February 24, 2023

Reasonable Classification under Article 14

This article has been written by Mr Vedant Singh Pal, a student studying BBA LL.B.(Hons.) From ICFAI Law School, The ICFAI University, Dehradun. The author is a 2nd-year law student.


Composition 14 of the constitution guarantees the right to equivalency to every citizen of India. It embodies the general principles of equivalency before the law and prohibits unreasonable demarcation between persons. Composition 14 embodies the idea of equivalency expressed in the preamble.


Article 14 declares that ‘ the State shall not deny to any person equivalency before the law or equal protection of law within the home of India. ’. Therefore composition 14 uses the two expressions “ equivalency before the law ” and “ equal protection of the law ”. The expression “ equivalency before the law ” finds a place in nearly a written constitution that guarantees both abecedarian rights both these expressions. Both these expressions end at establishing what’s called “ equivalency of status ” While both expressions are kind of identical but they don’t give analogous meanings.


Its origin is America. And ever its negative conception. It aims at inferring the absence of any special honour because of birth, coitus, religion etc in favour of individualities and the equal subject of all the classes to the ordinary law


Its origin is from British. And somehow it’s a positive conception. It aims at the equivalency of treatment in equal circumstances. It means whether someone is.M. Or President he should deal with the same law as normal being deal with


The guarantee of equivalency before the law is an aspect of what Dicey calls the Rule OF Law in England. It means that no man is above the law and that every person whatever his rank or condition is subject to the governance of ordinary courts.

Rule of law bears that no person shall be subordinated to harsh, uncultivated or discriminative treatment indeed when the object is the securing of the consummate extremities of law and order.

Professor Dicey gave three meanings of the Rule Of Law

1. Absence of arbitrary power or supremacy of the law

It means the absolute supremacy of law as opposed to the arbitrary power of the Government. In other words- a man may be penalized for a breach of law, but he can’t be disciplined for anything different.

2. Equality before the law

It means the domination of all classes to the ordinary law of the land conducted by ordinary law courts. This means that no bone is below the law all are equal in eyes of the law

3. Absence of individual liberty

There is the colourful constitution that gives individual liberty but does not give a system It means that the source of the right of individualities isn’t the written constitution. The U.K. doesn’t have a provision for individual liberty.


1. Supremacy of Law

The First meaning of the Rule of Law is that no man is punishable or can lawfully be made to suffer in body or goods except for a distinct breach of law established in the ordinary legal manner before the ordinary courts of the land. It implies that a man may be penalized for a breach of law but can not be penalized for anything different. No man can be penalized except for a breach of law. An alleged offence is needed to be proved before the ordinary courts in agreement with the ordinary procedure.

2. Equality before Law-

The Alternate meaning of the Rule of Law is that no man is above law. Every man whatever his rank or condition is subject to the ordinary law of the realm and amenable to the governance of the ordinary bars. Everybody under Composition 14 is equal before the law and has equal protection.

3. Individual Liberty

A lot of individual liberty is mentioned like abecedarian rights in Composition 21- protection of life and particular liberty, composition 19-Right to freedom. And courts are there to cover individual liberty.

The first and alternate aspects apply to the Indian system but the third aspect of the dicey rule of law doesn’t apply to the Indian system as the source of the right of individualities is the constitution of India. The constitution is the supreme law of the land and all laws passed by the council must be harmonious with vittles of the constitution

The rule of law put a duty upon the state to take special measures to help and discipline brutality by police methodology. The rule of law embodied in composition 14 is the introductory point of the Indian constitution and hence it can’t be destroyed indeed by a correction of the constitution under composition 368 of the constitution.


The below rule of equivalency is still not absolute and there are several exceptions to it.

‘ Equality of Law ’ doesn’t mean the power of the private citizens is the same as the power of the public officers. Therefore a police officer has the power to arrest you while no other private person has this power. This isn’t a violation of rule of law. But rule of law does bear that these powers should be easily defined by law and that abuse of authority by public officers must be penalized by ordinary courts.

The rule of law doesn’t help the certain class of persons being subject to special rules. Therefore members of fortified forces are controlled by military rules. Also, medical interpreters are controlled by the medical council of India

Certain members of society are governed by special rules in their profession i.e. Attorneys, croakers, nurses, members of fortified forces and police. Similar classes of people are treated else from ordinary citizens.

Article 14 Permits Classification But Prohibits Class Legislation-

The equal protection of laws guaranteed by Composition 14 doesn’t mean that all laws must be general in character. It doesn’t mean that the same laws should apply to all persons. It doesn’t attainment or circumstances in the same position. The varying requirements of different classes of persons frequently require separate treatment. From the very nature of society, there should be different laws in different places and the licit controls the policy and enacts laws in the stylish interest of the safety and security of the state. Identical treatment in unstable circumstances would amount to inequality. So a reasonable bracket is only not permitted but is necessary if society is to progress.

