Article 15 – Constitution of India
TOPIC: General Studies 2:
- Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions & basic structure
In News: The film Article 15 revolves around the alleged 2014 gangrape and murder case involving two minor girls in Uttar Pradesh’s Badaun district. The two girls belonged to the Dalit Maurya community and were allegedly kidnapped, gangraped and hanged from a tree in Katra Sadatganj. The incident triggered a massive outrage with even United Nations condemning it and calling for immediate action against the perpetrators.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) though had concluded that both the girls committed suicide. The agency said that one of the girls was having an affair with an elder man and was spotted by a relative, which triggered events that to the double suicide.
What is the film about?
Before India became a Republic, B R Ambedkar, the father of the Indian Constitution had very aptly observed, “On the 26th of January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics, we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality… We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment…”
Seventy-two years after the Independence, that ‘earliest possible moment’ is yet to arrive.
Constitutionally speaking, Article 15 is the weapon that breaks the barriers of the upper caste and lower caste
The Article 15 comes under Part III in the Constitution of India, which deals with the fundamental rights of the citizens of India.
It states that the state shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of caste, religion, sex, race and place of birth. The use of world only means that discrimination on other grounds is not prohibited.
Article 15: Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth
- The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, and place of birth or any of them
- No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition with regard to
- Access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and palaces of public entertainment; or
- The use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly out of State funds or dedicated to the use of the general public
- Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children
- Nothing in this article or in clause (2) of Article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes
There are three exceptions to this general rule of non-discrimination:
- The state is permitted to make any special provisions to women and children. For example: reservation of seats for women in the local bodies and provision of free education to children.
- The state is free to make special arrangements for socially and educationally backward peoples or for Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes. For example: reservation of seats or fee concession in the public educational institutes.
- State can make special provisions for the betterment of the socially and educationally backward sections of the society or for the SCs and STs. For example: Provisions regarding admission in the educational institutions in the private institutes, whether aided or unaided by the state.
For proper implementation
- Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, which states that no person of the SC and ST shall be discriminated against or any violence undertaken on them, just because they belong to such category.
- Hindu Succession Act, 1956 ensures that the discrimination against women that they only had a limited owner’ status, was abolished and that they were given complete rights and powers regarding their property a power which the males already had under Hindu Law.
- Caste Disabilities Removal Act, 1850 which was meant to ensure that there was no discrimination based on the caste of the person, was recently repealed by the Central government. This was done as the government felt that the Act had become obsolete.
Other acts like:
- Maternity Benefits Act, 1961;
- Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
- Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016;
- Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 etc.
Note: In the SC judgment of NALSA vs UoI, the Court stated that Transgender should be recognised as the third gender and given equal rights and opportunities. This was all based on the premise that society discriminated against the said section of people. The Court ensured that this discrimination was done away with.