Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 July 2014, 15:15 GMT

India: Act No. 22 of 1955, Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955

Publisher National Legislative Bodies
Publication Date 1 June 1955
Cite as India: Act No. 22 of 1955, Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 [India],  1 June 1955, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b57c0.html [accessed 30 July 2014]
Comments This is an unofficial consolidation. The Act, dated 8 May 1955, entered into force on 1 June 1955. The amendment included here was Act No. 106 of 1975, which entered into force 19 January 1976.
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

An Act to prescribe punishment for the preaching and 2practice of "Untouchability" for the enforcement of any disability arising therefrom and for matters connected therewith.

Be it enacted by Parliament in the Sixth Year of the Republic of India as follows:

The Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 is an Act to prescribe punishment for the preaching and practice of untouchability for the enforcement of any disability arising therefrom Art. 17 of the Constitution of India specifies that untouchability is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden.2a Court is left with no option and is bound to pass a sentence of imprisonment and also fine while convicting accused under Section 4 of the Protection of Civil Rights Act2b where it is proved that accused prevented Harijans from tarring water on the ground of untouchability, Conviction was held to be justified.2c

1.Short title, extent and commencement:

(1)This Act may be called 1the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955.

(2)It extends3 to the whole of India.

(3)It shall come into force on such date4 as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint.

2.Definitions:

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,-

5(a)"civil rights" means any right accruing to a person by reason of the abolition of untouchability by Article 17 of the Constitution;

6(aa)"hotel" includes a refreshment room, a boarding house, a lodging house, a coffee house and a cafe;

7 (b)"place" includes a house, building and other structure and premises, and also includes a tent, vehicle and vessel;

(c)"place of public entertainment" includes any place to which the public are admitted and in which an entertainment is provided or held;

Explanation:- "Entertainment" includes any exhibition, performance, game, sport and any other form of amusement;

(d)"place of public worship" means a place by whatever name known, which is used as a place of public religious worship or which is dedicated generally to, or is used generally by persons professing any religion or belonging to any religious denomination or any section thereof, for the performance of any religious service or for offering prayers therein 8and includes-

(i)all lands and subsidiary shrines appurtenant or attached to any such place,

(ii)a privately owned place of worship which is, in fact allowed by the owner thereof to be used as a place of public worship, and

(iii)such land or subsidiary shrine appurtenant to such privately owned place of worship as is allowed by the owner thereof to be used as a place of public religious worship;

9(da)"prescribed" means prescribed by rules made under this Act;

(db)"Scheduled Castes" has the meaning assigned to it in Clause (24) of Art, 366 of the Constitution;

(e)"shop" means any premises where goods are sold either wholesale or by retail or both wholesale and by retail and includes-

(i)anyplace from where goods are sold bye hawker or vendor or from a mobile van or cart;

(ii)a laundry and a hair-cutting saloon;

(iii)any other place where services are rendered to customers;

3.Punishment for enforcing religious disabilities:

Whoever on the ground of "untouchability" prevents any person-

(a)from entering any place of public worship which is open to other persons professing the same religion or any section thereof as such person; or

(b)from worshipping or offering prayers or performing any religious service in any place of public worship, or bathing in, or using the waters of, any sacred tank, well, spring or water-course, river or lake or bathing at any that of such tank, water course river or lake) in the same manner and to the same extent as is permissible to the other person professing the same religion10 or any section thereof, as such person;

11shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than one month and not more than six months and also with fine which shall be not less than one hundred rupees and not more than five hundred rupees.

Explanation:- For the purposes of this Section and Section 4 persons professing the Buddhist, Sikh and Jaina religion or persons professing the Hindu religion in any of its forms or developments including Virashaivas, Lingayats, Adivasis, followers of Brahmo, Prarthana, Arya Samaj end the Swaminarayana Sampradaya shall be deemed to be Hindus.

