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Doctrine Of Article 14

I will here discuss about the reasonable classification and the difference between arbitrariness and right of equality article 14 and the difference between old and new test which was there for knowing about the equality and apart from this i will briefly discuss about the quality before law and the term equal protection of law.

Article 14 states that The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.

So the article talk about two part one which is negative in nature and other is in positive, if we see the 1st part it says state shall not deny to any person  equality before the law prohibits discrimination , it is a negative in b nature while the other equal protections of laws requires the state to make special treatment to persons in different situations in order to establish equality amongst .so it is positive in nature.

Our supreme court applied the theory of classification , which has been evolved by the American supreme court the true meaning of right to equality. As per the doctrine  equal protection of laws prohibits class legislation but it permits reasonable classification.

Classification what is reasonable and non reasonableness
The classic test to determine the classification was nexus test and was enunciated in the case Anwar ali sarkar [1]the question raised was can legislation has authority to set up special courts and applying a special procedure for trial in criminal offences and it has been challenged that it has been arbitrary power of state government to classify the offences . all the contention was rejected by supreme court and made it clear that the government have such power to classify the classes of offences.

In order to pass the test of permissible classification two condition must be fulfilled (1) that classification must be founded on an intelligible differentia which distinguish those that are grouped together from others left out of the group, and (ii) that the differentia must have a rational relation to the objects sought to be achieved by the Act. The differentia which is the basis of the classification and the object of the Act are distinct and what is necessary is that there must be nexus between them."

So on these basis of this test there has been a lot of cases been decided by the supreme court and the high court of India and they have made their judgement , but after analyzing by the different lawyers they concluded that at some point this test were inappropriate, as the classification is based on three aspects WHY, WHAT, WHOM . it has been observed that this test notice only the objects and criterion of classification. And the relationship between these three are confusing with each other. And it has been be concluded that nexus test are not applicable in some situation . these are when the special treatment given to selected person statutes which leave the executive free to pick and choose individuals towards the fulfillment of statutory policy

Finally the Supreme Court
adopted the positivistic or activist stance in E.P. Royappa v. State of Tamil [2]Nadu.14 Bhagwati,J. stated:
"Equality is a dynamic concept with many aspects and it cannot be 'cribbed, cabined and confined' within the traditional and doctrinaire limits. From the positivistic point of view equality is antithetic to arbitrariness. In fact equality and arbitrariness are sworn enemies....Where an act is arbitrary, it is implicit in it that it is unequal both according to political logic and constitutional law and is therefore violate of Article 14...."equality and arbitrariness are sworn enemies , one belong to the rule of law in republic while the other is of absolute monarch, when the act is arbitrary it is unjust and unequal and it violate article 14.

So the new doctrine of equality that:
article 14 embodies a guarantee against arbitrariness .it has been establish in number of cases as in international airport authority case. However , this does not mean that the nexus test have been abandoned by supreme court.

The new test ha some critics as the new doctrine proved helpful in deciding cases of excessive discretion , special courts , and other cases where arbitrariness was found inherent but the main thing required in such cases were we need for special court or for special treatment then have to give valid and justified reasoning behind such execution . the new doctrine has introduced a sense of broad scope and dynamism in article 14 , this was considered very subjective and devoid logic , some jurist balance that it is not a new test at all but it is simply reassertion of the reasonable classification if we see the nexus test it talk about intelligible differentia and it has been understood that that differentia must not be arbitrary, artificial .

We [3]shall discuss both the doctrine and what are the criticism and the difference between them .now we see how the new doctrine has evolved and understand it significances the term arbitrary means an action based on random choice or personal whim so if we try to apply the meaning of the term in the lines which has been quoted above that the state action has to be equal either be it a legislative, executive or administrative ,there should be no random choice by the state rather there must be reason behind why are they doing.

there is always a presumption that people are fundamentally equal is a moral principle . there is a rule of rationality. Any exception to equality is permissible only if the State has justifiable reasons for treating people differently. The validity of state action thus depends on an evaluation of the reasons behind state action. If the state is not able to prove the valid reason than the action by the state is considered as arbitrary.

The case named Charanjeet lal choudhary v. union of India [4]. the question which is to be decided whether a manufacturing company could be single out out for adverse treatment because it was being managed badly giving rise to many adverse possibilities, the case was decided by applying the principle of reasonable classification.

The legislature has a very wide choice in classifying the law and have all the power to make on any subject matter . here the owner f the company charanjeet lal, said a emphatically conclusion the act by the state is nothing but an arbitrary selection of a particular company and its shareholders the act is discriminating and it is the infringement of article 14 of the constitution.

