equality- indian constitution

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Origin of concept of Equality, Its development & current status in Indian Laws

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Ensuring Equality- Overcoming Challanges : 

Ensuring Equality- Overcoming Challanges Surinder S Rathi, Addl. Distt.& Session Judge,Delhi

What does Equality mean to you? : 

What does Equality mean to you?

Definition- Equality : 

Definition- Equality The state of being Equal Fairness, equal opportunity, equal treatment, egalitarianism, fair treatment, justness, the principle of racial equality. Fairness without discrimination, prejudice, bias, inequality, unfairness, imparity Sameness, balanced identity, similarity, correspondence, parity, likeness, uniformity, equivalence, evenness, coequality, equatability

A Story- To be born a girl : 

A Story- To be born a girl My name is Maya. I was born 14 years ago in a poor peasant family. There were already many children, so when I was born no one was happy.When I was still very little, I learned to help my mother and elder sisters with the domestic chores. I swept floors, washed clothes, and carried water and fire-wood. Some of my friends played outside, but I could not join them.I was very happy when I was allowed to go to school. I made new friends there. I learned to read and write. But when I reached the fourth grade, my parents stopped my education. My father said there was no money to pay the fees. also, I was needed at home to help my mother and the others.

Story contd. : 

Story contd. If I were a boy, my parents would have let me complete school. My elder brother finished school and now works in an office in the capital. Two of my younger brothers go to school. Maybe they, too, will finish.I know I shall have to spend long hours working either at home or in the field. And then I'll be married. I have seen my mother working from early dawn to late at night. My live will not be much different.If I were given the choice of being born again, I would prefer to be a boy.

Equality in Hinduism & India : 

Equality in Hinduism & India VEDAS- Let our hearts be In equality and unity.                     - Rig Veda 10/191/4 You may live And let me also live.                      - Atharva Veda 19/69/1 The philosophy of Holy Vedas revolves round fraternity and equality.  None is superior to another.  None is master, none is slave.  All men have equal rights on the earth.  Nature treats all alike, whether he is brown or black, high or low, prince or pauper. God has prescribed the same mode of birth and death for all men of the earth.  All souls are equally alike “Vedas will continue to be admired and appreciated as long as the oceans and the mountains exist on the earth.” - Prof Max Muller

Caste system under Manusmrti- : 

Caste system under Manusmrti- Although it is credited to be first Law in the history of mankind & it lays- Slavery is pain, Freedom is pleasure, In short, this is the definition Of pain and pleasure.                     - Manu But it is also said to have introduced caste system in Hinduism & India. He divided our society into four segments ie. Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisya & Shudras. This made it the most criticized of the scriptures of Hinduism. Evil of this system is root cause of Decline in Hinduism & has doomed the spirit of Equality as laid by Vedas. Even today its evil effects are for all to see. This created a room for newer religions like Islam & Sikhism who denounced caste system & inequality attached to it.

Equality in Jurisprudence- : 

Equality in Jurisprudence- Advent of modern Jurisprudence brought likes of Bentham & Austin & Equality got a shot in arm with theories of Utilitarianism , Individualism , pleasure & pain. Eugen's Living Law & Roscoe Pound's Social Engg. were aimed at attaining Equality in society. These European Jurists had a very positive impact on development of modern legal systems through out the World. Even 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by United Nations echoes it. This aims at achieving equality, dignity, fundamental rights & freedom without discrimination for all human beings so that there is justice & peace in the world.

Equality in Indian Constitution- : 

Equality in Indian Constitution- Our Fundamental Rights takes inspiration from England's Bill of Rights (1689), the United States Bill of Rights (approved on 17 September 1787, final ratification on 15 December 1791) and France's Declaration of the Rights of Man (created during the revolution of 1789. After the Rowlatt Act 1919, gave extensive powers to the British government and police, and allowed indefinite arrest and detention of individuals, warrant-less searches and seizures, restrictions on public gatherings, and intensive censorship of media and publications. In 1928, the Moti Lal Nehru Commission consisting of representatives of Indian political parties proposed constitutional reforms for India that apart from calling for dominion status for India and elections under universal suffrage, so that it guarantee rights deemed fundamental apart from representation of religious and ethnic minorities.

Equality-Contd. : 

Equality-Contd. 1931, the Indian National Congress adopted resolutions committing itself to the defense of fundamental civil rights. In 1936, the Congress leaders took examples from the constitution of the erstwhile USSR, which inspired the fundamental duties of citizens as a means of collective patriotic responsibility for national interests and challenges. When we obtained independence on 15 August 1947, the task of developing a constitution for the nation was undertaken by the Constituent Assembly of India. Part III - Fundamental Rights is a charter of rights contained in the Constitution of India.

