The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.

  • It is negation of concept of Monarchy. Liberty, Equality & Fraternity are three slogans whereby Republic & democracy compliment them.
  • In a republic, the head is always an elected head. When we consider equality, it is the corner stone of equality of modern day polity.
  • The very base of equality is Rule of Law.
  • The concept of equality before law is taken from England.

In Indira Gandhi v. Raj Narain[1], The right to equality is basic structural right of constitution & essential feature of democracy.

In Louis de Raedt v. Union of India[2], Fundamental Right under Article-14 cannot extend to citizenship. Government of India can refuse citizenship without any reason.

In KC Sarkar v. Rajesh Rajan[3], 3 Judge Bench of SC gave the decision of whether Members of Parliament be given special treatment in prisons.  SC said no special treatment in prisons be given to MPs, they are ordinary criminals. Therefore A & B class of criminals were done away with in this judgment.

THE CONCEPT OF EQUAL PROTECTION OF LAWS

In Srinivas Theatre v. Govt. of Tamil Nadu[4], In this case SC distinguished between two as follows:-

  1. Equality before Law is a law in general sense.
  2. Equal protection of the laws means it is relating specific laws.

Equality is treating equals as equals, whereby when you treat unequals as equals, it is inequality. Thereby, we ought to have a reasonable classification.

THE CONCEPT OF EQUALITY v. INEQUALITY

In Chiranjeet Lal Chowdhari v. UOI[5], Article 14 infringes class legislation which leads to making unequal rules for equal people. The doctrine of reasonable classification was laid down in this case by the SC. However, making unequal laws for unequal people is allowed & the best example for  that is reservation.

THE TEST OF REASONABILITY

In R.K. Dalmia v. Justice Tendulkar[6], SC held that the reasonable classification should be based on Intelligible differentia. Intelligible differentia is to be taken in the context of state.  Intelligible differentia can be based as follows:-

  • On the basis of Geography:- e.g. Persons from the mountains are different from ones in Desert.
  • On the basis of History:- e.g. Section 87(b) CPC, it gives immunity to princes.
  • Nature of business :- e.g. Persons involved in Hazardous business must be paid more.
  • Nature of persons:- e.g. Public servants can be treated differently from ordinary man.
  • Educational classifications:- e.g. Advocate can only be the one who has done L.LB.
  • On the basis of offences:- e.g. All are remitted except criminals against children.
  • On the basis of income :- e.g. Tax payers.
  • Special Courts:- e.g. One class of court deals with that class of cases.

 

ARTICLE 14 RIGID OR DYNAMIC

In Satyawati Sharma v. UOI[7], Article-14 is never static. It can be changed with time. If today law is as per constitution after years it might not be as per Article 14.

In Mithu v. State of Punjab[8], The ruling of Article 14 struck down Section 303 IPC. A murderer within the jail & a murderer outside the jail cannot be classified. Both are murderers.

In Suneel Jatley v. State of Haryana[9], SC mentions keeping reserved seats in M.B.B.S. on the basis of merely belonging from rural areas is not a reasonable classification.

In Githa Hariharan & Anr v. Reserve Bank of India & Anr[10], As per Hindu Law, Father is a legal guardian, the question came up was if father doesn’t care can mother be allowed to be a legal guardian. In this case SC said that where father doesn’t bother about the child, we give right to mother to be natural guardian which means even a statute can be overridden by Article-14, Harmonious construction is allowed by virtue of Article-14.

THE WEDNESBURY TEST

The laws are in general made by the Legislature & some one of the laws is delegated. One cannot act in making laws upon his own discretion. Hence there must be stipulated yardsticks following which, delegated legislations be made.

All laws made by legislation or executive must follow Article 14, even contractual terms will be guided by Article- 14.

 

 

[1] 1975 SC 2299.

[2]  AIR 1991 SC 1886.

[3]  2005 3 SCC 307.

[4] AIR 1992 SC 999.

[5] AIR 1951 SC 41.

[6]  AIR 1958 SC 538.

[7] AIR 2008 SC 3148.

[8] AIR 1983 SC 473.

[9] AIR 1984 SC 154.

[10] AIR 1999 2 SCC 228.

 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *