Article 15 and Prohibition of Discrimination in Indian Constitution

Article 15 (1) and (2) prohibit the state from discriminating any citizen on ground of any religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them. These articles provide that there shall be no restriction on any person on any of the above bases to access and use the public places such as shops, restaurants, hotels, places of public entertainment etc. or 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.

From article 15(3) onwards, the constitution starts protective discrimination. Article 15(3) empowers the state to make special provisions for women and children. Article 15(4) empowers the state to make special provisions for advancement of socially and educationally backwards or SC/STs. Article 15(5) goes one step further and empowers the state to make reservation in admission into education institutions including private schools or colleges whether or not aided by government. Only minority educational institutions (such as Madarsas) have been left out of this provision. Thus, article 15(3) and 15(4) are foundational bricks of reservation in the country.

Coming to article 16, the articles 16 (1) and (2) give a general rule that there shall be equal opportunity for all citizens in government jobs. However, article 16(3), 16(4), 16(4-A) and 16 (4-B) provide further strength to all sorts of discrimination among the people on account of their unequal status.

  • Article 16(3) allows the state to make any law making residence qualifications necessary in the case of government jobs, thus making the domicile provisions stronger.
  • Article 16(4) allows the state to make reservation for any backward class of citizens which in the opinion of the state is not adequately represented in services. This opens door for OBC reservations.
  • Article 16(4-A) empowers the state to make reservation in Promotions also for SCs, STs and OBCs.


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