Article 18 of Indian Constitution

Introduction


  • Article 18 of Indian Constitution, enshrined under Part III, deals with the abolition of titles.
  • Article 18 of the Indian Constitution is part of the Right to Equality, which is one of the fundamental rights granted to every Indian citizen.
  • It embodies the principle that all individuals are equal before the law and have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
  • In this blog post, we will delve into the details of Article 18, its historical background, its implications, and its contribution to fostering a more egalitarian society.

Historical Context


  • The British Raj, which governed India prior to independence, had a complex system of titles that conferred social status and privileges.
  • These titles were often based on ancestry, wealth, or service to the British Empire.
  • However, with the advent of the Indian independence movement, there was a growing demand to abolish such titles, as they were seen as symbols of colonial oppression and inequality.

Provisions of Article 18 of Indian Constitution


Article 18: Abolition of Titles

  • (1) No title, not being a military or academic distinction, shall be conferred by the State.

Explain:

  • The first clause pertains to the responsibility of the state. Article 18 (1) prohibits the granting of titles by the government to individuals, both citizens and non-citizens, with the exception of titles related to the military and academia, such as Paramveer and Doctor.
  • However, it allows universities to confer titles or honors upon deserving individuals.
  • (2) No citizen of India shall accept any title from any foreign State.

Explain:

  • The second clause and following provisions apply to citizens. It prohibits Indian citizens from receiving any title from a foreign country.
  • (3) No person who is not a citizen of India shall, while he holds any office of profit or trust under the State, accept without the consent of the President any title from any foreign State.

Explain:

  • This provision disallows individuals who are not Indian citizens and hold any office of profit or trust within the Government of India from accepting any title from a foreign country unless they have the approval of the President.
  • (4) No person holding any office of profit or trust under the State shall, without the consent of the President, accept any present, emolument, or office of any kind from or under any foreign State.

Explain:

  • No person, whether they are a citizen or non-citizen holding any official position or charitable role within the Indian government, shall accept any gifts, rewards, or positions of any kind from any foreign nation without the approval of the President.

What is meant by the term “titles”


  • Article 18 of the Indian Constitution deals with the abolition of titles.
  • The term “titles” refers to honorifics or distinctions bestowed upon individuals, such as “Sir,” “Raja,” “Rani,” “Maharaja,” “Maharani,” “Prince,” “Princess,” and other similar titles that denote social status or privileges.
  • Titles such as Rai Bahadur, Khan Bahadur, Sawai, Rai Sahab, Zamindar, Taluqdar, and others were inherited designations commonly used by individuals during the colonial period.
  • The purpose of Article 18 in our Constitution is to ensure equality and fairness for all.
  • The aforementioned exclusion pertains to individuals in military and scholarly professions, as well as civilian honors like Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, and Bharat Ratna.
  • However, it should be noted that these honors cannot be used as a prefix or suffix to anyone’s name.

Understanding the Right to Equality


The Concept of Equality

  • The concept of equality forms the foundation of Article 18.
  • It ensures that every person, regardless of their background or circumstances, is afforded equal opportunities and treatment under the law.
  • Equality does not imply uniformity, but rather the recognition and acceptance of diversity while guaranteeing fairness and justice.

Prohibition of Titles

  • Article 18 prohibits the state from conferring titles on individuals.
  • This provision aims to eradicate any vestiges of feudalism and aristocracy, promoting a society based on meritocracy rather than hereditary privileges.
  • It ensures that no person enjoys special privileges or advantages solely based on their birth or social standing.

Abolition of Untouchability

  • Article 18 also plays a crucial role in abolishing untouchability.
  • Untouchability, a social evil that has plagued Indian society for centuries, refers to the practice of considering certain individuals as impure or socially inferior based on their caste.
  • Article 18 denounces this discriminatory practice and establishes the principle that all individuals are equal and deserve equal respect and dignity.

Equality Before the Law

  • Another significant aspect of Article 18 is the principle of equality before the law.
  • It ensures that every citizen, regardless of their social, economic, or political status, is subject to the same laws and regulations.
  • No one is above the law, and everyone has equal access to justice and legal remedies.

Need for introducing Article 18 of the Indian Constitution


  • Article 18 of the Indian Constitution was introduced to abolish titles and honours in order to promote equality and prevent the establishment of a hierarchical society based on birth or privilege.

Here are some points explaining the need for introducing Article 18:

Abolishing feudalistic practices

  • The introduction of Article 18 aimed to abolish feudalistic practices prevalent in Indian society, where individuals were granted titles and honours based on their social status, caste, or wealth.
  • This helped in breaking down the hierarchical structure and promoting social equality.

