RIGHT TO EQUALITY BY VIVEK JAMWAL

Right to Equality
Indian Constitution begins with the Preamble, which states and promises EQUALITY of status and of opportunity. India is a highly diverse country in all parameters, such as economic and religious, and it is essential to have a fundamental right to ensure everyone is treated equally. The right to equality consists of Article 14 to 18. Article 14 of the Indian Constitution provides and ensures the Right to Equality. Article 14 reads as follows,
“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 covers both Indian citizens and foreigners.
Article 14 of the Indian Constitution is a part of the Fundamental Rights given by constitution of India. They are fundamental because they are guaranteed and protected by the Constitution of India. Any violation of the Right to equality is a violation of the Constitution and shall be considered null and void.
Article 14 of the Indian Constitution Explanation
There are three major keywords that need to be understood in Article 14. Though ‘ equality before the law’ and ‘ equal protection of the laws’ seems similar, they are different in concepts.
Equal protection of the law: Article 14 of Indian constitution notes
• The concept of equal protection of the law has been adopted from the US constitution. This is a positive concept as it implies a duty on the state to take action to ensure that this right is available to all. The state has the duty to being required social and economic changes so that every person shall enjoy equal protection of the laws and nobody is denied such protection.

• People under the same circumstances shall be treated equally. This means that there shall be equality among the equals.
• The law applies to all the people who are similarly situated equally.
• The like should be treated alike.
We must note here that the Supreme Court held that situations where equals and unequals are treated differently, Article 14 of the Indian Constitution shall not apply. Article 14 does not allow class legislation but a reasonable classification of persons based on substantial distinction is permitted.
Equality before law: Article 14 of Indian constitution notes:
The term ‘Equality before law’ is of British origin. It says that no individual is above the law and enforces legal equality.

This is considered to be a negative concept
The concept explains the absence of special favor and privileges in favor of any person.
The ordinal law of the land shall be equal for everyone. As Prof. Dicey, explains that from the prime minister down to a constable or a collector of taxes, everyone is liable and is under the same responsibility for any act done without any legal justification as any other citizen. It means every person shall get the same punishment for the same crime.
Under the spectrum of law, there is a duty on the state to prevent any discrimination. Irrespective of the status of the person, whether rich or poor, official or non-official, no person is above the law.
The concept of ‘equality before the law’ is influenced by the Rule of Law which was proposed by A V Dicey. The Rule of Law forms a basic structure of the constitution and hence must be understood very clearly.

There are three aspects to this concept:

  •  There shall be an absence of arbitrary power which means that no person shall be punished except for the breach of law.
  • As per the ordinary law of the land under the courts of law, there will be no discrimination. Equal subjection of law for all the individuals i.e. Equality before the law.
  • The Indian Constitution is not the source of rights; instead, it is the result of individual rights. This focuses on the primacy of the rights of the individual as enforced by the court of law.

Article 14 of the Indian Constitution contains the first two elements and not the third. In India, the constitution is the source of individual rights.

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