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Article 14: Equality Before Law and Equal Protection



  May 02, 2024

Article 14: Equality Before Law and Equal Protection



1. Introduction to Article 14

●  Article 14 guarantees 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."

● This provision ensures that every individual is treated equally under the law.

2. Equality Before the Law

● Definition: All persons, citizens and others, are equal in the eyes of the law.

● Implication: There is no discrimination against anyone in the eyes of the law.

3. Equal Protection of Laws

● Concept: People in similar circumstances are treated similarly.

● Application: It allows for the law to treat different classes of people differently, provided there is a reasonable basis for doing so, recognizing that not all people are alike.

4. Necessity of Differential Treatment

● Different groups may require different treatment to achieve fairness and justice.

● Examples include differential taxation for the rich and middle-class, and protective laws for weaker sections of society.

5. Application and Examples

● Affirmative Action: Policies like reservations in education and employment for disadvantaged groups.

● Special Provisions: Laws providing health benefits, educational opportunities, and other supports to enable equal opportunities for all.

6. Legal Interpretations and Key Judgments

● Affirmative Action in India: The role of equal protection of laws in facilitating affirmative action.

● Exceptions: High constitutional functionaries like the President of India and Governors have specific immunities and privileges.

7. Rule of Law

● Characteristics: Includes universality, publicity, consistency, equality, and certainty.

● Dimensions by Prof. Albert Venn Dicey:

   ►  No one is above the law.

   ►  Absence of arbitrary governmental power.

   ►  Protection of individual liberties.

● Origin: Traces back to Magna Carta (1215), emphasizing that the law is above everyone.

8. Legal Person and Citizen

● Types of Legal Persons:

   ►  Human beings (natural persons).

   ►  Non-human entities (juridical persons) such as companies, idols, animals, and natural features like rivers.

● Rights: Legal persons can enter into contracts, sue and be sued, and own property.

● Supreme Court Judgments: Recognition of animals and other entities under Article 21 which guarantees the right to life and personal liberty.

9. Reasonable Classification Under Article 14

●Principle: Similar people should be treated similarly; differences must be just and necessary.

●Legal Tests:

   ►  The classification must be founded on an intelligible differentia.

   ►  The differentia must have a rational relation to the object sought to be achieved by the law.

● Examples: Different tax treatments for different income groups, special measures for women's safety at workplaces.


10. Citizenship and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA):

● In India, the concept of citizenship and its regulations are governed by the Citizenship Act of 1955, which has been amended several times to address various issues related to citizenship status. The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) of 2019 is one of the latest amendments that aim to provide a pathway for citizenship to persecuted minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, or Christians and who arrived in India before the end of 2014.

● The CAA has been controversial and has sparked debates and protests across the country, with opponents arguing that it discriminates on the basis of religion and violates the equal protection of laws guaranteed under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. Critics claim that by excluding Muslims, the Act introduces unreasonable classification and does not have a rational relation to the objective of protecting persecuted minorities.



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