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Published : March 14, 2012 | Author : shiksha
Category : Constitutional Law | Total Views : 84617 | Rating :

Shiksha Singh Symbiosis Law School,Noida

Article 14 of the constitution guarantee the right to equality to every citizen of  India . It embodies the general principles of equality before law and prohibits unreasonable discrimination between persons.  Article 14 embodies the idea of equality expressed in preamble.
Article 14 declares that ‘the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or equal protection of law within the territory of India.’. thus article 14 uses the two expressions “equality before law” and “equal protection of law”. The phrase “equality before law” find a place in almost in written constitution that guarantees fundamental right both these expression .both this expression  aim at establishing  what is called “equality of status” While both the expression are kind of identical but they don’t give similar meaning.

Its origin is from America. And somehow its negative concept. It aims at implying the absence of any special privilege  by reason of birth, sex, religion etc in favor of individuals and the equal subject of all the classes to the ordinary law

Its origin is from British. And some how it is a positive concept. it aims at equality of treatment in equal circumstances. It means whether someone is P.M. or President he should be deal with same law as normal being deals with
The guarantee of equality before the law is an aspect of what Dicey calls the Rule OF Law in England. It means that no man is above the law and that every person whatever be his rank or condition is subject to the jurisdiction of ordinary courts.
Rule of law require that no person shall be subjected to harsh, uncivilized or discriminatory treatment even when the object is the securing of the paramount exigencies of law and order.
Professor Dicey gave three meanings of thr Rule Of Law
1. Absence of arbitrary power or supremacy of the law
 It means the absolute supremacy of law as opposed to the arbitrary power of the  Government. In other words-a man may be punished for a brech of law,but he cant be punish for anything else.
2. Equality before law
It means subjection of all classes to the ordinary law of land administrated by ordinary law courts. This means that no one is above law all are equal in eyes of law
3. Absence of individual liberty
There are various constitution that provide individual liberty but not provide method It means that the source of the right of individuals is not the written constitution. U.K. don’t have provision for individual liberty.
Rule Of Law In India

1. Supremacy of Law: 
The First meaning of the Rule of Law is that 'no man is punishable or can lawfully be made to suffer in body or goods except for a distinct breach of law established in the ordinary legal manner before the ordinary courts of the land. It implies that a man may be punished for a breach of law but cannot be punished for anything else. No man can be punished except for a breach of law. An alleged offence is required to be proved before the ordinary courts in accordance with the ordinary procedure.
2. Equality before Law:-
 The Second meaning of the Rule of Law is that no man is above law. Every man whatever be his rank or condition is subject to the ordinary law of the realm and amenable to the jurisdiction of the ordinary tribunals. Everybody under Article 14 is equal before law and have equal protection.
3. Individual Liberty

lot of individual liberty is mention like fundamental right in Article 21- protection of life and personal liberty, article 19- Right to freedom etc. and courts are their to protect individual liberty.
The first and second aspect apply to Indian system but the third aspect of the diceys rule of law does not apply to Indian system  as the source of right of individuals is the constitution of india. The constitution is the supreme law of the land and all laws passed by the legislature must be consistent with provisions of the constitution
The rule of law impose a duty upon state to take special measure to prevent and punish brutality by police methodology. The rule of law embodied in article 14 is the basic feature of the Indian constitution and hence it can’t be destroyed even by an amendment of the constitution under article 368 of the constitution.
Exception To Rule OF Law
The above rule  of equality is however not an absolute rule and there are  number exception to it
v ‘Equality of Law’ does not mean the power of the private citizens are the same as the power of the public officials. Thus a police officer has the power to arrest you while no other private person has this power. This is not violation of rule of law. But rule of law does require that these powers should be clearly defined by law and that abuse of authority  by public officers must be punished by ordinary courts.
vThe rule of law does not prevent certain class of persons  being subject to special rules. Thus members of  armed forces are controlled by military rules. Similarly medical practitioners are controlled by medical council of India
vCertain members of society are governed by special rules in their profession i.e. lawyers, doctors, nurses, members of armed forces and police. Such classes of people are treated differently from ordinary citizens.
Article 14 Permits Classification But Prohibits Class Legislation

The equal protection of laws guaranteed by Article 14 does not mean that all laws must be general in character. It does not mean that the same laws should apply to all persons. It does not attainment or circumstances in the same position. The varying needs of different classes of persons often requires separate treatment. From the vary nature of society there should be different laws in different places and the legitimate controls the policy and enacts laws in the best interest of the safety and security of the state. In fact identical treatment in unequal circumstances would amount to inequality. So a reasonable classification is only not permitted but is necessary if society is to progress.

Thus what Article 14 forbids is class-legislation but it does not forbid reasonable classification. The classification however must not be “arbitrary ,artificial or evasive” but must be based on some real and substantial bearing a just and reasonable relation to the object sought to be achieved by the legislation. Article 14 applies where equals are treated differently without any reasonable basis. But where equals and unequals are treated differently, Article 14 does not apply. Class legislation  is that which makes an improper discrimination by conferring particular privileges upon a class of  persons  arbitrarily selected from a large number of persons all of whom stand in the same relation to the privilege granted that between whom and the persons not so favored no reasonable distinction or substantial difference can be found justifying the inclusion of one and the exclusion of the other from such privilege.

Test Of Reasonable Classification
While Article 14 frobids class legislation it does not forbid reasonable classification of persons, objects, and transactions by the legislature for the purpose of achieving specific ends. But classification must not be “arbitrary ,artificial or evasive”. It must always rest upon some real upon some real and substantial distinction bearing a just and reasonable relation to the object sought to be achieved by the legislation. Classification to be reasonable must fulfil the following two conditions

Firstly the classification must be founded on the intelligible differentia which distinguishes persons or thing that are grouped together from others left out of the group
Secondly the differentia must have a rational relation to the object sought to be achieved by the act.
The differentia which is the basis of the classification  and the object of the act are two distinct things. What is  necessary is that there must be nexus between the basis of classification and the object of the act which makes the classification. It is only when there is no reasonable basis for a classification that legislation making such  classification may be declared discriminatory. Thus the legislature may fix the age at which persons shall be deemed competent to contract between themselves but no one will claim that competency. No contract can  be made to depend upon the stature or colour of the hair. Such a classification will be arbitrary.

 The true meaning and scope of Article 14 have been explained in a number of cases by the supreme court. In view of this the propositions laid down in Damia case still hold good governing a valid classification and are as follows
1.A law may be constitutional even though it relates to a single individual if on account of some special circumstances or reasons applicable to him and not applicable to others, that single individual may be treated as a class by itself
2. There is always presumption in favour of the constitutionality of a statute and the burden is upon him who attacks it to show that there has been a clear transgression of constitutional principles.
3.The presumption may be rebutted in certain cases by showing that on the fact  of the statue, there is no classification and no difference peculiar to any individual or class  and not applicable to any other individual or class, and yet the law hits only a particular individual or class
4. It must be  assumed that Legislature correctly understand and appreciates the need of its own people that its law are directed to problem made manifest by experience and that its discrimination are based on adequate grounds
5. In order to sustain the presumption of constitutionality the court may take into consideration maters of common knowledge, matters of report, the history of the times and may assume every state of facts which can be conceived existing at the time of the legislation.
6. Thus the legislation is free to recognize degrees of harm and may confine its restriction to those cases where the need is deemed to be the clearest.
7. While good faith and knowledge of the existing conditions on the part of a legislature are to be presumed, if there is nothing on the face of the law or the surrounding circumstances brought to the notice of the court on which the classification may reasonable be regarded as based, the presumption of constitutionality cannot be carried to extent always that there must be some undisclosed and unknown  reason for subjecting certain individuals or corporation to be hostile or discriminating legislation
8.The classification may be made on different bases e.g. geographical or according to object or occupation or the like.
9. The classification made by the legislature need not be scientifically perfect or logically complete.Mathematical nicety and perfect equality are not required.
Equality before the law does not require mathematical equality of all persons in all circumstances. Equal treatment does not mean identical treatment. Similarly not identity of treatment is enough.
10. There can be discrimination both in the substantive as well as the procedural law. Article 14 applies to both.
If the classification satisfies the test laid down in the above propositions, the law will be declared constitutional. The question whether a classification is reasonable and proper and not must however, be judged more on commonsense than on legal subtitles.
Ø D.S. Nakara v. Union Of India
The Government issued an office memorandum announcing a liberalized pension scheme for retired government servants but made it applicable to those who had retired after 31 March 1979. The supreme  court held that the fixing of the cut off date to be discriminatory as violating Article 14. The devision of pensioners into two classes on the basis of the date of retirement was not based on any rational principle because a difference of two days in the matter of retiremnt could hav a traumatic effect on the pensioner. Such a classification held to be arbitrary and unprincipled as there was no acceptable or persuasive reason in its favour. The said classification had no rational nexus with the object sought to achieved.
ØMadhu Limaye v. Supdt. Tihar Jail Delhi
There were Indian and Europian Prisoners. Both were treated differently. Europian gets better diet. Court held that difference between Indian and  Europian prisoners in the matter of treatment and diet violates right to equality under Article 14 of Indian prisoners. They all are prisoners they must treat equally.
Ø Sanaboina Satyanarayan v. Govt. of A.P
In Andra Pradesh. They formulate a scheme for prevention of crime against women. In prisons also prisoners were classify in to two category first
Prisoners guilty of crime against women and second prisoners who are not guilty of crime against women. Prisoners who are guilty of crime against women challenge the court saying that there right to equality is deprived. Court held that there is resoanble classification to achieve some objective.
Ø Tamil Nadu  Electricity Board v R. Veeraswamy
The employee were governed by the contributory provident fund scheme. With effect from 1-7-1986 a scheme was introduced. The question was whether the pension scheme ought to be applied to those who had already retired before the introduction of the pension scheme the supreme court rejected the claim. As per the rules prevalent at the time the retirees had received all their retiral benefits. If the pension scheme was made applicable to all past retirees, the resulting financial burden would be Rs200 crore which would be beyond the capacity of employer. The reason given for introducing the scheme was financial constraint- a valid ground. The court held that retired employees and those who were in employment on 1-7-1986 cant be treated alike as they do not belong to one class. Te workmen who had retired and received all the benefits under the contributory provident fund scheme cease to be employees of the applellant  board w.e.f. the date of their retirement. They form a separate  class. Thus there was no illegality in introducing the pension scheme and  not making it applicable retrospectively to those who had retired before the date.

