Question: Right of Equality before Law and the Equal Protection of Laws in the Indian, Constitution has been interpreted to prohibit discrimination but permit classification. Comment on this statement and point out the basis on which such classification may be founded. Substantiate your answer with case law. [BJS 1980]   Find the answer to the mains question only on… Read More »

Question: Right of Equality before Law and the Equal Protection of Laws in the Indian, Constitution has been interpreted to prohibit discrimination but permit classification. Comment on this statement and point out the basis on which such classification may be founded. Substantiate your answer with case law. [BJS 1980] Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [Right of Equality before Law and the Equal Protection of Laws in the Indian, Constitution has been interpreted...

Question: Right of Equality before Law and the Equal Protection of Laws in the Indian, Constitution has been interpreted to prohibit discrimination but permit classification. Comment on this statement and point out the basis on which such classification may be founded. Substantiate your answer with case law. [BJS 1980]

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [Right of Equality before Law and the Equal Protection of Laws in the Indian, Constitution has been interpreted to prohibit discrimination but permit classification. Comment on this statement and point out the basis on which such classification may be founded. Substantiate your answer with case law.

Answer

Article 14 of the Constitution reads as the state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. This article has two limbs –

  1. equality before the law
  2. equal protection of the law.

The first limb i.e. ‘equality before the law’ is of English origin and it is a negative concept which implies the absence of any special privilege in favor of any individual and the equal subjection of all classes to law. In State of West Bengal v. Anwar Ali Sarkar (AIR 1952 SC 75), it was held that Article 14 is designed to prevent any person or class of persons from being singled out as a special subject for discriminatory and hostile legislation. The provision enunciated the quality principle in the administration of justice.

In its application to legal proceedings, the article assures everyone the same rules of evidence and mode of procedures in similar circumstances. This principle, however, does not mean that every law must have universal application for all persons who are not by nature, attainment, or circumstance, in the same position.

The second limb provides ‘equal protection of law’ which is a positive concept and implies that the equals should be treated equally. By virtue of this limb, Article 14 doesn’t permit the unequal to be treated alike.

In Srinivas Theatre v. State of T.N., the court observed that that equality before the law is a dynamic concept having many facets. One of them there is that there shall be no privileged person of class and name shall be above state law. A fact thereof is the obligation upon the state to bring about, through the machinery of law, a more equal society envisaged by the preamble and part IV (directive principles of state policy) of the Indian constitution.

Further, the Karnataka High Court in K. Veeresh Babu v. UOI 1994, the case 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 underlying principle is that the Principle of equality under Article 14 of the Constitution is not the uniformity of treatment to all in all respects. It only means that all persons similarly circumstanced shall be treated alike both in the privileges conferred and liabilities imposed by the laws.

Equal law should be applied to all in the same situation, and there should be no discrimination between one person and another. The law should be reasonable and devoid of arbitrariness. In this regard, the Supreme court in the D.S Nakara v. union of India (1983 AIR 130) case said that Rule 34 of the Central Services (pension) Rules, 1972 as unconstitutional on the ground that the classification made by it between pensioners retiring before a certain date and retiring after that date did not depend upon any rational principle it was arbitrary and the infringement of Article 14 of Indian constitution law.


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 2021-05-26T05:35:59+05:30
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