Article 15 of Indian Constitution : Know Your Fundamental Rights

Article 15 of Indian Constitution : Know Your Fundamental Rights

India is a secular, democratic and republic nation that has created all the necessarily provisions to safeguard the interests of all the segments of the country’s population. Here we look in detail what Article 15 of the Indian Constitution says.

Provisions under Article 15:

Article 15(1)

It prohibits the the state from discriminating against a citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth.

 

Article 15 (2)

Article 15(2) elaborates that no Indian citizen can be discriminated against on basis of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth. It states that no citizen shall be denied access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and palaces of public entertainment. It also adds that no citizen shall be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition with 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.

 

Article 15 (3) and (4)

The Article also states that the article cannot be used as an argument to make special provisions for women, children, or any other backward classes. “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,” the article states.

 

Article 15 (5)

An amendment was made in the article in 2018 after the government announced a 10% reservation in colleges and universities for economically weaker sections. It states, “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.]”

 

Article 15(1) of the Constitution of India reads, “The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them”. In the interpretation of this provision, courts have placed emphasis on the word “only” to imply that only discrimination on a single ground is suspect under Article 15, thus excluding intersectional discrimination from its scope. For instance, the Calcutta High Court in Mahadeb v Dr. BB Sen held, “The impugned law must be shown to discriminate because of sex alone. If other factors in addition to sex come into play in making the discriminatory law, then such discrimination does not, in my judgment, come within the provision of Article 15(1) of the Constitution”. In Dattatraya Motiram v State of Bombay, the Bombay High Court accepted a form of discriminatory treatment as constitutionally valid, arguing, “If there is a discrimination in favor of a particular sex, that discrimination would be permissible provided it is not only on the ground of sex, or, in other words, the classification on the ground of sex is permissible provided that classification is the result of other considerations”. This trend was confirmed in Air India v Nergesh Meerza, where the Supreme Court stated, “[W]hat Articles 15(1) and 16(2) prohibit is that discrimination should not be made only and only on the ground of sex. These Articles of the Constitution do not prohibit the State from making discrimination on the ground of sex coupled with other considerations.

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