Right to Equality, by Erwin Thomas Wilson @lexcliq

Since every human being is born equal, the authors of the Indian Constitution included a clause for people’s equality. Article 14 is one of the most relevant articles in the Indian constitution, and it, along with Articles 19 and 21, forms the golden triangle of the Constitution.

This right is particularly significant in India where there has long been a deep socio-economic divide. People had been discriminated against because of their gender or religion, so Article 14 was added to the Constitution to eliminate those inequalities and ensure that all people are afforded equal rights under the law.

Article 14 is the embodiment of the Preamble’s guarantee of freedom. Another relevant aspect of this article is that it not only imposes a positive duty on the State to refrain from discrimination against people, but it also imposes a positive duty on the State to take steps to reduce inequality amongst people.

Article 14

Article 14 states that the state cannot grant anybody in India equality before the law or equal treatment under the law. The phrase “equality before the law” is a derogatory term, and the state has a responsibility to refrain from unjust acts.

There are no special privileges granted to any single group of citizens under it, and everyone is entitled to the same legal requirements regardless of their position. As a result, no one is above the law of the land/lex loci, and everybody must follow it.

The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution is the source of the word “equal protection of the law.” It stipulates that all citizens of India should be afforded equal legal treatment in order to exercise their rights without discrimination or favoritism. This is a good philosophy since it means that the state has a responsibility to take steps to ensure that all people have access to this right.

As a result, both of these expressions bind the state and have fair justice. The Supreme Court clarified in Sri Srinivas Theatre v. Government of Tamil Nadu that while both terms seem to be the same, they have different definitions. The definition of equality before the law is a complex one with several facets, one of which is that there can be no privileges or people who are above the law.

Equal Justice Under the Law

The philosophy of equity before the law is based on the idea that people who are similar should be treated equally. It means all people who are peers, i.e., people with comparable positions, should have the same right to sue and be sued for the same cause of action, and that this right should be open to them without prejudice based on religion, ethnicity, caste, or some other consideration.

The court held in the case of State of West Bengal v. Anwar Ali Sarkar that the word “equal treatment of the law” is a natural consequence of the term “equality before the law,” and that it is impossible to conceive a situation in which a breach of equal protection of the law is not indeed a violation of equality before the law. So, although the words have different meanings, they are related.

Rule of Law

The definition of the rule of law has been introduced by Dicey. No one is above the rules, according to the rule of law. Dicey explains that equality of law is a component of the Rule of Law.

This word has three meanings according to Dicey:

  • The rule of law is supreme: It means that the statute takes precedence over the government’s actions and that the government cannot act unilaterally. An individual may be fined if he breaks a rule, but he cannot be punished for anything else at the government’s discretion.
  • Equality before the law: This ensures that all should be entitled to the same legal rules as the ordinary courts of the country. As a result, no one is above the rules, and everybody must abide by them. Dicey had made an exemption for the Monarch under this provision since the King is thought to be infallible in England.
  • The constitution derives from common law, which ensures the people’s privileges are guaranteed by the law of the country, which is governed by the judiciary, rather than by the constitution.

An exception to the principle of equality before the law

There are several exceptions to the law of equality established by the Indian Constitution. Articles 105 and 194 of the Constitution exclude Members of Parliament and State Legislatures from liability for what they say in the House. When a declaration of emergency is issued, the operation of fundamental rights, including Article 14, is suspended, and any breach of this right committed after the proclamation cannot be questioned in court until it is lifted. According to Article 361 of the Constitution, the President and Governors are not responsible to any court for any act they do while performing their powers and duties.

Equal Protection of laws

Which makes the state responsible for taking all appropriate action to ensure that the promise of fair justice is upheld. This law states that citizens should be treated similarly, and it also states that unlike people should not be treated similarly. As a result, even though individuals in different positions and situations are subject to the same law, it would have a negative impact on the rule of equality.

 

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