Student,The ICFAI University Dehradun
A title is something that is attached to one’s name either prefix or suffix. The process of attaching title to a name is not a new concept, it is continued since long ago. During the medieval Era or British Era, the use of titles were prominent like the use of Maharaja , Rajadhiraja, Raja, Lord. These title's where used in order to denote a superior position and to help people in distinguishing common people from the people having such titles. This created discrimination and also sense of insecurities among the common people. The conferment of title is against the principle of social equality which is the very essence of a democratic society. Abolishment of titles is given under part III of the constitution which deals with fundamental right. Article 18 of The Constitution of India, 1950 abolishes the conferment of hereditary or innate titles like Raja, Maharaja, Rai Bahadur, etc. which were used by the kings during ancient times. This step was taken in order to promote social equality. The conferment of titles goes against the principal of democracy which is based on equality, liberty and fraternity.
Objective of Article 18
Article 18 of the Constitution prohibits the state from conferring any title on the citizen of India and also prohibit Indian citizens from accepting titles given by a foreign country except on the approval by the President of India. The objective of introducing Article 18 in the constitution of India is to ensure social equality and to harmonize fraternity among all the people of the country without any discrimination. It is introduced so that no insecurity and inferiority complex arises in the mind of common people against those who posses such titles. The objective of introducing this article is to protect the fundamental principle of democracy that is equality and fraternity. If titles are allowed to be used by some person that will led to insecurities and discrimination on the basis of titles which will hamper the development of strong interpersonal relationships. Therefore to strengthen social solidarity and interpersonal relationships Article 18 was introduced in the Constitution of India, 1950.
What is meant by the term ‘Titles’?
Title were offered to those people who impressed Britishers with their administrative work or those who would appease Britishers by following all their commands and fulfilling their desires. Title is different from award as awards are given to the people for their contribution in the development of science, art, literature. The Britishers granted title to only specific community in order to create a rift between the community while awards are granted without any discrimination on the basis of race, caste , sex, religion or other factors to those individuals who through their skill have contributed effectively in the progress of art, literature, science and other fields. Therefore the awards do not come under the Ambit of Article 18 and provides exemption to academic and military titles. The honours which are given to the people for the outstanding work in the field of art, science, literature cannot be used as prefix or suffix to their names. Article 18 prohibits only innate title and does not prohibit conferment of academic or military titles by the state.
What was the need of introducing Article 18?
Ambedkar explained the purpose of abolishing conferment of the titles in the constitution debate that:
“ The non acceptance of titles maybe treated as a condition for continuation of existing citizenship it's not a right its a requirement or condition that is imposed upon the person or citizen of the country who must abide by their conditions to continue as a citizen of the country.”
The main purpose behind abolishment of title is to maintain social equality in the society and to bridge the gap between superior and inferior by abolishment of Titles whenever any title is used by any person automatically a sense of superiority gets created in the mind of the person on whom such title is conferred, as this led to misuse of the title conferred for the purpose of exploiting the poor people, if titles are given to the people then there will be insecurity among the people and it will affect the sense of harmony and social solidarity among the people. And if social solidarity , brotherhood is disrupted then it would hamper the peace and unity of the society.Titles like Raibahadur , Maharaja, Raja which were prevalent during medieval era were abolished through Article 18 . Conferring titles is violative of article 14 that is right to equality and equal protection of law.In democratic society titles should not be conferred as it would disrupt the very essence of democracy that is equality , liberty , fraternity.
Provisions of Article 18
Article 18 of The Indian Constitution is mentioned in Part (iii) of our Constitution that is Fundamental rights so it is very important for us to know the provisions of article 18. This article dissolves all the innate titles which were used since long ago and exempt military and academic titles which are conferred by the state. This article has four clauses.
Article 18(1) : this prohibits the state from conferring any title on any person whether he or she is a citizen or not a citizen but this clause creates an exemption for academic or military titles. This clause provides for protection to state on the conferment of academic titles like Bharat Ratna , Padma Bhushan , Padma Vibhushan on the people for their outstanding work.
Article 18 (2) : It prohibits the citizen of India from accepting any title conferred on them by a foreign state.
Article 18(3) : It prohibits a person who is non citizen of India but working in India holding a office of profit under the state that means working in any department or organisation under Central or State Government from accepting any title from any foreign state or country without the consent of president.
