INTERPRETATION OF SUPREME COURT ON ARTCLE 14 FROM 1995-2021.

In this research article, the researcher seeks to analyze Article 14 of Constitution of India, 1950. The right to equality has not been given a far effect if seen in reality. In fact, we can say that this right has not been recognized among the human history at a larger range. This right seems to be more complex and layered than others. Before looking into the Constitution and the Articles mentioned under it, the Preamble itself speaks of equality along with justice, liberty and fraternity.[1]

The concept of “Rule of law” was developed by AV Dicey in his book “The Constitution of England.” Rule of law means Supremacy of law, whether it is the government or the governed all are equal and this is what the rule of law means. This concept is found at two places. Firstly, in the preamble, which talks about equal opportunity of status and secondly, in Article 14 of Constitution of India. This Article says that one must prohibit unequal treatment which is mentioned under Article 14(1) and 14(2) states that one must demand the equal treatment. These two can be broadly be categorized as Equality before law and Equal protection of laws.

EQUALITY BEFORE LAW, ARTICLE 14(1)-

  1. This is an English law
  2. It is a rule of law
  3. Example- Lady justice.
  4. This is a negative concept.
  5. It is generic in nature.

EQUAL PROTECTION OF LAW, ARTICLE 14(2)-

  1. This is an American concept.
  2. No universal application of laws.
  3. This is a positive concept.
  4. This is specific in nature.

The researcher will now, deal with a series of cases in order to understand the evolution of Right to Equality over a period of time:

In order to have a better public welfare, classification is very essential and it is via this only that we can bring better laws in the society. There are 2 tests that have evolved in the case of State of Bombay vs. F.N. Balsara[2], the tests laid down to protect the laws from undue advantage are:

  • Intelligible differentia- Proper reasoning for classification. This means that there has to be an intelligent reason for making the classification.
  • Rationale Nexus- There has to be reasonable connection between the classification and the end result.

In the case of EP Royappa vs State of Tamil Nadu[3], supreme court formulated a new doctrine on the concept that equality or arbitrariness test is a dynamic concept and it cannot be confined with traditional limits. This case held that equality before law means Rule of law + Natural Justice. This case held that the concept of equality includes guarantee against the arbitrariness in the State action.

Therefore, the new doctrine is the combination of the old doctrine which included the 2 tests of Intelligible differentia and rational Nexus in addition to the Reasonableness. This doctrine laid down that equality and arbitrariness are sworn enemies.

In the case of Air India vs Nargesh Meerza, [4]court held that terminating of services of an air hostess on the grounds of pregnancy amounts to discrimination. The 3 grounds mentioned by the Air company for termination of female flight attendants were:

  1. After reaching the age of 35 years.
  2. Upon getting married and
  3. After first pregnancy.

All the above-mentioned rules were not applicable to male attendants in the flight services and hence this was held to be violative of Right to Equality and amounts to arbitrariness and hostile discrimination.

The mention of the term ‘Golden Triangle’ for Article 14, 19 and 21 was observed for the first time in the case of Bachan Singh vs State of Punjab,[5] wherein it was highlighted by Justice Chandrachud that these three articles of the constitution of India are of prime importance and they breathe the vitality in the concept of rule of law.

In the case of Mithu vs State of Punjab,[6] mandatory death penalty for anyone who commits murder and is on life imprisonment to which the court declared arbitrary and not based on any rationale principle. This case has struck down Section 303 of IPC as this section violated Articles 14 and 21 of Constitution of India and all cases with regard to murder would come under the ambit of Section 302 of IPC and would be upon the discretion of the judges to decide the discretion of life imprisonment or death penalty.

In the case of National Legal Services Authority vs Union of India,[7] it was held that Article 14 does not limit itself to males and females as persons but also includes hijras, transgenders also. Therefore, the “third gender” is also included or is under the ambit of the definition clause as transgenders were the most disrespectful individuals treated badly in the society and thus, right to equality even applies to them and have been framed under the umbrella of gender-neutral term.

The researcher would like to conclude by stating that from the above-mentioned cases, there has been brought many changes in the concept of Right to Equality and it can be seen that it has evolved from the period of 1995 to 2021 at present and is now recognised and accepted among the society. From the times when there was discrimination against the women, to now where they are recognised and are treated equally to that of men. But still, things need to go at this par only so that many more differentiation that exists must be outcasted. There has been a time, when women were not allowed to enter the temples during their menstrual phase and now, they that same thing is declared unconstitutional in one of the above-mentioned cases. So, yes, in a way we have come a long way over the period of time. Also, Article 14 is not an absolute rule and is subjected to exceptions like, foreign diplomats, Article 361 and trade unions.[8] This right has played a major role in the upliftment of the backward classes. However, the Supreme Court has kept it in mind that this to Fundamental Right seeks to achieve the objective that the farmers of the Constitution of India have thought about while framing it. 

REFERENCES:

https://www.barandbench.com/columns/article-14-and-the-paradox-of-equality

https://www.legalbites.in/right-to-equality-article-14-18

http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-1947-right-to-equality-new-dimension-and-new-version-part-one.html


[1] https://www.barandbench.com/columns/article-14-and-the-paradox-of-equality, last visited 29/03/2020

[2] State of Bombay vs. F.N. Balsara, AIR1951SC318

[3] EP Royappa vs State of Tamil Nadu, 1974 AIR 555 

[4] Air India vs Nargesh Meerza, AIR1981SC 1829.

[5] Bachan Singh vs State of Punjab, (1982) 3 SCC 24.

[6] Mithu vs State of Punjab, AIR 1983 SC 473

[7] National Legal Services Authority vs Union of India, AIR 2014 SC 1863

[8] https://www.legalbites.in/right-to-equality-article-14-18, last visited 14/04/2021.

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