Our Preamble- : 

Our Preamble- WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens: JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation; IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, DO HERE BY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.

Our fundamental rights- : 

Our fundamental rights- The six fundamental rights recognised by the constitution are- Art. 14-18: The right to equality Art 15-22: The right to freedom of Art 23-24: The right to freedom from exploitation Art.25-28: The right to freedom of religion Art.29-30: Cultural and educational rights Art.32-35: The right to constitutional remedies

Right to equality : 

Right to equality Right to equality is an important right provided for in Articles 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 of the constitution. It is the principal foundation of all other rights and liberties State cannot discriminate against a citizen on the basis of caste, creed, colour, sex, religion or place of birth Every person shall have equal access to public places like public parks, museums, wells, bathing ghats and temples etc. However, the State can make special provisions for women ,children and advancement of socially or educationally backward class ie. scheduled castes or scheduled tribes. It abolishes untouchability & titles.

Article 14- Right to Equality : 

Article 14- Right to Equality The State shall not deny to any person equality before law or equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. Article 13 lays that all laws which are inconsistent with or in derogation of fundamental rights are void.

Laws enacted to ensure equality- : 

Laws enacted to ensure equality- The Untouchability Offences Act of 1955 (renamed to Protection of Civil Rights Act in 1976 ) Scheduled Caste & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989. Bonded Labour System (Abolition ) Act 1976. Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act 1986 Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act 1939 Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 Equal Remuneration Act 1976 Legal Services Authority Act 1987 Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971 Minimum Wages Act 1948 Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act

Laws- : 

Laws- National Commissions Acts (for Minorities Act 1992, Woman Act 1990, Backward Classes Act 1993) Protection of Human Rights Act 1993 Persons with disabilities (Equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation) Act 1995 Places of worship (Special Provision) Act 1991 PNDT (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act 1994 Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 Mental Health Act,1987 Special Marriage Act 1954 Other such laws.

Landmark Judgments on Equalities : 

Landmark Judgments on Equalities Keshva Nand Bharti Vs. State of Kerala AIR 1973 SC 1461 Minerva Mills Vs.Union of India AIR 1980 SC 1789 Waman Rao UOI AIR 1981 SC 271 Maneka Gandhi Vs. UOI AIR 1978 SC 597 Indira Sahini Vs. UOI AIR 1993 SC 477 Deep Chand Vs. State of U.P. AIR 1959 SC 648 A.K.Gopalan Vs. State of Madras AIR 1950 SC 27 Sajjan Singh Vs. State of Rajasthan AIR 1965 SC 845 Nar Singh Pal Vs.UOI AIR 2000 SC 1401

Constitutional & Legal Remedies- : 

Constitutional & Legal Remedies- Any citizen of India can approach Supreme Court under Article 32 and High Court under Article 226 & 227 for enforcing his right to equality apart from filing a lis in District Courts. These writs are habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari. National Human Rights Commission, National Women Commission, National Minority Commission, National SC/ST/ Backward Classes Commission have also been set up for enforcing the spirit of constitution qua equality. Violation of Special Laws enacted to enforce equality can also lead to prosecution in courts of law.

Challenges- : 

Challenges- Lack of political will due to vote bank politics Corruption in Government Ranks Poor investigational set up Over burdened judiciary Shortage of Manpower, infrastructure & financial constraints Illiteracy & lack of awareness amongst citizens. Poor development of Law of Torts Polarization of Society between rich and poor

Challenges- contd. : 

Challenges- contd. Diversified beliefs, faiths and complex social fabric Stubborn , old & rigid customs and rituals Poverty& Population High cost of litigation Long protracted trials Non-availability of prompt and adequate legal aid Deep rooted biases of gender, caste, creed, religion, skin colour etc.

Remedies- : 

Remedies- Sensitisation of political parties & leaders Tapping of Corruption in Government Ranks by more stringent laws Sprucing up of investigational set up Creation of more courts Better utilisation of of Manpower, infrastructure & finances Creating awareness amongst citizens Setting up of special courts for all Torts on the line of MACT Bridging the gap between rich and poor

Remedies- contd. : 

Remedies- contd. Creating harmony between diversified beliefs, faiths and complex social fabric Encouraging citizens to shun Stubborn , old & rigid customs and rituals Eradicating Poverty& containing Population Curtailing High cost of litigation Time bound trials Encouraging ADRs & Plea Bargaining Access of prompt and adequate legal aid to all Removal of Deep rooted biases of gender, caste, creed, religion, skin colour etc. Thank you

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