Right to equality Under Article 14 of Indian constitution



In general way, every person knows about the article 14 of the Indian constitution i.e. “Right to equality”. After independence, our country is not able to receiving actual independence .evils like discrimination on the ground of religion, race, caste, gender and place of birth. But Article 14 to 18 of fundamental rights of part 3 of the Indian Constitution guarantee the right to equality to every citizen. Article 14 embodies the thought of equality expressed within the preamble “equality of status and opportunity”. The Rule of Law embodied in Article 14 is the “basic feature” of the Indian Constitution and it can’t be destroyed even by an amendment of the Constitution under Article 368 of the Indian Constitution. Persons are entitled to the benefit of Article 14.

The main aim of writing this article is that Everyone should know clearly about article 14 of the Indian constitution that everyone have ’right to equality’. We are citizens of India and we see that discrimination on the basis of gender like (girls and boys) , husband treating his wife badly like servant, rich people discriminate poor people and discrimination in upper and lower caste. These are examples on the basis of discrimination. We can understand that how important the role of the state is to maintain the equality of citizens.

Article 14

Article 14 basically states that State shall not deny to a person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India, this means that every person lives in territory of India, has equal right before the law. Equals will be treated equally.

This article constitutes of two parts, being:

1. Equality before law and

2. Equal protection of the laws.

Equality before the law

The first expression equality before law has been taken from British origin. Equality the law is a negative concept implying the absence of any special privilege in favour of individuals and the equal subject of all classes to the ordinary law.

Equality before law literally means that all persons should be treated equally no matter on the basic ground of discrimination caste, race, religion, sex. State cannot provide any special privileges to any person in the country. All person are equal that called legal equality.

Equality before law and absolute equality: –

The concept of equality doesn’t means that absolute equality among human beings which is physically not possible to achieve. It is the concept implying absence of any special privileges by reason of birth, creed or the like in favour of any individual, and equal subject of all individuals and classes to the ordinary law of land. As Dr. Jennings puts it that like should be treated alike.

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Equality before law and rule of law: –

The guarantee of equality before the law has been copied from Dicey’s ‘RULE OF LAW’ in England. According to Dicey’s rule of law that it means that no man is above the law and every person whatever be his rank is subject to the jurisdiction of ordinary courts.

Professor Dicey gave three meanings of rule of law thus:-

• Supremacy of the law: – it means the law is absolute supremacy and opposed to the arbitrary power of the government. A man has violated any law and violated any persons legal right, he can be punished but he cannot be punished

• Equality before the law – it means that no one is above law with the sole exception of monarch who can do wrong.

• The constitution is the result of ordinary law of the land –it means that the source of the right of individual is not the written constitution but the rule as defined and enforced by the courts.

The first and second aspects apply to Indian system but the third aspect of the Dicey’s rule of law does not apply to Indian system as the source of rights of individuals is the constitution of India. The constitution is that the supreme law of land and every one laws gone by the legislature must be according to the provisions of the constitution.

Equal protection of laws:-

Equal protection of the laws has been derived from sec. 1 of 14th amendment act of the American Constitution. “Equal protection of law “is more positive concept implying equality of treatment in equal circumstances. Thus, rule is that like should be treated alike and not that unlike should be treated alike.

equal protection of the laws is now being read as a positive obligation on the state to make sure equal protection of laws by bringing in necessary social and economic changes so that everyone enjoy equal protection of laws and nobody is denied such protection.

The expression ‘equal protection of laws’ indicate two things-

• The state shall give the protection (treatment) of all laws to every person.

• Every person is equally entitled to that protection.

State of West Bengal v. Anwar Ali Sarkar A.I.R.1952 SC 74

Patanjali Sastri, C.J., rightly held-the It was held that the nature of guarantee of both expressions is same and both are complementary to each other and it is not possible to think that violation of one shall no violate other.

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Exception to the rule of law:-

1. Equality before the law doesn’t mean that the powers of the private citizens and powers of the public officials are the same. Powers should be clearly defined by law public officers must be punishable by ordinary courts in the same manner as illegal acts committed by private persons.

