Differential treatment by Govt., extending benefits to weaker sections is not violative of Articles 14 & 19 

Patna High Court: A Bench comprising of Rajendra Menon, C.J. and Sudhir Singh, J. has dismissed the writ application in which two Government Resolutions were challenged as violative of Articles 14, 19 (1)(g) and 38 of the Constitution.

One of the resolutions, which stipulates that publication of tender notice was not necessary, was challenged as giving rise to arbitrariness and monopoly. The other resolution, which provides for 50% reservation in Public Works Contracts was challenged as violative of Articles 14 and 19 (1)(g). The respondent took recourse to Articles 38 and 46 of the Constitution, which direct the State to eliminate inequality and promote economic interests of the weaker sections of the people.

The Court referred to Article 14 and observed that though it talks about ‘equality before law’, but all persons are not equal by nature, attainment or circumstances, and therefore a mechanical equality may result in injustice. The different needs of different classes of people require differential and separate treatment. It is, therefore, necessary for the State to have the power of making laws to achieve particulars object and, for that purpose, to distinguish, select and classify persons and things. After discussing a catena of judicial decisions on the said matter, it was held that to treat people who are not situated euqally, as equals would itself be violative of Article 14, as this would itself result in inequality. Therefore, if the law in question is based on rational classification, it is not regarded as discriminatory. It was further stated that non-exclusion of creamy layer will be a breach of Article 14. However, in the present case, the Court observed that, in terms of one of the impugned resolutions, ‘creamy layer’ or ‘socially advanced persons’ have been excluded as not being entitled to benefit. Consequently, it was held that the impugned resolutions do not suffer from vice of arbitrariness and unreasonableness, and they are not violative of Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution. [Sapna Singh v. State of Bihar, 2017 SCC OnLine Pat 679, decided on 11.05.2017]

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