Friday, 3 June 2022

Equality before law

 Article 14 of the Indian Constitution deal with the equality before law & equal protection of law inspired by 14th amendment in the Indian Constitution. The principle of article 14 is rule of law & natural justice in the Indian Constitution. Equality before law means that law is supreme in the country & equality among the citizen of the country. The idea of maintaining equality among all the citizens does not allow anyone to stand above the law. The concept of equality before law borrowed from the constitution of  United states of America. Article 14 of the Indian constitution stated that state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or equal protection of law  within the territory of India. Equality before law is available to Indian citizens, legal person including corporation, foreign nationals excluding enemy aliens within the territory of India. The equal protection of law has certain exception in the state are President of India, Prime Minister, State Governor, Judges, Foreign Diplomats, etc, are not under the ambit of article 14 and considered as exception in the law who enjoys immunities, protections & special privileges. 

The principle of equality before law originates from the doctrine of Rule of Law by Professor Dicey. There are three implications of the doctrine of rule of law. Firstly there is supremacy of law which means no one is above law and absence of arbitrary law which is unfair to the citizen of a country. No one shall be punished except for the breach of law. Secondly, there shall be equality before law which implies equality among all the citizen and citizen have equal reach to the court of law. Thirdly, right of the individual shall be secured by the Constitution. 

in Secretary, Haryana State Electricity Board V. Suresh (1999) the court observed that it is not a literal interpretation of “equality before law” but a concept of real & substansive equality on the ground of social, economic difference that arises inequality in the society. The equality before law means there is no discrimination or favoritism and state shall secure the rights and privileges of the citizen in the country. In Chiranjitlal V. Union of India (1951) the court held that equal protection of law means right to be treated equally in similar circumstances both in the privileges conferred to the citizen as well as liabilities imposed by the law. 

Article 14 of the Indian Constitution may be suspended in the case of National emergency under article 359 of the Indian Constitution. During National emergency, President & Governor are immune from criminal & civil liabilities, which means they are not accountable to any court for the performance & exercise of the power & duties of the office. Certain members of the society are governed bt special rules in their profession i.e. lawyers, doctors, nurses, member of armed force & police. Such classes of people are treated differently from ordinary citizens. The rule of law does not prevent a certain class of person being subject to special rules. Member of parliament & state legislature are not liable with respect to anything done or said within the house. Foreign diplomats are immune from jurisdiction of courts in India. 

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