imposed only in the interest of the of the sovereignty and integrity of India or the interests of public order or morality . The alteration of the constitution of the society in manner laid down by the act is not in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India or in the interests of public order or morality.
Right of Association and Armed Forces: In O.K.A . Nair v. Union Of India , an important question arose whether “ civilian’’ employees , designated as ‘ non – combatants’ such as cooks, chowkidars, laskers, barbers, mechanics , boot- makers, tailors etc . attached to the Defence Establishments have a right to form associations or unions. The appellants were members of the civil employees unions in the various centres of the Defence Establishment. The Commandment declared their unions as unlawful associations . They challenged that the impugned action was violative of their fundamental right to form associations or unions under Art 19(1)(c) of the Constitution. They contended that the members of the unions , though attached to the Defence Establishments, were civilians and their service conditions were regulated by Civil Service Rules and therefore they could not be called as “ members of the Armed Forces’’ within the meaning of Art 33 of the Constitution .The Supreme Court rejected the contentions of the appellants and held that the civilian employees of the Defence Establishments answer the description of the members of the Armed Forces within the meaning of Art 33 and, therefore were not entitled to form trade unions. It is their duty to follow or accompany the Armed Personnel on active service or in camp or on march. Although they are non combatants and in some matters governed by the Civil Service Rules , yet they are integral to Armed Forces .Consequently, under Army Act the Central Government was competent to make rules restricting or curtailing their fundamental right under Art 19(1)(c).
Restrictions on the Freedom of Association:
In Haji Mohd.v. District Board , Malda , it was held that a restriction requiring a teacher to take prior permission to engage in political activities is a reasonable restriction . It aimed at preventing teachers from getting mixed up with political institutions. For, a teacher is not merely a citizen but he has to be under certain terms and discipline of employment.
In Ramkrishna v. President ,District Board, Nellore, a Government order requiring municipal teachers not to join unions other than those officially approved was held to impose prior restraint on the right to form association and union, which was in the nature of administrative censorship, and hence invalid.
Therefore, we can conclude that these associations, clubs, groups and other organizations do indeed play a significant role in an individual’s life . They also play a major part in determining his perception and persuades him to have a broader vision and a widened approach towards everything happening in the society . The Constitution ensures that no citizen residing within the territorial jurisdiction of the country is deprived of this right granted under Art 19(1)(c). But at the same time, it is the duty of the citizens to ensure that in the due course of formation of a particular association as well as during the time span of the membership, harmony, discipline and order continues to persist in the society .It is important to take into consideration that the same does not give rise to breach of public peace. The citizens while exercising this fundamental right should also see to it that the stability of the society is maintained. The State will interfere if at all such political parties, trade unions, clubs, groups etc by their activities try to disrupt the peace or disturb the unity among everyone.It is also necessary that the formation or participation and even continuation of these different associations do not act as a barrier or an obstacle in the progress and development of the country. If at all the goal or the motive of the people engaged in them is evil or ulterior the same will result in causing an imbalance in the democratic system. It will also pose a threat to the welfare and well-being of the people in the country. These associations help everyone come together, and the people involved in them should utilize this privilege given by the Constitution by working for the benefit and greater good of everyone and should not work with an intention to create conflict and abhorrence . They should aim at imparting knowledge and promoting awareness among everyone for having been provided with a platform by the Constitution.
“These associations should head towards awakening the masses and inspiring them to take the initiative for building up a brighter future for the nation.”
1. Constitutional Law of India- Dr J. N. Pandey
2. AIR 1971 SC 966
3. AIR 1976 SC 1179
4. AIR 1958 Cal. 401
5. AIR 1952 Mad.253