General Studies IIConstitution

Equality Before Law and Equal Protection of Law




Article 14 of the Constitution of India, 1950 was not a standalone provision in the Draft Constitution, 1948. It was initially included in Draft Article 15 (Article 21) which read:

‘Protection of life and liberty and equality before 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.’

Draft Article 15 was taken up for discussion on 6th and 13th of December 1948. The discussions that took place on these two days revolved around the first part, whereas the second –  ‘equality before law’- was not debated at all.

In its letter to the President of the Constituent Assembly dated 3rd November 1949 presenting its revised Draft Constitution, the Drafting Committee mentioned that – ‘We have considered it more appropriate to split this article into two parts and to transfer the latter part of this article dealing with “equality before law” to a new article 14 under the heading ‘Right to Equality’. Article 14 was thereby introduced into the Constitution of India, 1950.

Article-14 of Constitution of India

The state not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India protection prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, Caste, sex, or place of birth. Prof. Dicey, explaining the concept of legal equality as it operated in England, said: “with us every official, from the prime minister down to a constable or a collector of taxes, is under the same responsibility for every act done without any legal justification as any other citizen.”

The phase “equality to the law“ find a place in all written constitutions that guarantees fundamental rights. “All citizens irrespective of birth, religion, sex, or race are equal before law ; that is to say, there Shall not be any arbitrary discrimination between one citizen or class of citizens and another.” “All citizens shall, as human persons he held equal before law.” “All inhabitants of the republic are assured equality before the laws.”

Pantanjali Sastri, c.j., has expressed that the second expression is corollary of the first and it is difficult to imaging a situation in which the violation of laws will not be the violation of equality before laws thus, in substance the two expression mean one and same thing.

According to Dr. Jennings said that: “Equality before the law means that equality among equals the law should be equal for all. And should be equally administered, that like should treated alike. The right to sue and be sued, to prosecute and prosecuted for the same kind of action should be same for all citizens of full age and understanding without distinctions of race, religion, wealth, social status or political influence.”

Equality before law The Concept of “equality before the law” is of British origin which means that no one, rich or poor, low or high, official or non-official, is above the law and that everyone, regardless of status or position, is to be treated equally and subject to the same form of court interference. It is a rather negative notion in that it is a proclamation of equality of all persons inside the territory of India, meaning the absence of any privilege in favor of any individual based on birth, creed, or other factors. The concept of EBL, on the other hand, does not imply total equality for everybody. Article 14 assures treatment that is comparable but not identical.    

Equal Protection of Law

“Equal protection of law” has been given in article 14 of our Indian constitution which has been taken from section 1 of the 14th amendment act of the constitution of the united state.

Meaning of equal protection of law: here, it means that each person within the territory of India will get equal Protection of laws.

In Stephen’s college v. university of Delhiunder The court held that the expression “Equal protection of the laws is now being read as a positive Obligation on the state to ensure equal protection of laws by bringing in necessary social and economic changes so that everyone may enjoy equal protection of the laws and nobody is denied such protection. If the state leaves the existing inequalities untouched laws d by its laws, it fails in its duty of providing equal protection of its laws to all persons. State will provide equal protection to all the people of India who are citizen of India and as well as non citizen of India.

Exceptions to Rule of Law


In the case of Indra Sawhney the right to equality is also recognized as one of basic features of Indian constitution. Article 14 applies to all person and is not limited to citizens. A corporation, which is a juristic person, is also entailed to the benefit of this article. This concept implied equality for equals and aims at striking down hostile discrimination or oppression of inequality. In the case of Ramesh Prasad v. State of Bihar, AIR 1978 SC 327 It is to be noted that aim of both the concept, ‘ Equality before law’ and ‘ Equal protection of the law’ is the equal Justice.

Underlying priniciple:-

The Principle of equality is not the uniformity of treatment to all in all respects. it only means that all persons similarly circumstanced shall be treated alike both in the privileges conferred and liabilities imposed by the laws. Equal law should be applied to all in the same situation, and there should be no discrimination between one person and another.

Rule Of Law

The rule of law embodied in Article 14 is the “ Basic feature” of the Indian constitution. Hence it cannot be destroyed even by an amendment of the constitution under article 368 of the constitution.