2. The rule of law doesn’t prevent certain classes of persons being subject to special rules. Members of the armed forces are controlled by military laws and medical practitioners are subjected to regulations framed by medical council of India. President and Governors of state shall not be answerable to any court. Under Article 361, the President and the Governors are exempted from any criminal proceeding during the tenure of their office.

3. Ministers and other executive bodies enjoys some discretionary powers. Such power is sometimes abused. Now, a large number of legislation is passed in the form of delegated legislation, rules, orders or statutory instruments made by ministers and other bodies and not directly by Parliament. These rules didn’t exist in Dicey’s time.

4. Certain members of society like lawyers, doctors, armed force etc. are treated differently from ordinary citizens. These are governed by special rules in their profession.

Test of reasonable classification

Article 14 doesn’t allowed class legislation but reasonable classification of persons based on substantial distinction is permitted.

The classification to be reasonable must fulfil the following two condition :-

Condition 1:- the reasonable classification must be founded on an intelligible differentia which is distinguishes persons or things that that are grouped together from others left out of the group .

Condition 2:- the differentia must have a rational nexus to the object sought to achieve by the Act.

In Ram Krishna Dalmia v. Justice S.R. Tendolkar, A.I.R 1958 SC 538

the Supreme Court held that It’s now well established that while Article 14 forbids class legislation, it does not forbid reasonable classification for the purposes of legislation. It’s condemn discrimination not only by a substantive laws but also by a law of procedure.

New concept of equality

New concept of equality was introduced in case of – E.P. Royappa v. State of Tamil Nadu, A.I.R. 1974 SC 555.

Justice Bhagwati, delivering the judgement on behalf of himself Chandrachud and Krishna lyre, jj. Observed: Equality is may a dynamic concept with many aspects and dimensions and it can’t be cribbed of cabined confined within traditional limits. Equality is antithesis to arbitrariness and equality are enemies. It is implicit and in it that it is unequal both according to constitutional law, violation of Article 14.

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Case law

K.A. Abbas v. Union of India, A.I.R. 1971 SC 481.

The validity of Cinematograph Act, 1952 was challenged on the ground that it made unreasonable classification. Under the Act, cinema films were classified into two types. “U” films and “A” films. ‘U’ films were unrestricted exhibition while ‘A’ films could only be exhibited to adults. But the court favoured the classification because they considered it reasonable. The court held that this separation of ‘universal’ and ‘adult’ film was reasonable on the basis of action, expression, dialogue and presentation.

Randhir Singh v. Union of India, A.I.R. 1982 SC 879.

The Supreme Court has held that the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ may not expressed declared by our Constitution to be a fundamental right, but it is given under Articles 14, 16 and 39 (d) of the Constitution.

Ajay Hasia v. Khalid Mujib , A.I.R. 1981 SC 487.

The Regional Engineering College made admissions on the ground of oral interview after a written test. The test of oral interview was challenged on the ground that it was arbitrary and unreasonable because highest attained highest marks will got admission for oral test, and were interviewed only 2 or 3 minutes. The court held that this condition of admission is unreasonable on the basis of oral test no calibre and capacity can be judged.

k. Nagaraj v. state of A.P, A.I.R. 1985 SCC 523.

The ordinance was challenged on the ground that it was violative of Article 14 of Indian constitution. By the ordinance, the Government reduced the age of retirement of all Government employees from 58 to 55 years. The court held that the reduction of age of retirement was to provide opportunity to younger section of the society , so it is no unreasonable.


We all know that India is a democratic country in the world. We have been provided certain fundamental rights to every person of the country and ensure that no one can infringe on the rights of another. These rights provided by constitution . no discrimination should be on the basis of gender, race , religion, caste . citizens are not aware of their rights of our country. Every person is equal of the eye in law and right to equality needed to be applied in actual sense so that no one is deprived of their rights. Equality before the law is guaranteed to all without discrimination to race, colour or nationality. Persons are entitled to the benefit of Article 14.

Author: Deeksha Gangwar,
Invertis University/ student of 2nd year

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