”All people are equal before the law”
Classical liberalism, when it was fighting against feudal and religious privileges, held that equal distribution of opportunities required merely equal allocation of basic rights of life, liberty and property. If legal privileges are abolished and legal rights are protected, no obstacles will stand in the way of one's pursuit of happiness. It means two things: Rule of law and Equality before law. Rule of law means that the law is sovereign and no person, no matter how great he is or thinks he is, can declare himself above the law because that would be tantamount to arbitrary rule. Equality before law means that law guarantees freedom to each citizen. This is popularly explained as i) Equality before Law and ii) Equal Protection of Law. Equality before law consists in 'equal subject of all classes to the ordinary law of the land administered by the ordinary law courts'. It means that amongst equals, the law should be equal and should be equally administered and that the 'like should be treated alike'. In other words, the law is not to make any distinction between rich and poor, feudal lord or peasant, capitalist or workers. In the eyes of law, all are equal. It also implies equality of rights and duties in law i.e., equal protection of life and limb of everyone under the law and equal penalties on everyone violating them. However, since law creates classes with special rights and duties such as landlord vs. tenant, police vs. people, Member of Parliament vs. judges etc., in such circumstances, differences in rights are inevitable. And last not but the least, equality before law also implies equality in the actual administration of laws. Inspite of the fact that people may be equal before law, the judges may be corrupt or biased. Equality before law must ensure that the judges are free from political pressures, free from corruption, bias etc. The inequality in the application of law may also arise if poor men are kept from...
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