First part of article 14 is negative concept , which ensures that there is no special privilege for anyone. Its equivalent to second corollary of Dicean Rule of law . Whatever rank or condition , none is above the law. Second part of article 14 is a positive concept , it postulates the same laws for the persons similarly situated i.e. equality of treatment in equality of circumstances. It recognizes that among equals , law must equal.
As per Black’s Law Dictionary, ‘Class legislation’ is term applied to statutory enactments which divide the people or subjects of legislation into classes, with reference either to the grant of privileges or the imposition of burdens, upon an arbitrary, unjust, or invidious principle of division, or which, though the principle of division may be sound and justifiable, make arbitrary discrimination between those persons or things coming within the same class.
The fundamental principle is that Art. 14 forbids class legislation but permits reasonable classification for the purpose of legislation which classification must satisfy the twin tests of classification being founded on an intelligible differentia which distinguishes persons or things that are grouped together from those that are left out of the group and that differentia must have a rational nexus to the object sought to be achieved by the statute in question.
Supreme Court of India
Srinivasa Theatre And Ors. Etc. ... vs Government Of Tamil Nadu And Ors. ... on 12 March, 1992
Article 14 of the Constitution enjoin upon the State not to deny to any person 'Equality before law' or 'the equal protection of laws' within the territory of India. The two expressions do not mean the same thing even if there may be much in common. Section 1 of the XIV Amendment to U.S. Constitution uses only the latter expression whereas the Irish Constitution (1937) and the West German Constitution (1949) use the expression "equal before law" alone. Both these expressions are used together in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, Article 7 whereof says "All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law." While ascertaining the meaning and content of these expression, however, we need not be constrained by the interpretation placed upon them in those countries though their relevance is undoubtedly great. It has to be found and determined having regard to the context and scheme of our Constitution. It appears to us that the word "law" in the former expression is used in a generic sense-a philosophical sense-whereas the word "law" in the latter expression denotes specific laws in force.
Equality before law is a dynamic concept having many facets. One facet-the most commonly acknowledged-is that there shall be no previleged person or class and that none shall be above law. A facet which is of immediate relevance herein is the obligation upon the State t