Written by:Adv. Pooja Gupta

Article 17 Abolishment of Untouchability

Short note on Article 17 Untouchability: It is not specified in either the Indian Constitution or in the Act. Padmanna vs. Devarajjah (AIR 1958 Mys 84) The Mysore High Court gave the phrase a broad interpretation, stating that it includes those who are classified as untouchables, either temporarily or permanently, for a variety of reasons, and who can claim benefits under Article 19 of the 1955 Act.

In its opinion in the People’s Union for Democratic Rights v UOI, it was the Supreme Court’s constitutional obligation for the States to take necessary steps to prohibit such violation whenever the fundamental right of Arts 17, 23, or 24 is violated by a private individual and ensure that such a person respects the rights. The aggravate cannot relieve the State of its constitutional commitments simply because he could safeguard or enforce its invaded fundamental rights.

Article 17 removes untouchability. Untouchability has been outlawed and its practice is penalized by law in any way.

Untouchability is eliminated

and in any offence it becomes untouchable, This article makes two assertions: –

1st is that untouchability is eradicated(removed) and its practice in any form is prohibited.

2nd is anyone trying to enforce an impediment caused by untouchability is liable for a misdemeanor.

​The Right to Equality is highly significant in Article 17. It gives not only equitable treatment but also social justice. This article is related to the 13th Amendment to the American Constitution, which prohibited all forms of slavery

Article 17 establishes no right, However, the rescue of the 1/6th Indian population is a lease from eternal enslavement, shame, and disgrace of the generations. The easiest approach to eliminate this evil was to make the article one of the most detailed articles in the Constitution part of the Constitution.

In 1955, the Indian Parliament amended and enacted the Untouchability (Offenses) Act to further establish the constitutional provision in Articles 15 and 17. In 1976, the act was amended/corrected and renamed the “Protection of Civil Rights Act”, 1955. This act stipulated that whatever is open to the general public (or Hindus) should also be open to Scheduled Castes members. No shopkeeper can refuse to sell them, and no one can refuse to provide any service to anyone because they are untouchable.

Some of them are listed below

  1. To prohibit a person from accessing any public place of worship available to others of the same religion on the basis of untouchability.
  2. Prevent any individual from adoration or service in a religious place or wash in a sacred tank, well, spring, etc. for reasons of untouchability.
  3. Refuses entrance by virtue of untouchability to any store, public restaurant, hotel, or public amusement site.
  4. Forcing every person in the practice of any profession or carrying on any occupation, commerce, or business on the basis of untouchability and disability.
  5. To refuse the use of all public means of transport, Dharamshala or Mushafirkhana open to the general public by any person on the basis of untouchability.
  6. Denied acceptance to any dispensary, hospital, educational facility, or other institution established or maintained for the public in general for reasons of untouchability.

The purchase of land for the development of the colonies of Harijan, however, does not infringe on this provision. Article 17 prohibits the removal/extraction of the Harijan/outcast population as a socially backward community as a result of hostile treatment. It does not prevent the state introduces or developing a system that improves its living standard and guarantees all facilities.

Important Government Laws in relation to Article 17

The State laid down in Article 35 the Untouchability (infractions) Act of 1955 which was afterward altered and a new act was introduced in 1955 entitled the Protection of Civil Rights Act.

In protecting civil rights, the 1955 Civil Rights Act was enacted

This act contains a number of laws relating to the battle against untouchability. All offences against Untouchability are now non-compoundable under this act. It’s vital to note that under this rule, every complaint must be investigated by a public servant. If a public official fails to do his duties, he will be considered an abettor of the Act. This Act also makes any form of the preaching of untouchability unlawful.

Schedule Tribes & Schedule Castes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989

This is a crucial Act that was enacted to prevent crimes against Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe people. This Act established special courts to hear cases involving the conduct of offences covered by the Act. The commission of acts under this Act is a non-bailable offence under Section 18 of this Act.

The case related to Article 17

Karnataka State vs. Ingale Appa Balu (AIR-1993)

The case involving Article 17 rights: – Untouchability was viewed by the Supreme Court as an indirect form of slavery and a continuation of the caste system. The state stood united and fell together as a caste system and untouchability, according to the court.

Democratic People’s Union vs. Indian Union (AIR-1982)

(Popularly known as Asaid project workers case)

The basic right referred to in Article 17 may be exercised against private individuals, according to the Supreme Court, and it is the constitutional competence of the State not to violate or breach these fundamental rights.

Punishment for violation of Article 17

The commission of any offence related to untouchability and the protection of civil rights, for a period of not less than 1 month, not more than 6 months, and a fine of not less than Rs. 100/- rupees and not more than Rs. 500/- rupees.

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