Does Article 14 apply to illegalities?

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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By Justice Markandey Katju

In his interview by Karan Thapar the senior Supreme Court lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi has said that Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality, has been violated because criminal cases have been launched only against members of Opposition parties, but not against members of the NDA who may have committed similar crimes, and he has said a petition will be filed in this connection in the Supreme Court.

Mr Singhvi’s argument is clearly not  tenable, since there are at least a dozen Supreme Court decisions which say that Article 14 does not apply to illegalities. For instance, a person being prosecuted for theft, cannot invoke Article 14 by saying that no action has been taken against other thieves ( see para 8 of the decision)

The link gives references of several other decisions which have laid down the same proposition.

In the decision below the Punjab High Court has held to the same effect, quoting several Supreme Court decisions

Thus it is well settled that a wrong done or benefit wrongly granted to some cannot be used to invoke Article 14. Hence the Opposition members who are being prosecuted cannot say that Article 14 has been violated because no action has been taken against NDA members who allegedly did similar wrongs..

I cannot believe that a senior lawyer like Mr Singhvi did not know of this settled legal position

I am not justifying not taking action against NDA members who may have committed similar illegalities. All I am saying is that Article 14 cannot be invoked in such a case.


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