Reasonable classification under article 14

Article 14 of the constitution guarantees the right to equality to every citizen of India with the general principles of equality before the law and prohibits unreasonable discrimination between persons. Article 14 guarantees the idea of equality present in the preamble by declaring that ‘the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or equal protection of law within the territory of India.’. So, it uses the two expressions “equality before law” and “equal protection of law”.

It states that no special privilege is provided for anyone for the reason of birth, sex, religion, etc. and every individual is an equal subject of law.

it talks about providing equal treatment in ideal situations which implies that the president and any other ordinary citizen are treated as same in the ideal conditions.

The equal protection of laws does not mean that all laws must be general in character i.e. there must be some special laws made for the people because of The varying needs of different classes of persons which requires different treatment from others. While Article 14 prohibits class legislation it does not prohibit reasonable classification of persons, objects, and transactions by the legislature for the purpose of achieving specific ends. But classification must not be based on “arbitrary, artificial or evasive”, it must be based upon some real and substantial distinction which must be a just and reasonable relation to the objective aimed to achieve by the legislation. In the case of Saurabh Chaudhari v Union of India Supreme Court lays down two conditions for reasonable classification –
• The classification must be founded on intelligible differentia
• The differentia must have a rational relation to the object sought to be achieved by the act.

D.S. Nakara v. Union Of India
In this case, The Government issued an office memorandum which states about a liberalized pension scheme for retired government servants and made it applicable to those peoples only who had retired after 31 March 1979. The Supreme Court of India held that the fixing of the date is discrimination and it violates Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. So, the division of pensioners into two classes on the basis of the date of retirement was not a reasonable classification because a difference of days in the matter of retirement could have a traumatic effect on the pensioner. Such a classification was held to be arbitrary and unprincipled because there was no acceptable or persuasive reason in its favor.

Madhu Limaye v. Supdt. Tihar Jail Delhi
There were Indian and European Prisoners in the prison and both were treated differently as European gets a better diet than the others. The Court held that the difference between Indian and European prisoners in the matter of treatment and diet violates the right to equality of Indian prisoners under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. They all are prisoners they must treat equally.

So, the basic meaning of article 14 is to treat every person equal before the law but it could make special provisions for the others because India being of its past experiences every person doesn’t get equal opportunity to be uplifted that’s why people need special provisions to progress the society but the provisions must not be in such sense that they create a difference between the peoples and couldn’t violate someone else rights.


Constitutional Law Of India, Dr. Pandey

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