Q. Analyse the distinguishing features of the notion of Right to Equality in the Constitutions of the USA and India. (250 Words)20 May, 2022 GS Paper 2 Polity & Governance
- First provide a brief background explaining why right to equality has been included in the Constitutions of the USA and India.
- Then, discuss the right to equality in context of India and the US.
Both the United States and India are the largest democratic countries in the world, based on federalism, in their political structure. Democracy can only thrive and flourish where the individuals in society are treated equally and without discrimination. Thus, it was necessary to incorporate provisions in the Constitution to remove the hurdle of existing social and economic inequalities and enable the diverse communities to enjoy the rights and liberties guaranteed under the Constitution.
The right to equality means the absence of legal discrimination on grounds of caste, race, religion, sex, and place of birth and ensures equal rights to all citizens.
- Right to Equality in India: In India, Chapter III named as “Fundamental Rights” was added in the Constitution by the Constituent Assembly. The Constitution follows both the British model of ‘Equality before Law’ and American model of ‘equal protection of law’ (Article 14). It also provides for both civil-legal as well as socio-economic equality. It also highlights substantive equality. The Constitution also provides for affirmative action to ensure equality (Article 16). It focuses on ensuring equality of outcomes along with equality of opportunity. The right also prevents discrimination and abolishes untouchability (Article 17).
- Right to Equality in the US: The original Constitution did not prevent discrimination. The US derived Right to Equality from Declaration of Rights and the Bill of Rights. It was inserted in the Bill of Rights through fourteenth Amendment in year 1868. The US follows the concept of ‘equal protection of law’ which highlights the equal treatment under equal circumstances. The right majorly emphasises on civil and legal equality.
The Right to Equality is considered a basic feature of both the Constitutions and plays a key role in achieving social and economic justice in our society where upliftment of certain classes is considered necessary for our country to flourish. The emphasis is on the fundamental unity of individuals by providing equal opportunities and treatment to all.
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