“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.
Article 17 of the Constitution of India (Article 11 of the Draft Constitution) was debated in the Constituent Assembly on the 29th November 1949. The Assembly was broadly in agreement over the inclusion of the Article in the Constitution.
However, some members wanted more clarity on the term - ‘Untouchability'. They wanted to know if practices such as the barring of contact with menstruating women and the quarantine of individuals with diseases would also come under the ambit of ‘untouchability’. Others wanted to know if the term only referred to the caste-based social practice.