E.P Royappa v. State of Tamil Nadu

Author: Sejal Jain



Article 14 of the Indian constitution lays the right to equality and grants equality before the law or equal protection of law within the territory of Indian, which is based on two tests, intelligible differentia and rational nexus[1]. Since the early 1970s, equality under article 14 acquired broad and new dimensions from E.P. ROYAPPA V/S STATE OF TAMIL NADU[2] before which an act required to satisfy reasonable classification tests to met requirements of article 14.

Before 1970 an old traditional dimension was being followed to check the violation of article 14 i.e volition of equality but soon after E.P. ROYAPPA V/S STATE OF TAMIL NADU, a new dimension came in force which said that equality before the law not only included rule of law but also natural justice principles. The main motive of article 14 is to strike out Arbitrariness form state action to ensure fairness and equality[3]. An exception is only permissible if the state has reasonable grounds to treat different individuals differently therefore it depends on an assessment of the reason for state action.


  1. 1. The petitioner, E..P. Royappa was a member of Indian administrative service in Tamil Nadu, where he was elected for the post of chief secretary and was promoted accordingly but later, his position got shifted to temporary post of officer on special duty.
  2. 2. The petitioner filed a writ petition under Article 32 of the constitution for mandamus and other appropriate writs.
  3. 3. The petitioner has three contentions, firstly that the post created for the petitioner i.e post of office of special duty is not validly created under rule 4 of the Indian administrative serve( cadre ) rules, 1954
  4. 4. Secondly, under rule 9 of the Indian administrative service (pay) rules, 1954, no post shall be appointed until it is specified in schedule III unless the concerned authority I.e state or central government makes a declaration that said post is equivalent in status and responsibility to a post specified, it is, therefore, the case with petitioner, the concerned authority did not make any declaration for the cadre post holder.
  5. 5. Thirdly, the petitioner post is inferior in status and responsibility to that of chief secretary violating articles 14 and 16. of the Indian constitution.
  6. 6. Fourthly, the creation, appointment, and transfer of the post is Mala fide exercise o power, not on account of necessities of administration or public service, but because the second respondent was annoyed with the petitioner and wanted him out of his way.


  1.  1. The Supreme Court held that the two posts were created for discharging functions requiring very high caliber and specialized experience and were not to be counted as any less responsible than the topmost cadre posts for which the petitioner was selected. Thus the wide experience of the petitioner in the field of commercial taxes made the Government post him as Officer on Special Duty.
  2. 2. The affidavit evidence indicated that the government in all circumstances accepted the advice of the petitioner
  3. 3. The chief minister cannot be said to commit acts of violence and intimidation thus the petitioner’s allegations were baseless.
  4. 4. The state of Tamil Nadu could not, therefore, add the posts of deputy chairman, state planning commission and officer on special duty under the second provision, as these posts did not exist in the cadre as constituted by the central government thus no application and the challenge based on it must fail
  5. 5. There was no compliance with the requirements of rule 9, sub-rule (1) and the appointment f the petitioner to the post of officer on special duty was accordingly liable to be held invalid for contravention of the sub-rule but no relief can be granted as this rule does not infringes any fundamental right.
  6. 6. The petition was thus dismissed with no order as to costs.


  1. The court took its view and decided equality is a dynamic concept thus it cannot be cribbed, cabined, and confined within traditional and doctrinaire limits. From a positivistic view, equality is antithetic to arbitrariness, this equality and arbitrariness are sworn, enemies. Thus any act which is arbitrary constitutes inequality in political logic and constitutional law.

2.  The chief minister is answerable for all political and administrative actions thus he may shift chief secretary position to another for any valid administrative reason, along with not violating his legal or constitutional right.


  1. In my view, the government has circumstance to make best possible choices it can for the public interest, in this process an official might feel unhappy or unsatisfactory with the decision as it may not give him the same amplitude of power which he could be held in the old post, but it does not make the decision of the government discriminatory thus does not cause arbitrary. Especially in this case where the government had a legitimate reason for disposition of the petitioner i.e his experience in the field of commercial tax.

2. The positivistic view taken by the court has given a new dimension to article 14 thereby extending its sphere making the absence of reasonableness and natural justice a must to violate article 14 without much consideration to the intelligible differentia and rational nexus. The decision taken by the apex court was a must as the “way of life “ keeps changing thus the meaning of equality cannot be based on the old traditional dimension otherwise that rule would have become inconsistent and inadequate for the upcoming circumstances or situation arising in the court.

3. In the present scenario, the petitioner had the equivalent responsibility and consideration in decisions making thus the shift in the position did not violate article 14 & 16, as it did not violate any fundamental right, also it was not done to make petitioner feel inferior in status and responsibility thus there is not relief granted by the court to the petitioner after reviewing and discussing overall grounds, dismissing the petition without any further order.

4 Bhagwati J. Reiterated this approach in  Maganlal ltd v/s greater Bombay Municipality, Maneka Gandhi v/s Union of India, R.D.Shetty v/s International airport authority, Kasturilal v/s state of Jammu and Kashmir [4], before it received affirmation in Ajay Hasai V/S Khalid Mujib[5], making the doctrine of arbitrariness view as antithetical to equality, thus making the right to equality synonymous to right against arbitrariness. 


The doctrine of arbitrariness and right to equality are two different scopes, making it extra-constitutional under article 14, to which doctrine of the basic structure might provide an objective standard to determine arbitrariness and apply it under article 14 to check the constitutionality of any act falling under equality before law thus the decision taken by the court was right and constitutional. 

[1] State of Bombay v/s F.N.Balsara, AIR 1951 SC 318

[2] AIR 1974 SC 555

[3] Maneka Gandhi v/s UOI, AIR 1878 SC 597

[4] AIR 1974 SC 2009 , AIR 1978 SC 597, AIR 1979 SC 1628 , AIR 1980 SC 1992

[5] AIR 1981 SC 487

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