Equality before law plays a significant role in the life of Indian citizens because it implies an absence of any special privilege in favor of an individual. These rights state that there will be equal treatment in equal circumstances. Article 14 of our Indian Constitution states equality before the law. Simply put, no one is above the law.
“Equality before the law” means that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law and should be equally administered, that it should be treated alike. The right to sue and be sued, prosecute and be prosecuted for actions of the same kind should be the same for every citizen, and this understanding should be without distinction of caste, class, religion, race, and political influence. Article 14 grants classification but rejects class legislation. Class legislation comes under improper discrimination by granting particular privileges upon a class of person. Through all this, it is clear that such rights play a very important role in today’s society because it treats everyone on the same footing, without any discrimination. But the question is, is this really practiced when the poor face discrimination because of the rich person?
We live in a society where rich people play a very dominant role, and sometimes because of that, our laws also get affected in a practical world. Most people do not even aware of their rights because of the language of the law. It’s so difficult to understand by a common person that they are clueless about their own rights. So, what will be the solution?
Reasonable classification of Article 14
A stated above, it is understood now that Article 14 has provided equality of all people before the law, but the fact is every person is not the same, and therefore it is not possible to have a universal application of equality. In essence, the laws cannot be of the general character, and that is why some classification is granted under Article 14.
However, the Legislature is allowed to classify different people into groups because it has been accepted that treating the unequal in the same manner is likely to cause problems in society. Classification is important for the progress of society.
This classification cannot be done arbitrarily because there will be no legitimization in such cases, so despite the fact that Article 14 takes into account order, such arrangement ought not to give exceptional honors to any gathering subjectively, and such a grouping must be done on a judicious premise. For example, the Legislature can’t pass a law that leans toward a specific rank of individuals with no sane reason for itself, and assuming such a law is passed; it will undoubtedly be held unconstitutional by the Judiciary.
Such arbitrary classification by the Legislature is categorized as class legislation, and the constitution prohibits it, but again it grants for reasonable classification in which the legislation is passed on a rational basis for achieving certain goals.
The landmark case is “Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India,” where the Supreme court clearly ruled out the room for arbitrariness. ‘Article 14 strikes at arbitrariness in State activity and guarantees equality and fairness of treatment. The logic of reasonableness, which legitimately just as logically, is a fundamental component of equity or non-arbitrariness, plagues Article 14 like an agonizing ubiquity.’ The rule of law which pervades the whole texture of the Indian Constitution avoids arbitrariness. Any place we track down discretion or outlandishness, there is forswearing there is the refusal of law and order.
- ‘Article 14 Equality Before Law’ (Legalserviceindia.com) <https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-353-article-14-equality-before-law.html> accessed 6 January 2022
- Thakur A, ‘Right To Equality Under Article 14’ (iPleaders, 2019) <https://blog.ipleaders.in/right-equality-article-14/> accessed 6 January 2022
- ‘Article 14 -“Right To Equality”’ (Samistilegal.in, 2018) <https://samistilegal.in/article-14-right-to-equality/> accessed 6 January 2022
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