Article 15 – Right Against Discrimination

“Priya wanted to get admission to a college to pursue her bachelor’s degree. For the admission, only the marks of the candidates were to be considered. However, Priya was denied admission because she was not born in the same State in which the college was established.
Priya went to Mr. Lexi, and came to know that she has been discriminated against on the basis of the place of birth which means that her fundamental right has been violated.”

Introduction

Does the Indian Constitution provide against discrimination on various grounds?

Yes, Article 15 of the Indian Constitution talks about the prohibition of discrimination.

What is the nature of Article 15?

Under Article 15, the right against discrimination is a fundamental right.

What does Article 15 provide for?

It prohibits the State from not discriminating against any citizen on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.

On whom is Article 15 of the Constitution applicable?

It is applicable to the citizens of the country.

CONTENTS OF ARTICLE 15

What are the components of Article 15?
  • Grounds upon which discrimination is prohibited.
  • Instances where the citizens shall not be subject to any discrimination.
  • Special provisions for women and children.
  • Special provisions for the advancement of socially and economically backward classes of citizens.
What are the grounds of discrimination mentioned in Article 15?
  • Religion
  • Race
  • Caste
  • Sex
  • Place of birth.
What are the grounExplain the ground of ‘religion’.

There shall be no discrimination on the ground of citizens belonging to different ethnic groups.

Explain the ground of ‘caste’.

The socially backward caste system which was a practice in India for many years is prohibited under this Article.

Explain the ground of ‘sex’.

On the basis of gender, there shall be no discrimination to ensure equality of the sexes.

Explain the ground of ‘place of birth’.

The place of birth of any person shall not be a basis of discrimination.

What are the restrictions that shall be prohibited under Article 15?

Under Article 15, citizens on the grounds of only religion, race, caste, sex and place of birth shall not be subject to any-

  • Disability,
  • Liability,
  • Restriction and
  • Condition, with regard to
  • access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and palaces of public entertainment,
  • 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.
What is meant by the term positive discrimination?

The State has been given the power to make special provisions with respect to women and children. This, however, will not amount to prohibited discrimination. Rather it is known as positive discrimination.

RESERVATIONS

What are the different categories for which the State has the power to make special provisions?
  • Women
  • Children
  • Socially backward classes
  • Educationally backward classes
  • Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • Admission to educational institutions, public or private whether aided by the State or not.
Which Article can be termed as the cornerstone of reservations in India?

Article 15 has to be given credit for being the cornerstone of reservations in India.

What is the objective that is sought to be achieved from the positive discrimination?

An equal platform shall be provided to the suppressed and underprivileged classes of the society so that they can uplift their socio-economic status.

What is the concept of reservation within reservation?

It is a situation where reservation is provided to a particular class that is already in the reservation category. EXAMPLE- The Maratha reservation in Maharashtra for candidates already falling under the OBC reservation in Maharashtra.

Is there any limit upon the reservation being provided by the State?

Yes, the total reservations to be provided shall not exceed 50% of the total seats/posts.

Does sexual harassment at the workplace fall under the ambit of Article 15?

Yes, as women face instances of sexual harassment at the workplace, there is a need to enact provisions against such acts which can be done under the scope of Article 15. Additionally, The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (‘PoSH Act’) has been enacted to prevent, prohibit and redress acts of sexual harassment against women at the workplace.

In A Nutshell

  • Article 15 of the Constitution provides for the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, and place of birth.
  • Additionally, no citizen shall be subjected to any liability, disability, restriction, or any condition while accessing the public property on the above-mentioned grounds.
  • This Article is a fundamental right and is applicable to all the citizens of the country.
  • Positive discrimination refers to reservations that can be made for specific categories for their upliftment and social betterment which is not prohibited under Article 15.
  • Such reservations can be made for women, children, socially and educationally backward classes, and in educational institutes. However, the limit for such reservations is 50%.

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