Therefore what Composition 14 forbids is class- legislation but it doesn’t prohibit reasonable bracket. The bracket still mustn’t be “ arbitrary, artificial or fugitive ” but must be grounded on some real and substantial bearing of a just and reasonable relation to the object sought to be achieved by the legislation. Composition 14 applies where equals are treated else without any reasonable base. But where equals and unequal are treated else, Composition 14 doesn’t apply. Class legislation is that which makes an indecorous demarcation by conferring particular boons upon a class of persons arbitrarily named from a large number of persons all of whom stand in the same relation to the honour granted that between whom and the persons not so favoured no reasonable distinction or substantial difference can be set up justifying the addition of one and the rejection of the other from similar honour.


D.S. Nakara v. Union Of India

The Government issued an office memorandum publicizing a liberalized pension scheme for sheltered government retainers but made it applicable to those who had retired after 31 March 1979. The supreme court held that the fixing of the cut-off date was discriminative as violating Composition 14. The division of pensioners into two classes on the base of the date of withdrawal wasn’t grounded on any rational principle because a difference of two days in the matter of retirement could have a traumatic effect on the pensioner. Such a bracket was held to be arbitrary and unconscionable as there was no respectable or conclusive reason in its favour. The said bracket had no rational nexus with the object sought to be achieved.

Madhu Limaye v. Supdt. Tihar Jail Delhi

There were Indian and European captures. Both were treated else. Europian get better diet. The court held that the difference between Indian and European captures in the matter of treatment and diet violates the right to equivalency under Composition 14 of Indian captures. They all are captures they must treat inversely.

Sanaboina Satyanarayan v. Govt. Of A.P

In Andra Pradesh. They formulate a scheme for the forestallment of crime against women. In incarcerations also captures were classified into two orders first

Captures shamefaced of crime against women and alternate captures who aren’t shamefaced of crime against women. Captures who are shamefaced of crimes against women challenge the court saying that their right to equivalency is deprived. The court held that there’s a reasonable bracket to achieve some ideal.

Tamil Nadu  Electricity Board v R. Veeraswamy

The hand were governed by the contributory provident fund scheme. With effect from 1-7-1986, a scheme was introduced. The question was whether the pension scheme ought to be applied to those who had formerly retired before the preface of the pension scheme the supreme court rejected the claim. As per the rules current at the time the retirees had entered all their retirement benefits. However, the performing fiscal burden would be Rs200 crore which would be beyond the capacity of the employer, If the pension scheme was made applicable to all once retirees. The reason given for introducing the scheme was fiscal constraint- a valid ground. The court held that retired workers and those who were in employment on 1-7-1986 cant be treated likewise as they don’t belong to one class. The workmen who had retired and entered all the benefits under the contributory provident fund scheme checked to be workers of the appellant board. e.f. The date of their withdrawal. They form a separate class. Therefore there was no illegality in introducing the pension scheme and not making it applicable retrospectively to those who had retired before the date.


What composition 14 forbids is demarcation by law that’s treating persons also circumstanced else and treating those not also circumstanced in the same way or as has been shortly put treating equals as unequal and unequal as equals. Composition 14 prohibits hostile bracket by law and is directed against discriminative class legislation.

A council to deal with the complex problem that arises out of a horizonless variety of mortal relations can not but do on some kind of selection or bracket of persons upon whom the legislation is to operate.

It is well settled that Composition 14 forbids brackets for legislation. It is inversely well settled that to meet the test of Composition 14

I) the bracket must be grounded on a comprehensible mark which distinguishes persons or effects that are grouped from those that are left out of the group and( ii) the mark must have a rational nexus to the objects sought to be achieved by the superintendent or legislative action under challenge.

Composition 14 contains a guarantee of equivalency before the law to all persons and protection to them against demarcation by law. It forbids class legislation.


  • Chiranjit Lal v. Union Of India AIR 1981 SC 41
  • Abdul Rehman v. Pinto AIR 1951
  • Jagjit Singh v. State AIR 1954
  • R.K. Garg v. Union Of India AIR 1981
  • Monoponier Co. v. City Of Los Angles
  • K. Thimmappa v. Chairman Central Board Of Director AIR 1958
  • Anwar Ali’s case AIR 1952 SC 75
  • Ramkrishna Dalmia v Justice Tendolkar AIR 1958
  • Kedar Nath v State Of  West Bengal AIR 1953
  • Kameshwar Singh v. F.N. Balsaro AIR 1954
  • State Of Bombay v. F.N. Balsara AIR 1951
  • State Of West Bengal v. Anar Ali AIR 1952
  • Sagir Ahmed v. State AIR 1954
  • AIR 1983 SC 130
  • AIR 1975 SC 1505
  • (2003) 10 SCC 78
  • AIR 1999 SC 1768

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