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ARTICLE 14- Right to Equality

Under the Supervision of :- Ms. Poonam Kumari

Submitted By :-
Deepak Kumar
B.A. LL.B. 2 Semester

Enrolment - CUSB1613125014

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I would like to express my special thanks of gratitude to my teacher Ms.
Poonam Kumari who gave me the golden opportunity to do this wonderful project
on the topic RIGHT TO EQUALITY IN INDIA, which also helped me in doing a
lot of Research and I came to know about so many new things I am really thankful
to her.
I have taken lots of efforts by completing this project. However, it would not
have been possible without the kind support and help of many individuals and
organizations like Library and Computer Lab. I would like to extend my sincere
thanks to all of them.
Secondly I would also like to thank my parents and friends who helped me a lot
in finalizing this project within the limited time frame.
I am highly indebted to Central University of South Bihar for their guidance
and constant supervision as well as for providing necessary information regarding
the project & also for their support in completing the project.

Deepak Kumar


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1. Introduction 5
2. Meaning of Equality 6
3. Equality before Law 7
4. Equal protection of Law 8
5. Objective of Article 14 9
6. Test of Reasonable Classification 9
7. Right to Equal access to court......10
8. Judicial Decision...10
9. Conclusion......12


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WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly to constitute INDIA
REPUBLIC" and to secure all its citizens:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY, of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY, of status and opportunity; and to promote among them all;

FRATERNITY, assuring the dignity of individual the unity and

integrity of nation;

IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLLY this twenty-sixth day of


Preamble to the constitution of India is Declaration of Independence statement and is

a brief introductory that sets out the guiding principles and the document. It is the soul of the
Indian Constitution, written by Father of Indian Constitution Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. It outlines the
objectives of the whole Constitution. The Preamble contains the fundamentals of the
constitution. The fundamental aim of constitution of India is to give power to the people.
Preamble is a declaration from all of us that we give ourselves to this Constitution.

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The preamble declares equality as its third objective of the constitution which deals with natural
equality of all persons as equal and free citizens of India enjoying equality before law. And equal
protection of law which provide equal opportunity to all those who are in similar situation.

The Constitution of India guarantees the Right to Equality in the series of Constitutional
provisions from Article 14 to 18. Article 14 is the most significant. The general principle of
Equality is embodied in Art 14 which is attracted whenever discrimination is alleged. The goal
set out in our Constitution regarding status & opportunity is embodied in Art14 to Art18. Right to
Equality has declared as Basic Feature of Indian Constitution by Supreme Court. The phrase
Equality before Law occurs in almost all written Constitution which guarantees the Right to
Equality, the Constitution of United States uses the expression Equal protection of law. Our
Constitution, on the other hand, uses both expressions that are Equality before law and Equal
protection of law.
Article 14 embodies the principles of equality before law and prohibits unreasonable
discrimination between persons. It embodies those ideas of equality which is expressed in the
preamble.1 The fundamental rights are guaranteed to protect the basic human rights of all citizens
of India and are put into effect by the courts, subject to some limitations. One of such
fundamental rights is the Right to Equality. Equality is one of the magnificent corner stones of
Indian Democracy. The doctrine of equality before law is a corollary of Rule of law which
pervades the Indian Constitution. Neither Parliament nor any State Legislature can transgress the
principle of Equality.
The fundamental rights of our constitution guaranteed to protect the fundamental human rights of
all citizens of India and are put into effect by the courts. One of such fundamental rights is the
Right to Equality. Right to Equality refers to the equality in the eyes of law, discarding any
unfairness on grounds of caste, race, religion, sex, place of birth. It also includes equality of
prospects in matters of employment, abolition of untouchability and abolition of titles. Articles
14 to 18 of the Constitution of India highlight the Right to Equality in detail. This fundamental
right is the major foundation of all other rights and privileges granted to Indian citizens. It is one
of the chief guarantees of the Constitution of India. Hence, it is imperative that every citizen of
India has easy access to the courts to exercise his/her Right to Equality.2
Article 14 provides that the State shall not deny to any person equality before law or the equal
protection of the laws within the territory of India.
The Right to Equality guaranteed under Art. 14 consists of two parts namely
(a) Equality before Law.
(b) Equal protection of Laws.

1 Dr. J. N. Pandey, Constitutional Law of India 77, Central Law Agency, Allahabad, 53 rd edn. 2016.

2 IT Act 2000, India, available at: http://www.iloveindia.com (last visited on March

25, 2017)

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Article 14 of the Constitution of India is a declaration of equality of civil rights for all
purpose within the territory of India and basic principles of republicanism and there is no
discrimination. Every person is entitled to equality before law and equal protection laws. This
Article bars Discrimination and prohibits Discriminatory Laws.
The expression Equality before law and Equal protection of law does not mean the same
thing. Meaning of these expressions has to be found and determined having regard to the context
and scheme of our Constitution.
The benefit of Equality before law and Equal protection of law accrues to every person in India,
whether a citizen or not. The concept of equality and equal protection of laws guaranteed by Art.14 in
its proper spectrum encompass social and economic justice in a political democracy.

2.Meaning of Equality
The state or quality of being equal correspondence in quantity, degree, value, rank, or ability.
Equality basically means to access or provision of equal opportunities, where individuals are
protected from being discriminated against. Discrimination in equality can occur in race, sex,
health, religion, family structure, age, politics, disability, culture, sexual orientation or in terms of
believes. Equality is the basic feature of the constitution of India and treatment of equals
unequally will be violation of basic structure of the constitution of India.

Equality is the basic soul of our Constitution. But there was time when it was implemented i.e. in
the year 1950 there was the need to made special provisions for the underdeveloped castes so
these castes were recorded in a Schedule and the reservation for 10 years was proposed for them.
The Equality mentioned in the preamble is enforced through Article 14, which guarantees every
citizen equal status and opportunity. The article was at first silent on the clash between
reservation and right to equality. It means no one is above the law and all are equal in eyes of
law. We all have right do whatever we want equally in society and no one can discriminate you
on the basis of equality. Actually the word fundament suggests that these rights are important that
the constitution has separately listed them and made special provision for their protection.
It ensures the guarantees to every person the right to equality before law & equal protection of
the laws .it is not only right of Indian citizens but also right of non-citizens.

3.Equality before Law

Everyone have equal right in society. No one is above the law of land as such this right was
considered generally a negative right of an individual, it means law doesnt discriminate on the
basis of birth, position, gender, or other personal attributes. It is a Negative concept because it
implies the absence of any privilege in favors of any individual and equal subjection of all

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classes to the ordinary law. It means law should be equal and should equally administered, that is
like should be treated alike. In short there shall not be discrimination. It is a declaration of equality of
privilege in favor of every individual . It means that no man above the Law of the land and that every
person, whatever is his rank or status is subject to ordinary law of land. The concept of equality
before law does not involve the idea of absolute equality amongst all, which may be a physical
impossiblity.Art.14, guarantees the similarity of treatment and not identical treatment. 3
The equality before the law owes its origin to the English Common Law. The doctrine of
equality is a dynamic and evolving concept. The makers of Indias Constitution werent satisfied
with that kind of understanding of the right of equality. They knew that even though Buddha was
one of the earliest proponents of equality in this land followed by many others, wide-spread
social and economic inequalities sanctioned by public policies and exercise of public powers,
supposed by religion and other social norms and practices, existed.4
According to Dr. Jennings said that: Equality before the law means that equality among
equals the law should be equal for all. And should be equally administered, that like should
treated alike. The right to sue and be sued, to prosecute and prosecuted for the same kind of
action should be same for all citizens of full age and understanding without distinctions of race,
religion, wealth, social status or political influence.5
It simply means law should be equal and should equally administered, that is like should be
treated alike. In short there shall not be discrimination. It is a declaration of equality of privilege in
favor of every individual. It means that no man above the Law of the land and that every person,
whatever is his rank or status is subject to ordinary law of land. The concept of equality before law
does not involve the idea of absolute equality amongst all, which may be a physical impossibility.
Art.14, guarantees the similarity of treatment and not identical treatment.

Equality before law is co-relative to the concept of Rule of Law for all round evaluation of
healthy social order. Basic Feature of the Rule of Law is that Justice should not only be done but
it must also be seen to be done. The rule of law embodied in Article 14 is the Basic feature
of the Indian constitution. Hence it cannot be destroyed even by an amendment of the
constitution under article 368 of the constitution. The Rule of law has been given by prof. Dicey.
According to him Rule of Law is the guarantee of equality before the law. It means that no man
is above the Law, all are equal in eye of law. The concept of rule of law comes from magna-
carta. Its means that law is equal for all in same line. Because state have no religion all are
equal in same line. And uniformity will be applied for all. Every organ of the state under the
constitution of India is regulated and controlled by the rule of law. Absence of arbitrary power
has been held to be the first essential of rule of law. The rule of law requires that the discretion

3 V. N. Shukla, Constitutional Law Of India 48, Eastern Book Company, Lucknow, 12 th

edn., 2016

4 Ibid. at 48

5 IT Act 2000, India, available at: http://www.legalservicesindia.com (last visited at

March 27, 2017)

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conferred upon executive authorities must be contained within clearly define limits. The rule of
law permeates the entire fabrics of the constitution of India and it forms one of its basic features.6

4. Equal protection of Law

Equal protection of law also has been given under article 14 of our Indian constitution which
has been taken from section 1 of the 14th amendment act of the constitution of the USA. 7
Meaning of equal protection of law here, it means that each person within the territory of India
will get equal Protection of laws.
The phrase Equal Protection of the Law owes its origin to the American Constitution. This
is Positive Concept as it implies equality of treatment in equal circumstances both in privileges
conferred and liabilities imposed. So all the persons must be treated alike on reasonable
classification. Among equals law should be equal and equally administered. The guarantee of
equal protection applies against substantive as well as procedural laws.
Here, equal protection of law means law provides equal opportunity to all those who are in
similar circumstances or situation. Both facts establish the equality of status and opportunity as
embodied in the preamble of constitution. Further because, all person are not by nature,
attainment or circumstances in the same position. Once it is conceded that the phrase equality
before law has a separate content than equal protection of law, the question arises, what
would be the effect of incorporating the doctrine of equality before law in a written guarantee of
fundamental rights and, in particular, along with the analogous guarantee of equal protection.
The guarantee of equal protection would be satisfied if there is some reasonable basis for
differential treatment. But even though a person may be differently circumstanced, e.g., if he is
under a sentence of imprisonment, he may still be entitled to some basic human rights which
may be deduced from the right of equality before the law, e.g.-
(a) Right to recognition as a human being before the law.
(b) Right of access to courts of law.

If the state leaves the existing inequalities untouched laws by its laws, it fails in its
duty of providing equal protection of its laws to all persons. State will provide equal
protection to all the people of India who are citizen of India and as well as non-citizen
of India and to natural person as well as legal persons. The equality before law is
guaranteed to all without regard to race, color or nationality.8

6 Dr. J. N. Pandey, Constitutional Law of India 78 , Central Law Agency, Allahabad, 53 rd edn. 2016

7IT Act 2000, India, available at: http://www.legalservicesindia.com (last visited on

March 27, 2017)

8 supra note 6 at 79

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5. Objectives of Article 14
The aim or the object of this Article to ensure that invidious distinction or arbitrary
discrimination shall not be made by the state between a citizen and a citizen who answers the
same description and the differences which may obtain between them are of no relevance for the
purpose of applying a particular law reasonable classification is permissible. Article 14 provides
that the state shall not deny to any person whether citizen or not, equality before the law and
equal protection of law. It does not mean that same law must be applicable to all but the law
should deal alike with all in one class; there shall be equality of treatment under equal
circumstances. So the object is that equals should be treated unlike and unlike should not be
treated alike. Likes should be treated alike. The object of Art. 14 is wider and is to ensure
fairness and equality of treatment. The Right to equality is one of the most crucial fundamental
rights in our new constitutional order. The rights to equality as enshrined in our Constitution, forms
the backbone of our democracy. One of the main objective of Article 14 is to prevent and prohibit
unfair discrimination on one or more prohibited grounds, including but not limited to, sex and

6. Taste of reasonable classification

A legislative classification to be valid must be reasonable. It must always rest upon some real
and substantial distinction bearing reasonable and just relation to the needs in respect of which
the classification is made. If all men are treated equal and remained equal throughout their lives,
then the same laws would apply to all of them. But we know that men are unequal. Equality does
not mean that all men are protected by the same laws. It is here the Doctrine of classification
steps in. All persons are not equal by nature or circumstances, the varying needs of different
classes or sections of people require different treatment. This leads to classification among
different groups of persons or class. For the purpose of this Article, even a single institution can
form a class by itself and while deciding the question of violation of Article 14.9

The two taste of classification must be full fill:

a) Ineligible Differentia: The classification must be founded on an intelligible

differentia which distinguishes those persons or things are grouped together
from others left out of the group; and

9 V. N. Shukla, Constitutional Law Of India 51, Eastern Book Company, Lucknow, 12 th edn.,

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b) Rational Relation: That differentia must have a rational relation to the
object sought to be achieved by the Act.10

The very concept of equality is valid classification for preferences in favor of disadvantaged
classes of citizen to improve their conditions so as to enable them to raise their position of
equality with other more fortunate classes of citizen.

7. Right to equal access to court

Equal access to the courts for vindication of legal right may also be regarded as a condition of
equal protection and a person should not be deprived of such protection unless there is any
reasonable basis of such classification. By just grievances is meant the adjudication of disputes
relating to his rights. When the legislature seeks to deprive a citizen of his right to access to the
court without any reasonable basis for this special treatment, there is denial of equal protection.
Access to the court is a right vested to every citizen and that the same cannot be denied even
when the statutes are silent. Access to the Court is an important right to every citizen.
In recent times, it has been realized that there cannot be any real equality in the Right to sue
and sued , unless legal advice is available to the poorer people, in the same manner as to others,
whether in civil or criminal matters. Without free advice, there is a virtual denial of equal justice
to the poor man.
Earlier Article 39A to provide free legal Aid is a directive principle which cannot be enforced
in the court of law. In 1979, the court opened a new vista by combining Art 39 A with Art. 21 and
elevated the right under Art. 39A to the status of a fundamental right. Art. 39 A. Inserted in the
constitution by the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976, which says, The state shall secure that the
operation of the legal system promotes justice, on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall, in
particular, provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure
that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or
other disabilities.11

8. Judicial decisions
National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India12

10Supra note 6 at 83

11 IT Act 2000, India, available at: http://www.legalservicesindia.com (last visited

on March 27, 2017)

12 AIR 2014 SC 1863

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The Supreme Court has held that Article 14 does not restrict the word person and its application
only to male or female and Hijras/transgender 13 person who are neither male nor female fall
within the expression person. They are entitled to legal protection of laws in all spheres of state
activity including employment, health care, education as well as equal civil citizenship rights, as
enjoyed by any other citizen of this country.

State of West Bengal v. Anwar Ali Sarkar 14

In this case the honourable SC said that, section 5(1) of the West Bengal Special courts Act, 1950
contravened article 14 and was void since it confers arbitrary power on the government to
classify offences or cases at its pleasure and the act did not lay down any policy or guidelines for
the exercise of discretion to classify cases or offences. The procedure laid down by the act for the
trial by the special court varied substantially from the procedure laid down for the trial of
offences generally by the criminal procedure court.

Kathi Ranning Rawat v. State of Saurashtra15

In West Bengal v. Anwar Ali case discussed above, a similar law was upheld by Supreme Court
because the court found in the statue a definite principle or objective clearly stated to
provide for public safety, maintenance of public order and
preservation of peace and tranquillity in the state. In this case the
Supreme Court held that the Saurashtra Ordinance was not violative of Article 14 of the
constitution. As further said by the court that the main distinction between the Anwar Ali case
and the Saurashtra Ordinance is that while in former there was no principle to be found to control
the application of discriminatory provisions or to correlate these provisions to some reasonable
tangible and rational objective; the latter clearly lays down the guiding principle.

R.K Garg v. Union of India16

13 Hijras, Eunuchs apart from binary gender, be treated as third gender for the purpose of
safeguarding their rights under Part 3 of our Indian Constitution. This expression sex is not
limited to biological sex of male or female but intended to include people who consider
themselves to be neither male nor female.

14 AIR 1952 SC 175

15 AIR 1952 SC 123

16 AIR 1981 SC 2138

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This case is popularly known as Bearer Bond's Case. As Article 14 guarantees 'equality before
law & equal protection of law'. But there is exception to this rule on the two grounds. (1) There
should be intelligible differentia & (2) There should be relation bet
differentia and object sought to be achieved by Act. Now coming to the case, the
constitutional validity of Special Bearer Bonds (Immunities and Exemptions) Ordinance, 1981
and the Act which replaced it was challenged on rational basis & violative to Art.14. Sec.3 of the
Act granted certain immunities to a person who had invested his unaccountable money in the
Special Bearer Bond. They were not required to disclose the nature and source of acquisition of
the SBBs. It prohibited any enquiry or investigation against such person. The Court by 4-1
majority upheld the validity of ordinance, and the ground for classification made by the Act bet
persons having black money and persons not having black money was based on intelligible
differentia having rational relation with the object of the Act.

Chiranji Lal Cahudhari v. The Union of India 17

This is an application by the holder of one ordinary share of the Sholapur Spinning and Weaving
Company Ltd., for a writ of mandamus and certain other reliefs under Art. 32 of the Constitution
of India. In this case one is owning to mismanagement in Sholapur Spinning and Weaving
Company Ltd. The management threatened to close down the Mill. The Supreme Court held that
Act is valid. It is said that a law may be constitutional even though it applies to a single
individual if, on account of some special circumstances or reasons applicable to him and not
application to others, that single individual may be treated as a class itself, unless it is shown that
there are others who are similarly circumstanced.

9. Conclusion
Right to equality is a Fundamental Right. It is considered as basic feature of the Indian
Constitution. It is vested not only to citizens but to all people. To conclude, the Right to
Equality should not only remain on papers. This right should be properly exercised; otherwise it
will lose its essence if all the citizens of India, especially the weaker and backward classes do not
have equal rights and equality before law. It can be enforced in High Court under Article 226 and
in Supreme Court under Article 32.Fundamental Rights can be enforced only if the state violates
The Right to equality embodied in the Constitution can undoubtedly be regarded as a firm
step towards the establishment of democracy in India. But it must also be remembered that the
citizens of India have not been given the right to equality in the economic field. Indeed, without
economic equality, formation of democratic society is as impossible and ridiculous to build a
castle in the air.

17 AIR 1961 SC 41

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It includes equality before Law and Equal Protection of Law. No one is above the law of the
land. Everyone is equal in the eyes of law. There should be no discrimination. Law must be equal
and must be equally administered. So like must be treated alike and unlike. Equality before law
is negative concept and Equal protection of law is positive concept. Reasonable Classification is
allowed in the administration of justice. But it should have some relation to the object of the

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