This article is a compilation of Article 17 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 17
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📖 Read This Article in Hindi

📜 Article 17

17. Abolition of Untouchability – “Untouchability” is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. The enforcement of any disability arising out of “Untouchability” shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.

🔍 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 fourth article of this is Article 17, which talks about “Abolition Of Untouchability”.

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, Article 15 and Article 16 how equality has been tried to be established with the help of the principle of “equality before law and equal protection of laws”, “prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth” and “Equality of opportunity in public employment” respectively.

The next to the same is Article 17. Let us understand each of its provisions;

| Article 17 – Abolition of Untouchability

The Abolition of untouchability means the complete end of untouchability. Its only purpose was to strengthen the feeling of humanity among the people so that people of all classes could live together in the same society. That is why any disability arising out of untouchability was barred from being enforced.

But it was not that easy. More or less untouchability is there even today, even though it is a fundamental right. That is why some important Acts were enacted over time to support Article 17 or to enforce it legally. And untouchability was also defined in a proper way.

Under this, we are discussing here in brief the four most important Acts. You can download pdf for detailed understanding;


The name of this act was earlier Untouchability Act 1955 which came into effect from June 1955.

Based on the recommendations of the Ilaiah Perumal Committee constituted in April 1965, it was amended in 1976 and renamed as the Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955.

This was done so that its purpose is clear that along with punishing the guilty, its work is also to protect the rights of the citizens.

There are 17 sections in this act. And untouchability has been discussed in great detail. And untouchability has also been defined. You can read the entire document for detailed understanding;

⚫ Its section 3 to 7A considers untouchability as a crime and provides for punishment.

⚫ Section 3 deals with the prevention of access to places of public worship, water sources, on the ground of untouchability. Under this, jail term from 1 month to 6 months or fine from 100 to 500 rupees can be imposed.

⚫ Section 4, on the ground of untouchability, is related to preventing access to shops, public restaurants, hotels, dharamshalas, places of public entertainment, cremation grounds. Under this also there is a provision of the above punishment.

⚫ Section 5 deals with denial of admission to hospital, dispensary, educational institutions on the ground of untouchability. Under this also there is a provision of the above punishment.

⚫ Section 6 deals with refusal to sell goods and provide services on the ground of untouchability. Under this also there is a provision of the above punishment.

⚫ Section 7 deals with causing injury or harm on the ground of untouchability. Under this also there is a provision of the above punishment.

⚫ Section 7A deals with forced sweeping, removal of dead bodies or similar work on the ground of untouchability. It was added by an amendment in 1976. Under this, the punishment can be from 3 months to 6 months.

⚫ Section 8 deals with the cancellation of the license of the guilty person. Section 9 deals with cancellation of grant received by the government from the defaulting institution.

⚫ Section 10 deals with the abetment of such an offense and section 11 deals with enhancing the punishment for habitual offenders.

⚫ Download ActClick Here

| Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989

This act has been made mainly for the SC and ST classes. Under this, a provision has been made for the formation of special courts for the trial of crimes and rehabilitation of the victims of atrocities.

This act is applicable all over India and the responsibility of implementing it properly has been given to the state government.

This act was implemented in January 1990. There are 4 chapters in this act. Let us understand it in brief;

⚫ Chapter 1 talks about title, extent and definitions. Sections 1 and 2 come under this.

⚫ Chapter 2, deals with torture and punishment; Sections 3 to 9 fall under this, which goes something like this;

  1. Punishment for crime atrocity.
  2. Punishment for neglect of duty.
  3. Enhanced punishment after conviction.
  4. Application of certain provisions of the Indian Penal Code.
  5. Forfeiture of property of certain persons.
  6. Presumptions about crimes.
  7. conferring of powers.

⚫ Chapter 3, talks about EXTERNMENT, under it comes from section 10 to 13, which is something like this;

  1. Removal of person likely to commit offence.
  2. Procedure when a person fails to enter the area after removing himself and being removed from it.
  3. Taking measurements and photographs etc. of persons against whom there is an order under section 10.
  4. Penalty for non-compliance of order under section 10.

⚫ Chapter 4 deals with Special Courts. Under this comes Section 14 to 15, which is something like this;

  1. Special Court and Exclusive Special Court.
    14a. appeal.
  2. Special Public Prosecutor and Exclusive Public Prosecutor.

⚫ Chapter 4A deals with the rights of victims and witnesses. Sections 15A to 23 come under this, which is something like this.

15A – Rights of victims and witnesses.

  1. Power of State Government to impose collective fine.
  2. Preventive action to be taken by law and order machinery.
  3. Section 438 of the Code shall not apply to persons committing offenses under the Act.
    • 18a. No inquiry or approval is required.
  4. Section 360 of the Code or the provisions of the Probation of Offenders Act not to apply to persons convicted of offenses under the Act.
  5. Act to override other laws.
  6. Duty of the Government to ensure effective implementation of the Act.
  7. Protection of action taken in good faith.
  8. Power to make rules.

