Discrimination (Article 15 and 16)

Article 15:

Article 15 is one of the fundamental rights given under Part III of the Constitution of India. Article 15(1) prohibits the state to discriminate against any citizen on the basis of religion, sex, caste, race, or place of birth. Article 15(2) further goes on to the elaboration to the first clause and states that no citizen shall be subject to any disability, liability, restriction, or condition with the use of different materials and places like public transports, roads, shops, restaurants, and so on. Article 15(3) states that this article doesn’t restrict the state to make any special provision for women, children, or for any backward classes. Article 15(4) states that nothing in this article and Article 29(2) shall prevent the state for making provision for the advancement of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Article 15(5) prohibits this article or Article 19(1)(g) from the state to make special provisions for women, backward classes in various places like the educational institutions, and so.


  • In the case of D.P. Joshi v. State of M.P.[1], it was held by the Supreme Court that laws that discriminate on the basis of residence cannot be said to be violative of Article 15. As there lies a difference between place of birth and residence.
  • In the case of M.R. Balaji v. State of Mysore[2], it was held that only the caste of a group of persons cannot be the only factor in deciding whether a particular class is backward or not. Under Article 15(4), backwardness is termed as social and educational. The court invalidated the way backwardness is mostly based on and that is caste.
  • In the case of Jayasree v. State of Kerala[3], the Supreme Court was brought to question whether constitutional protection can be given to someone who belonged to the backward community if his/her family’s income exceeds the limit of the amount per annum. It was observed by the court that only those which are mentioned as backward classes, and their economic annual income is less than the prescribed limit were socially and educationally backward.

Read Also: Writs – A Tool To Protect Fundamental Rights Of Citizens

Article 16:

Article 16 is one of the fundamental rights given under Part III of the Constitution of India. Article 15 and 16, both talks about right to equality. Article 16(1) states that ‘there shall be equality of opportunities for all the citizens in matter relating to employment to any office under the State. Article 16(2) speaks about the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, race, sex, descent, place of birth, residence in the matter of employment by the State. Article 16(3) gives power to the Parliament to make any law for a class or classes of employment to an office. Article 16(4) gives the State the power to make any provision for the reservation of appointments in favor of a backward class of people under the State. Article 16(5) states that ‘nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any law providing incumbent of an office in connection with any religious, institutional affairs, or to any person belonging to any particular denomination’.


  • In the case of Devdasan v. Union of India[4], Supreme Court was asked to adjudge the validity of the rule which says as 17.5% posts were to be reserved for the Scheduled Castes/Tribes. If the vacancy was not full, the empty posts were to be carried over to the next year. The Supreme Court declared that more than 50% reservation of posts in a single year would be unconstitutional as it destroys Article 16(1). But this decision was overruled now, as 10% reservation now will be given to the general class people also whose annual income comes under particular value.
  • In the case of State of Karnataka v. Umadevi[5], it was held by Supreme Court that absorption, regularization, contractual, casual, daily wage employees appointed or recruited and continued for long in the employment goes against the constitutional scheme of public employment.
  • In the case of Food Corporation of India v. Bhartiya Khadya Nigam Karamchari Sangh[6], it was held that classification between employee obtaining higher qualification after joining and an employee already in possession of such qualification before joining bears just and rational nexus to the object sought to be achieved and does not amount to discrimination offending Articles 14 and 16.

[1]D.P. Joshi v. State of M.P., AIR 1955 SC 334.

[2]M.R. Balaji v. State of Mysore, AIR 1963 SC 649.

[3]Jayasree v. State of Kerala, AIR 1976 SC 2381.

[4]Devdasan v. Union of India, AIR 1964 SC 179.

[5]State of Karnataka v. Umadevi, (2006) 4 SCC 1.

[6]Food Corporation of India v. Bhartiya Khadya Nigam Karamchari Sangh, (2012) 2 SCC 307.

Raj Aryan

Lloyd Law College

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