What article 14 forbids is discrimination by law that is treating persons similarly circumstanced differently and treating those not similarly circumstanced in the same way or as has been pithily put treating equals as unequals  and unequals as equals. Article 14 prohibits hostile classification by law and is directed against discriminatory class legislation.

A legislature for the purpose of dealing with the complex problem that arise out of an infinite variety of human relations cannot but proceed on some sort of selection or classification of persons upon whom the legislation is to operate.

Its is well settled that Article 14 frobid classification for the purpose of legislation. Its is equally well settled that in order to meet the test of Article 14
(i) classification must be based on intelligible differentia which distinguishes persons or things that are grouped together from those that are left out of group and (ii) the differentia must have a rational nexus to the objects sought to be achieved by the executive or legislative action under challenge.

Article 14 contains a guarantee of equality before law to all persons and protection to them against discrimination by law. It forbids class legislation.

# Chiranjit Lal v. Union Of India AIR 1981 SC 41
# Abdul Rehman v. Pinto AIR 1951
# Jagjit Singh v. State AIR 1954
# R.K. Garg v. Union Of India AIR 1981
# Monoponier Co. v. City Of Los Angles
# K. Thimmappa v. Chairman Central Board Of Director AIR 1958
# Anwar Ali’s case AIR 1952 SC 75
# Ramkrishna Dalmia v Justice Tendolkar AIR 1958
#  Kedar Nath v State Of  West Bengal AIR 1953
# Kameshwar Singh v. F.N. Balsaro AIR 1954
# State Of Bombay v. F.N. Balsara AIR 1951
# State Of West Bengal v. Anar Ali AIR 1952
# Sagir Ahmed v. State AIR 1954
# AIR 1983 SC 130
# AIR 1975 SC 1505
# (2003) 10 SCC 78
# AIR 1999 SC 1768

Authors contact info - articles The  author can be reached at: shiksha@egalservicesindia.com

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Article Comments

Posted by Abhisar on May 22, 2016
I think the writer erred in mentioning few facts viz., "euality before law" in Art. 14 is said to have been taken from English Common law while "equal protection of laws" draws it's origin from first section of 14th Amendment of American Constitution.

Posted by Azeez. on November 27, 2015
The concept of ‘equality before law’ is of British origin while the concept of ‘equal protection of laws’ has been taken from the American Constitution --ref:book 'Indian Polity' by Laxmikanth.M

Posted by R. Murugan on December 18, 2014
I need legal advice in my service matter pertaining to retrospective regularization that was granted by CAT, Chennai Bench in 2011 whereas the same was set aside by the High Court of Chennai Bench in Nov 2014.

Posted by Pankaj Sharma on May 01, 2014
it was useful for making my notes. Thanx

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