Right to Equality means that all citizens enjoy equal privileges and opportunities.
It protects the citizens against any discrimination by the State on the basis of religion, caste, race, sex, or place of birth.
Right to Equality includes five types of equalities.
Equality before Law [Article 14]
According to the Constitution, “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or equal protection of laws within the territory of India”.
‘Equality before law’ means that no person is above law and all are equal before the law, every individual has equal access to the courts.
‘Equal protection of laws’ means that if two persons belonging to two different communities commit the same crime, both of them will get the same punishment.
No Discrimination on Grounds of Religion, Race, Caste, Sex, Place of Birth or any of them [Article 15]
No citizen shall be denied access to shops, restaurants, and places of public entertainment.
Neither shall anyone be denied the use of wells, tanks, bathing Ghats, roads, etc. maintained wholly or partly out of State funds.
However, the State is empowered to make special provisions for women, children and for the uplift of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward classes (OBC’s).
The State can reserve seats for these categories in educational institutions, grant fee concessions or arrange special coaching classes.
Equality of Opportunity in Matters of Public Employment [Article 16]
Indian Constitution guarantees equality of opportunity in matters relating to employment or appointment to public services to all citizens.
There shall be no discrimination on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or residence in matters relating to employment in public services.
However, certain limitations have been provided to the enjoyment of these rights.
Abolition of Untouchability [Article 17]
The Constitution abolishes untouchability and its practice in any form is forbidden.
The following actions are considered offenses when committed on the grounds of untouchability.
- refusing admission to any person to the public institutions
- preventing any person from worshipping in place of public worship
- insulting a member of Scheduled Caste on the grounds of untouchability
- preaching untouchability directly or indirectly
Abolition of Titles [Article 18]
All titles national or foreign which create artificial distinctions in social status amongst the people have been abolished.
This provision has been included in the Constitution to do away with the titles like ‘Rai Sahib’, ‘Rai Bahadur’ have been conferred by the British on a few Indians as a reward for their effective co-operation to the colonial regime.
The practice of conferring titles like this is against the doctrine of equality before the law.
To recognise the meritorious service rendered by individual citizens to the country or mankind, the President of India can confer civil and military awards on those individuals for their services and achievements such as; Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padam Sri, Param Veer Chakra, Veer Chakra etc., but these cannot be used on ‘titles’.