Right to Equality (Articles 14 - 18)

The right to equality provides for the equal treatment of everyone before the law, prevents discrimination on various grounds, treats everybody as equals in matters of public employment, and abolishes untouchability, and titles (such as Sir, Rai Bahadur, etc.).

Right to Equality – Indian Polity
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In this article, you can read all about the Right to Equality and the related constitutional provisions from the IAS exam point of view. For more on Fundamental Rights, click on the linked article.

IAS 2023 results

Aspirants preparing for the upcoming CSE exam must refer to the details discussed further below in this article, important from the IAS exam perspective.

List of Current Affairs Articles for UPSC

Right to Equality

Before knowing about the right to equality, aspirants should know the types of equality to get an idea of what it is. It is also mentioned in our Preamble. The types of  equality are:

  1. Natural
  2. Social
  3. Civil
  4. Political
  5. Economic
  6. Legal

The Right to Equality is one of the Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Constitution of India. It is very important to understand what this right entails and includes. This topic is a basic topic in the polity and constitution segments of the UPSC Syllabus for the civil services exam.

Below we provide the associated articles of the Constitution under the right to equality.

Right to Equality

Article  Brief description 
Article 14 The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India, on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth
Article 15 The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.
Article 16 There shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State.
Article 17 Abolition of untouchability
Article 18 Abolition of all titles except military and academic
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Equality before the law (Article 14)

Article 14 treats all people the same in the eyes of the law. This Article is described in two parts – wich states and commands the State not to deny to any person ‘equality before the law’. Another part of it also commands the State not to deny the ‘equal protection of the laws’.

  • This provision states that all citizens will be treated equally before the law and avoids any kind of discrimination. 
  • The law of the country protects everybody equally.
  • Under the same circumstances, the law will treat people in the same manner.

Prohibition of discrimination (Article 15)

This article prohibits discrimination in any manner. This article secures the citizens from every sort of discrimination by the State, on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth or of them. 

  • No citizen shall, on grounds only of race, religion, caste, place of birth, sex or any of them, be subject to any liability, disability, restriction or condition with respect to:
    • Access to public places
    • Use of tanks, wells, ghats, etc. that are maintained by the State or that are meant for the general public
  • The article also mentions that special provisions can be made for women, children and the backward classes notwithstanding this article.

Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment (Article 16)

Article 16 provides equal employment opportunities in State service for all citizens.

  • No citizen shall be discriminated against in matters of public employment or appointment on the grounds of race, religion, caste, sex, place of birth, descent or residence.
  • Exceptions to this can be made for providing special provisions for the backward classes.

Abolition of untouchability (Article 17)

Article 17 prohibits the practice of untouchability.

  • Untouchability is abolished in all forms.
  • Any disability arising out of untouchability is made an offence.

Abolition of titles (Article 18)

Article 18 abolishes titles.

  • The State shall not confer any titles except those which are academic or military titles.
  • The article also prohibits citizens of India from accepting any titles from a foreign State.
  • The article abolishes the titles that were awarded by the British Empire such as Rai Bahadur, Khan Bahadur, etc.
  • Awards like Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, Bharat Ratna and military honours like Ashok Chakra, Param Vir Chakra do not belong to this category.

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Related Links
Polity Notes for UPSC Polity MCQs
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UPSC 2023


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