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Nexus Between Law Making And Public Opinion

The relationship between law and public opinion is complex and multifaceted. Public opinion refers to the views and beliefs held by members of the society, while law refers to the set of rules and regulations that are enforced by the state or other governing bodies. In a democratic society, public opinion can play a significant role in shaping the law. Elected officials and lawmakers are often responsive to public opinion, as they are accountable to the people who elected them. As a result, changes in public opinion can lead to changes in the law. For example, if there is a groundswell of public support for a particular issue, lawmakers may be more likely to pass legislation that reflects this sentiment.

The interaction between law and public opinion in India is a nuanced process, influenced by historical, cultural, and socio-political factors. This article delves into the complex relationship between Indian law and public sentiment, examining how each shapes, and is shaped by the other in the Indian context.

Law and Public Opinion in India:

Law making and Polity in India is sensitive to public opinion and vice versa. It can be safely said that the lawmaking and polity undergoes a change with the change in the public opinion. However, this is a two-way process that causes public opinion to change too with a change in law making and polity.

There are various factors that decide the variation of public opinion as well as the legislature.

They are described as below:

Legal Precedents and Social Change:

Landmark judgments by the Indian judiciary, such as Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala, have played a pivotal role in shaping public discourse and catalyzing social change. Decisions pertaining to issues like affirmative action, environmental protection, and personal freedoms have significantly influenced public attitudes and perceptions.

Legislative Initiatives and Policy Reforms:

Acts of Parliament, such as the Right to Information Act (RTI) and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Act, have been instrumental in addressing public grievances and addressing societal concerns. Public opinion often influences the formulation and amendment of laws, as evidenced by the recent debate surrounding the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

Law Enforcement and Judicial Processes:

Public trust in law enforcement agencies and the judiciary is essential for the effective functioning of the legal system. Instances of police brutality, delays in the delivery of justice, and corruption within the judiciary can erode public confidence and shape negative perceptions of the legal system.

Impact of Public Opinion on Indian Law:

Now, if the general public does not accept a statute, it becomes ineffective and very difficult to enforce. For example the recent conflict between the government and the farmers because of the three farm laws which were passed in September 2020. These laws are not getting supported by the general public opinion. Not only this, in 1962, the Indian government had enacted two laws: the Compulsory Deposit Scheme Act, 1963, and the Gold Control Rules. These laws were not well received by the general public, and as a result, people staged protests against them, forcing the Indian government to change them.

The various factors that show the impact of public opinion on Indian law are discussed as below:

Political Responses to Public Sentiment: Indian policymakers are responsive to public opinion, especially in matters of public interest and electoral significance. Mass movements and public protests have influenced government policies and legislative agendas, as seen in the case of the anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare.

Media and Opinion Formation:

Traditional and digital media platforms play a crucial role in shaping public opinion on legal issues. Sensationalized reporting, biased narratives, and misinformation can distort public perceptions of legal matters and influence public opinion.

Social Activism and Legal Advocacy:

Civil society organizations and grassroots movements in India have been instrumental in advocating for legal reforms and social justice. Public mobilization around issues such as gender equality, environmental conservation, and LGBTQ+ rights has led to legislative and judicial interventions.

The relationship between Indian law and public opinion is dynamic and multifaceted, characterized by a continuous interplay of influence and response. While the legal system seeks to uphold constitutional principles and protect individual rights, public opinion serves as a crucial barometer of societal values and aspirations. Understanding this relationship is essential for fostering a robust and responsive legal framework that reflects the evolving needs and aspirations of the Indian populace.

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