Daily News Analysis

ANTI-DISCRIMINATORY LAW

13th July, 2021 Polity

Context:

There is a need for Anti-Discriminatory law for better enhancement of constitutional doctrines of fundamental rights.

Background

  • Through the Constitution the Indian state promises equality to all its citizens.
  • The various provisions of the Constitution elucidated in the chapters on Fundamental Rights (justiciable) and on Directive Principles of State Policies (non-justiciable) delineate the state’s obligation to provide equal opportunities to all its citizens in social, political and economic spheres.
  • Yet the ubiquitous presence of stark inequalities continues to do o ence to the idea of India visualised by the writers of the constitution.

Discrimination incidents in society

  • Furthermore, persistent poverty and deprivation overlap with particular castes, communities and genders.
  • Poverty and deprivations are also without shadow of doubt the result of deep rooted class structure formed over centuries.
  • Discrimination is multifaceted and present not only in State or public structures but also in civil society in general.
  • Discriminatory incidents are all too common in our society.
  • Silent segregation” on the grounds of marital status, gender, sexual orientation or eating preferences are followed in several housing societies and residents’ associations.
  • India currently does not have a single comprehensive legislation on discriminatory practices which covers all vulnerable sections of the society.
  • Even though Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was read down by the Supreme Court of India to exclude consensual relations between adults of the same sex, social prejudice against members of the LGBTQIA+ community in the country remains strong.

 

Domains of discrimination

  • The domains of discrimination are based on ,gender , landlords, traders, service providers, private persons performing public functions, and public authorities, from discriminating on grounds of caste, race, ethnicity, descent, sex, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, sexual orientation, religious identity, tribe, disability, linguistic identity, HIV-status, nationality, marital status, dietary preference, skin tone, physical appearance, place of residence, place of birth, age or analogous characteristics which are beyond the control of an individual or those that constitute a fundamental choice.

Some Constitutional provisions against discrimination

  • 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.
  • Article 15. Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
  • Article 16. Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment.
  • Article 17. Abolition of Untouchability.
  • Article 20. Protection in respect of conviction for o ences
  • Article 21. Protection of life and personal liberty
  • Article 44. Uniform civil code for the citizens
  • Article 45. Provision for free and compulsory education for children.
  • Article 46. Promotion of educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections.
  • Article 330. Reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the House of the People

Need of Anti-discriminatory law

  • Article 15(1) of the Constitution of India prohibits the state from discriminating against individuals on basis of certain protected characteristics such as religion, race, caste, sex and place of birth but does not bar private individuals or institutions
  • The Sachar Committee, in 2006, recognised the need for an anti-discrimination law.
  • This was further reiterated by the Expert Group on Equal Opportunity Commission headed by Prof. N.R. Madhava Menon.
  • Enhance the notion of a welfare state.