Untouchability (Offences) Act, 1955


Act No.22 of 1955

[8th May, 1955]

An Act to prescribe punishment for the practice 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:-

1. Short title, extent and commencement.- (1) This Act may be called the Untouchability (Offences) Act, 1955.

(2) It extends to the whole of India.

(3) It shall come into force on such date {1st June, 1955, vide Notification No.S.R.O.1109, dt.23-5-55, Gazette of India, Extraordinary, 1955 Pt.II, Section 3, p.971.} as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint.

2. Definitions.- In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,-

(a) 'hotel' includes a refreshment room, a boarding-house, a lodging house, a coffee house and a cafe;

(b) 'place' includes a house, a building, a tent, and a 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; and includes all lands and subsidiary shrines appurtenant or attached to any such place;

(e) 'shop' means any premises where goods are sold either wholesale or by retail or both wholesale and by retail and includes a laundry, a hair cutting saloon and 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 belonging to the same religious denomination 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 watercourse, in the same manner and to the same extent as is permissible to other persons professing the same religion, or belonging to the same religious denomination or any section thereof, as such person;

shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with both.

Explanation.-For the purposes of this section and section 4 persons professing the Buddhist, Sikh or 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 and the Swaminarayan Sampraday 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, dharmashala, sarai or musafirkhana for the use of the general public or of persons professing the same religion, or belonging to the same religious...

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