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Rule Of Law: An Overview: Can Rule of Law Be Negated Indian Context?

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 democracy. Tom

Bingham encapsulates the essence of the Rule of law when he states:
"All 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[1]".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 unconstitutional[2].

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":
  1. 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 Dicey, the

    "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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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[3] 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[4] 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[5], 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[6], 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[7], 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 rights.

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[8] 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 preserved the

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[9] 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.

The majority 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.

The 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.

  1. Tom Bingham, The Rule of Law (London: Allen Lane, 2010)
  2. Article 13 of Indian Constitution 1949- "Laws inconsistent with or in derogation of the fundamental rights".
  3. Article 14 of Indian Constitution 1949- "Equality before law".
  4. Maneka Gandhi vs. Union Of India AIR 1978 SC 597
  5. Keshavananda Bharti vs. State of Kerala AIR 1973 SC 1461
  6. Article 19 of Indian Constitution 1949- "Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech etc".
  7. E.P Royappa vs. State of Tamil Nadu & Others 1974 AIR 555
  8. Article 356 of Indian Constitution 1949- "Provisions in case of failure of constitutional machinery in State".
  9. A D M Jabalpur vs. Shivkant Shukla, A.I.R. 1976 SC 1207

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