  • Meaning of rule of Law
    The Rule of law has been given by prof. Dicey the expression the guarantee of equality before the law. It means that no man is above the law, all are equal in eye of law. The concept of rule of law come from magnacarta.its means that law is equal for all in same line. Because state have no religion all are equal in same line. And uniformity will be applied for all. Every organ of the state under the constitution of India is regulated and controlled by the rule of law.Absence of arbitrary power has been held to be the first essential of rule of law. The rule of law requires that the discretion conferred upon executive authorities must be contained within clearly define limits. The rule of law permeates the entire fabrics of the constitution of India and it forms one of its basic features.


  • Article 361 of Indian constitution Law
    The President, or the governor of a state, shall not be answerable to any court for the exercise and performance of the powers and duties of his office or for any act done or purporting to be done by him In the exercise and performance of those power and duties. Provided that the conduct of the president may be brought under review

  • Article 361 Protection of President and Governors
    1) The President, or the Governor or of a State, shall not be answerable to any court for the exercise and performance of the powers and duties of his office or for any act done or purporting to be done by him in the exercise and performance of those powers and duties:

    Provided that the conduct of the President may be brought under review by any court, tribunal or body appointed or designated by either House of Parliament for the investigation of a charge under article 61: Provided further that nothing in this clause shall be construed as restricting the right of any person to bring appropriate proceedings against the Government of India or the Government of a State.

    (2) No criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President, or the Governor of a State, in any court during his term of office.

    (3) No process for the arrest or imprisonment of the President, or the Governor of a State, shall issue from any court during his term of office.

    (4) No civil proceedings in which relief is claimed against the President, or the Governor of a State, shall be instituted during his term of office in any court in respect of any act done or purporting to be done by him in his personal capacity, whether before or after he entered upon his office as President, or as Governor of such State, until the expiration of two months next after notice in writing has been delivered to the President or the Governor, as the case may be, or left at his office stating the nature of the proceedings, the cause of action therefor, the name, description and place of residence of the party by whom such proceedings are to be instituted and the relief which he claims.

    In Srinivas Theatre v. state of T.N., Reddy, J., has noted that equality before law is a dynamic concept having many facets. one of them there is that there shall be no privileged person of class and name shall be above state law. A fact there of is the obligation upon the state to bring about, through the machinery of law, a more equal society envisaged by the preamble and part ivth ( directive principles of state policy ) of the Indian constitution.

Permination & Prohibition Of Article 14


Article 14 permits classification but prohibits class legislation the equal protection of law guaranteed by article 14 does not mean that all laws must be general in character. It does not mean that the same laws should apply to all persons. It does not mean that every law must have universal application for, all person are not, by nature, attainment or circumstances in the same position. The varying need of different classes of persons often require separate treatment. From the very nature of society there should be different places and the legislature controls the policy and enacts laws in the best interest of the safety and security of the state. In fact, identical amount to unequal circumstances would amount to inequality. Thus, a reasonable classification is permitted for the develop society. article is forbids is class-legislation but it does not forbids reasonable classification. The classification, however, must not be “Arbitrary, artificial or evasive” but must be based on some real and substantial Distinction bearing a just and reasonable relation to the object sought be achieved by the legislation.Article 14 implied where equals are treated differently without any reasonable basis. But where equals and unequal are treated differently, article 14 does not apply class legislation is that which makes an improper discrimination by conferring particular privileges upon a class of persons arbitrarily selected from a large number of persons, all of whom stand in the same relation to the privilege granted that between whom and the persons, not so favored no reasonable distinction or substantial difference can be found justifying the inclusion of one and the exclusion of the other from such privilege.

Special provision for women and Children and SC,ST & backward classes :

Article 14 of Indian constitution law says that all are equal in the eye of law. No one can prevent the state from making any special provisions for women and children. For a examples, special seating arrangement for women in buses, trains, metros trains is not unconstitutional. It was held by court that “reservation of some seats for women in college.”

According to section 497 of Indian penal code, audultery is consider as offence when it committed by men , not consider offence if committed by women thus women cannot be Prosecuted for abetters. It is clear that it makes special provision for women and which is valid Under constitution law article 15(3). Section 437 of cr.p.c., 1973 restricts the release of an accused person a capital offence on Bail except women, children under age of 16 years or ill or infirm persons.

