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Article 14, 15 highlight right to equality

Article 14, 15 highlight right to equality
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Article 14, 15 highlight right to equality, According to article 14 the state shall not deny to any person equality before the law and equal...

Article 14 – Right to Equality

According to article 14 the state shall not deny to any person equality before the law and equal protection of laws within the territory of India. It is a reflection of the principle “All are equal before the law and are entitled without discrimination to equal protection of the law” contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Equality before Law : As a concept it originated in England and considered to be negative in nature as it states that ‘No man is above law: All individuals irrespective of their social standing are subjected to the same law of the land’. This concept in itself contains Rule of Law which means absolute supremacy of law of the land. It also means that administration can be subordinated by law and not vice versa. Rule of Law indicates that –

  • Law is supreme
  • Law is always above you exceptions to Rule of Law.


However, there are certain exceptions to Rule of Law under the Constitution. These exceptions are listed under article 361 according to which

  • The President and Governor are not answerable to any court of law with regard to the exercise of their executive functions.
  • No criminal procedure whatsoever can be initiated against the President or Governor during his office.
  • No civil proceeding can be initiated against the President or governor, except after the expiry of two months notice served on him.


Equal protection of laws: It originated in the American Constitution and is considered to be positive in nature as it indicates equality of treatment in equal circumstances. This concept is based on Aristotle’s principle that equality can exist only among equals and equality can’t exist among unequals”. It means that among equals law should be equal and equally administered and that the like should be treated alike. In other words it implies that equal treatment in similar circumstances in terms of both privileges and liabilities conferred by law. Equal protection of law allows the state to classify individuals on reasonable basis into similar groups. Once such a classification is made, the law shall apply equally among all the people within that group ie. No person with in a group shall be treated differently. The concept of equal protection of laws is the basis for positive or protective discrimination by the state and the policy of reservation is legally justified on this ground.

Article 15 – prohibition of discrimination
Article 15 has five clauses; the scheme of the Article is given below:
Articles 15(1) and 15 (2) – prohibit the state from discriminating
Article 15 (3), 15 (4) and 15 (5) – lay down exceptions to discrimination, i.e., it specifies the different categories to which the state can make special provisions
According to Article 15 (1), “The state shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.” The crucial word in this article is “only” which means that race, religion, caste, sex or place of birth can’t be the sole ground for discrimination; if there is any other valid ground on which discrimination can be shown, then Article 15 does not prohibit the state from discriminating on any of the above mentioned grounds.

Article 15 (2) states that no citizen shall, on grounds of race, religion, caste, sex, place of birth, be denied access to public places like hotels, parks and so on. A public place in this context can be understood as any place open to the general public or maintained partially or fully by the Government fund. Thus this article indirectly enforces abolition of untouchability enshrined under Article 17 of the Constitution.

Article 15 (3) confers powers on the state to make special provisions for the welfare of women and children. Article 15 (4), inserted by the 1st Constitutional Amendment Act 1951, empowers the state to provide by law special provisions for the advancement of socially and educationally backward classes of citizens, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Article 15 (5), inserted by the 93rd Constitutional Amendment Act 2005, empowers the state to provide by law for the advancement of socially and educationally backward classes of citizens, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for admissions into educational institutions including private institutions whether aided or unaided by the Government except minority institutions.

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