File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

The Human Essence Of Rule Of Law: From Ancient Precepts To Modern Realities

The idea of Rule of Law is that the law is the ultimate authority. One of the basic principles of the English Constitution is the rule of law. This doctrine of rule of law is the entire basis of administrative law. It emphasizes the importance of a legal system where laws are clear, fair, and applied equally to everyone, including those in power. It ensures accountability, protects individual rights, and promotes stability and justice within society.

Historical aspects of Rule of Law:

The concept of rule of law can be traced from the time of Romans, who called it 'Just Law' to the medieval period where it was called the 'Law of God.' Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau, the social contractualists referred rule of law as the natural law.

During the reign of James I, the Chief Justice of England, Sir Edward Coke was the originator of this concept. In a battle against the king, he maintained successfully that the king should be under the god and the law, and he established the supremacy of law against the executive.

Meaning of Rule of Law

The term 'rule of law' comes from the French phrase "la principle de legality," which means a government built on the principles of law. Prof. A. V. Dicey developed the theory of Coke CJ in his classic work 'An Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution.' According to Dicey, rule of law contains three principles:
  1. Supremacy of Law:
  2. Dicey explained that the rule of law means the law is supreme, not arbitrary power. It ensures that government actions are not based on personal whims but on established laws. In England, people are governed solely by the law. A man can only be punished for violating established laws, and not for arbitrary reasons. According to this doctrine, no man is punishable or can lawfully be made to suffer in body or goods except for a distinct breach of law established in the ordinary legal manner before the ordinary courts of the land.
  3. Equality before Law:
  4. The second meaning is that no man is above law. Every man, regardless of his status or condition, must follow the same laws and can be judged by the regular courts.
  5. Predominance of legal spirit:
  6. The third meaning of rule of law is that the general principles of constitution are result of judicial decisions determining the rights of private persons in particular cases brought before the court.

Basic principles of Rule of Law:
  1. Law is supreme above everything and everyone. Nobody is above the law.
  2. All things should be done according to law and not according to whim.
  3. No one should be punished or be made to suffer unless they have breached the law.
  4. Absence of arbitrary power is the soul of rule of law.
  5. Equality before law and equal protection of law.
  6. Adequate safeguard against executive abuse of powers.
  7. Independent and impartial judiciary.
  8. Fair and justice procedure.
  9. Speedy trial.

Rule of Law under Indian Constitution:

Dicey's rule of law has been included in the Indian Constitution. The preamble itself clearly sets out the principles of rule of law.

The Constitution is supreme and all three organs of the government � legislature, executive and judiciary are subordinate to and have to act in consonance with the Constitution.

The maxim "The king can do no wrong" does not apply in India. There is equality before law and equal protection of laws. Governments and public authorities can be held accountable in ordinary courts of law and face similar consequences for same wrongdoings. They are not exempted from regular legal proceedings, and there are no special courts or tribunals designated for their cases. This doctrine is also accepted in public services. Thus, it appears that the doctrine of rule of law is included in the Indian Constitution, and is treated as the basic structure of the Constitution , which can neither be abrogated nor destroyed.

In Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala (1973) , the Supreme Court declared that the rule of law is one of the most important and essential aspects of the doctrine of basic structure

In the case of Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab, it was stated that the rule of law is free from arbitrary action.

Habeas Corpus case

In ADM Jabalpur v. Shivakant Shukla (1976), the question before Supreme Court was, whether there was any rule of law in India apart from Article 21 of the Constitution. The Supreme Court by majority held that there is no rule of law other than constitutional rule of law Article 21 is our rule of law. If it is suspended, there is no other rule of law.

Dicey's rule of law, highlights the importance of fundamental rights and legal equality within a democratic society. It asserts that the law should apply equally to all individuals, including those in positions of power, and that citizens should enjoy certain rights and protections against arbitrary governmental actions.

This principle is particularly relevant in modern democratic nations, where it serves as a safeguard against the potential abuse of authority by administrative bodies. By upholding the rule of law, governments aim to maintain order, fairness, and accountability in their exercise of power, thereby ensuring the protection of individual liberties and promoting the overall well-being of society.

Merits Of Doctrine:
  • The doctrine of rule of law plays a crucial role in keeping administrative authorities within their constraints.
  • It has a major role in growth and recognition of administrative law.
  • It serves as a measure to evaluate administrative actions.
Demerits of doctrine:
  • Not everyone agreed with Dicey's theory back then.
  • It doesn't distinguish between discretionary and arbitrary powers.

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly