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Submitted by Aadesh Agarkar

Introduction

Article 14

1)Equality before the Law

2)Equal protection of the Law

Exception

Classification and class legislations

Test of reasonable classification

Applicability of Article 14

New concept of Equality

Introduction

Article 14 states 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 embodies the general principles of equality before the law and prohibits unreasonable discrimination between persons. Article 14 says every person is equal before the law and deserves equal treatment in equal circumstances without distinction of caste, race, sex, religion, social status however this rue is not absolute and has few exceptions.

Article 14 provides two Expressions.


1)Equality before the law
2)Equal protection of the law

Equality before the law

The phrase equality before the law is of English origin. Equality before the law and equal protection before law are two different terms. The phrase equality before the law in which no rank, status, positions shall not be considered before the law but subject to certain exception which are - Governors, President, sovereign of foreign officials, Diplomats etc. It does not believe in absolute equality as it is physically impossible to achieve. Dr Jennings say - the right sue and to be sued, to prosecute and to be prosecuted for the same kind of action should be same for all citizen of full age and understanding without of caste, race, religion, social status or political influence.

Equal protection of law

It means that person similarly circumstanced shall be treated alike both in privileges and liability imposed by laws. Equal laws should be applied to all in the same situation and there should be no discrimination between one person and another. In the view of legislation their position is same. Therefore legislature is entitled to make a reasonable classification for the purpose of legislation and treat all in one class on an equal footing.

Exception.

Article 14 is not absolute in nature and it does not mean that the power of private citizen is equal to the powers of Public officials. Thus, the police officer has the power to arrest while no private person has the power. This is not violation of Article 14. But it does require that these powers should be clearly defined by law and abuse of such authority by public officials must be punished by ordinary court in the same manner as a crime committed by the private person. Secondly, that rule of law is not applicable to certain class of citizen which are subject to special rule i.e certain members of society are governed by special rules in their profession. Thus, member of armed forces are controlled by military law and a medical practitioner is subjected to regulations framed by Medical council of India. Also Article 361 provides that President and Governor of the state are not answerable to any court in the exercise of power and duty of their office.

Also certain provision under certain situation rules out Article 14 that are-

1)Article 31c provides that law made for implementing directive principle under clause b) and c) of Article 39 cannot be challenged on the ground that it in violation of Article 14. The Supreme Court in the case Sanjeev coke Mfg. Co. v Bharat coal cooking Ltd held that where Article 31c comes in Article 14 goes out.

2)In cases of emergency proclaimed by the president under article 359 (1) enforcement of right are suspended for the period during which the proclamation is in force.

3)Article 361 provides that President and Governor are exempted from any criminal proceeding during the tenure of there office.

4) In International law, foreign sovereign and ambassador enjoy full immunity from any judicial proceeding.

Classification and Class legislation

Article 14 is not absolute in nature therefore it does not mean that all law must be general in nature or must have universal applicability for all persons. According to the needs of different class which often requires different treatment , so reasonable classification is permitted and is necessary for society to progress. Thus, Article 14 permits reasonable classification and prohibits class legislation. Class legislation means that particular privileges granted to a particular class of persons arbitrarily selected from a large number of persons which are equal in nature where no reasonable distinction of substantial difference can be found justifying the inclusion of one and the exclusion of the other from such privileges.

Test of Reasonable Classification

Reasonable classification of persons, objects and transactions by legislature for the purpose of achieving specific ends must not be arbitrary, artificial or evasive.

Classification to be reasonable must fulfil the following two conditions-

1)Classification must be found on intelligible differentia which distinguishes persons or things that are grouped together from others left out of the group.

2)Differentia must have rational relations to the object sought to be achieved by the act.

Education can be a basis for classification-
In STATEOF BIHAR V BIHAR LECTURERS ASSOCIATIONS it has been held that there is clear distinction between a trained lecturer and untrained lecturer. Such distinction is valid, rational and reasonable. The classification is reasonable and is based on intelligible differentia which distinguishes one class (trained) and the other class (untrained). Such classification has a rational nexus to the object intended to be achieved.

The applicability of Article 14 was laid down in the DALMIA case which holds good governing a valid classification under Article 14 they are-

1-That the single individual may be treated as a class by itself

2-Presumption in favour of Constitutionality of statute and the burden is upon the Petitioner

3-The classification may be made on different basis eg. geographical or according to object occupation of the likes

4-The classification made by legislature need not be scientifically perfect or logically complete

5-There can be discrimination both in the substantive as well as procedural law Article 14 applies to both

The question whether a classification is reasonable and proper or not must, however, be judged more on common sense than on legal technicalities.

New concept of equality : Protection against Arbitrariness

In E.P ROYAPPA V STATE OF TAMIL NADU, AIR 1974

the Supreme court has changed the old concept of equality which was basis on reasonable classification and had laid down a new concept of equality. Bhagwati .J delivered the judgement in the following words: Equality is a dynamic concept with many aspect and dimensions and it cannot be confined, cribbed or cabined within traditional and doctrinaire limits.

Also in MANEKA GANDHI V UNION OF INDIA Bhagwati .J confirms the new concept of equality by quoting the judgement of E.P ROYAPPA case pronounced by him. Article 14 strikes down arbitrariness in state and ensures fairness and equality of treatment.

Prior to new concept of equality laid down in E.P ROYAPPA case the view of Article 14 is to forbid discrimination and not classification provided that it should fulfil 2 test

1) That it was based on Intelligible differentia and

2) That the differentia has a rational nexus with the object that law seek to achieve. but according to new doctrine the old concept is merely a judicial formula for determining whether the legislative or the executive action is arbitrary and, therefore, constitutes a denial of equality.

In AIR INDIA V NARGESH MEERZA, AIR 1981

Regulation 46 of Air India and Indian Airlines Regulations provides that an air hostess would retire from service of a corporation upon attaining the age of 35 or on marriage if it took place within 4 years of service or on first pregnancy, whichever occur earlier. Which was the most unreasonable and arbitrary provision and liable to be struck down. Therefore, Supreme court struck down Air India and Indian Airlines Regulations on the age of retirement and pregnancy bar on services of air hostesses as unconstitutional on the ground that the condition laid down were entirely unreasonable.

Submitted by Aadesh Agarkar

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