In Choki v. State of Rajasthan, the court has held that it valid on the grounds make special Provision for women and therefore, it is protected under article. Article 15(4) has been inserted by the constitution ( first amendment ) Act, 1951. This amendment has been changed in the supreme court case state of Madras v. champakam dorairajan. In this case, the reservation of seats for the admission to state medical and engineering colleges was made on the ground of caste and religion. The court said that it unconstitutional on the ground that it was based on communal matter. Article 15(4) was interested in the Indian constitution law after the amendment. the aim to empower the government to make special provisions for the betterment of educationally and socially backward classes of citizen of India and for the Scheduled tribes and scheduled castes. State has made many special provision for the weaker sections such as ST,SC and educationally and socially backward classes of citizens of India., Meaning of “ Scheduled caste” means such castes, race, or tribes or parts of or groups within Such castes, races or tribes as are deemed under article 341 to be scheduled castes for the purposes of this constitution.article 341(1) provide additional protection to the members of the scheduled castes having regard to the social, economical, educational, backwardness from which they suffer because of their caste.

New Concept Of Equality For The Protection Of People Of India


In the case of the Air India v. Nargesh Meerza Regulation 46 of Indian Airlines regulations provides an air Hostess will be retire from the service upon attaining the age of 35 years or on marriage within 4 years of Service or on first pregnancy, whoever found earlier but regulation 47 of the regulation act the managing director had the discretion extend the age of retirement one year at a time beyond the age of retirement up to the age of 45 years at his option if an air hostess was found medically fit .it was held by the court that an air hostess on the ground of pregency was unreasonable and arbitrary, it was the violation of article 14 under constitution law of India. The regulation did not restrict marriage after four years and if an air hostess after having fulfilled the condition became pregnant, there was no ground why first pregnancy should stand in the way of her running service. of the court said that the termination of service on pregnancy was manifestly unreasonable and arbitrary on the basis of this it was violation of article 14 of Indian constitution.

In John Vallamattom v. union of India, section 118 of the Indian succession Act, 1925 court invalidated which prohibited the right of a Christian to make valid will for a religious or charitable purpose only if he made it at least 12 months before his death. The court occurred the prescription of time and the application of the provision only to Christian artificial having no nexus with the object of law. In P. Rajendan v. state of Madras, court said that there was district wise distribution of seats in state medical colleges on the ground of proportion of population of a district to the total population of the state. classification will be valid under article 14, there must be a relation between the classification and the object sought to be achieved. Any one scheme of admission rules should be devised so as to select the best available talent for admission to medical college in the state. in reality discriminatory as a high qualified candidate from one district may be rejected while a less qualified candidate from another district may be admitted.

In D.S Nakara v. union of India, in this case supreme court said that Rule 34 of the central services( pension) rules, 1972 as unconstitutional on the ground that the classification made by it between pensioners retiring before a certain date and retiring after that date was not depend upon the any rational principal it was arbitrary and the infringement of article of article 14 of Indian constitution law.

Keeping in view of above mentioned statements said by the different courts, it is clear that Article 14 gives the ensurity of equal rights without discrimination. It says equal everyone is Equal in eye of law. Whether he belongs to different race, religion, social status or wealth.

As Dr. Jennings rightly said: “equality before the law means that among equals the law should be equal and should be equally administered, that like should be treated alike. The right to sue and be sued to prosecute and prosecuted for the same kind of action should be same for all citizens of full age and understanding without distinctions of race, religion, wealth, social status or political influence.” Right to equality is a one of the most important part of our Indian constitution, which gives strengthen to all those people who belongs to Indian nationality. It is necessity of the upcoming generation to secure their right & change our developing India in to developed India.

Difference between Equality before the law and Equal Protection of laws.

Equality before lawEqual Protection of laws
1 British origin1 Borrowed from American Constitution
2 It declares that no one (rich, poor, high, or low) is above the law.2 It states that similar people should be treated equally.
3 There are no special privileges granted to anyone.3 Equality of treatment under the same conditions (both in terms of privileges granted and obligations imposed by the laws). As a result, it indicates that the government can take affirmative action (reservation) in favor of society’s weaker members.
4 All people are subject to the ordinary law of the nation, which is administered by ordinary law courts.4 The same laws are applied in the same way to all people who are in the same situation.
5 It is a negative concept since it prohibits the state from discriminating against individuals arbitrarily.5 It’s a beneficial concept because it makes the state responsible for preventing rights violations.

You can find many articles on CONSTITUTION (part of GS II) in our website. Go through these articles share with your friends and post your views in comment section.

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