Essay: One of the basic protections of free speech is the right of free assembly


One of the basic protections of free speech is the right of free assembly. In fact, freedom of assembly and freedom of speech go hand in hand. The framers of the Constitution knew that the right to peaceably assemble for public debate and discussion, for political activities and such other purposes, was essential to make the freedom of speech and expression real. Hence the constitutional guarantee to assemble peaceably and without arms.

The right to assembly can be restricted only in the interest of public order and the restrictions ought to be reasonable. Interpreting the scope of this provision, the Patna High Court, in the case of Indradeo Singh vs. the State, in which the Bihar Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance of 1949 was challenged as invalid, held that what the Court had to decide was whether or not the restrictions were reasonable:

“The question is whether the relevant section of the Ordinance relating to the banning of public processions, etc., was an unreasonable restriction in the exercise of the right conferred by the above clause [Art. 19 (3)] of the Constitution.


In my opinion, it is sufficient to state that the restriction imposed by the Act so far as it related to public processions, etc., was not unreasonable; and, therefore, it cannot be held that the sentence passed against the petitioners fell along with the relevant section of the Order. The restriction actually imposed cannot be said to be unreasonable judged by any standard.”

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