Equality Before Law

Equality Before Law Under Indian Constitution

This article is written by Ritik Raushan, a student of Lovely Professional University.

Equality before law in India means that all citizens should be treated equally by the law and the government, regardless of race, religion, gender, or social status. Equality before the law is very important in a democratic country for the development of every section and class of people in the country, that’s why equality before the law is guaranteed in India’s constitution. Read this blog to learn more about the promise and reality of equality before the law in the world’s largest democracy.


In the Indian constitution equality before law is covered under Article 14. In Article 14 it is mentioned that every person, regardless of gender, caste, religion, or economic status, has equal rights and opportunities. According to the Indian constitution, equal distribution of resources should distributed among every citizen and it allows law law-making body of the country to make special provisions for socially and educationally backward classes. These laws aim to promote equality and justice by providing opportunities and benefits to marginalized groups like Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes.

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Equality before the law, as mentioned in the Indian constitution guarantees equality before the law to the public, it permits reasonable classification of individuals based on intelligible differentia. This means that the law can make distinctions between groups of people if the classification is reasonable and aims to achieve a legitimate governmental objective. However, the classification should be based on substantial differences and not arbitrary grounds. Articles 29 and 30 of the Indian constitution provide us with cultural and educational rights. This aims to protect the interests of religious and linguistic minorities and promote an inclusive society. However, there have been debates around balancing minority rights with the principles of equality and secularism enshrined in the Constitution. Our constitution has provided us with fundamental rights and equality before the law is included in our fundamental rights. Our constitution provides special provisions to the privileged classes of Indian societies so that they can compete with people of upper castes and classes, and they can also gain equal respect and resources for their livelihood. However, there is an ongoing need to reconcile minority rights with principles of equality in a fair and just manner.

Constitutional provisions for equality before the law

Article 14

Article 14 of the Indian Constitution guarantees equality before the law and equal protection of laws to all persons within the territory of India. This means that all the citizens of India should be equally protected by the laws of the country, and this establishes the principle of equality of opportunities to all the citizens of India relating to employment or appointment to any office under the Country.

Article 15

Article 15 prohibits our state from discriminating against any of the citizens on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. All the citizens of India have equal access to different places of the country like different shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment. The State is also prohibited from discriminating against any of the citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State.

However, the State is allowed to make special provisions for weaker section of the society, women, children, etc for the advancement of socially and educationally backward classes.

Article 16

Article 16 provides equality of opportunities in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State for all citizens. No citizen should be discriminated against or be ineligible for any employment or office under the State on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them.  The State is also allowed to make certain provisions for the reservation of appointments or posts for the development and enhancement of any backward class of citizens.

So, the constitutional provisions of equality before the law aim to secure justice – social, economic, and political for all the citizens of India. It prohibits discrimination against any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth and it guarantees equality of opportunity in all matters of public administration and all other public services.

There are different landmark judgements on the equality before law, some of those are:

  • Indra Sawhney vs. Union of India (1992)
  • Navtej Singh Johar v Union of India (2018)
  • Shayara Bano v Union of India (2017)

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In conclusion, the Indian constitution provided equality before the law for all citizens, regardless of caste, gender, religion, or place of birth. But the reality often falls short of this principle. While the laws can establish a foundation, it’s upon each one of the citizens to build a just society through their words, deeds, and activism. All the people have a role to play in the working and development of our country towards greater equality. This starts with having empathy, educating ourselves on the issues, and speaking out against injustice when we see this happening around us. With persistence and courage, we can get there. This would not be easy or quick, but nothing worthwhile ever is. Each small act of integrity helps bend the arc of history towards justice.

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