Article 15 – Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of Religion, Race, Caste, Sex or Place of birth

Article 15 of Indian Constitution :

  1. The State shall not discriminate against any Indian citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.
  2. No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition with regard to-
    • Access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment: or
    • the use of well, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly out of state funds or dedicated to the use of general public.
  3. Nothing contained in this article shall prevent the state from making any special provision for women and children.
  4. 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 background classes of citizens or for the scheduled caste and scheduled tribes.
  5. Nothing contained 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 caste or the schedule tribes in so far as such special provisions relates 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.
  6. Nothing in this article or sub-clause (g) of article 19 or Clause(2) of article 29 shall prevent the state from making-
    • Any special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker section of citizens other than the classes mentioned in clause (4) and (5) : and
    • Any special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than the classes mentioned in clauses 4 and 5 in so far as such special provisions relate to their admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions, whether aided by the state or not other than the minority educational institutions mentioned in clause(1) of article 30, which in the case of reservation would be in addition to the existing reservations and subject to a maximum of 10% of the total seats in each category.

Explanation: For the purpose of this article and article 16, “economically weaker section” shall be such section as may be notified by the state from time to time on the basis of their family income and other indicators of economic disadvantage.

 

Article 15(1)

It binds the state from discriminating its Citizens on the following grounds only.

  • Religion
  • Race
  • Caste
  • Sex
  • Place of birth

This clause covers only Citizens & does not apply to Non-Citizens.

Beside the grounds given in Article 15(1), the State can discriminate among its Citizens.

D.P Joshi VS. State of Madhya Bharat 1955 S.C

This case is popularly known as first Capitation fee case. Here a rule was framed for the admission to State medical colleges, required the payment of capitation fee from Non-Madhya Bharat students. The madhya bharat students were exempted from the payment of capitation fee.

The rule which discriminated students on the ground of residence was upheld by the Supreme Court, as not violative of article 15(1). The Hon’ble court held that “place of birth” as given in article 15(1) is different from residence” And the State can discriminate its citizens on the basis of it.

 

Article 15(2)

It contains prohibition of general nature and is not confined to state only. It means that this Clause is binding on citizens itself.

 

Article 15(3)

  • According to this clause, the state is not prevented from making any special provision for women and children.
  • This clause serves as an exception to Article 15(1).

Kerala state electricity board Thiruvananthapuram VS. Siniya mol 2008 Kerala

The exclusion of women is not exclusively based on sex but taking into consideration the peculiar nature of duties to be performed by electricity workers, is not violative of article 15 of constitution.

Public Service Commission, Uttaranchal VS.  Mamta bisht, AIR 2010 S.C

The Hon’ble Supreme court held that the principle that reserved category candidate getting appointed against non reserved post will not be counted against reserved quota. It applies only to vertical reservations, but not to horizontal reservation for women and handicapped persons.

Life Insurance Corporation of India VS. Rajiv khosla 2012 AIR Delhi H.C

The action where the life insurance policy for child is based on stipulation to the effect that it shall stand cancelled in case the life assured dies before the defer date, the action of the cooperation is not unfair as regards the deferred date under special conditions.

Rajeshkumar Gupta VS. State of Uttar Pradesh AIR 2005 S.C

The hon’ble court held that the reservation of 50% of posts in favour of female candidates is not arbitrary.

Union of India VS. K.P Prabhakaran 1997 SCC

Reservation of certain post exclusively for women is valid under article 15 (3), article 15 covers every sphere of state action.

 

Girdhar VS. State AIR 1953 MB

&

Yusuf VS. State of Bombay AIR 1954 SC

Clause 3 of article 15, which permits special provision for women and children has been widely resorted to and the Courts have upheld the validity of special measures in legislation or executive order favouring women. In particular, provisions in the criminal law in favour of women, or in the procedural law discriminating in favour of women, have been upheldby the court.

 

Dattatraya VS. State of Bombay AIR 1953 Bom.

