The Rule of Law represents the idea of law's supreme authority. It is essential
for a disciplined and organized society. A government can effectively protect
individual liberty and rights if it adheres to the idea of the "rule of law".
The "rule of law" implies that the state must operate in conformity with laws,
rather than by edict or decree, and this remains a fundamental foundation of
common law. It is believed that the executive has no particular abilities of its
own, but instead that all of its authorities derive from and emanate from the
laws, a crucial foundation in all modern democratic countries. The rule of law
is among the most essential foundations and a cornerstone of a modern democratic
Bingham encapsulates the essence of the Rule of law when he states:
individuals and powers inside the state, whether public or private, must be
subject to and entitled to benefits of publicly issued and prospectively
administered laws".Any democracy-committed nation would hold the rule of law
in the greatest regard. In India, for instance, "Part III of the Constitution"
oversees the laws made by parliament and ensures that any existing or new law
that violates or abridges fundamental rights can be declared null and
Dicey's Understanding Of Rule Of Law
Given that he is widely considered as the preeminent advocate of the rule of
law, it would be essential to examine Dicey's perspectives. It is credited to
Sir Edward Coke that he developed his doctrine. He announced the very first
time, "King is subject to God and the Law". Alfred Venn Dicey contributed to the
establishment of the "rule of law". In his 1885 work, "Law and the
Constitution," Dicey expanded on Coke's premise. Dicey's theory of rule of law
comprised of 3 pillars based on the idea that "a government must be constructed
on the foundation of laws and not men":
- Supremacy Of Law
This is the cornerstone of Dicey's notion of the rule of law. It highlights the
requirement of almost all police forces adhering to the guidelines. As per
"rule of law" is the total domination of the laws over arbitrary powers of
control. In other terms, an individual must be penalized only for a particular
infringement of the law. The state cannot arbitrarily punish individuals; it
should stick to the law. In addition, Dicey claimed that discretion has no place
in a society in which the law prevails supreme. According to him, discretion and
arbitrariness are synonymous. Dicey argues that when discretion exists,
governmental arbitrariness and discretionary powers might undermine the lawful
liberty of individuals.
- Equality Before The Law
The second most crucial feature of Dicey's Rule of Law philosophy is equal
protection under the law. In other terms, all men are subject to the common law
and the jurisdiction of a common court instead of a special court, regardless of
their standing or authority. He contends that special laws and special courts
present a hazard to equality values. Therefore, he contends that all individuals
should be subject to the same legal system and court system.
- Predominance Of Legal Spirit
The third element in Dicey's concept of the Rule of Law is the dominance of
legal spirit. Dicey contends that the rule of law requires regulatory
monitoring, which he identifies as the courts. Since courts must conform to the
rule of law, he believed they ought to be independent and impartial.
Consequently, judicial independence is a crucial component of the "rule of law."
He maintained that the courts, not the codified constitution, are the supreme
guardians of a person's basic human rights.
Rule Of Law In India
As a result of the Constitution, the Rule of Law dominates the Indian Legal
System. "Part III of the Indian Constitution" checks the various instruments of
authority. It not only provides citizens with rights, but also restricts the
amount of control that can be exercised. Our constitution incorporates the
British legal system. The dearth of arbitrary power underpins the Rule of Law,
which underpins our whole constitutional structure. The phrase "rule of law"
does not occur in the Indian constitution, and it has been used in several court
decisions. The rule of law is included into various parts of the Indian
constitution. For example, the Indian Constitution's Preamble proclaims the goal
of achieving equality, freedom, and justice.
Article 14 guarantees equal protection under the law and legal equality. It
declares that the government will eventually not refuse anyone equal treatment
under the law. These phrases
from Article 14 makes it very obvious that the law is supreme and, as a result,
there is no room for arbitrariness because everyone is subject to the rule of
law. The Supreme Court ruled decisively in Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India
that Article 14 of the Constitution prohibits arbitrary government actions and
requires justice and fairness. Arbitrariness is prohibited under the rule of
law, which is a major component of the Indian Constitution. In Keshavananda
Bharti vs. State of Kerala
, the Supreme Court recognized Parliament's
amending power, which applies to every Article of the Constitution, but noted
that it cannot be used to modify a fundamental aspect of the Constitution.
