What is equality before law and Rule of law?

In manusmriti, it is said that “no one is more powerful than the law, not even the King.”

The concept evolved and the Constitution framer added Article 14. However, this concept was taken from the Rule of law given by A.V Dicey in England.

So, here we will understand what is article 14 of Constitution of India along with Rule of law & three meanings given by Professor Dicey.


Article 14 of Constitution of India


Article 14 of the Constitution of India states that the State shall don’t deny any person equality before law and equal protection of law. Article 14 gives emphasis to –

Equality before law

Equality before law means everyone should be treated equally. This is considered a negative concept because no special privileges are given to underprivileged sections of the society.

Equal protection of law

Equality before law means likes just be treated alike and not everyone is treated alike. In other words it means those who are of the same nature are treated equally.


Equality before law is not absolute equality


The concept of equality before law is not absolute equality because it is not possible for any state to treat everyone equally. Equality before law means no special privileges are given to anyone based on their birth, caste, colour, creed, etc. For instance – If A commits crime in ordinary law of land he shall be punished without making any distinction. 


Rule of law 


In India, equality before law is guaranteed to each person. In the same way, in England the concept of equality before law is called the Rule of law. The concept of Rule of law was given by A. V Dicey which means no one is above law and everyone should be treated equally and are subject to jurisdiction of law of land.


Professor Dicey meaning of Rule of Law


A.V Dicey provided three meaning in reference to Rule of law –

  1. Supremacy of law – According to Dicey, supremacy of law means law is above all and the government is not having any arbitrary power. For instance – a person shall be punished for an act which is a crime under law, but not otherwise.
  2. Equality before law – It means everyone is subject to ordinary law of law and everyone shall be equally punishable for any offence except the king who is considered that he can do no wrong.
  3. Constitution is the result of the ordinary law – It means that the constitution need not be written. The source can be drawn by rules enforced by the court to protect the right of individuals.

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