EQUALITY BEFORE LAW

INTRODUCTION

As we all know, our country is a democratic one, and it is the largest democratic country in the world. Here, everyone is free to think and do anything they want (within appropriate limits, of course), and our government is there to enforce those limits. In the perspective of the law, all people on our country’s territory should be treated equally.

Equality before the law essentially means that all people should be treated equally, regardless of whether they are poor or affluent, male or female, higher or lower caste. This state cannot bestow any special benefits on anyone in the country. It is often referred to as legal equality.

Equality before the law and Rule of Law

We have previously explored Equality before the Law in depth, but there is also a clear link between Equality before the Law and Rule of Law. In fact, Prof. Dicey’s Rule of Law states that no one here is above or beyond the law and that everyone is equal in front of the law. Equality before the law is guaranteed by the rule of law.

The Rule of Law stipulates that in a country, everyone should be treated equally, and because there is no official religion, the state should not discriminate against any religion. In this case, the principle of uniformity should be used. Essentially, it is drawn from Magna Carta (a charter of rights issued in the United Kingdom) which prevents the state’s arbitrary authority.

Equal protection of the Laws

This is one of Equality’s positive ideals. Section 1 of the 14th Amendment Act of the United States Constitution mandates equal treatment under the law. According to this notion, everyone who lives in India should be treated equally and have equal access to the legal system. It ensures that all persons inside India’s borders are treated equally, and the state cannot dispute this.

The similar idea was raised in Stephens College v. The University of Delhi. In this case, the college admissions procedure was scrutinised, and the major question addressed was the legitimacy of the priority provided to Christian students throughout the admissions process. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that a minority college that receives state funding is authorised to give preference or reserve seats for students from its group.[1]

The Supreme Court ruled that differentiating applicants in the admissions process does not violate Article 14 of the Indian Constitution and is necessary for the minority sector.

Constitutional Validity of Special Courts

As previously stated, equality before the law is not absolute and has various limitations. One of these exclusions is Article 246(2). According to Article 246(2):

“Notwithstanding anything in section (3), Parliament and, subject to clause (1), the Legislature of any State have power to pass laws concerning any of the things mentioned in List III of the Seventh Schedule” (here List III is Concurrent List).

The constitutionality of Special Courts formed under the Special Courts Act has been called into doubt in the case of The Special Courts Bill v. Unknown. [2]The institution of special courts under this Act was questioned as a possible

violation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. It was determined that because there existed information on the special courts’ reasonability and logicality, these courts are legally legitimate.

Conclusion

Finally, because our nation is democratic, we have been granted certain fundamental rights to every person and must guarantee that these rights are not violated by anybody, even the state. Even when so many legal obligations relating to it have been put forward by our court system, our constitution’s right to equality is not being fully implemented. Our courts, together with the other two state institutions, work extremely hard to ensure equality among all inhabitants of our nation, but it is difficult to abolish inequality as long as individuals are unaware of their rights.

The right to equality needs to be applied practically so that no one’s rights were violated. From Mahatma Gandhi to Bhim Rao Ambedkar, everyone envisioned a country free of discrimination.

References


[1] St. Stephen’S College vs University Of Delhi on 6 December, 1991

https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1545248/

[2] The Special Courts Bill, … vs Unknown on 1 December, 1978

https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1306191/

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