15. Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth
(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
(a) access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and palaces of public entertainment; or (b) 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
(4) Nothing in this article or in clause ( 2 ) of Article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
Article 15 of the Constitution of India, 1950 (Draft Article 9) was debated on the 29th of November 1948 in the Constituent Assembly.
The Assembly was unanimous about the importance of the Draft Article in combating discriminatory practices in Indian society. However, members wanted certain tweaks.
Some argued that the Draft Article did not engage with discrimination based on family and descent. Others wanted a specific mention of gardens, roads and tramways as potential public spaces where people could be discriminated. In response to these points, it was clarified that while the Draft Article specifically mentions some spaces, the general nature of the language used in the Article was sufficient to cover a wide range of public spaces including those that were not specified in the Article’s text.
Also, in addition to the clause in the Draft Article which allowed the state to make special provisions for women and children, there was a proposal to add a similar clause for Scheduled Castes and Tribes as well. This was not adopted – it was argued that this approach would perpetuate the segregation of Scheduled Castes and Tribes.
The Article was adopted with some amendments.