Article 14 of Constitution of India – Right to Equality
Article 14 of Constitution of India – Right to Equality deals with every person’s fundamental right to equality before the law, after, the Independence and until today our country cannot gain actual independence. Because in India, the evils like discrimination on the basis of caste, gender, race, creed, etc. still prevail in our country.
Article 14 of Indian Constitution i.e. right to equality is added by the constitution framers as the fundamental right to citizens of our country and also other peoples from other countries.
The basic concept of Article 14 of Constitution of India is to treat all citizens equally and the personal liberty of any person is directly connected to the equality he/she is getting in society.
That means, in the eye of the law, all persons within the territory of our country should be treated equally no matter whether they are poor or rich, male or female, upper caste or lower caste.
Herein this article, we can understand how important the role of the State/government is to maintain equality before the law of its citizens.
For example, a husband treats his wife very badly, and a lower-caste man is shown as inferior to upper-caste people. These are examples of discrimination on the basis of caste, gender, race, creed, etc.
- Why Do We Need a Constitution
- Difference Between Constitutional Law and Administrative Law
- The Types of Constitution
Types of Equality
Before understanding the provisions of the right to equality, we should know the types of equality to get an idea of what it is. The word equality is also mentioned in the preamble of the Constitution of India. The types of equality are;
Right to Equality
Right to equality is governed by Articles 14 to 18 of the Constitution of India, 1950.
|Article 14||The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, or any of them.|
|Article 15||The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.|
|Article 16||There shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State.|
|Article 17||Abolition of untouchability|
|Article 18||Abolition of all titles except military and academic|
Equality before law (Article 14)
Article 14 of the Constitution of India, states that “The state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.”
Article 14 treats all people the same in the eyes of the law. This Article is described in two parts – which states and commands the State not to deny to any person ‘equality before the law’. Another part of it also commands the State not to deny the ‘equal protection of the laws’.
- This provision states that all citizens will be treated equally before the law and avoids any kind of discrimination.
- The law of the country protects everybody equally.
- Under the same circumstances, the law will treat people in the same manner.
Prohibition of discrimination (Article 15)
This article prohibits discrimination in any manner. This article secures the citizens from every sort of discrimination by the State, on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth or of them.
- No citizen shall, on grounds only of race, religion, caste, place of birth, sex, or any of them, be subject to any liability, disability, restriction, or condition with respect to a) Access to public places or b) Use of tanks, wells, ghats, etc. that are maintained by the State or that are meant for the general public.
- The article also mentions that special provisions can be made for women, children, and the backward classes notwithstanding this article.
Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment (Article 16)
Article 16 provides equal employment opportunities in State service for all citizens.
- No citizen shall be discriminated against in matters of public employment or appointment on the grounds of race, religion, caste, sex, place of birth, descent, or residence.
- Exceptions to this can be made for providing special provisions for the backward classes.
Abolition of untouchability (Article 17)
Article 17 prohibits the practice of untouchability.
- Untouchability is abolished in all forms.
- Any disability arising out of untouchability is made an offense.
Abolition of titles (Article 18)
Abolition of titles;
- The State shall not confer any titles except those which are academic or military titles.
- The article also prohibits citizens of India from accepting any titles from a foreign State.
- The article abolishes the titles that were awarded by the British Empire such as Rai Bahadur, Khan Bahadur, etc.
- Awards like Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, and Bharat Ratna, and military honors like Ashok Chakra, and Param Vir Chakra do not belong to this category.
The Concept of Equality Before Law
Our country is the largest democratic country in the world. Therefore, we all are independent to think about anything and do anything (but with some reasonable restriction though) and our government/State is there to put reasonable restrictions.
Equality before the Law and Rule of Law
Equality before the law and the rule of law, there is a direct connection between them. However, the provision of the rule of law has been given by Prof. Dicey and it was stated that no one here is beyond or above the law and is equal in front of the law. Also, the rule of law guarantees every person the equality before law.
It is stated that in a country all persons should be treated equally and as there is no State religion so it should not discriminate against any religion and the concept of uniformity should be applied.
Equal Protection the Laws
Equal Protection of the Laws is one of the positive concepts of the equality before law. Equal protection of the law is incurred from Section 1 of the 14th Amendment Act of the United States Constitution.