&

P.Sagar VS. State of Andhra Pradesh AIR 1968 AP

Provisions providing for reservation of seats for women in local bodies or in educational institutions are valid.

 

Article 15(4)

  • Clause (4) was added by the Constitutional First Amendment Act with effect from 18th June 1951.
  • The object of this amendment was to enable the state to make special provisions for the advancement of socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the scheduled caste and scheduled tribes.
  • The purpose of this amendment was also to override the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s Judgement in champakam case.

State of Madras VS. Champakam dorairajan 1951 S.C

In this case, the Madras government fixed proportion of students of each community to be admitted in the state medical colleges on the basis of race, religion and caste. It was challenged as violative of article 15.

The state in defence argued that article 46 of DPSP requires that the state should promote educational and economic interest of weaker sections.

“The Supreme Court held that DPSP have to conform and run subsidiary to fundamental rights.”

Insertion of clause 4

As article 15 originally enacted, did not contain clause 4. It was inserted by the Constitutional First Amendment Act, 1951 as a result of the decision in the case of champakam dorairajan, which set aside reservation of seats in educational institutions on the basis of caste and community.

One of the objects of the constitutional First Amendment was to bring article 15 and 29 in line with article 16(4).

Gulshan Prakash VS. State of Haryana 2010 S.C

It was held that the principle behind article 15(4) is that a preferential treatment can be given validly when the socially and educationally backward classes need it. This article enables the state government to make provisions for the upliftment of schedule castes and scheduled tribes including reservation of seats for admission to educational institutions.

It was also held that article 15 (4) is not an exception but only makes a special application of the principle of reasonable classification.

Article 15(4) does not makes any mandatory provision for reservation and the power to make reservation under article 15 (4) is discretionary and no writ can be issued to effect such reservation. Such special provision may be made not only by the legislature but by the executive also.

So the state government is competent authority to decide the question of reservation of seats for SC and ST in medical colleges.

 

Article 15(5)

  • Clause 5 was added by the constitutional 93rd amendment act, 2005 with effect from 20th January 2006.
  • It empowers the state to make laws containing special provisions favouring socially and educationally backward classes of citizens and scheduled caste and scheduled tribes for the purpose of admissions to educational institutions. Such institutions may be run by the state or by private institutions. They may be aided or unaided But the law cannot touch minority educational institutions referred in article 30(1).

Ashoka Kumar thakur VS. Union of India 2008 AIR S.C

It was held that the act of 2005, introducing article 15( 5) does not interfere with executive power of state and not invalid for not following procedure under article 368.

Indian Medical Association VS. Union of India 2011 S.C

It was held that clause 5 of article 15 is an enabling provision and inserted by the constitutional 93rd amendment act of 2005 by use of powers of amendment given in article 368.

This amendment act of 2005 was in response to this Court’s explanation in P.A inamdar case that imposition of reservations on non-minority unaided educational institutions covered by article 19(1)(g) to be unreasonable restrictions and not covered by article 19 (6).

The purpose of the amendment was to clarify or amend the constitution in a manner that what was held to be unreasonable would now be reasonable by virtue of the constitutional status given to such measures.

 

Article 15(6)

This clause was added by the Constitutional 124th amendment act, 2019.

Objects and reasons riding this clause

  • At present economically weaker sections of citizens have largely remained excluded from attending the higher educational institutions and public employment on account of their financial incapacity to compete with the persons who are economically more privileged. The benefits of existing reservations under clauses 4 and 5 of article 15 and clause 4 of article 16 are generally unavailable to them unless they meet the specific criteria of social and educational backwardness provided there.
  • The directive principles of state policy contained in article 46 of the constitution enjoins that the state shall promote with special care, the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people and in particular, of the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.
  • With a view to fulfill the mandate of article 46 and to ensure that economically weaker sections of citizens get a fair chance of receiving higher education and participation in employment in the services of the state, it has been decided to amend the Constitution of India.

 


Also Read:

What is State?

Historical background of Indian Constitution

Fundamental Rights – Complete Basics

 

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