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Q. What are the Constitutional provisions with respect to ‘Untouchability’?

Q. What are the Constitutional provisions with respect to ‘Untouchability’?
Ans. Article 17 of the Constitution  declares that untouchability is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. It also states that the enforcement of any disability arising out of untouchability shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law. The Parliament is authorised to enact laws to enforce the provisions of Article 17. Accordingly the Parliament enacted Untouchability (Removal) Act, in 1955. In l976, this Act was extended and renamed as Civil Rights Protection Act.
The term untouchability has not been precisely defined in the Constitution or the Act, yet certain disabilities arising out of untouchability have been described as oftences which are given below—

(I) To prevent the entry of a person to public places like hospitals or educational institutions;
(ii) To prevent a person from worshiping in a public worship place;
(iii) To prevent the entry of a person to a place of public entertainment like hotels, shops, etc.; and to impose restrictions in the use of certain public services such as using water from ponds or wells.
Some more offences arising out of untouchability have been included in 1976. These offences are—
(i) To degrade a person of Scheduled Caste on the ground of untouchability;
(ii) To preach sermons in order to justify untouchability directly or indirectly;
(iii) To justify untouchability on the ground of religion or caste system or historical custom or philosophical ideas,
If a person is found guilty of any of the above offences, such person is liable to be punished with an imprisonment for a period from one to two years. The person convicted for these offences shall not be eligible to become a member of Parliament or State Legislatures.


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