Article 14 : Equality before law – The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
Equality before the law implies that no one is above the law of the land.
1. However, the Constitution allows the following exceptions to the rule of equality before the law :
- The President or the Governor of a State is not answerable to any Court for the exercise and performance of the powers and duties of office;
- No criminal proceeding is to be instituted or continued against the President or a Governor in any Court during his term of office;
- No civil proceeding in which relief is claimed against the President or the Governor can be instituted during his term of office in any Court in respect of any act done by him in his personal capacity, before or after he entered the office of President or Governor, until two months expire after notice in writing has been delivered to the President / Governor stating the nature of the proceedings, the cause of action,- and other details.
2. These apart, other exceptions, such as in favour of foreign rulers and ambassadors, also exist in accordance with international standards.
Article 15 : Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth – Also, nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children and also for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
Article 16 : Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment – There shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State.
- It does not prevent the State from prescribing the necessary qualifications and selective tests for recruitment for Government services.
- Then, there may be good reasons for reserving certain posts in a State for the residents only.
- It also empowers the State to make special provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which in the opinion of State are not adequately represented in the services under the State.
- It also provides for the reservation of seats in promotion for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
Article 17 : Abolition of untouchability – Untouchability is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden.
Article 18 : Abolition of titles – No title, not being a military or academic distinction, shall be conferred by the State.
- Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri and other State awards are not regarded as titles in terms of Article 18 (1) of the Constitution.
- Clause (2) prohibits a citizen of India from accepting any title from a foreign State.
- Clause (3) provides that a foreigner holding any office of profit or trust under the State cannot accept any title from any foreign State without the consent of the President. This is to ensure loyalty to the government he serves for the time being and to shut out all foreign influence in Government affairs.
- Clause (4) provides that no person holding any office of profit under the State is to accept without the consent of the President, any present, emolument or office of any kind from or under any foreign State.
It is to be noted that there is no penalty prescribed for the infringement of the above prohibition.
Article 18 is merely directory. It is however, open to the Parliament to make a law for dealing with such a person who accepts a title in violation of the prohibition prescribed in Article 18.
Right to Freedom
Article 19 : Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech etc – It guarantees the citizens of India the following six fundamental freedoms :
- Freedom of Speech and Expression
- Freedom of Assembly.
- Freedom to form Associations.
- Freedom of Movement.
- Freedom of Residence and Settlement.
- Freedom of Profession, Occupation, Trade or Business.
Freedom of Press : The Indian Constitution does not provide for the freedom of Press separately. It is implicit in Article 19. The restrictions that limit the freedoms in the case of individuals apply to the press also.
Article 20 : Protection in respect of conviction for offences.
No person shall be convicted of any offence except for violation of the law in force at the time of the commission of the act charged as an offence, nor be subjected to a penalty greater than that which might have been inflicted under the law in force at the time of the commission of the offence.
Thus the legislature is prohibited to make criminal laws having retrospective effects.
- No person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once (double jeopardy).
- No person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.
Under the frame of criminal jurisprudence, a person is presumed to be innocent and it is for the prosecution to establish his guilt.
Again, a person accused of an offence need not make any statement against his will.
Article 21 : Protection of life and personal liberty.
No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.
- Personal freedom is secured by the Constitution by the judicial writ of Habeas Corpus ( Article 32 and 226 ).
- The 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002, has inserted in the Constitution a new article 21 – A. It states that the State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the State may, by law, determine.
3. Inferred Rights : They are the rights of the citizens which are not explicitly provided by the Constitution but have been derived by liberal interpretation of the various provisions of the Constitution.
Some of the Inferred rights from Article 21 are :
- Right to health of the workers.
- Right to privacy ( i.e. to be left alone ).
- Right to live with dignity.
- Right against denial of wages and arbitrary dismissal of workers.
- Right to speedy trial for under – trials.
- Right against cruel punishment.
- Right to shelter.
- Right to free legal aid.