The assembly must be non-violent and must not cause any breach of public peace. If the assembly is disorderly or riotous, then it is not protected under Article 19 (1) (b) and reasonable restrictions can be imposed under clause (3) of Article 19 in the Interests of sovereignty and Integrity of India or public order.
Test of unlawfulness of an assembly
Article 19 (1) (b) saves existing Indian law regulating public meetings in the interests of public order if the restrictions are reasonable. Under Section 141 of Indian Penal Code, an assembly of five or more persons becomes unlawful assembly if the common object of the persons composing assembly is :
(a) To resist the execution of any law or legal process,
(b) To commit any mischief or criminal trespass,
(c) Obtaining possession of any property by force.
(d) To compel a person to do what he is not legally bound to do or omit what he is legally entitled to do,
(e) To overawe the Government by means of criminal force or show of criminal force or any public servant in the exercise of his lawful powers.
An assembly which was not unlawful when assembled may subsequently become unlawful if it becomes violent or is likely to result in disturbance. Under Section 129, Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, such an assembly may be ordered to be dispersed if the disturbance to the public peace is reasonably apprehended. Section 151 of the Indian Penal Code makes it an offence not to disperse after a lawful command to disperse has been given.
Unlike the American Constitution which guarantees to the people the right to keep and bear arms, the Indian Constitution does not guarantee any general right to carry arms to any assembly, lawful. The Prevention of Seditions Meeting Act, 1911, prohibits public meeting to promote seditions or to cause a disturbance of public tranquility.
Section 107 of Criminal Procedure Code empowered a Magistrate to obtain security for keeping the peace from any person who is likely to commit a breach of peace. Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code empowers the magistrate to restrain an assembly, meeting or procession if there is a risk of obstruction, annoyance or injury to any person lawfully employed or danger to human life, health or safety or a disturbance of the public tranquility or a riot or any affray.
In this way the provisions relating to unlawful assemblies In the Indian Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code impose restrictions on the freedom of assembly which is treated as reasonable restriction under clause (3) of Article 19.
The right of assembly is thus subject to following restrictions:
(a) The assembly must be peaceful.
(b) It must be unarmed.
(c) Subject to restrictions in the interests of public order.
In Balm Lai v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1961 S.C. 884. It has been held that Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code which prohibits the holding of meetings is not volatile of freedom of assembly. Under this section meetings can be banned and any assembly of more than five persons can be declared unlawful and then ordered to be dispersed.