According to this section, everybody who resides in a country should be treated equally and will get equal protection under the law. It guarantees all people who reside in the territory of India should be treated equally and the State cannot deny equal protection of the law to its people.
In the case of Stephens College vs The University of Delhi, it was held that the admission process of the college was checked and the main issue raised was the validity of preference given to Christian students in the admission process.
Herein, the Supreme Court held that the minority institution which is receiving aid from the State funds is entitled to grant the preference or to reserve seats for the students of its community.
The Supreme Court held that the differential treatment of the candidates in the admission program does not violate Article 14 of the Indian Constitution and it is needed for the minority and economically weaker section.
Constitutional Validity of Special Courts
As we discussed earlier that equality before the law is not absolute and has several exceptions to it.
Article 246(2) of the Constitution of India states that, “Notwithstanding anything in clause (3), Parliament and subject to clause (1), the legislature of any State also has power to make laws with respect to any of the matters enumerated in List – III (i.e. Concurrent List) in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.”
In the Special Courts Bill vs Unknown Case, the validity of the special courts which were established under the Special Courts Act was questioned in this case. It was questioned, “Whether the formation of special courts under the Special Courts Act was not violating Article 14 of the Constitution.”
Herein the case, the Supreme Court held that as there was reasonability and logicality information of these special courts so these courts are constitutionally valid.
Reasonable Classification Test
The Supreme Court of India has described the jurisprudence of equality before the law in the case of Ram Krishna Dalmia vs Justice Tendolkar. The test is to determine whether the conducts of the State are constitutionally valid or not. The very famous test “The Classification Test” has been described in this case only.
Here, the High Court held that a Government can make a commission to enquire a case when it is necessary to do so. Here the main object of the government is to make any commitment to help matters of public importance.
Herein, the freedom to make any decision rests in the hand of the government, however, in its case of administrative discretion.
In this case, it was also held that the actions of the government are reasonable and justified by the law.
No Equality in Illegality
There cannot be equality before the law for the person who is a wrongdoer or committed an act that is against the law. Therefore, a person who is committing an illegal act cannot ask for the Right to Equality before a court of law or any judicial system.
In the case of Baliram Prasad Singh vs State of Bihar, The High Court of Patna clearly explained that there cannot be equality for the illegal acts as the petitioner was himself a wrongdoer, therefore, the court made him liable to compensate for his illegal act.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Article 14 of the Indian Constitution?
Article 14 of the Indian Constitution – ‘Protection of life and liberty and equality before the law – No person shall be deprived of his life or liberty except according to procedure established by law, nor shall any person be denied equality before the law or the equal protection of the law within the territory of India. ‘
What is Article 14 right to equality?
Article 14 of the Constitution of India reads as under: “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.”
Is Article 14 absolute?
Article 14 of the Indian constitution grants every person equality before the law and equal protection of laws. However, article 14 is not absolute, there can be certain exceptions for the betterment of citizens and in favor of the public interest.
What are the fundamental rights 14 to 18?
The Indian Constitution’s Article 14-18 provides everyone with the right to equality. No Indian Citizen should be denied equality before the law or equal protection of the laws. The state shall not discriminate prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.
What are the limitations of Article 14?
Thus what Article 14 forbids is class legislation but it does not forbid reasonable classification. The classification however must not be “arbitrary, artificial or evasive” but must be based on some real and substantial bearing of a just and reasonable relation to the object sought to be achieved by the legislation.
What is the right to equality in 5 points?
The right to equality provides for the equal treatment of everyone before the law, prevents discrimination on various grounds, treats everybody as equals in matters of public employment, and abolishes untouchability, and titles (such as Sir, Rai Bahadur, etc.).
Is equality a basic human right?
The right to equality and non-discrimination is a fundamental component of international human rights law.
Article 14 of the Constitution of India is enumerated under Part – III of the Indian Constitution. Our country is a democratic country and we have been provided certain Fundamental Rights under Part – III of the Constitution of India and ensure that these fundamental rights should not be violated by anyone.
Right to Equality is one of the Fundamental Rights provided in the Constitution, The right to equality is not actually being properly enforced even after so much legal obligation. The right to equality under Article 14 of the Constitution of India needed to be applied in a practical sense so that no one is deprived of their rights.