DETAILED ANALYSIS ON ARTICLE -15 [Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth]

    INTRODUCTION:- Fundamental Rights are guaranteed to all persons by the constitution of India without any discrimination of caste, religion, sex etc. These rights entitle an individual to live life with dignity. These rights are given to every individual so that they won’t face any discrimination in any field on the basis caste, creed, color, religion.

    • Originally the constitution provided 7 Fundamental Rights but as of now, there are just 6 Fundamental Rights in force. They are;

    1. Rights to equality (Article 14-18)

    2. Rights to freedom (Article 19-22)

    3. Right against exploitation (Article 23-24)

    4. Right to freedom of religion (Article 25-28)

    5. Cultural and educational rights (Article 29-30)

    6. Rights to constitutional remedies (Article 32)

    Article 15 restricts discrimination on the ground of: •Religion – It means that no person should be discriminated on the basis of religion from accessing any public place or policy by the state or any group.

    Race – Ethnic origin should not form a basis of discrimination. For example, a citizen of Afghan origin should not be discriminated from those of an Indian origin.

    Caste – Discrimination on the basis of caste is also prohibited to prevent atrocities on the lower castes by the upper caste.

    Sex – Gender of an individual shall not be a valid ground for discrimination in any matter. For example, discriminating transgenders, females, etc.

    Place of birth – A place where an individual is born should not become a reason for discriminating among other members of the country.

    The world “discrimination” refers to variations done to a person if he/she belongs to particular religion, or belongs to different race, is of different sex or has brought up in any backward area, if on this basis the person is deprived of opportunities then it’s violation of Article -15 as mentioned above.

    BACKGROUND:- The reason behind the introduction of these provisions was than in Pre-indenependence India, especially in the caste system, it was observed that one section became superior and then start undermining the interior caste people. The discrimination started in Pre-indenependence India where people started seeing the people on the basis of their works, caste, religion, creed, color. People cleaning manholes, polishing shoes, serving others, cleaning houses were seen with so much disrespect and are labelled as untouchables(Harijans) .

    There were many restrictions imposed on the untouchables (now called as harijans by Gandhi ji) /lower caste people that they can’t study in school, they can’t sit with superior caste, they can’t be anywhere around where there are superior caste people, they can’t go to temple, they won’t be able to do government jobs. This causes many issues, hatred against each other.

    To put an end to these kind of discriminations, In December 1946,when the Constituent assembly of India met for the very first time , the drafting committee chaired by BR Ambedkar, went through various Constitutions of world to pick out the basic features while framing the Constitution of India.

    After suffering and being denied by Britishers for giving Indians the most basic civil rights, the makers of Indian Constitution made sure to honour the individual freedom of every Indian citizen with some Fundamental rights to abolish discrimination.

    Article 12 to 35 of the Indian constitution, which consists of a total of 448 articles, talk about Fundamental rights. Article 15, which is further broken down into 4 points, deals with the right to equality of an individual.

    BARE ACT INTERPRETATION:- 15. Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth

    (1) The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them

    (2) 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

    (a) access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and palaces of public entertainment; or

    (b) 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

    (3) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children

    (4) 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.

    ILLUSTRATION:- 15.Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth (1) The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.

    (2) 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—

    (a) access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment; or

    (b) 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

    (3) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children

    (4) 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.

    (5) Nothing in this article or in sub-clause (g) of clause (1) of article 19 shall prevent the State from making any special provision, by law, for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes in so far as such special provisions relate to their admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the State, other than the minority educational institutions referred to in clause (1) of article 30.

    (6) Nothing in this article or sub-clause (g) of clause (1) of article 19 or clause (2) of article 29 shall prevent the State from making,—

    (a) Any special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than the classes mentioned in clauses (4) and (5); and

    (b) Any special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than the classes mentioned in clauses (4) and (5) in so far as such special provisions relate to their admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the State, other than the minority educational institutions referred to in clause (1) of article 30, which in the case of reservation would be in addition to the existing reservations and subject to a maximum of ten per cent. Of the total seats in each category.

    Explanation.—For the purposes of this article and article 16, “economically weaker sections” shall be such as may be notified by the State from time to time on the basis of family income and other indicators of economic disadvantage.

    CASE LAW INTERPRETATION:-

    1.Nainsukhdas v. State of Uttar Pradesh , air 1953

    In the above mentioned case the state election commission sets up different electoral boards for different religions, which were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme court of India
    *Under this clause the state shall not do any kind of discrimination to it’s citizens.

    2.Champakam Dorai Ranjan v. State of Madras, air 1951

    In the above case the state reserved some seats for the backward classes of the society but Supreme court declares it unconstitutional but the state says that according to article 46 of the Indian constitution the state can reserve seats for the weaker section of the society but still the Supreme court declares it unconstitutional by saying that Directive Principles of the State policy cannot over-ride the fundamental rights but still the 1st amendment of the constitution was done.

    3.M.R Balaji v. State of Mysore, air 1962
    Here in the above mentioned case the reservation done went upto 68% which was further declared to be unconstitutional but after that the Mandal commission case came into the picture which declared that the reservation upto 50% is valid and above that is not valid i.e will be declared as unconstitutional.

    4.T.M Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka , air, 2003 it was held that, it is the discretionary power of the state that they can or cannot impose the restrictions regarding the admission of the backward classes.

    CONCLUSION/CURRENT STATUS :-
    Article 15 has always hurdled its way out to reach to the one really in need. The condition of the downtrodden has highly improved since its inception in 1949. It provides a base to each and everything that legislature needs to formulate provisions to promote harmony in the society. There is an extreme decline in the number of cases of atrocities against the underprivileged classes.There is much more improvement been made since the introduction of article -15. Government Held many campaigns regarding the awareness of the abolition of discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, color, religion, sex.

    Article 15 truly is the guardian of downtrodden and a shield against discrimination, it has helped the Indian society to stand tall and proud despite such a huge diversity and all kinds of sexism, racism and rigid caste system and will continue to contribute to India’s unity and equality, forever.Article 15 has provided basic rights to every section of the society, Many people who were not given platform because of their religion, caste, creed, color, sex are not an equal part of Indian society and are been given the same rights as provided to superior caste.
    Article 15 has put an end to the system of discrimination going on since Pre-independence period. Now everyone is equal in the eye of law and provided the same rights to everyone.

    NAME : BARKHA JAIN
    COURSE : BA. LLB HONOURS
    COLLEGE : MDU -CPAS, GURUGRAM