4.Punishment for enforcing social disabilities:

Whoever on the ground of "untouchability" enforces against any person any disability with regard to-

(i)access to any shop, public restaurant, hotel or place of public entertainment; or

(ii)the use of any utensils, and other Articles kept in any public restaurant, hotel, dharmasala, sarai or musafirkhana for the use of the general public or of 12any section thereof; or

(iii)the practice of any profession or the carrying on of any occupation trade 13or business or employment in any job; or

(iv)the use of, or access to, any river, stream, spiring, well, tank, cistern, water-tap or other watering place, or any bathing ghat burial or cremation ground, any sanitary convenience, any road, or passage, or any other place of public resort which other members of the public, or 14any section thereof, have a right to use or have access to; or

(v)the use of or access to, any place used for a charitable or a public purpose maintained wholly or partly out of State funds or dedicated to the use of the general public or 14any section thereof; or

(vi)the enjoyment of the benefit under a charitable trust created for the benefit of the general public or of 15any section thereof; or

(vii)the use of, or access to, any public conveyance; or

(viii)the construction, acquisition, or occupation of any residential premises in any locality, whatsoever; or

(ix)the use of any dhammsala, sarai or musafirkhana which is open to the general public, or to 12any section thereof; or

(x)the observance of any social or religious custom, usage or ceremony or taking part in, or 14taking out, any religious, social or cultural processing; or

(xi)the use of jewellery and finery,

shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than one month and not more than six months and also with fine which shall be not less than one hundred rupees and not more than five hundred rupees.

16Explanation:- For the purposes of this Section, "enforcement of any disability" includes any discrimination on the ground of "untouchability".

5.Punishment for refusing to admit persons to hospitals, etc .:

Whoever on the ground of "untouchability-

(a)refuses, admission to any person to any hospital, dispensary, educational institution or any hotel 17x x x if such hospital, dispensary, educational institution or hotel is established or maintained for the benefit of the general public or any section thereof; or

(b)does any act which discriminates against any such persons after admission to any of the aforesaid institutions;

18shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than one month and not more than six months and also with fine which shall be not less than one hundred rupees and not more than five hundred rupees.

6.Punishment for refusing to sell goods or render services:

Whoever an the ground of "untouchability" refuses to sell any goods or refuses to render any service to any person at the same time and place and on the same terms and conditions at/on which such goods are sold or services are rendered to other persons in the ordinary course of business 19shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than one month and not more than six months and also with fine which shall be not less than one hundred rupees and not more than five hundred rupees.

7.Punishment for other offences arising out of "untouchability":

(1)Whoever-

(a)prevents any person from exercising any right accruing to him by reason of the abolition of "untouchability" under Article 17 of the Constitution; or

(b)molests, injuries, annoys, obstructs or causes or attempts to cause obstruction to any person in the exercise of any such right or molest, injuries, annoys or boycotts any person by reason of his having exercised any such right; or

(c)by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, incites or encourages any person or class of persons or the public generally to practise "untouchability" in any form whatsoever: 20or

21(d)insults or attempts to insult on the ground of "untouchability" a member of a Scheduled Caste;

22shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than one month and not more than six months, and also with fine which shall be not less than one hundred rupees and not more than five hundred rupees.

23Explanation I: A person shall be deemed to boycott another person who-

(a)refuses to such other person or refuses to permit such other person, to use or occupy any house or land or refuses to deal with, work for hire for, or do business with, such other person or to render to him receive from him any customary service, or refuses to do any of the said things on the terms on which such things would be commonly done in the ordinary course of business; or

(b)abstains from such social, professional or business relations as he would ordinarily maintain with other person.

24Explanation II:- For the purpose of clause (c) a person shall be deemed to incite or encourage the practice of 'untouchability'-

(i)if he, directly or indirectly, preaches "untouchability" or it practices in any form; or

(ii)if he justifies whether an historical, philosophical or religious grounds or on the ground of any trading of the caste system or on any other ground, the practice of "untouchability" in any form.

(1-A)

Whoever commits any offence against the person or property of any individual as a reprisal or revenge for his having exercised any right accruing to him by reason of the abolition of "untouchability" under Article 17 of the Constitution, shall, where the offence is punishable with imprisonment for a term exceeding two years, be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall be not less than two years and also with fine.

(2)Whoever-

(i)denies to any person belonging to his community or any section thereof any right or privilege to which such person would be entitled as a member of such community or section; or

(ii)takes any part in the ex-communication of such person, on the ground that such person has refused to practise "untouchability" that such person has done any act in furtherance of the objects of this Act,

25shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than one month and not more than six months, and also with fine which shall be not less than one hundred rupees and not more than five hundred rupees.

