Q. “Article 14 permits classification but prohibits class legislation”. Discuss.




In the given statement, mainly 2 concepts are of great importance: what article 14 Is all about and what are the grounds of classification or concept of intelligent differentia. We’ll deal each of them.

Article 14 forbids class legislation, but does not forbid classification or differentiation which rests upon reasonable grounds of distinction. The principle of equality does not mean that every law must have universal application to all persons who are not by nature, attainment or circumstances in the same position.


Article 14

This article provides that the state shall not denied to its citizen the equality before the Law and equal protection of Law within the territory of India.

I.                                           Equality before the Law: this is a British origin concept, which aims to absence of discrimination on the grounds of birth, sex, cast, religion, race etc. Basically, it is a negative concept.

II.                                         Equal protection of Laws: this is an American concept. it implies that equals should be treated equally in equal circumstances. this is a positive concept.

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Test of Reasonable Classification

While Article 14 forbids class legislation it does not forbid reasonable classification of persons, objects, and transactions by the legislature for the purpose of achieving specific ends. In order to pass the test for permissible classification two conditions must be fulfilled, namely-

A.   The classification must be founded on an intelligible differentia which distinguishes persons or things that are grouped together from others left out of the group; and

B.   The differentia must have a rational relation to the object sought to be achieved by the statute in question.

Where the law is questioned as violation against Art 14, in the very first place the court is to examine the purpose and policy of the Act and then to investigate whether the classification made by the law has a reasonable nexus with the object which the Legislature seeks to achieve. In order to be Reasonable, a classification must not be arbitrary, artificial or evasive but must be rational.

in the case of Ram Krishna Dalmia v. Delhi Administration, the SC has laid down certain grounds, which are as follows:

1.   A law may be constitutional even though it relates to a single individual if on account of some special circumstances or reasons applicable to him and not applicable to others, that single individual may be treated as a class by himself.

2.   There is always a presumption in favour of the constitutionality of an enactment and the burden is upon him who attacks it to show that there has been a clear transgression of the constitutional principles.

3.   It must be presumed that the legislature understands and correctly appreciates the need of its own people that its laws are directed to problems made manifest by experience.

4.   The legislature is free to recognise the degrees of harm and may confine its restrictions to those cases where the need is deemed to be the clearest.

5.   There is no right to equality in illegal acts. Discretion cannot be alleged on the ground that somebody has obtained an illegal benefit.

6.   In order to sustain the presumption of constitutionality, the court may take into consideration matters of common knowledge, matters of common report, the history of the times and may assume every state of facts which can be conceived existing at the time of legislation.

7.   The validity of a rule has to be judged by assessing its over-all effect and not by picking up exceptional cases. What the Court has to see is whether the classification made is just taking all aspects into consideration.

8.  The Court must look beyond the ostensible classification and to the purpose of the law and apply the test of "palpable arbitrariness" in the context of the felt needs of the times and societal exigencies informed by experience to determine reasonableness of classification.



The equal protection of laws guaranteed by Article 14 does not mean that all laws must be general in character. It does not mean that the same laws should apply to all persons. In fact, identical treatment in unequal circumstances would amount to inequality. So, a reasonable classification is only not permitted but is necessary if society is to progress. this concept is later discussed in several cases.

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