Article 17: Abolition of untouchability :
Article 17 says that “Untouchability” is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. The enforcement of any disability arising out of “Untouchability” shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.
Untouchability does not include an instigation to social boycott (Davarajiah v. Padamanna, AIR 1961 Mad. 35, 39). Punishment for violation of Article 17 is to be provided by Parliament under Article 35(a)(ii).
In 1955 Parliament enacted the Untouchability (Offences) Act 1955. In 1976, the Act was amended and renamed as the “Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955” making changes in the existing law namely, all offences to be treated as non-compoundable and offences punishable upto three months to be tried summarily; punishment of offences enhanced; preaching of untouchability or its justification made an offence; a machinery envisaged for better administration and enforcement of its provisions.