Articles 17 and 18 of Indian Constitution
Article 17 (Abolition of Untouchability) and Article 18 (Abolition of Title), both are covered under Part III (Fundamentals Rights) of the Constitution which ensures an important role in the establishment of equality of status of citizens in India. Articles 17 and 18 of Indian Constitution are a part of the Right to Equality that was included for the Abolition of Untouchability and Title respectively.
Read More: Article 15 of Indian Constitution
Article 17 of Indian Constitution
According to Article 17 of the Indian Constitution, untouchability is no longer permitted. According to the Article, untouchability is against the law in all forms. The practice of untouchability is outlawed by Article 17 of the Indian Constitution.
Untouchability is a prohibited practice, and those who practice it risk legal ramifications, according to the Untouchability Offences Act of 1955 (later renamed the Protection of Civil Rights Act in 1976). All Indian citizens should have access to everything that is available to the general public, per this Act. Untouchability is forbidden by Article 17 and is not permitted in any form. Untouchability-related impairments must be enforced, which is forbidden and punishable by law.
It should be noted that, though Article 17 abolishes untouchability, but the term “Untouchability” hasn’t been defined anywhere in the constitution. Hence, the Mysore High Court gave its interpretation that the subject matter of Article 17 is not untouchable in its literal or grammatical sense but the ‘practice as it had developed historically in the country’.
It speaks about the societal limitations imposed on particular classes of people as a result of their birth into particular castes. As a result, it excludes certain people from participating in social boycotts or from attending religious services, among other things.
Nature of the Article: It should be noted that Article 17 is the only article of absolute nature among all the other rights given in the Constitution. As there are no exceptions given in this article. That is, it is illegal to practice untouchability in any form. Hence, one cannot violate it under any circumstances.
Read More: Article 16 of Indian Constitution
Article 17 of Indian Constitution SC Judgement & Laws
There are some important Supreme Court Judgements and laws related to Article 17 of the Indian Constitution described below:
People’s Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India, 1982
The highest court found that this article provides protection not just against the government but also against private citizens in this case. The state is required to take appropriate actions by making appropriate laws to stop the violation of Article 17.
The power to enact laws outlining penalties for practising untouchability is granted to the Parliament under Article 35 when read in conjunction with Article 17. As a result, the Untouchability (Offenses) Act of 1955 was passed by the Parliament. The Protection of Civil Rights Act of 1955 was strengthened and given a new name in 1976. As stated in Article 17 of the Constitution, “Civil Rights” are defined as “any rights accruing to a person as a result of the eradication of untouchability.”
The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 was also passed by the Parliament to stop crimes or atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes members.
Read More: Article 14 of Indian Constitution
Article 18 of Indian Constitution
Under Article 18 of the Indian Constitution, anything used as a prefix or suffix to one’s identity, such as Sir, Nawab, Maharaja, and so on, is referred to as a “title.” In a democracy, titles and titular accomplishments are not permitted. It will work against the advancement of social justice.
The purpose of this Article 18 in our Constitution is to uphold equality for all individuals. Titles relate to any hereditary designations (such as Rai Bahadur, Khan Bahadur, Sawai, Rai Sahab, Zamindar, Taluqdar, and so on) used by persons during the colonial era.
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Article 18 of Indian Constitution Clauses
The only restriction is that no one will ever use the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, or Bharat Ratna as a prefix or suffix to their names. It also excludes academic and military professions. This article abolishes titles and makes four provisions in that regard.
|Article 18(1)||It prohibits the state from conferring any title (except military or academic distinction) on anybody, whether a citizen or a foreigner.|
|Article 18(2)||It prohibits an Indian citizen from accepting any title given by any foreign state.|
|Article 18(3)||A foreigner holding any office of profit under the state can accept any title from any other foreign state with the consent of the president of India.|
|Article 18(4)||No citizen or a foreigner holding any office of profit or trust under the State is to accept any present, emolument or office from or under any foreign State without the consent of the president.|
|The addition of clauses (3) and (4) ensures that a non-citizen stays loyal to the government and upholds the trust reposed in him.|
Read More: Directive Principles of State Policy
Article 18 of Indian Constitution Purpose
Through the projection of inferiority complexes onto others, titles serve to distinguish a person’s rank. As a result, the constituent assembly determined to eliminate such discrepancy and produced this article, which has four sections.
It would jeopardise the peace and cohesion of the current society. To uphold the goal of a democratic republic, the nationalists unanimously voted to abolish titles. It is to be noted that, Article 18 does not secure any fundamental right but imposes a restriction on executive and legislative power.
In a democratic government, honours and titles shouldn’t be established. This is part of the growth of a country that seeks to achieve political, cultural, and economic fairness as well as true democracy. There is really no place for a small group of persons to hold titles that could create unjust differences among the members of a community of equals.
Accepting a title is a violation of a rule but not a crime. An individual may use Article 226 to impose limitations on the state through the writ of Mandamus. The recourse is only usable for the enforcement of rights that are guaranteed by the constitution.
Read More: Preamble of Indian Constitution
Article 18 of Indian Constitution SC Judgements
In the Balaji Raghavan v. Union of India decision from 1995, the petitioners asked the court to forbid the Indian government from presenting national honours like the Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Shri. They also questioned the legitimacy of national awards like the Bharat Ratna. They contend that the National Awards violate Article 18(1) of the Indian Constitution since they fall under the jurisdiction of titles.
According to the Supreme Court, the principle of equality does not actually require that people who have made significant contributions to the nation and its greatness be denied acknowledgement. Every individual is urged, according to Article 51A(j) of the Indian Constitution, “to aspire for expertise in all domains of collective and individual interaction, so that the nation perpetually increases to higher levels of endeavour and accomplishment.”
National Honors like the Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri, and Bharat Ratna do not infringe upon the equality protections provided by the Indian Constitution. These National Honors do not contravene Article 18 of the Indian Constitution because they are not “titles” in the sense of that provision. The Court recommended that the Prime Minister create a high-level panel in coordination with the President to ensure that only deserving people receive the honours in order to prevent the abuse of this privilege.
Read More: Articles 12 and 13
Articles 17 and 18 of Indian Constitution UPSC
Contrary to popular belief, the right to equality is not a straightforward idea. The Indian Constitution seeks to create a society in which every person is given equal status in every way. The advancements made in accordance with the Constitution’s right to equality have improved Indian society without any division of Indian society based on class, faith, colour or titles, the Constitution’s founders aspired to create a society in which all citizens are treated equally. The courts have provided numerous interpretations through their rulings in order to accomplish the goal of equality that the Indian Constitution’s authors desired.
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