So can a single person be considered as a class , the answer is yes and the classification is reasonable or not we will discuss. But one thing there is a principle of presumption of constitutionality as whatever the state will do making a new law so it will be considered as constitution and the burden of proof is to the one who say it is unconstitutional .here the court held it to be constitutional as and explained the presumption of constitutionality as it is not absolute but would depend upon the facts and circumstances of a particular case as here the action of one company had affected the production of the whole commodity and caused them serious unemployment . as to protect the interest of the commodity as whole . the court will assume the existence of such act made by state is reasonable.

The other controversial decision that where the new doctrine or the old will be applicable , it can be understood by this case of mardia chemicals ltd v union of india [5], here one section that is section 17 of the securitisatiom and reconstruction of financial asset and enforcement of security interest act 2002 was held to be unconstitutional and arbitrary . so in this case when it was filed on 2002 and Gujarat high court concluded that there is a deviation from the original object and reason would violate article 14 and find section 17(2) as arbitrary.

Later on in 2004 there has been certain amendment made in the Act and later on supreme court analysis and uphold the constitutionality validity of the amended definition of NPA. And find the classification to be reasonable. so it totally upto the discretion of court to which doctrine they adopt as per the facts and circumstances of the case

the next case and recent one is rajbala v state of Haryana [6], in the case the old doctrine was preferred . chelameshwar upheld the classification of five categories of person who were barred from contesting panchayat election and he find the classification to be reasonable. so the question arose is it creates arbitrary as those who are not educationally qualified will not contest the election.

The court reject the plea as the object of such classification is to ensure that those who seek election to panchayat have some basic education which enables them to more effectively discharge various duties . and the object sought to be achieved cannot be said to be irrational or illegal or unconnected .the court further upheld the rationality of the classification. The case demonstrate the link between arbitrariness and the test of reasonable classification.

Once we identify the classification the next step is to check the rationality of classification . rationality is opposite of arbitrariness .in Maneka Gandhi v union of India [7], quoting from E.P. Royappa case bhagwati J said clearly the principle of reasonableness in article 14, as it strikes down arbitrariness in state and ensures fairness and equality of treatment . the principle of reasonableness , which is legally as well as philosophically as essential element of equality or non arbitrariness pervades article 14.

So the two doctrine are a bit different to each other , at some point they share an area of overlap. The new doctrine is considered to be structure less and incapable of making meaning in judicial decision . jeevan reddy pointed out in the case state of AP v McDowell [8]that no enactment can be struck down by just saying that it is arbitrary or unreasonable. The court does not struck down on the basis of wisdom unless it is found that the legislation is violating specific provision of the constitution.

Old doctrine vs new doctrine
If we look toward the article 14 it is about equality, not mere uniformity but equal treatment for those who are equal. Now it is very difficult to identify equal for reasonable classification. Initially the nexus test as in the case of Anwar ali sarkar it helped in defining and identifying reasonable classification for equal. Some lawyer doesn't find this doctrine effective and with span of time the new doctrine evolved and it make broad and give new dimension to the definition of article 14.

While it been widen it got vague as said by many jurist. Seervai said The new doctrine hangs in that air because it propounds a theory of equality without reference to the terms in which Article 14 confers rights to equality. And he further added that the new doctrine fails to differentiate between violation of equality by law and by execution action as also said the new doctrine is against the nexus test.

In my opinion the new doctrine doesn't differentiate article 14 , it only aim at widening the ambit of article 14 by adding arbitrary , and such arbitrary that violate the equality . the new doctrine is just the extension of old , as in the old we talk about differentia has to be derived from the act itself by the court and in new the legislation help the court in deriving it. These two doctrine show the advancement of the court that how from time thing have evolved for betterment and fro having a best interpretation of article , these doctrine doesn't act as a substitutes of each other rather it must be interpreted as reasonableness in state action ,and to maintain the dynamic concept of the equality of Indian constitution.

  1. state of west bengal v anwar ali sarkar, AIR 1952 SC 75
  2. E.P.Royappa v. state of Tamil Naidu , AIR 1974 4SCC 3
  3. Charanjeet lal Choudhary v. union of india, AIR 1951 SC 41
  4. mardia chemicals ltd v. union of india (2004)4 SCC 311
  5. rajbala v. state of harayana , AIR 2016 SCC 445
  6. maneka Gandhi v. union of india (1978) 1 SCC 248.
  7. state of AP v. McDowell &co ,(1996) 3 SCC 709

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