This article is a compilation of Article 15 as it is. You can understand it well, that’s why its explanation is also given below, you must read it. Its explanation is also available in Hindi, for this you can use the link given below;

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Article 15
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📖 Read This Article in Hindi

📜 Article 15

15. Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth— (1) The State shall not discriminate against any 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—

(a) access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment; or

(b) 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.

(3) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children.

1[(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 backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.]

2[(5) Nothing 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 Castes or the Scheduled Tribes in so far as such special provisions relate 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.]

3[(6) Nothing in this article or sub-clause (g) of clause (1) of article 19 or clause (2) of article 29 shall prevent the State from making,—

(a) any special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker sections of citizens other than the classes mentioned in clauses (4) and (5); and

(b) 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 or unaided by the State, other than the minority educational institutions referred to 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 ten per cent. of the total seats in each category.

Explanation — For the purposes of this article and article 16, “economically weaker sections” shall be such as may be notified by the State from time to time on the basis of family income and other indicators of economic disadvantage. ]
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1. Added by the Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951, s.2 (wef. 18-6-1951).
2. Ins. by the Constitution (Ninety-third Amendment) Act, 2005, s.2 (w.e.f. 20-1-2006).
3. Ins. by the Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019, s. 2 (wef. 14-1-2019).
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🔍 Explanation

Right to Equality has been described from Articles 14 to 18 of Part 3 of the Constitution. Which can be seen in the chart below. The second article of this is Article 15, which talks about “prohibition of discrimination on the basis of religion, race, sex and place of birth”.

right to equality
| Article 14 – Equality before law and equal protection of laws
| Article 15 – Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, sex and place of birth
| Article 16 – Equality of opportunity in public employment
| Article 17 – Abolition of untouchability
| Article 18 – Abolition of titles

Equality is a fundamental element for the establishment of a public welfare state because it prevents us from social, economic, political deprivation.

We have understood under Article 14 how equality has been tried to be established with the help of the principle of “equality before law and equal protection of laws”.

The sequel to the same is Article 15, although Article 15 is only for Indian citizens while Article 14 applies to all persons living in India. Let us understand each of its provisions;

| Article 15 – Prohibition of discrimination on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth

(1) The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth.

That is, all Indian citizens are equal in the eyes of the state. For example, let’s say that the government planted a hand pump, then the government cannot deny a particular caste to drink water from that hand pump.

  • One thing is worth noting here that ‘only’ is used in that statement, it means that discrimination can be done on other grounds. For example, there can be discrimination on the basis of economic, social backwardness or educational backwardness.

Overall, the prohibition of discrimination means preventing state action against civil rights.

(2) No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, sex, place of birth or any of them, deny— (a) Entry to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment, or (b) maintained partly or wholly out of State funds or shall not be subject to any liability, restriction or condition in respect of the use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public resort dedicated to the use of the general public.

It can be understood in this way that no one can be stopped from going to a fair which is open for everyone to visit on the basis that you can visit only after you do our work first.

(3) Despite what is written above, the state can make special provision for women and children if it wants. Such as free education for children, paid maternity leave for women, etc.

It means to say that in a welfare state, if some special provisions are made in favor of children and women, then it will not be considered as a violation of Article 15 (1).

(4) Notwithstanding anything contained in this article or the provisions of clause (2) of article 29; The State may make any special provision for the development of the socially and educationally backward classes or the Scheduled Castes and Tribes. Such as waiver of application fees for government jobs, etc.

It means to say that the purpose of this section is to give constitutional approval to the reservation of seats by the state for backward class citizens and scheduled castes and tribes in public educational institutions. Such as providing housing facilities for these classes, reduction or waiver of fees, etc.

  • Actually this which is the fourth provision of Article 15 was added by the first constitutional amendment, to understand why it was added you have to understand Champakam Dorairajan’s case.

For now, just understand that the purpose of putting this clause in the constitution was to give reservation to backward class citizens and SC and ST class in state educational institutions.

What happened was that a Brahmin girl named Champakam could not get admission in a college just because there was reservation for different classes.

That’s why Champakam challenged this arrangement in the court. The government tried to protect it under Article 46 of the DPSP but the Supreme Court upheld the fundamental rights over DPSP and held such reservation to be violative of Article 29(2). To change this, the first constitutional amendment in the year 1951 added the fourth clause to Article 15.

(5) Notwithstanding anything contained in this article or the provisions of sub-clause (g) of clause (1) of article 19; The State may make any rules regarding exemption for admission in educational institutions for the upliftment of socially and educationally backward persons or persons belonging to Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes.

These educational institutions may also be different from the educational institutions referred to in clause (1) of article 30. That is, they can be of any type, state-funded, private or minority.

  • The fifth provision of Article 15 has been inserted in the Constitution by the 93rd Constitutional Amendment 2005. Why it has been inserted and what these amendments mean, we will understand in detail in the article on reservation.

Just remember here that sub-clause g (right to carry on any profession, occupation, trade or business) of Clause 1 of Article 19 is applicable to socially and educationally backward people or Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes. It was added so as not to create any hindrance in the relaxation given by the state for admission of people to educational institutions.

| Talking about Article 15 (6), under this, with the help of the 103rd Constitutional Amendment in the year 2019, a provision for reservation has also been made for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS).

So overall this is Article 15, I hope you have understood its concept. May be you have not understood the fourth, fifth and sixth clause of Article 15 properly. To understand this properly, you have to understand reservation very well.

We have prepared an article on reservation in four parts in very simple and easy language, you all have to read it. Only then you will be able to understand Article 15 and 16 properly. So you must read that link is given below.

◾ Reservation in India [1/4]

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Disclaimer - The articles and their interpretations presented here are based on the original Constitution (latest edition), DD Basu's commentary on the Constitution (mainly) and various scholars of the Constitution (whose writings are available in newspapers, magazines and audio-visuals on the Internet). We have just tried to make it interesting and easy to understand.