Article 14 of the constitution 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.”
This means that every person, who lives within the territory of India, has equal right before the law. That equals will be treated equally.
This article constitutes of 2 parts, being:
- Equality before law and
- Equal protection of the laws.
Although both sound similar, they don’t mean the same. The word “Law” in the former expression is used in a genuine sense – a philosophical sense, whereas the word “Laws” in the latter expression, denotes specific laws in force.
Equality before the law: It talks about equal subjection of all citizens (rich or poor, high or low, official or non-official) to the ordinary law of the land administered by the ordinary law courts and is a negative concept as implies the absence of any privilege in favor of any individual and equal subjection of all classes to the ordinary law.
Equal protection of the law: It is a Positive Concept as it implies equality of treatment in equal circumstances both in privileges conferred and liabilities imposed. So, all the persons must be treated alike on reasonable classification. Among equals, law should be equal and equally administered. The guarantee of equal protection applies against substantive as well as procedural laws.