⚫ It was amended in January 2016, but the Supreme Court expressed concern over the misuse of this act and said that the case will not be registered immediately after receiving the complaint, the DSP will first investigate the complaint to find out whether the case is motivated by maliciousness. .

⚫ After this, in 2018, the government amended this law again and it was passed in August 2018.

Under this, it was arranged that now there will be no need to conduct a preliminary inquiry before registering a complaint and there will be no need to take approval from any officer before arresting an accused. It was added under section 18A by amendment.

This act was also challenged in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court again heard on this and the Supreme Court has reserved its decision. [Will be updated as it becomes available.]

⚫ Download ActClick Here

| Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016

The Act replaces the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. It fulfills the obligations of the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), of which India is a signatory.

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 is simply called the RPWD Act. Promotes and protects the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities in the educational, social, legal, economic, cultural and political fields.

Highlights of the Act – The Act gives responsibility to the appropriate governments to take measures and ensure that PWDs enjoy equal rights.

The types of disabilities under this act have been increased from 7 to 21. And the Central Government has been given the power to add more types of disability. Some of the 21 types of disabilities are as follows –

  1. Physical Disability
    • Locomotor disability
      • A person free from leprosy
      • Cerebral palsy
      • Dwarfism
      • Muscular Dystrophy
      • Acid Attack Victims
    • visual impairment
      • blindness
      • low vision
    • hearing impairment
      • deaf
      • hard of hearing
    • speech and language disability
  2. Intellectual disability
    • specific learning disability
    • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  3. Mental Disorders (Mental Illness)
  4. Disability
    • chronic neurological conditions such as
      • Multiple sclerosis
      • Parkinson’s disease
    • blood disorder
      • hemophilia
      • thalassemia
      • sickle cell disease
  5. multiple disabilities

| Persons with “benchmark disabilities” are defined as those who are certified to have at least 40 per cent of the disabilities specified above.

rights and entitlements

Responsibility has been cast on the appropriate Governments to take effective measures to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy their rights equally with others.

Additional benefits for persons with benchmark disabilities such as reservation in higher education (not less than 5%), government jobs (not less than 4%), reservation in allotment of land, poverty alleviation schemes (5% allotment) etc. have been provided.

Every child with benchmark disability between the age of 6 to 18 years shall have the right to free education.

Government funded educational institutions as well as government recognized institutions will have to provide inclusive education to children with disabilities.

To strengthen the Prime Minister’s Accessible India Campaign, emphasis has been laid on ensuring accessibility in public buildings (both government and private) within a stipulated time frame.


The Act provides for grant of guardianship by the District Court under which there will be joint decision-making between the guardian and the person with disability.

establishment of authorities

Broad-based Central and State Advisory Boards on Disability are to be set up to serve as apex policy-making bodies at the Central and State levels.

The office of the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities has been strengthened, who will now be assisted by 2 Commissioners and an Advisory Committee consisting of not more than 11 members drawn from experts in various disabilities.

Similarly, the office of the State Commissioners of Disabilities has been strengthened, who will be assisted by an Advisory Committee consisting of not more than 5 members from amongst experts in various disabilities.

punishment for crimes

The Act provides for offenses committed against persons with disabilities and punishment for violation of the provisions of the new law.

Any person who contravenes the provisions of the Act, or any rule or regulation made thereunder, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, and/or with fine which may extend to Rs.10,000, or with both. For any subsequent contravention, imprisonment of up to two years and/or a fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs five lakh can be imposed.

⚫ Download ActClick Here

| The Mental Health Act 2017

In India, the Mental Health Care Act 2017 was passed on April 2017 and came into force from 29 May 2018.

The act aims to protect the rights of people with mental illness as well as access to health care and treatment without discrimination from the government.

In addition, insurers are now obliged to make provision for medical insurance for treatment of mental illness on the same basis as is available for treatment of physical illness.

⚫ This act effectively decriminalized attempt to suicide which was punishable under section 309 of the Indian Penal Code. That is, instead of prosecuting or punishing, now opportunities for rehabilitation can be provided from the government.

⚫ The Act deals with providing mental health care and services to persons with mental illness and to protect, promote and fulfill the rights of such persons during the delivery of mental health care and services.

⚫ This act replaces the already existing Mental Health Act, 1987 which was passed on 22 May 1987.

⚫ It states that mental illness “may be prescribed by the Central Government in accordance with nationally and internationally accepted medical standards”.

Additionally, the Act states that no person or authority shall classify a person as a person with a mental illness unless it is directly related to the treatment of the illness.

⚫ Download ActClick Here

So overall this is Article 17, I hope you have understood its concept. Don’t forget to read other articles coming under Right to Equality.

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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.