What is Right to Equality?
Article 14 to 18 of the Indian Constitution provides provisions for the Right to equality fundamental rights. The Right to Equality is one among them that provides equal rights to all Indian Citizens without discrimination based on gender, religion, birthplace, race or caste. The Right to Equality is considered an essential feature of the Constitution of India that aims to remove all inequalities based on social, economic, or religious norms.
There are various types of quality that is covered in the Indian Constitution.
- Social Equality
- Political Equality
- Economic Equality
- Legal Equality
Right to Equality Article
Article 14 to 18 of the Indian Constitution provides the Right to Equality. The basic overview of Articles in the Indian Constitution that has the provision for the Right to Equality is as under-
Article 14 to 18 of Indian Constitution
Article 14 of Indian Constitution
Equality before law
Prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, caste, religion, or place of birth
Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment
Abolition of untouchability
Abolition of titles
Article 14 of the Indian Constitution
According to Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, the State shall not deny any person Equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. The term any person represents a natural person (i.e., citizens and foreigners) and legal persons as well, viz, companies, statutory corporations, registered societies, etc. Article 14 of the Indian Constitution has British and American origins.
The British concept of Equality before law denotes-
- Absence of any special privileges in favour of any person.
- Equal subjection of all persons to the ordinary law of the land administered by common law courts.
- No person is above the law- rich or poor, high or low status, official or non-official- all are equal before the law.
The American concept of equal protection of the laws-
- Equality of treatment under similar circumstances, both in the privileges conferred and liabilities imposed by the rules,
- A similar application of the same rules to all persons who are similarly situated, and
- The like should be treated alike without any discrimination.
The Supreme Court viewed Article 14, which embodies the 'Rule of Law, as an 'essential feature of the constitution. Hence, it cannot be destroyed even by an amendment by the Parliament.
Right to Equality Article 15
Article 15 of the Indian Constitution prohibits discrimination based on caste, race, religion, sex, or birthplace. It involves 5 Sub-clause. These Sub-clauses are as under-
- Article 15(1)- According to Article 15(1) of the Indian Constitution, the State shall not discriminate among people on the above-mentioned grounds, i.e., caste, race, religion, sex, or birthplace. This sub-clause applies to all Indian states, and an individual can enjoy protection under this provision if he/she faces discrimination regarding liabilities, rights, or any privilege.
- Article 15(2)- According to Article 15(2) of the Indian Constitution, any Indian citizen subject to any liability, disability, restriction, or condition can make use of roads, public resorts maintained by the State funds partly or wholly, tanks, wells, or bathing ghats. Also, they can access the hotels, palaces, public restaurants and shops.
- Article 15(3)- According to the third sub-clause of Article 15 of the Indian Constitution, the state/Parliament can make any special provision for children and women. It is an exception to the rule against discrimination. Also, as per this Article, there is a reservation of 50% for women in primary school teacher recruitment.
- Article 15(4)- As per Article 15(4), the State can make special provisions for empowering the Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes or any other educationally backward classes.
- Article 15(5)- Article 15(5) of the Indian Constitution states that there should be reservations for the educationally and socially backwards classes. Along with this, the educational institutions that are aided by State are subjected to the exclusion of the upper and creamy layer from the other backward classes.
Article 16 of the Indian Constitution
Article 16 of the Indian Constitution has the provision to provide equal opportunities for employment for all the citizens in the State. Article 16 has the following requirements-
- Article 16(1)- It guarantees an individual's employment and includes initial appointments, salary matters, promotions, and termination.
- Article 16(2)- It prohibits discrimination based on caste, race, religion, residence, sex, birthplace, or descent.
- Article 16(3)- According to Article 16(3), the provision in Article 16(2) can be extended by the Parliament. This power is not applicable in the case of Union appointments.
- Article 16(4)- Article 16(4) of the Indian Constitution was introduced after the Mandal Commission case as an exception to the 50% limit for backlog vacancies.
- Article 16(5)- Article 16(5) of the Indian constitution states that appointments in a religious institution are restricted to a specific religion only.
Article 17 of the Indian Constitution
Article 17 of the Indian constitution deals with the abolition of Untouchability. According to this Article, the practice of Untouchability is not allowed and is abolished in all forms. Also, if any kind of disability results from the practice of Untouchability is a punishable offence, the Parliament can make any law to punish the same.
Article 18 of the Indian Constitution
Article 18 of the Indian Constitution deals with the abolition of the following-
- The State shall not confer any title except for military or academic designations.
- Also, the titles should not be accepted by a foreign state and abolished like Khan Bhadur or Rai Bahadur.
- Awards like Param Vir Chakra, Ashok Chakra, Bharat Ratna, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, and Padma Shri do not belong to such categories.
Exceptions to the Right of Equality
Right to Equality has the following expectations under the various provisions of under Indian Constitution-
- Article 361: The President of India and the Governor of States enjoy the immunities:
- They are not answerable to any court for the exercise and performance of the powers and duties of their office.
- No criminal proceedings shall be instituted.
- No process for arrest or imprisonment during the term of office.
- No civil proceeding against them until the expiration of two months next after notice in writing has been delivered to the President or Governor.
- Article 361A: No person shall be liable to any proceedings, civil or criminal, in any court in respect of the publication in a newspaper (or television or broadcast utilizing wireless telegraphy) of a substantially accurate report of any proceedings of either House of Parliament or either House of the Legislature of a State.
- Article 105: No member of Parliament (MP) shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said or any vote given by him in Parliament or any committee thereof.
- Article 194: No member of a state legislature (MLA) shall be liable to any proceedings in any court regarding anything said or any vote given by him in Parliament or any committee thereof.
- Article 31(c): The Supreme Court declared that when Article 31(C) comes in, Article 14 goes out. Article 31 (C) protects laws made to effect Article 39 from being challenged in any court for violating Article 14.
- Foreign rulers, ambassadors, and diplomats enjoy immunity from criminal and civil proceedings.
- The UNO and its agencies also enjoy diplomatic immunity.
Right to Equality UPSC
Right to Equality is a prime topic for the IAS Exam concerning the fundaments rights as per the Indian Constitution. Questions are asked about the topic in the UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains Exam. So, the aspirants need to have a detailed understanding of the topic. You can learn about the Right to Equality and other related topics by going through the NCERT Books for UPSC and UPSC Study Material. You can also refer to UPSC Books to get a hold of the UPSC Syllabus.
The right to Equality is one of the fundamental rights. Thus, it is an important topic concerning the IAS Exam. So, candidates need to have a complete understanding of the topic.
Right to Equality UPSC Questions
A few of the Right to Equality UPSC Questions that have been asked in the UPSC Prelims and Mains exam are under-.
Questions- Prelims Questions- One of the implications of Equality in society is the absence of:
Question- Assertion (A): The principle of Equality before the law means that there should be Equality of treatment under identical circumstances.
Reason (R): All persons are not equal by nature, attainment, or circumstances.
- Both A and R are individually true, and R is the correct explanation of A
- Both A and R are individually true, but R is not the correct explanation of A
- A is true, but R is false
- A is false, but R is true
Question for Mains- Analyze the distinguishing features of the notion of the Right to Equality in the Constitutions of the USA and India. (250 Words)