267-A.Unlawful compulsory labour when to be deemed to be a practice of "untouchability":

(1)Whoever compels any person, on the ground of "untouchability", to do any scavenging or sweeping or to remove any carcass or to flay any animal, or to remove the umbilical cord or to do any other job of a similar nature shall be deemed to have enforced a disability arising out of "untouchability"

(2)Whoever is deemed under sub-section (1) to have enforced a disability arising out of "untouchability" shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall be not less than three months and not more than six months and also with fine which shall be not less than one hundred rupees and not more than five hundred rupees.

Explanation:- For the purposes of the section, "compulsion" includes a threat of social or economic boycott.

8.Cancellation or suspension of licences in certain cases:

When a person who is convicted of an offence under Section 6, holds any licence under any law for the time being in force in respect of any profession, trade, calling or employment in relation to which the offence is committed, the court trying the offence may, without prejudice to any other penalty to which such person may be liable under that section, direct that the licence shall stand cancelled or to be suspended for such period, as the Court may deem fit, and every order of the Court so cancelling or suspending a licence shall have effect as if it had been passed by the authority competent to cancel or suspend the licence under any such law;

Explanation:- In this section, "licence" includes a permit or a permission.

9.Resumption or suspension of grants made by Government:

Where the manager or trustee of a place of public worship or any educational institution 27or hostel which is in respect of a grant of land or money from the Government is convicted of an offence under this Act and such conviction is not reversed or quased in any appeal or revision, the Government may, if in its opinion the circumstances of the case warrant such a Course, direct the suspension or resumption of the whole or any part of such grant.

10.Abetment of offence:

Whoever abets any offence under this Act shall, be punishable with the punishment provided for the offence.

28Explanation:- A public servant who wilfully neglects the investigation of any offence punishable under this Act shall be deemed to have abetted an offence punishable under this Act.

2910-A.Power to State Government to impose collective fine:

(1)If, after an inquiry in the prescribed manner, the State Government is satisfied that the inhabitants of an area are concerned in, or abetting the commission of, any offence punishable under this Act, or harbouring persons concerned in the commission of such offence or failing to render all the assistance in their power to discover or apprehend the offender or offenders or suppressing material evidence of the commission of such offence, the State Government, may, by notification in the Official Gazette, impose a collective fine on such inhabitants and apportion such fine amongst the inhabitants who are liable collectively to pay it, and such apportionment shall be made according to the State Government's judgment of the respective means of such inhabitants and in making any such apportionment the Government may assign a portion of such fine to a Hindu undivided family to be payable by it:

Provided that the fine apportioned to an inhabitant shall not be realised until the petition, if any, filed by him under sub-section (3) is disposed of.

(2)The notification made under sub-section (1) shall be proclaimed in the area by beat of drum or in such other manner as the State Government may think best in the circumstances to bring the imposition of the collective fine to the notice of the inhabitants of the said area.

(3)

(a)Any person aggrieved by the imposition of the collective fine under sub-section (1) or by the order of apportionment, may, within the prescribed period, file a petition before the State Government or such other authority as that Government may specify in this behalf for being exempted from such fine or for modification of the order of apportionment:

Provided that no fee shall be charged for filing such petition.

(b)The State Government or the authority specified by it shall, after giving to the petitioner a reasonable opportunity of being heard, pass such order as it may think fit:

Provided that the amount of the fine exempted or reduced under this section shall not be realisable from any person, and the total fine imposed on the inhabitants of an area under sub-section (1) shall be deemed to have been reduced to that extent.

(4)Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (4), the State Government may exempt the victims of any offence punishable under this Act or any person who does not, in its opinion, fail within the category of persons specified in sub-section (1), from the liability to pay the collective fine imposed under sub-section (1), or any portion thereof.

(5)The portion of collective fine payable by any person (including a Hindu undivided family) may be recovered in the manner provided by the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974), for the recovery of fines imposed by a Court as if such portion were a fine imposed by a Magistrate.

11.Enhanced penalty on subsequent conviction:

Whoever having already been convicted of an offence under this Act or of an abetment of such offence is again convicted of any such offence or abetment, 30shall, on conviction, be punishable-

(a)for the second offence, with imprisonment for a term of not less than six months and not more than one year, and also with fine which shall be not less than two hundred rupees and not more than five hundred rupees;

(b)for the third offence subsequent to the third offence with imprisonment for a term of not less than one year and not more than two years, and also with fine which shall be not less than five hundred rupees and not more than one thousand rupees.

12.Presumption by Courts in certain cases:

Where any act constituting an offence under this Act is committed in relation to a member of a Scheduled Caste 31xx, the Court shall presume, unless the contrary is proved, that such Act was committed on the ground of "untouchability".

13.Limitation of Jurisdiction of Civil Courts:

(1)No Civil Court shall entertain or continue any suit or proceeding or shall pass any decree or order or executive wholly or partially any decree or order if the claim involved in such suit or proceeding or if the passing of such decree or order or if such execution would, in any way, be contrary to the provisions of this Act.

(2)No Court shall, in adjudicating any matter or executing any decree or order, recognise any custom or usage imposing any disability on any person on the ground of "untouchability".

3214.Offences by companies:

(1)If the person committing an offence under this Act is a company, every person who at the time the offence was committed was in-charge of, and was responsible to, the company for the conduct of the business of the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the offences and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly:

Provided that nothing contained in this sub-section shall render any such, person liable to any punishment, if he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence.

(2)Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), where an offence under this Act has been committed with consent of any director or manager, secretary or other officer of the company, such director, manager, secretary or other officer shall also be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

Explanation:- For the purposes of this section

(a)"company" means anybody corporate and includes a firm or other association of individuals; and

(b)"director" in relation to a firm means a partner in the firm.

14.Protection of action taken in good faith:

(1)No suit, prosecution or other legal proceeding shall lie against the Central Government or a State Government for anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done under this Act.

(2)No suit or other legal proceeding shall lie against the Central Government or a State Government for any damage caused or likely to be caused by anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done under this Act.

3315.Offences to be cognizable and triable summarily:

(1)Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974), every offence punishable under this Act shall be cognizable and every such offence, except where it is punishable with imprisonment for a minimum term exceeding three months, may be tried summarily by a Judicial Magistrate of the first class or in a Metropolitan area by a Metropolitan Magistrate in accordance with the procedure specified in the said Code.

(2)Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974), when any public servant is alleged to have committed the offence of abetment of an offence punishable under this Act, while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of his official duty, no court shall take cognizance of such offence of abetment except with the previous sanction-

(a)of the Central Government, in the case of a person employed in connection with the affairs of the Union; and

(b)of the State Government, in the case of a person employed in connection with the affairs of a State.

15-A.Duty of State Government to ensure that the rights accruing from the abolition of "untouchability" may be availed of by the concerned persons:

(1)Subject to such rules as the Central Government may make in this behalf, the State Government shall take such measures as may be necessary for ensuring that the rights from the abolition of "untouchability" or made available to, and are availed of by, the persons subjected to any disability arising out of "untouchability".

(2)in particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the provisions of sub-section (1), such measures may include:-

(i)the provision of adequate facilities, including legal aid, to the persons subjected to any disability arising out of "untouchability" to enable them to avail themselves of such rights;

(ii)the appointment of officer for initiating or exercising supervision over prosecution for the contravention of the provision of this Act;

(iii)the setting up of Special Courts for the trial of offences under this Act;

(iv)the setting, up of Committees at such appropriate levels as the State Government may think fit to assist the State Government in formulating or implementating such measures;

(v)provision for periodic survey of the working of the provisions of this Act with a view to suggesting measures for the better implementation of the provisions of this Act;

(vi)the identification of the areas where persons are under any disability arising out of "untouchability" and adoption of such disability from such areas.

(3)The Central Government shall take such steps as may be necessary to co-ordinate the measures taken by the State Government under sub-section (1).

(4)The Central Government shall, every year, place on the Table of each House of Parliament, a report on the measures taken by itself and by the State Governments in pursuance of the provisions of this section.

16.Act to override other laws:

Save as otherwise expressly provided in this Act, the provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent/herewith contained in any other law for the time being in-force, or any custom or usage or any instrument having effect by virtue of any such law or any decree or order of any Court or other authority.

3416-A.Probation of Offenders Act, 1958, not to apply to persons above the age of fourteen years:

The provisions of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958, (20 of 1958) shall not apply to any person above the age of fourteen years who is found guilty of having committed any offence punishable under this Act.

