Article 14 of the Constitution of India provides for equality to all the people in the country irrespective of whether they are citizens or not. The State cannot deny any person equality before law and equal protection under law within the territory of the country.
The direct implication of the above mentioned Article is that there must not be any discrimination amongst people in public matters, be it public appointments, public places and so on. Further, no public policy or laws related to public matters should allow any sort of discrimination under Article 14 of the Constitution of India. There must be an equality of all before the law and they must all receive equal protection.
Equality before the law refers to the absence of any advantages or privileges of any person in court. Both the parties in court will receive an equal right to be heard and to present their case to the judge. There will be no discrimination on any grounds in the eyes of the law.
Equal protection of the law refers to the extension of protection by laws and public policies equally across all the people living in the territory. Hence the application of the laws will be equal across all the people.
An important point to note when it comes to this Article is that when people themselves inherently differ from each other, they will not be treated equally as if may result in lack for fairness. Hence the principle of like being treated alike is applied according to Article 14 of the Constitution of India. This is because treating two different people equally in all respects may not actually amount to equality which the State must be aware of and rectify. Such a classification is known as reasonable classification.
Reasonable classification has two tests with which it may be determined. Firstly, there must be an intelligible differentia. This refers to the distinction or separating characteristic of a group of individuals who have an identity different from the other people. The second test of determination is that this intelligible differentia must be in rational nexus or have a justified and reasonable connection with the objective or purpose that the State seeks to achieve via the public policy and so on.
This reasonable classification is the reason why there are various laws in the country that protect a particular group of people such as women, children, the Scheduled Castes (SCs), the Scheduled Tribes (STs), the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and so on.
In Javed v. State of Haryana, the Court upheld a policy that disqualifies people who have more than two children from being elected to the Panchayat. This is an example of reasonable classification.
The importance of Article 14 of the Constitution of India is immense. No person should be discriminated on unreasonable grounds as that will lead to an unjust society and be violative of the principles of natural justice. Irrespective of whether a person is a citizen of the country or not, the main objective of a nation is to protect its people.
Tags : Constitution of India