The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
Article 14 of the Constitution of India, 1950 was not a standalone provision in the Draft Constitution, 1948. It was initially included in Draft Article 15 (Article 21) which read:
‘Protection of life and liberty and equality before law - No person shall be deprived of his life or liberty except according to procedure established by law, nor shall any person be denied equality before the law or the equal protection of the law within the territory of India.’
Draft Article 15 was taken up for discussion on 6th and 13th of December 1948. The discussions that took place on these two days revolved around the first part, whereas the second – ‘equality before law’- was not debated at all.
In its letter to the President of the Constituent Assembly dated 3rd November 1949 presenting its revised Draft Constitution, the Drafting Committee mentioned that – ‘We have considered it more appropriate to split this article into two parts and to transfer the latter part of this article dealing with “equality before law” to a new article 14 under the heading ‘Right to Equality’. Article 14 was thereby introduced into the Constitution of India, 1950.