Reading Swaraj into Article 15: A New Deal for All Minorities
Volume 2 Issue 3 (2009)
The recent judgement of the Delhi High Court in the Naz Foundation case goes beyond merely decriminalising homosexuality. The progressive reinterpretation of Article 15 of the Constitution has brought out its distinct character, which has for long been buried under Article 14 and the general promise of equality it offers. Four key innovation shave been introduced by this reformulation of Article 15, which are likely to give unparalleled protection to all minorities from discrimination. These innovations are 1) the introduction of ‘strict scrutiny’ to review protection under Article 15, 2)the understanding that not only the specified grounds but also grounds analogous to them are to be protected, 3) protection against discrimination not only from the state but also private parties and4) protection from not only direct but also indirect discrimination. The author argues that locating of the right against discrimination in the bedrock of Swaraj or personal autonomy is the crucial tool for justifying the introduction of these innovations. The author concludes that this innovative reinterpretation of Article 15 is likely to give greater credence to anti-discrimination law in the country, bolstering it further which is likely to benefit all minorities – thus reaffirming the counter majoritarian role of the judiciary.