In general sense, everybody here is capable of understanding Article 14 of the Indian Constitution i.e. “Right to Equality”. Even after 73 years of independence, our country is not able to gain actual independence. Evils like discrimination are still prevailing in our country. Even the one who created our Constitution suffered from this anathema. Even now there are some places where people are not treated equally and they are discriminated on different basis like religion, race, sex, caste, place of origin, etc.
By knowing the scenario of India our Constitution-makers added Article 14 in Indian Constitution as the fundamental right to citizens as well as those who are not a citizen of our territory.
Article 14 basically 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”.
To treat all citizens equally is the basic concept of liberalism and Article 14 ensures the same to our citizens. The liberty of any person is directly connected to the equality he/she is getting in society.
Equality before Law
Our country as we all know is a democratic country and in fact the largest democratic country in the world. Here all are independent to think about anything, do anything (with reasonable restriction though) and our state is there to put reasonable restriction. In the eyes of law, all persons within the territory of our country should be treated equally.
Equality before Law basically means that all persons should be treated equally no matter whether they are poor or rich, male or female, upper caste or lower caste. This state cannot provide any special privileges to anyone in the country. It is also known as legal equality.
Equal protection of the Laws
This is one of the positive concepts of Equality. Equal protection of the law is incurred from Section 1 of the 14th Amendment Act of the US constitution. According to this principle, everybody who resides in India should be treated equally and will get equal protection of the law. It guarantees all people inside the territory of India should be treated equally and the state cannot deny it (for equal protection of the law).
It puts the positive obligation on the state to prevent the violation of rights. This can be done by bringing socio-economic changes.
Access to Justice
By equality before the law, it means everyone has access to justice. No one can be barred from access to justice. Here all should be treated equally in front of the judicial system. The word “Access to Justice” includes some basic rights of a person. By term access to justice, we mean that every person should have the right to appear in court.
Also, there are many people who are deprived of access to justice due to economical knowledge or due to lack of awareness. Here it means that the government needs to play a vital role in providing justice to them. For granting Access to Justice we need to reform our judicial system. We need to work on the legal aid system.
The doctrine of legitimate expectation
The doctrine of legitimate expectation is basically not a legal right but rather it is a moral obligation on the part of the administration to look and make laws that provide equality to all people in a territory. It gives the right of judicial review in administrative law to protect the interest of people when public authority fails to do so.
It acts as a bridge between the expectation of individuals and any act of authority. However, these expectations needed to be reasonable and logical that’s why they are called legitimate expectations.
by Rajat Malhotra@lexcliq