Right to Trade, Commerce and Intercourse under Indian constitution – Article 19(1)(g) and Article 301

Author-Posa Venkata Bhavya, Sri Padmavati Mahila Visva Vidyalayam


The Indian constitution, through Article 19(1)(g) and Article 301, establishes the rights related to trade, commerce, and intercourse. These rights allow individuals to engage in business and professions of their choice, while also emphasizing the need to adhere to certain restrictions for the overall well-being and balance of these rights.

The right to practice a profession is a fundamental right in the Indian constitution. It is important to ensure that those who have the qualifications and capabilities for a job are able to pursue it without being forced out. This is protected by Article 19(1)(g) of the constitution. Additionally, articles 301-307 address the freedom of trade, commerce, and intercourse and any restrictions related to these rights in the constitution of India.

Keywords (Minimum 5): Trade, Commerce, Intercourse, Occupation, Fundamental right and Constitution of India.

Meaning, Definition & Explanation :-

Trade :- Trade involves the exchange of goods for profit, and according to

Article 301, it includes any economic activity with a specific purpose and motive. It also requires a balance between exports and imports in a country.

Commerce :- The commerce encompasses all modes of transporting goods on a large scale, including air, water, telephone, telegram, and other means. It involves the transportation and communication between individuals, businesses, and nations.

Intercourse :- This refers to the movement of goods from one place to another, both commercially and non-commercially. It also involves the exchange and communication between individuals, often described as mutual dealings.

Historical Background :-

Trade and commerce in a country depend largely on geographical and environmental factors. In India, the rich resources, cultural diversity, and strategic location have made it a prominent player in trade throughout history. The trade routes connecting the west and east have enabled India to establish good relations along the Silk Routes. India’s strong economy was evident even before the British era, with trade coins and products being exported globally.

The Mauryan era saw development in infrastructure, such as road building and warehouses, which provided security to traders. During the Delhi Sultan period, India further expanded its international trade relations, enhancing social and economic connectivity.

Agriculture has long been the backbone of India, with the development of crops like maize and tobacco leading to advancements such as mulberries and seri-culture. India’s agriculture was more advanced than Europe’s, and industrial development began with spinning, weaving, and manufacturing companies in Bombay exporting cotton and silk to large markets in America, Africa, Asia, and Europe in the 1750s. India’s economic growth expanded through trade and commerce, with exports of precious stones, handmade products, and agricultural goods showcasing the country’s trustworthiness, resourcefulness, integrity, and unique products that attracted traders from around the world. This led to a significant increase in India’s growth.

After the East India company established itself in India, the British controlled 2/3 of the country while the remaining 1/3 was ruled by native states through Princesses. Many states had varying degrees of sovereignty but within limits. The main purpose of Article 301 was to eliminate trade barriers and promote the flow of commerce.

Between 1947 and 1950, the Princess states were merged and integrated, removing trade barriers across India. Under British rule, Indian markets shifted towards importing goods rather than exporting. India was known for its handmade products and natural resources before the British brought cheap, mass-produced items that quickly found favor with customers.

Instead of continuing to take longer to produce the same products by hand, British cheap products began outpacing Indian products. To combat this, India initiated various movements to promote their own products and textiles and to deter the use of British and foreign products. The goal was to increase domestic trade and promote self-sufficiency in India. Additionally, in the 19th century, industries such as iron, steel, paper, and publication saw significant development in India with the implementation of industrial methods.

Articles on Trade, Commerce and Intercourse:-

Article (19)(1)(g) of the Indian Constitution is a fundamental right that outlines the rights of individuals, including the right to choose any profession or occupation. It is important to note that while this right exists, there are certain restrictions that must be followed. These restrictions should not be random or against the public interest; rather, they should support social values and needs. The freedom to engage in trade is not just about conducting business but also about safeguarding the interests of those involved in the business, as long as it is lawful and does not infringe upon the rights of others.

Only citizens have the right to practice any occupation, trade, or business of their choice, as foreign companies do not possess this fundamental right. Citizens can seek legal recourse under Article 19(1)(g) of the Indian constitution if their profession is impeded. Economic unity and stability are vital for a nation’s advancement, with free movement and absence of trade barriers elevating the economic standards.

Case law :- TMA Pai Foundation Vs. State of Karnataka

The case revolves around the right of private educational institutions to independently govern themselves without government interference in their rules, fees, administration, and staff selection. The institutions argue they have established their own self-governing bodies rather than following government directives to uphold their rights under the constitution. The opposing party believes the government should have a say in the operations of educational institutions to ensure fair and ethical management practices that uphold the integrity of the institutions.

