Equality before law is a positive concept and cannot be enforced in a negative manner. AIR 2011 SC3667 (3677)

State Of West Bengal And Ors vs Debasish Mukherjee And Ors on 14 September, 2011

Bench: R.V. Raveendran, Markandey Katju

                      IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA


State of West Bengal & Ors.                                    ... Appellants


Debasish Mukherjee & Ors.                                    ... Respondents

With  Civil Appeal No.3481 of 2005, Civil Appeal No.3482 of 2005, Civil Appeal No.3483 of 2005, Civil Appeal No.3484 of 2005, Civil Appeal No.3485 of 2005, Civil Appeal No.3486 of 2005, Civil Appeal No.3650 of 2005 , Civil Appeal No.3609 of 2005

                                   J U D G M E N T


21. It is now well settled that guarantee of equality before law is a positive concept and cannot be enforced in a negative manner. If an illegality or an irregularity has been committed in favour of any individual or group of individuals, others cannot invoke the jurisdiction of Courts and Tribunals to require the state to commit the same irregularity or illegality in their favour on the reasoning that they have been denied the benefits which have been illegally or arbitrarily extended to others. [See : Gursharan Singh vs. New Delhi Municipal Administration - 1996 (2) SCC 459, Union of India vs. Kirloskar Pneumatics Ltd. - 1996 (4) SCC 433, Union of India vs. International Trading Co. - 2003 (5) SCC 437, and State of Bihar vs. Kameshwar Prasad Singh - 2000 (9) SCC 94. This question was exhaustively considered in Chandigarh Administration vs. Jagjit Singh - 1995 (1) SCC 745, wherein this Court explained the legal position thus :

"8. The basis or the principle, if it can be called one, on which the writ petition has been allowed by the High Court is unsustainable in law and indefensible in principle. Generally speaking, the mere fact that the authority has passed a particular order in the case of another person similarly situated can never be the ground for issuing a writ in favour of the petitioner on the plea of discrimination. The order in favour of the other person might be legal and valid or it might not be. That has to be investigated first before it can be directed to be followed in the case of the petitioner. If the order in favour of the other person is found to be contrary to law or not warranted in the facts and circumstances of his case, it is obvious that such illegal or unwarranted order cannot be made the basis of issuing a writ compelling the respondent-authority to repeat the illegality or to pass another unwarranted order. The extra-ordinary and discretionary power of the High Court cannot be exercised for such a purpose. By refusing to direct the respondent-authority to repeat the illegality, the court is not condoning the earlier illegal act/order nor can such illegal order constitute the basis for a legitimate complaint of discrimination. Giving effect to such pleas would be prejudicial to the interests of law and will do incalculable mischief to public interest. It will be a negation of law and the rule of law."