Article 15: Safeguarding Against Discrimination – The Heart of India’s Constitution



In the tapestry of India’s Constitution, Article 15 stands as a vibrant thread, woven with the purpose of eliminating discrimination and promoting equality among its citizens. This pivotal article addresses the core principle of safeguarding individuals from discrimination based on various factors, shaping a more just and inclusive society.

Article 15 of the Indian Constitution reads:

(1) The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, or any of them.

(2) No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, or any of them, be subject to any disability, liability, restriction, or condition with regard to—

  1. access to shops, public restaurants, hotels, and places of public entertainment; or
  2. the use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads, and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly out of State funds or dedicated to the use of the general public.
  3. Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children.”


At its core, Article 15 champions the principle of equality before the law. It explicitly prohibits discrimination by the State against any citizen solely based on religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, or any other such factor. This prohibition extends to various aspects of public life, ensuring equal access to shops, restaurants, hotels, and places of public entertainment for all citizens.

In the case of “Nainsukhdas v. State of Uttar Pradesh” (AIR 1953 SC 384), the central issue was the constitutionality of the State Election Commission setting up different electoral boards for different religions. The Supreme Court of India ruled that such a practice was unconstitutional. The case revolved around the principle enshrined in the Indian Constitution that the state shall not discriminate against its citizens on the basis of religion or any other criteria.

Therefore, the establishment of separate electoral boards for different religions was deemed a violation of this constitutional provision. The verdict reaffirmed the importance of equality and non-discrimination in electoral processes, emphasizing the secular nature of the Indian state.


Article 15 goes further by addressing the issue of social exclusion. It bars citizens from being subjected to disabilities, restrictions, or conditions in using public resources like wells, tanks, roads, and more, which are funded by the State or intended for public use. This provision aims to dismantle historical practices of untouchability and caste-based discrimination.


While prohibiting negative discrimination, Article 15 acknowledges the need for affirmative action. Subsection (3) allows the State to make special provisions for women and children, recognizing historical disadvantages and vulnerabilities faced by these groups.


Over the years, Article 15 has played a pivotal role in addressing various forms of discrimination in India, both in the public and private spheres. It has been invoked in legal battles against gender discrimination, caste-based discrimination, and more.


“The ongoing challenges and advancements in addressing discrimination are of paramount importance. These endeavors are crucial for fostering equality and inclusiveness in society.”

Despite significant progress, challenges remain. Discrimination still lingers in various forms, requiring continual vigilance and action. However, Article 15 serves as a powerful tool for individuals and activists in their fight against discrimination.


Article 15 of the Indian Constitution symbolizes India’s commitment to building a society based on the principles of equality and justice. It is a reminder that every citizen, regardless of their background, is entitled to live free from discrimination and prejudice.

As India marches forward, Article 15 remains a beacon of hope and a testament to the nation’s unwavering dedication to the pursuit of a more equitable and inclusive society.

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