Daily Answer Writing
08 January 2021

Q) The concept of citizenship ensures equal rights to all in a country. Enlist such provisions in the Indian constitution and ordinary laws of India which restrict Individuals right to freedom of movement? Do you think these restrictions are reasonable in the 21st century India? (250 Words)

Approach Answer:

Introduction: The concept of citizenship refers to the status of an individual as a full and responsible member of a nation. A citizen is a person who owes allegiance to the state and in turn receives protection from the states as well as grant of civil, political and social rights. It renders a person an equal member of the state and thus all the rights that are granted are applied equally without any discrimination.

The constitution of India provides freedom of movement under Article 19(1) to every citizen of the country. However, the constitution and the ordinary laws of India makes some provisions in favour of certain communities which might seem to be unequal restrictions.  

Restrictions against freedom of Movement in India:

1. Inner Line permit:  It is notified under Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act (BEFR), 1873. It is an official document issued to let an Indian non-resident citizen enter a protected area for a limited period of time. It is obligatory for Indian citizens from outside certain states to obtain such a permit in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram & Nagaland. It was recently implementation in Manipur after long protests.

  • Under this system, a certificate can be issued to outsiders only for travel in the areas covered by ILP.
  • A Non-resident can't buy property. But long term residence is allowed.

2. Protected Area permit(PAP)/Restricted Area Permit(RAP): all areas falling between the 'inner line' and the international border are defined as protected areas under Foreigners(Protected Areas) order, 1958. These include:

  • Whole of Arunanchal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim.
  • Parts of JK & HP, Rajasthan, Uk.

3. Application of AFSPA: AFSPA gives armed forces the power to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”. It allows restriction of movement of a person by the armed forces. They have the authority to prohibit a gathering of five or more persons in an area, at any time without a magisterial order by the use of force, if necessary.

  • These have become more or less permanent provisions in states like Jammu and Kashmir and Manipur.

4. Scheduled Areas: Although, there is no provision to restrict freedom of movement per se. But there are Certain protections are provided in 6th scheduled areas of the country that restrict or provide power to the local authorities to restrict rights to settle in a particular area. The Sixth Schedule areas are also empowered to not to allow the implementation of a State or Central legislation if their recommendation is accepted by the Governor.

5. Other laws for Tribal areas include

  • A &N Islands (PAT) Regulation 1956, 
  • Restrictions under Foreigner (Restricted Area) Orders, 1963, 
  • Visa Manual Conditions/Passport Act 1920, and
  • Indian Forest Act, 1927 and Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. 

Criticism of Such restrictions:

1. Against the constitution: It is violation of the constitution as freedom of movement is provided to all as a fundament right.

2. Against principle of equality: All citizens by virtue of being citizen of India must be equal. The restrictions created discriminates on regional basis.

3. Against principle of liberty: In a free country every citizen must be free to move to any part of the country.

4. Breeds Racism: the discrimination on racial and geographical basis institutionalizes racism.

5. Breeds regionalism: It is against the idea of one India. The feeling of 'son of the soil' takes over the idea of nationalism when racism is institutionalized.

Reasonable necessity of such restrictions:

1. To protect indegenous culture: Pressure groups in the north east view the provisions such as ILP as a shield against illegal immigration. It is necessary to protect the area from any demographic or linguistic or racial change.

2. To protect the environment: Many provisions such as Indian Forest Act of 1927, Wildlife act of 1972 and provisions of 5th and 6th schedule are helpful.

3. To protect tribals from external disease: People such as Sentinalese tribes of Assam are the examples of India's anthropogenic heritage. Any interference from outside world can be deadly due to the inherent lack of immunity.

4. To maintain Law and order: Provisions of AFSPA, Inner line permit help in maintaining law and order in the "disturbed areas".

5. To maintain internal Security: Provisions of Protected area/Restricted area permit and AFSPA are also useful in dealing with the insurgency and security threats from across the border.

Conclusion: Neither the freedom nor the restrictions provided in the Indian constitution are absolute. The constitution allows the reasonable restrictions under Article 19(4) on the exercise of any of the rights conferred by Article 19(1) either in the interests of the general public or for the protection of the interests of any Scheduled Tribe. The interest of general public also includes issues like national security, peace, law and order.

Source: The Hindu page 4: North and East: Meghalaya lawmakers asked to unite for ILP

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