INFORMATION ON FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT TO EQUALITY : ARTICLES 14-18

Here I am going to share with you all some of the major articles of the Constitution of India that we need to know.

Part lll of the Constitution contains a long list of fundamental rights. Magna Carta of India describes this Chapter of the Constitution very well. A written document, Magna Carta is the first written document relating to the fundamental rights of citizens. 

For protecting the rights and liberties of the citizens, fundamental rights were deemed essential. 

In Nagraj v. Union of India, AIR 2007 SC 71, the Supreme Court held that Part 3 confirms the existence of fundamental rights and give them protection. Because of their inherent values, these rights are important. 



Fundamental Rights can be classified as follows:- 
(a) Right to equality(Articles 14-18).
(b) Right to freedom(Articles 19-22).
(c) Right against exploitation (Article 23-24).
(d) Right to freedom of religion (Articles 25-28).
(e) Cultural and educational rights(Articles 29-30).
(f)  Right to constitutional remedies(Articles 32-35).

Fundamental Right to equality to every citizen of India is guaranteed in the Constitution of India from Articles 14 to 18. The general principles of equality before the law is given under Article 14 and this article also prohibits discrimination between persons. 

The subsequent Articles 15 guarantees prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. Article 16 relates to equality of opportunity in matters of public employment. Article 17 prohibits 'Untouchability'. Article 18 revokes 'Title'.

RIGHT TO EQUALITY (Article 14)

Article 14 says 'Within the territory of India, the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws'.  Thus Article 14 uses two expressions. The phrase 'equality before law' is of English origin and the second phrase has been taken from the American Constitution. The only aim of these phrases is to establish "equality of status". 

Dr. Jennings describes it as: "Equality before the law means like should be treated alike. Among equal, the law should be equal and should be equally administered".

Equal protection of the Laws means that there should be no discrimination between persons and in a similar situation, equal law should be applied. 

In the case of Indira Nehru Gandhi v. Raj Narain, AIR 1975 SC 2299 Court held that "The basic feature of the Indian Constitution is the Rule of Law in Article 14 and it cannot be ruined even by an amendment of the Constitution". 

In Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, AIR 1978 SC 597, Bhagwati, J., said "......With many aspects and dimensions, equality is a dynamic concept and within traditional limits, it cannot be locked up". 

In Randhir Singh v. Union of India, AIR 1982 SC 879, the Supreme Court held that the principle of 'equal pay for equal work' is definitely a constitutional goal under Article 14.

 EXCLUSION OF DISCRIMINATION (Article 15)


No citizen shall be discriminated on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them. The state shall make any special provision for women and children, for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes as it deems fit. 

In D. P. Joshi v. State of M. B., AIR 1955 SC 334, the court held that a law that discriminates on the basis of residence does not violate Article 15. 

In State of Madras v. Champakam Dorairajan, AIR 1951 SC 226, the Supreme Court held that the Directive Principles of State Policy cannot override the Fundamental Rights.

EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY (Article 16)


Article 16 goes as "Equal opportunity in public employment for all Indian citizens. The state shall not discriminate on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, residence or any of them in matters of appointment in state services". 

In Madan Mohan Sharma v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 2008 SC 1657, the court held that once an advertisement is issued the selection procedure should continue as per advertisement. No change can be made during the pendency. 

In State of Haryana v. Rajpal Sharma, AIR 1997 SC 449, the court held that the teachers employed in private schools in the State of Haryana are entitled to the same pay as is paid to teachers employed in Government schools. 



ABOLITION OF UNTOUCHABILITY (Article 17)


Article 17 guarantees prohibition of untouchability and its practice. Untouchability shall be an offence punishable if it arises out of the enforcement of any disability. There isn't any definition of the term 'untouchability'. 

In Asiad Project Workers Case, AIR 1982 SC 1473, it has been held that the state should take necessary steps to ensure that these fundamental rights are not violated. 

ABOLITION OF TITLES (Article 18)


Whether a citizen or non-citizen, Article 18 prohibits the state to confer titles on anybody. Article 18(2) forbids an Indian citizen from receiving any title from any foreign state. Article 18(3) says without the consent of the President, a foreigner holding any office of profit or trust under the state cannot receive any title from any foreign state. Article 18(4) goes as without the consent of the President, no person holding any office of profit or trust under the state shall accept, any profit or benefit or office under any foreign state.

In Balaji Raghavan v. Union of India, (1996) 1 SCC 361, the Supreme Court held that National Awards are not "titles" within the meaning of Article 18.

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