Article 19, which grants different liberties to individuals, is another
example of Rule of Law principles at work, because these liberties could
only be limited on the basis of rationality, which should be met in
accordance with Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution. These three
articles are known as the "Golden Triangle Articles" because they are so
crucial to the Indian Constitution. In E.P Royappa vs. State of Tamil Nadu & Others
, the Supreme
Court ruled that the government must meet all of the grounds outlined in
Articles 14, 19, and 21 in order to legitimize its acts limiting fundamental
Furthermore, judicial review is a necessary byproduct of the rule of
law. The judiciary's review is critical to the rule of law. In addition to
protecting constitutional values, it evaluates the constitutionality of
administrative actions. All activities of governmental authority and
bureaucracies are subject to judicial review and must account for their
reasonableness before the courts. Judicial review is viewed as a necessary
component of a democratic society and is regarded as a crucial component of the
constitution. As a result, the values of the rule of law pervade the entire
framework of the Indian Constitution.
The concepts of the rule of law were threatened during the Emergency, one of the
toughest moments in India's democratic history. The inclusion of the 42nd
amendment represented an attempt to circumvent the constitution. There was a
violation of Article 356 that weakened the country's essential federal
framework. In the 1970s, once Justice A.N. Ray was appointed Chief Justice of
India and the three most senior justices were removed, the judiciary ceased to
be a politically untainted and independent body. In spite of this, the judiciary
essence of the rule of law, illustrating the immense strength that a concept
such as the rule of law has in overcoming authoritarian government actions. In
terms of rule of law, the notable example of ADM Jabalpur vs. ShivakantShukla
is one of the most significant examples. In this instance, the court was asked
if India has any legal norms outside of Article 21.This occurred during the
emergency declaration, when Articles 14, 21, and 22 were suspended.
of the bench responded no to the legal question. Justice H.R. Khanna, on the
other hand, disagreed with the majority, stating, "In the lack of Article 21 in
the Constitution, the government has no competence to depriving a person of his
life and liberty without the lawful authority." "The differentiation between a
lawless society and one ruled by rules would be meaningless without any such
sanctity of life and liberty....".
The majority of the court were unable to
reach a firm conclusion and interpreted the supremacy of law to imply the
supremacy of the laws of the nation instead of the dominance of the
constitutional spirit that is rule of law. The issue of the court intervening
with other branches of government under the pretext of activism persists. The
courts' authority to limit the work of other organs should be evaluated. The
notion of the Rule of Law prohibits the judiciary from heaping power on itself.
Court interpretation and decisions are never sufficient to ensure full
compliance with the Rule of Law. Corruption, deception, and unjust policy all
lead to degradation of the rule of law.
In every civilized, democratic nation, the rule of law is the essential basis of
government. It is diametrically opposed to arbitrariness. In a free democracy,
the rule of law is important. A specific approach is adopted when conducting
crimes. The offender has been apprehended and is being detained for legal
proceedings. Suspects are questioned. Proof is currently being sought.
Interrogations are conducted. A case is being developed. The court extensively
examines the facts and data. The defendant is represented by counsel.
concept of 'equality' exemplifies the rule of law. This is often criticized. The
government is endowed with the authority to act independently and without
respect for limits or checks. Under the current conditions, total equality is
possible in every nation, not only India. In India, for instance, officials and
diplomats are immune from prosecution, whereas members of parliament have legal
protection. The judiciary makes a verdict, which is subsequently subject to
appeal, after analyzing the entire case and applying the law.
This is the
attitude used by every developed nation, not just because criminal law dictates
that the accused be believed innocent until proven guilty, but because it is the
only method to grant legitimacy to an organization, so enabling the exercise of
arbitrary power. The essential tenet of the rule of law is that anyone, even
criminals, is entitled to fundamental human rights and equal justice. Tragic
encounters are a gross breach of fair trials, which is a cornerstone of the rule
of law. The "rule of law" is a pillar of any democratic system. Absent it,
democracy has no value.
- Tom Bingham, The Rule of Law (London: Allen Lane, 2010)
- Article 13 of Indian Constitution 1949- "Laws inconsistent with or in derogation of the fundamental rights".
- Article 14 of Indian Constitution 1949- "Equality before law".
- Maneka Gandhi vs. Union Of India AIR 1978 SC 597
- Keshavananda Bharti vs. State of Kerala AIR 1973 SC 1461
- Article 19 of Indian Constitution 1949- "Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech etc".
- E.P Royappa vs. State of Tamil Nadu & Others 1974 AIR 555
- Article 356 of Indian Constitution 1949- "Provisions in case of failure of constitutional machinery in State".
- A D M Jabalpur vs. Shivkant Shukla, A.I.R. 1976 SC 1207