While private educational institutions may excel in technology, academic standards, innovation, and creativity, it is still necessary for them to adhere to government guidelines. The court emphasized the importance of transparent and merit-based admission criteria, fair fees structure, and the merit-based selection of staff. Educational institutions must also maintain accountability, fairness, and follow regulations to ensure a standardized and regulated system, despite having their own unique approach to teaching.

Sukumar Mukherjee vs. state of West Bengal :-

In this scenario, teachers employed in the West Bengal medical educational service were not allowed to practice privately. The restriction applied to teacher doctors specifically and not all doctors. Government employees were prohibited from engaging in private practice until they no longer held their government position, whether through suspension or retirement. This rule was in place to ensure that government employees followed the regulations and guidelines set forth by the government, requiring them to focus solely on their government role without engaging in outside work.

Article 301 of the Constitution:-

Article 301 of India’s constitution guarantees freedom of trade, commerce, and communication within the country. This article can be utilized by citizens, non-citizens, or states in cases of discrimination or preference. All states in India should be considered as one when it comes to economic activities to benefit the country’s economy. Each state should have equal rights, privileges, and responsibilities when conducting business in India. Additionally, Article 301 includes restrictions to protect public safety and the dignity of the country.

This text discusses the importance of Article 301, which ensures the free movement of goods. It specifies that this article cannot be contested in relation to traffic regulations, vehicle licensing, marketing and health regulations, minimum wages, social and economic planning, or admission into educational institutions. Article 301 is a constitutional right that applies to the entire country, unlike Article 19(1)(g), which is a fundamental right specific to individual persons.

Case law :- Atiabari Tea Co. Vs State of Assam

The tea was taken to Calcutta via the Assam route where the Assam people imposed a tax on the transportation which hindered the free movement of goods, violating Article 301. Therefore, the tax imposed by the Assam people for allowing the goods to reach Calcutta was considered null and void.

B.R. Enterprises Vs State of Uttar Pradesh

The petitioner argued that the lotteries regulation act 1998, enacted by Uttar Pradesh, contravened Articles 301, 302, and 303 of the Indian Constitution. However, the Supreme Court stated that lotteries are akin to gambling and not a legitimate business based on effort and hard work. Therefore, Uttar Pradesh did not infringe on Article 301 of the Indian constitution.

Article 301 of the Constitution outlines three main rules:

  1. The promotion of free trade, commerce, and communication within and between states is essential.
  2. Regional interests cannot be overlooked.
  3. The Union has the power to intervene in cases of crisis that may arise in any part of India.

It should be noted that while freedom of trade is important, there are restrictions and regulations in place. For example, when transporting goods on roads or bridges, additional fees may be required at checkpoints along the way.


Trade and commerce have been prevalent in India since ancient times, starting from the Mauryan era, through the British era, and into the present day. Article 301 emphasizes the importance of free movement of trade without any barriers, aiming to unite India’s many states into a cohesive national economy.

Article 19(1)(g) grants individuals the freedom to choose their occupation, trade, and business. However, this right is subject to certain restrictions that are in place to ensure public safety and protect everyone’s rights. If there are any disputes regarding the violation of this right in business or trade, individuals can seek remedy under Article 32 for violation of fundamental rights under Article 19(1)(g). On the other hand, Article 301 does not allow for a writ petition. The restrictions outlined in Article 19(1)(g) are covered under Article 19(6) of the Indian constitution, while those in Article 301 fall under Article 302-307.

  1. Books / Commentaries:-
  • The Constitution of India – D.J.DE ( Volume 1and 3)
  • The Constitution of India – MJL’s volume 3
  • The Constitutional Law of India – H.M. Seervai.
  1. Online Articles / Sources Referred
    1. https://interstatecouncil.gov.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/CHAPTERXVIII.pdf
    2. https://www.centurylawfirm.in/blog/freedom-of-trade-commerce-and-intercourse-under-the-indian-constitution-1950/
    3. https://blog.ipleaders.in/freedom-trade-commerce-intercourse-articles-301-307-indian-constitution/
    4. https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-12002-trade-commerce-and-intercourse-arts-301-305-.html
    5. https://unacademy.com/content/upsc/study-material/polity/all-about-inter-state-trade-and-commerce/
    6. https://www.clearias.com/inter-state-trade-and-commerce/
  1. Cases Referred
  •  TMA Pai Foundation Vs State of Karnataka
  •  Sukumar Mukherjee versus state of West Bengal
  •  Atiabari Tea Co. Vs State of Assam
  •  B.R. Enterprises Vs State of Uttar Pradesh
  •  State of Bombay Vs R.M.D. Chamarbaugwalla
  1. Statutes Referred
    1. The Constitution of India

Leave a Reply