Draft State Equality Bill

This blog has followed the issue of discrimination for a long time. So has my own research. I have been involved in drafting a comprehensive antidiscrimination bill for some time now. After a discussion at the CPR in Delhi last December, the Bill is now updated and available publicly at this link (along with some other related links). I will be grateful if you can send any comments etc to me, and also if you write about or use the Bill in any way, please let me know. A brief introduction follows:

India is amongst the few regimes with a constitutional commitment to a
liberal democracy that nevertheless lack a comprehensive, multi-ground,
antidiscrimination legislation. The Bhopal Declaration issued in 2002 seeking
to chart a new course for Dalits welcomed ‘winds of change the world over’
towards inclusion and diversity and against discrimination. A conversation on
the need and shape of an antidiscrimination law began after the Sachar
Committee recommended it in 2006. While the UPA government did briefly consider
setting up an Equal Opportunity Commission, the idea was quietly buried. Antidiscrimination
law remains a key demand of groups representing women, gays, lesbians,
transgendered persons, and persons living with disability. The policy debate on an antidiscrimination law
has been going on for about a decade. It is hoped that the existence of a draft
Bill will give concrete shape to this conversation and draw attention to
details.
This Bill is one such
effort. It was originally designed with NCT-Delhi in mind, but has been adapted
for any other state. It was discussed at a workshop organised by the
Centre for Policy Research, Delhi, on the 18th of December 2015. This
draft of the Bill has benefited significantly from helpful comments from the
discussants at the workshop—Shyam Babu, Jayna Kothari, Saumya Uma, Vidhu Verma,
Siddharth Narrain—and from many other lawyers and activists (especially Gautam
Bhatia and Danish Sheikh). Further comments and criticism are welcome.
Highlights of this Bill include the following:
·      
The
Bill creates civil liability (ss 13, 15) for acts of discrimination.
·   Discrimination
includes direct discrimination (s 5), indirect discrimination (s 6), harassment
(s 7), victimisation (s 11) and aggravated discrimination.
·      
Aggravated
discrimination includes boycott (s 8), segregation (s 9) and discriminatory
violence (s 10).
·    The
duty to refrain from discrimination applies not only to public authorities and
private persons performing a public function but also to public and private employers,
landlords, traders and service providers (s 12(6)).
·      
Everyone
has a duty to refrain from aggravated discrimination (s 14).
·   The
protection against discrimination is generally available symmetrically to
dominant as well as disadvantaged groups and to majorities as well as
minorities (ss 3, 4): to men as well as women, Hindus as well as Muslims, brahmins as well as dalits.
·      
Public
authorities and private persons performing public functions have a
diversification duty (ss 16, 17) to progressively increase the participation of
substantially excluded disadvantaged groups.
·      
Public
authorities have a duty to give due regard (s 21) to the need to eliminate
discrimination.
·   Voluntary
affirmative action (s 12(4), 19) in favour of disadvantaged groups (s 20) is
permitted if proportionate.
·      
District
courts designated as Equality Courts (s 24) have the primary responsibility for
civil enforcement.
·    A
permanent and independent Equality Commission (ss 23, 24) has the
responsibility to promote the objectives of the Bill and aid its implementation.

·     Protection
orders (ss 30, 31) against aggravated discrimination may be obtained from the Magistrate’s
court.

2 comments

  1. Thank you very much for sharing that – it's very impressive, and a remarkably elegantly-written piece of legislative drafting (easy to read and follow).

    My one request for more info is in relation to the use of the terms "A" and "B" in ss12-16 – it's an intriguing solution to the range of potential "aggressor"/"affected person" roles that A and B could potentially fill, and probably easier to follow than Australian equivalents (which use varied usages: "person" and "another person", "discriminator" and "aggrieved person", which are either unduly vague as to the roles of each party or unduly technical.) Was the A/B usage inspired by any particular international example or is it your own coinage?

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