Question: “Article 14 of India forbids class legislation, but does not forbid classification.” Explain. Section 118 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925 imposes restrictions on Christians alone in the matter of bequest to religious or charitable purposes. Examine the constitutionality of this provision on the touchstone of Article. [UPJS 2012] Find the answer to the mains question only… Read More »

Question: “Article 14 of India forbids class legislation, but does not forbid classification.” Explain. Section 118 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925 imposes restrictions on Christians alone in the matter of bequest to religious or charitable purposes. Examine the constitutionality of this provision on the touchstone of Article. [UPJS 2012] Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [“Article 14 of India forbids class legislation, but does not forbid...

Question: “Article 14 of India forbids class legislation, but does not forbid classification.” Explain. Section 118 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925 imposes restrictions on Christians alone in the matter of bequest to religious or charitable purposes. Examine the constitutionality of this provision on the touchstone of Article. [UPJS 2012]

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [“Article 14 of India forbids class legislation, but does not forbid classification.” Explain. Section 118 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925 imposes restrictions on Christians alone in the matter of bequest to religious or charitable purposes. Examine the constitutionality of this provision on the touchstone of Article.

Answer

Article 14 of the Indian Constitution states that the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. The provision prescribes equality before the law but the fact remains that all persons are not equal by nature, attainment or circumstances, and, therefore, mechanical equality before the law may result in injustice. Thus the guarantee against the denial of equal protection of the law doesn’t mean that identically the same rules of law should be made applicable to all persons in spite of the difference in circumstances or conditions.

Therefore, to apply the principle of equality in a practical manner, the courts have evolved the principle that if the law is based on rational classification it is not regarded as discriminatory. Classification to be reasonable should fulfill two tests viz.

(a) It should not be arbitrary, artificial, or evasive. It should be based on an intelligible differentia, some substantial distinction, which distinguishes persons or things grouped together in the class from others left out of it.

(b) The differentia adopted as the basis of classification must have a rational or reasonable nexus with the object sought to be achieved by the statute in question.

The Karnataka High Court in K. Veeresh Babu v. UOI 1994, held that a provision exempting Sikhs from compulsorily wearing a Helmet, when riding a motorcycle, is not violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. Thus, what Article 14 prohibits is class legislation and not a classification for the purpose of the legislation.

The question over the constitutionality of Section 118 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925 was challenged in the case of John Vallamattom v. Union of India, (2003). The fact that this provision imposes restrictions on Christians alone in the matter of bequest to religious or charitable purposes was held to be arbitrary, unreasonable, and therefore unconstitutional as per Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.

In the present case, the Apex Court observed that Section 118 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925 comes within the purview of Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India and it is, therefore, necessary that all testators who are similarly situated should be subjected to the same rule of procedure.

There cannot be any unusual burden of Christian testators alone when all other testators, making similar bequests for similar charities and similar religious purposes are not subjected to such procedure. Therefore section 118 is anomalous, discriminatory and violative of Articles 14, 15, 25, and 26 of the Constitution. The Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction and to remedy the violation of fundamental rights declared section 18 as invalid and unconstitutional.


Important Mains Questions Series for Judiciary, APO & University Exams

  1. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-I
  2. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-I
  3. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-II
  4. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-IV
  5. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-V
  6. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-VI
  7. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-VII
  8. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-VIII
  9. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-IX
  10. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-X
Updated On 2021-05-26T06:15:40+05:30
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