Equality before law is one of the basic principles of liberalism. Thus, law should make sure there is no discrimination among the individuals or group of individuals. Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states: “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law”. Thus, everyone must be treated equally under the law regardless of race, gender, national origin, color, ethnicity, religion, disability, or other characteristics, without privileges, discrimination or bias.
Article 14 of the Indian Constitution of India provides that the state shall not deny to any person Equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws in the Territory of India. Article 14 uses two expressions “Equality before law” which implies the absence of any special privileges in favor of individuals and the subject of all classes to the ordinary law and equal protection of the law which implies “Equal Treatment in Equal Circumstances.”
State of West Bengal v. Anwar Ali (1952 AIR 75, 1952 SCR 284) – In this case the Supreme Court held that section 5(1) of the West Bengal Special Court Act, 1856, contravened Article 14 and was void since it conferred arbitrary power on the government to classify offences or cases at its pleasure. Many constitutions guarantee equality regarding race but very few countries guarantee equality regarding nationality.
Sri Srinivas Theatre V. Govt. of Tamil Nadu (1992 AIR 999, 1992 SCR (2) 164) – In this case the supreme court explained that the two expressions equality before the law and equal protection of law do not mean the same thing even if there may be much in common between them.
Kathi Ranining Rawat V. Saurashtra (1952 AIR 123, 1952 SCR 435) – A provision practically similar to the one involved in the Anwar Ali case, was held valid because the Court found that a policy was stated in the preamble to the Act and that the government was expected to select such offences, classes of offences and classes of cases for trial in special courts as were calculated to affect public safety, maintenance of public order, etc.