Article 18(4): It prohibits any citizen or non citizen holding any office or profit under Central or State Government from accepting any present or office of any kind form a foreign state. Office or profit is not defined in the constitution of India nor it is defined in the representation of peoples Act 1951. The definition is evolved through judicial interpretation. It means a position that brings to the person who holds such position any type of financial gain or advantage. The clause (3) and (4) are added to ensure that a foreigner or non citizen should remain loyal , show his or her allegiance towards state and do not commit breach of trust reposed on him or her by state.
Balazi Raghavan v. Union of India (1996) ,SCC 361
Facts of the case : it was noticed that the awards given to the awardees were used as title by adding to their names in order to create a sense of superiority. In the light of these events of the misuse of national awards the constitutionality of awards was challenged as violative of article 18 of the constitution. The petitioner Balaji Raghavan filed a petition for issuing of writ of mandamus in the High Court of Madras to prevent Union of India from conferring National Award.
Issue Raised : Whether the academic awards like Bharat Ratna , Padma Bhushan , Padma Vibhushan comes within the ambit of Article 18 clause 1 as under title ?
Contention of the Petitioner
The petitioner contented that in our constitution that distinction between awards and titles is no where defined and also the conferment of national awards create distinction on the basis of rank as it creates superiority in the mind of the person on whom such award is conferred therefore violation of article 14 of the Constitution that is right to equality and equal protection before law.
Contention of the Respondent
The respondent contented that awards are granted for freezing the outstanding contribution of people in the field of Art, Science, literature in order to encourage them to contribute more in the field so it has reasonable Nexus with the objective that it wants to achieve through national awards that is promotion of outstanding work in the field of art , science and literature. Therefore the exemption under article 18(1) truly holds good and correct from the point of view of utilitarianism theory that is greatest happiness for the greatest number of people so important from the point of view of society.
It was held that national awards do not confer titles and are not violative of the principles of equality as mentioned in Article 14 . Awarding people would act as incentive for promoting outstanding contribution in the field of Art Science literature. Therefore the national awards do not come under article 18 clause 1 under titles but the award should be given after proper research on the basis of merit and without any biaseness.
Indira Jaisingh v. Supreme Court of India
In this case a petition was filed to restrict the use of the label of senior advocate because it creates discrimination by granting few privileges to the senior advocate and therefore violative of article 14 ,15 of the Indian Constitution. The supreme court held that the distinction that is done between senior and junior advocate is on the basis of reasonable Grounds which is mentioned in section 16 of the advocate act 1961 that is skill, experience and knowledge of law. The supreme court held that it is not the title it's merely distinction that is created on the basis of reasonable Grounds to give recognition to those advocates who have contributed to this legal sector for a long period of time and for acknowledging their experience and skills such distinction and privilege associated with it is given. Therefore designation like senior advocate is not violative of article 18 and article 14 of the constitution.
The conformance of awards causes positive discrimination as the discrimination caused between awardees and ordinary citizen is done for acknowledging the contribution of people in Art, Science, literature and other fields. Therefore it will act as incentive for the awardees and ordinary citizen by promoting healthy competition. Awarding citizens is constitutionally valid and not violative of article 14 as there is reasonable access between the objective that the legislature wants to achieve through conformance of award but while granting the award the legislation should grant on the basis of merit and not randomly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q.1 What are the differences between title and awards?
The titles were offered to those who would impress Britishers with their administrative work and by fulfilling commands of Britishers whereas awards were given for acknowledging the outstanding work and without discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, sex ,race, religion.
Q.2 Does Padma awards and Bharat Ratna come under the ambit of article 18(1) of the Constitution of India?
No, these awards are of military or academic natured awards and so are exempted from prohibition under article 18 clause 1 of the Constitution of India. And it was clearly held in the case of Balaji Raghavan versus Union of India that the conformance of national awards is neither violative of article 18 nor violative of article 14 as it is given for acknowledging the outstanding work of the people in the field of literature Art Science and other fields and there by promoting more such work in future.
Q.3 Is Article 18 of the Constitution of India constitutionally valid or not ?
Yes, article 18 of the Constitution of India is constitutionally and legally valid as it is held in various case laws like Balaji Raghavan v. Union of India 1996 and Indira Jaisingh v. Supreme Court of India. Through these cases the constitutionality of article 18 is established as legally valid and not violative of article 14 of the Constitution of India.