Article 17 of the Indian constitution mainly deals with the account of untouchability. This article puts restrictions and prohibits the practice of untouchability. It ensures that untouchability is eradicated in all forms. Any kind of practice of untouchability is considered as an offence.
When did this act come into force?
The Untouchability (Offences) Act, that commands punishments for the practice of untouchability and abolish this disgraceful practice, came into force on 1st June 1955.
- Article 17 of the Indian Constitution eliminates the practice of untouchability.
- The Untouchability (Offences) Act, 1955 addresses this practice a punishable offence. It also commands penalties for the enforcement of any kind of disability that is arising out of untouchability is considered as an offence.
- This Act was passed in the Indian Parliament for the eradication of all sorts of untouchability from the country.
- The punishment imposed in this act is a 6-month-imprisonment or alternatively a fine of Rs.500 for any person convicted of carrying out the disabilities of untouchability on anyone else in case of his first offence.
- In the case of subsequent and repeated offences, the convicted person will be sentenced to the jail term along with the fine. There is provision for increasing the punishment also if needed.
- The offences enclosed under the Act are preventing (a) a person from entering a temple/place of worship or any other public place (b) preventing a person from drawing water from sacred water bodies, wells, etc (c) preventing a person from using a ‘Dharamshala’, restaurant, shop, hotel, hospital, public conveyance, educational institution, and any place of public entertainment (d) denial of the usage of roads, rivers, riverbanks, cremation grounds, wells, etc.
- Few other offences include enforcing professional, trade or occupational disabilities, eliminating a person from benefiting out of a charity, ignoring any person from carrying out an occupation, restricting to sell goods/services to a person, injuring, molesting, excommunicating, boycotting or annoying a person on the basis of untouchability.
- The Act was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 8th May 1955 and passed in both houses and came into force on 1st June 1955.
- The Act was revised on September 2nd 1976 and renamed Protection of the Civil Rights Act. This Act had even severe measures to eradicate untouchability.
- This act made the wilful negligence of complaints related to untouchability by investigating officers as tantamount to abetment.