Articles From COI Related to RIGHT to EQUALITY - INDIA

The Right to Equality is one of the chief guarantees of the Constitution. It is embodied in Articles 14–16, which collectively encompass the general principles of equality before the law and non-discrimination and Articles 17–18 which collectively encompass further the philosophy of social equality.

Article 14

Article 14 guarantees equality before law as well as equal protection of the law to all people within the territory of India. This includes the equal subjection of all persons to the authority of law, as well as equal treatment of persons in similar circumstances. The latter permits the State to classify persons for legitimate purposes, provided there is a reasonable basis for the same, meaning that the classification is required to be non-arbitrary, based on a method of intelligible differentiation among those sought to be classified, as well as have a rational relation to the object sought to be achieved by the classification.

Article 15

Article 15 prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, or any of them. This right can be enforced against the State as well as private individuals, with regard to free access to places of public entertainment or places of public resort maintained partly or wholly out of State funds. However, the State is not precluded from making special provisions for women and children or any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens, including the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. This exception has been provided since the classes of people mentioned therein are considered deprived and in need of special protection.

Article 16

Article 16 guarantees equality of opportunity in matters of public employment and prevents the State from discriminating against anyone in matters of employment on the grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, place of residence or any of them. It creates exceptions for the implementation of measures of affirmative action for the benefit of any backward class of citizens in order to ensure adequate representation in public service, as well as reservation of an office of any religious institution for a person professing that particular religion.

Article 17

Article 17 abolishes the practice of untouchability in any form, making it an offense punishable by law. The Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 was enacted by Parliament to further this objective.

Article 18

Article 18 prohibits the State from conferring any titles other than military or academic distinctions, and the citizens of India cannot accept titles from a foreign state. Thus, Indian aristocratic titles and title of nobility conferred by the British have been abolished. However, Military and academic distinctions can be conferred on the citizens of India. The awards of Bharat Ratna and Padma Vibhushan cannot be used by the recipient as a title and do not, accordingly, come within the constitutional prohibition". The Supreme Court, on 15 December 1995, upheld the validity of such awards.