Legal GK: Fundamental Rights: Right to equality
- The Right to equality is provided in 5 articles of the Constitution.
- Article 14: Right to equality
- Article 15: Equality of opportunity
- Article 16: Equality of opportunity (employment)
- Article 17: Against Untouchablity
- Article 18: Abolition of Tiles
- The fundamental rights against state include:
Article 14,15,16,17 and 18.
- The fundamental rights against private person include:
Article 17 (uniqueness of the article)
- Right to Equality (Arts. 14): Article 14 declares that “the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or equal protection of the laws within the territory of India”.
- Thus, Article 14 stands for the establishment of a situation under which there is complete absence of any arbitrary discrimination by the laws themselves or in their administration.
- The Right to Equality affords protection not only against discriminatory laws passed by legislatures but also prevents arbitrary discretion being vested in the executive.
- Article 14 prevents discriminatory practices only by the State and not by individuals.
- For instance, if a private employer like the owner of a private business concern discriminates in choosing his employees or treats his employees, unequally, the person discriminated against will have no judicial remedy.
- ‘equality before law’:
- the absence of any special privileges in favour of any person,
- the equal subjection of all persons to the ordinary law of the land administered by ordinary law courts, and
- no person (whether rich or poor, high or low, official or non-official) is above the law.
- “equal protection of laws”
- the equality of treatment under equal circumstances, both in the privileges conferred and liabilities imposed by the laws,
- the similar application of the same laws to all persons who are similarly situated, and
- the like should be treated alike without any discrimination.
- The difference between “equality before the law” & “equal protection of laws”?
While equality a before the law is a somewhat negative concept implying the absence of any special privilege in favour of any individual and the equal subjection of all classes to the ordinary law, equal protection of laws is a more positive concept employing equality of treatment under equal circumstances.
- Prohibition of Discrimination on Certain Grounds (Art. 15): According to the Article, “the State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them’’
- Article 15 has, however, two notable exceptions in its application. The first of these permits the State to make special provision for the benefit of women and children.
- The second allows the State to make any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the SCs and STs.
- Equality of Opportunity in matters of Public Employment (Art. 16) According to this, the State is prohibited from showing any discrimination against any citizen on grounds of religion, caste, race, sex, descent, place of birth or residence.
- The next clauses are in the nature of exceptions. According to the first, residence qualifications may be made necessary in the case of appointments under the State for particular positions.
- The second exception is in favour of reservation of positions in public employment for any backward class of citizens. This is meant to help those who had very little share so far in public employment.
- The third exception seeks to take out of the scope of the general principle the management of the affairs of any religious or denominational institution under any special law providing for the same.
- Abolition of Untouchability (Art. 17) Article 17 abolishes “untouchability”. Its practice in any form is made an offence punishable under the law.
- Abolition of Titles (Article 18) Article 18 abolishes titles and makes four provisions in that regard:
- It prohibits the state from conferring any title (except a military or academic distinction) on anybody, whether a citizen or a foreigner.
- It prohibits a citizen of India from accepting any title from any foreign state.
- A foreigner holding any office of profit or trust under the state cannot accept any title from any foreign state without the consent of the president.
- No citizen or foreigner holding any office of profit or trust under the State is to accept any present, emolument or office from or under any foreign State without the consent of the president.