ARTICLES 15 AND 16 (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Polity)

News-CRUX-10     10th May 2024        

Context: A political slugfest has emerged over the reservation issues with the ruling party making outlandish remarks about the opposition party’ demand for caste census by linking it to religion.

Articles 15 and 16

  • Article 15: The state is prohibited from discriminating against any citizen solely based on religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.

o No citizen shall face any form of disadvantage or limitation solely due to religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth in accessing public spaces.

  • Article 16: This provision ensures equal opportunities for all citizens regarding employment or appointment to any state office.

o Citizens cannot face discrimination or be disqualified from employment or state office based solely on religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, or residence.

  • Special Provisions: These articles allow for special provisions for OBC, SC, and ST for social advancement.
  • Classification of OBC and MBC: OBC refers to socially and educationally backward castes, while some states further classify certain castes as Most Backward Classes (MBC), varying reservation percentages accordingly.
  • Supreme Court Rulings on Reservation: In the Indra Sawhney case (1992), the Supreme Court upheld 27% reservation for OBC, recognizing caste as a determinant of backwardness.
  • Reservation Cap and Exclusions: While upholding equality, the court imposed a 50% cap on reservations, with exceptions for extraordinary circumstances.
  • Janhit Abhiyan Case (2022): In this case, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of Economic Weaker Section (EWS) reservation, recognizing economic criteria as a legitimate basis for reservation.

Affirmative action

  • About: It is an active effort to improve employment or educational opportunities for members of minority groups and for women.
  • In the U.S., there is ‘affirmative action’ that consists of government-approved and voluntary private programs granting special consideration to racial minorities like African-American and Latin-American.