Article 17 of the Indian Constitution – abolition of Untouchability
Article 17 of the Indian Constitution is the abolition of untouchability & is the only article in the Indian constitution that is given in absolute terms without exception.
Untouchability in any form is illegal & totally banned.
Article 17 abolishes ‘untouchability‘ and forbids its practice in any form. The enforcement of any disability arising out of untouchability shall be an offense punishable in accordance with the law.
In 1976, the Untouchability (Offences) Act, 1955 has been comprehensively amended and renamed as the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 to enlarge the scope and make penal provisions more stringent.
Is Untouchability defined anywhere in the Indian Constitution?
Neither Constitution Nor Parliament defined Untouchability.
However, the Mysore High court held that the subject matter of Article 17 is not ‘untouchability’ in its literal or grammatical sense but the ‘practice as it had developed historically in India.
You can read about the “Meaning of Untouchability in Article 17“ in detail in this linked article.
It refers to the social disabilities imposed on certain classes of persons by reason of their birth in certain castes.
Hence the Supreme Court held that the right under Article 17 is available against Private individuals and it is the constitutional obligation of the State to take necessary action to ensure that this right is not violated.
Untouchability is not defined in the constitution.
So, how we know what defines untouchability?
Untouchability is discrimination only on the basis of birth. It can suppress someone’s potential and thus violate (Art – 17)
It stops individuals to reach his/her full potential.
Note – Explanation is for understanding only.
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