16-B.Power to make rules:

(1)The Central Government may by notification in the Official Gazette, make rules to carryout the provisions of this Act.

(2)Every rule made by the Central Government under this Act, shall be laid, as soon as may be after it is made, before each House of Parliament while it is in session for a total period of thirty days which may be comprised in one session or in two or more successive sessions, and if, before the expiry of the session immediately following the session or the successive sessions aforesaid, both Houses agree in making any modification in the rule or both Houses agree that the rule should not be made; the rule shall thereafter have effect only in such modified form or to be of no effect, as the case may be; so however, that any such modification or annulment shall be without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under that rule.

17.Repeal:

The enactments specified in the Schedule are hereby repealed to the extent to which they or any of the provisions contained therein correspond or are repugnant to this Act or to any of the provision contained therein.



2 Substituted by Act 106 of 1976, for ‘Practice of Untouchability', w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

2a AIR 1958 Mys. 84 Devaraiah vs. Padmanna. AIR 1982 SC 1473 People's Union for Democratic Rights vs. Union of India.

2b 1992 Cr. L. J. 158 State vs. Annappa.

2c 1993 (1) ALT (Cri.) 309 State vs. Appa Balu.

1 Substituted by Section 3, Act, 106 of 1976, for "the Untouchability (Offences) Act", w.e.f. 19-1-1976.

3 Extended to Goa, Daman and Diu with modification by Regulation 12 of 1962, Section 3 and Schedule to Dadra and Nagar Haveli by Regulation 6 of 1963, Section 2 and Schedule I (with effect from 1st July, 1965) and not to Pondicherry by Regulation 7 of 1963, Section 3 and Schedule I with effect from 1st October, 1963.

4 1st June, 1955, vide Notification No. S.R.O. 1109, dated the 23rd May, 1955, Gazette of India 1955, Extraordinary, part II, Section 3, page 1971.

5 Inserted by Act, 106 of 1976, Section 4, w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

6 The original cl. (a) was re-lettered as clause (aa) by Section 4, ibid, w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

7 Substituted by Section 4, ibid for clause (b), w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

8 Substituted by Act 106 of 1976, Section 4 for certain words, w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

9 Inserted by Act 106 of 1076, Section 4, w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

10 The words "or belonging to the same religious denomination" omitted by Section 4 by Act 106 of 1976, w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

11 Substituted by Section 5, Act, 106 of 1976, for certain words, w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

12 Substituted by Section 6. Act 106 of 1976, for certain words, w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

13 Inserted by Section 6, ibid, for "taking part in any religious procession", w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

14 Substituted by Section 6 ibid, for "taking part in any religious procession", w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

15 Substituted by Section 7 ibid, for certain words, w.e.f 19-11-1976.

16 Ins. By Act 106 of 1976, Section 6 (w.e.f. 19-11-1976).

17 The words "attached thereto" omitted by Section 7, Act 106 of 1976, w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

18 Substituted by Act 106 of 1976, Section 8, for certain words, w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

19 Substituted by Section 8, Act 106 of 1976, for certain words, w.e.f. 19-11-1976

20 Inserted by Section 9, ibid, w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

21 Inserted by Section 6, ibid, w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

22 Substituted by Section 9, ibid, fer certain words, w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

23 Renumbered by Act 106 of 1976, Section 9, w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

24 Inserted by Act 106 of 1976, Section 9, w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

25 Substituted by Section 9, ibid, for certain words, w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

26 Inserted by Secion 10, ibid, w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

27 Inserted by Act 106 of 1967, Section 11, w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

28 Inserted by Section 12, ibid, w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

29 Inserted by Section 13, ibid, w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

30 Substituted by Act 106 of 1976, Section 14, for certain words, w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

31 Words "as defined in clause (24) of Article 366 of the Constitution" omitted by Section 15, Act, 106 of 1976, w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

32 Inserted by Act, 104 of 1976, Section 16, w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

33 Substituted by Section 17, Act, 106 of 1976, Section 15, w.e.f. 19-11-1975.

34 Inserted by Act, 106 of 1976, Section 18-C, w.e.f. 19-11-1976.

Search Refworld

Countries