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Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955

It is an Act for penalising anyone who violates the rights of any Indian citizen. It is primarily known as ICRA, i.e. INDIAN CIVIL RIGHTS ACT.


Protection of civil rights act, 1955 is a federal law. As per this law Indian governments cannot execute any law that violates anyone’s rights. ICRA means a right accruing an individual because of the abolition of “untouchability” by article 17 of the Constitution of INDIA. It is somewhat like the US Constitution, which guarantees individual freedom against federal government actions. Let us learn about the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955.

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Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 (PCR)

Punishment for prosecuting religious disabilities – sacred tank, river, well, etc.

  • Penalising for prosecuting social disabilities – sop, public restaurant, hotel, place of public entertainment, carrying on any occupation, trade or business, public conveyance 
  • Cancellation of licence in some instances
  • Suspensions made by the government
  • Penalising for refusing to admit persons to hospitals, dispensaries, educational institutions, hostels, and others
  • Penalising for refusing to sell goods 
  • Penalising for other offences – molests, injuries and obstructs by words either spoken or written or by signs, insults, refuses to occupy any house or land or work or business, directly or indirectly preaches practice of untouchability 
  • A public servant who neglects the investigation of any offence is punishable
  • Increment of penalty on a subsequent conviction
  • Limitation of civil courts – No civil court will entertain or continue any suit in any way contrary to the provisions of this Act

ICRA allows freedom of religion to the people, this does not stop the tribal people to follow any religion. This act also allows a criminal suspects a right to a lawyer to defend themselves.

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Civil Rights under Indian Constitution

Article 14-18 contains the right to equality provision. These articles influence equality based on faith, opportunity in employment, and demolishment of untouchability. Article 17 aims to demolish untouchability in India. “Untouchability” is an illegal offence under the law. In 1955 under Article 35(a)(2), the untouchability act was passed. This amendment is under the Untouchability Amendment and Provision Bill, passed by the parliament and enforced from 1976, termed as Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955.

Article 17- Abolition of Untouchability

Under Article 17 of the constitution of India, untouchability is demolished. Article 17 states that the practice of untouchability in any form is prohibited, and the offence of untouchability is punishable under Civil Rights protection. This article is for all Indian citizens.

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Significance of the Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA)

With the increase in the discrimination against untouchability, it was much necessary to bring some changes. These provisions have helped remove the differences between the castes even though it is practised in some places. These provisions helped immensely reduce the difference between the upper and lower caste. 

It provides rights to the people of lower-level or cast to exercise their rights and live a normal life like everyone else. The practice of untouchability makes them feel isolated and violated. The people of higher levels or caste treat them inhumanly, which negatively impacts society. With the introduction of this Act, this discrimination in India in terms of the cast has ended.

Provision of PCR 1955

Untouchability shatters self-confidence and respect for people. To demolish this evil practice the government introduced equality law under the Protection of Civil Rights. This Act only focuses o the provisions of punishment that protect untouchables from various kinds of discrimination. 

Fundamental Provisions of the Protection of Civil Rights Act

Section 3: If anyone forbids an individual to enter a religious place on the basis of caste discrimination, then he/she would be punished for one month or maximum till six months.

Section 4: if anyone forbids a person to enter a public place such as hotels, restaurants, or stops them from using their commodities on basis of caste discrimination, then the punishment will be imprisonment of one month or six months (not more than that).

Section 5: if a person denies someone from entering the hospital, dispensary, institution, or any hostel which is for public use will be penalised with the imprisonment of one month or more but not more than six months.

Section 6: if someone denies an individual from selling goods and rendering services to any person on the basis of untouchability, then he or she will be penalised with imprisonment for one month or more but not more than six months.

Section 7: if someone forbids an individual from exercising Article 17, causing an injury, or insult, then the punishment will be imprisonment of a month or six months. Moreover, if a person occupies someone’s land or other property on the ground of untouchability, then he or she will be fined as well as imprisoned. 

Section 7A: On the basis of untouchability if individuals keep another person as their slave, then they will be penalised with the imprisonment of three months or more but not more than six months.


The Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 was passed to demolish evil practices such as untouchability. It aims to provide equal rights to all individuals irrespective of their caste, class or tribe. However, there are many that still practise untouchability. The laws passed by the government of India make a real change compared to earlier periods.


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