Promoting democracy and equality

  • By eliminating titles and honours, Article 18 sought to establish a democratic society where every citizen is treated with equal dignity and has equal opportunities.
  • It aimed to remove the vestiges of colonial-era aristocracy and create a more egalitarian society.

Eradicating discrimination based on birth

  • Article 18 aimed to eradicate discrimination based on birth or inherited privileges.
  • It recognized that an individual’s worth should not be determined by their lineage or social status, but rather by their abilities, achievements, and contributions to society.

Fostering national unity

  • The introduction of Article 18 helped foster national unity by discouraging the division of society into privileged and non-privileged classes.
  • It promoted a sense of common citizenship and encouraged individuals to be recognized for their talents and contributions, rather than their titles or social backgrounds.

Preventing misuse of titles

  • Titles and honours can sometimes be misused to perpetuate inequality and influence.
  • By abolishing such practices, Article 18 aimed to prevent the misuse of titles for personal gain or to exert undue influence over others.
  • It emphasized the principle of meritocracy, where individuals are rewarded based on their abilities and accomplishments.

Reflecting the principles of the Constitution

  • Article 18 aligns with the fundamental principles of the Indian Constitution, such as justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity.
  • It upholds the idea that all individuals are equal before the law and should be treated without any discrimination or undue advantage based on their titles or social standing.
  • Overall, the need for introducing Article 18 of the Indian Constitution was to establish a society based on equality, social justice, and meritocracy, where every citizen has an equal opportunity to succeed and contribute to the nation’s progress. It aimed to break down social barriers and promote a sense of unity among the diverse population of India.

 

Related Links
Article 16 of Indian Constitution Article 352 of Indian Constitution
Monetary Policy Committee Central Administrative Tribunal
Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala Article 360 of Indian Constitution

Landmark judgments under Article 18 of the Indian Constitution


Balaji Raghavan v. Union of India (1996)

  • In this case, the Supreme Court of India held that the conferment of the title “Bharat Ratna” on individuals does not violate Article 18 of the Constitution.
  • The court ruled that the Bharat Ratna is a mere recognition of exceptional public service and does not confer any legal rights or privileges.

Chiranjit Lal Chowdhuri v. Union of India (1950)

  • This case dealt with the constitutional validity of the Preventive Detention Act, 1950.
  • The Supreme Court held that the conferment of titles by the State, even if they are non-hereditary, can be considered as a privilege, and any deprivation of liberty based on such titles would violate Article 18.

Satyendra Narayan Singh v. State of Bihar (1967)

  • In this case, the Supreme Court held that the conferment of the title of “Raja Bahadur” by the State on individuals, even if it does not carry any hereditary privileges, violates Article 18.
  • The court emphasized that Article 18 prohibits the State from granting titles, regardless of whether they have any legal or hereditary significance.

Relevance in Modern India


  • Even in modern India, Article 18 remains highly relevant.
  • It acts as a constant reminder of the country’s commitment to equality and social justice.
  • By embracing a society free from the trappings of titles, India strives to create a merit-based system that rewards hard work, talent, and dedication.

Public Opinion and Perception


  • The perception of Article 18 among the Indian public is generally positive.
  • The majority view it as a progressive provision that aligns with the principles of democracy and equality.
  • However, there are occasional debates and discussions surrounding the efficacy and implementation of the provision, reflecting the diverse opinions within the society.

Constitutional Amendments


  • Since its inception, the Indian Constitution has undergone several amendments to address the changing needs of the society.
  • While Article 18 has remained untouched, it is essential to periodically assess its effectiveness and relevance, considering the evolving social, cultural, and economic dynamics of the country.

Conclusion


  • Article 18 of the Indian Constitution stands as a testament to the country’s commitment to equality and social justice.
  • By abolishing titles and honors, it paves the way for a society that values individuals based on their merit and contributions rather than their titles or privileges.
  • This provision plays a vital role in preserving the democratic fabric of India and fostering a society where every citizen has equal rights and opportunities.
  • As we strive for a more inclusive and egalitarian society, Article 18 serves as a guiding principle that reminds us of the importance of dismantling hierarchies and embracing the spirit of equality for all.

FAQs


The Bharat Ratna is not specifically mentioned under any particular article in the Constitution of India.

It is the highest civilian award in India and is conferred by the President of India. The Bharat Ratna was instituted in 1954 and its regulations are outlined by the Bharat Ratna Scheme, which was initially approved by the Prime Minister and subsequently modified from time to time. The award is given to individuals who have made exceptional contributions in various fields such as art, literature, science, public service, and social work, among others.

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