Society, when we think about is in a natural state of equilibrium. It takes
its own course with time. As people change, their mentality changes, the society
as a whole is bound to change. Change also depends on factors like population
growth, technological growth, changes in human settlement and many more. If a
society doesn't grow with the parts it comprises of, it will face doom. A
society like that is toxic, it makes people frustrated and at the end the
society itself dies. Law should introduce its rationale in terms that are
understandable and compatible with current principles.
We hear stories of man's rise and growth from the Paleolithic age to the
Neolithic age, then to the Stone Age and next to the copper age etc. If we look
at it, our society is a stage, as said by Shakespeare in his famous “All the
world's a stage
”. We turn liberal with time and age, as a human turns wise. The
characters change, nothing stands still, we let out the old, and bring in the
new. As a result, we grow.
It is said, “Today is not yesterday, we ourselves change. No change is
permanent, it is subject to change. This is observed in all spares of
activity. Change indeed is painful, yet needful”. Through change, we get a
chance to refresh and recreate. Individuals always endeavor for stability in
life, yet the fact that for society, stillness is lethal, remains.
The society is guided by law in every aspect, the law surrounds us
completely. Different schools of law have characterized law from various points.
Some have characterized it based on its tendency. Some concentrate predominantly
on its sources. Some characterize it regarding its impact on society. There are
other people who characterize law regarding the end or reason for law. A
definition which doesn't cover different parts of law will undoubtedly be
Moreover, law is a social science and develops constantly with the
development and improvement of society. New improvements in the public eye make
new issues and law is needed to manage those issues. To stay up with society,
the definition and extent of law should keep on evolving. The outcome is that a
meaning of law given at a specific time can't stay perennial for all ages to
come. A definition which is considered satisfactory today may be found narrow
Social Order And Purpose Of Law
Social change is the way social institutions are changed by change in human
behaviour and interaction. The whole process of social change comes naturally.
As new generations interact with each other more and more, our perception
towards the world changes, and so changes our behaviour. The general trend
suggests that with time, a society should become more accepting and liberal
towards new things. Every person should be able to embrace their inner self.
in all cases, exceptions exist here as well. Some people tend to reserve
themselves, and pass this trait to their children and grandchildren. In this
way, a part of the society may still remain conservative, but the majority of
the population tends to grow forward.
Reasons For Social Change
Four common causes, as recognized by social scientists, are technology, social
institutions, population, and the environment. All four of the mentioned areas
can impact how and when society changes. And they are all interrelated: a change
in one area can lead to changes throughout.
Technology is the use of scientific vigour to make tools that solve specific
problems. Technological changes mould our lifestyles significantly, the
invention of radio, television,computers and automobiles are some of the major
instances that have brought change in our lifestyles. Because of the invention
of a computer, because bill gates founded a company like Microsoft, and because
this company brought in something like MS word, we are here making this project
digitally, gone are the days when we submitted handwritten projects
Advancement in technology has also resulted in the society being more
transparent since all data is available on the servers making the system both
easily accessible and transparent.
Modernisation is the process where people from underdeveloped societies move
into developed societies for their own welfare in search of opportunities like
better jobs, better lifestyle and better infrastructure. This drastic change in
living conditions leads to social change.
Slower changes in the environment can also have a large social impact. As noted
earlier, one of the negative effects of industrialization has been the increase
in pollution of air, water, and ground. Changes in the natural environment can
also lead to changes in a society itself. We see vivid evidence of this when a
major hurricane, an earthquake, or any other natural disaster strikes.
- Social conflict
Episodes like war, ethnic conflicts, social movements for obvious reasons,
disturb the status quo and the deaths of soldiers have caused harm and pain to
not only their loved ones but also to the society as whole for ages and will do
that for many more years to come.
The law, through legislative and administrative responses to new social
conditions and ideas, as well as through judicial re-interpretations of
constitution, statutes or precedents, increasingly not only articulates but sets
the course for major social change. Law plays an indirect role in changing the
society by changing social institutions. For years, litigation has affected
social change more than anything.
The change of Rome from republic to empire couldn't have been achieved if not by
methods for unequivocal legal declaration buttressed by the doctrine of imperial
sovereignty. Law, way behind from being an impression of social truth, is a
ground-breaking tool to achieve reality – that is, of acknowledging it or making
Some examples of law shaping the society are:
- The Soviet Union succeeded in making enormous changes in society by the
use of law.
- In Spain law was used to reform agrarian labor and employment relations.
- China also managed to moderate through law its population growth and as
a result devote more of its resources to economic development and
India after its independence, framed laws to correct social order and prepare
for being a welfare state. It aimed at achieving and exploitation free and equal
society where caste did not define your opportunities, where all had an equal
footing, where people lived in a closely knit society, where only your
capabilities mattered and not the family you were born in. for this purpose, it
enacted laws and regulations to maintain social order.
Law is the activity of subjecting human behaviour to the governance of rules.
The rule of law is concerned with regulating the use of power. Whereas society
is a spontaneous order, the state is a protective agent with the monopoly role
of enforcing the rules of the game. Since the monopoly on coercion belongs to
the government, it is imperative that this power not be misused. In a free
society each person has a recognized private sphere, a protected realm which
government authority cannot encroach upon. The purpose of law is to preserve the
freedom and moral agency.
India is a country that represents diversity, so many people representing so
many cultures living in an area of around 3.28mn square km of landmass, with all
kinds of weather patterns and all kinds of geographical patterns, from mountains
to beaches to deserts, we have got it all.
In 1947, when India freed itself from the hands of colonialism, the hurdles it
faced were humongous. For legal enthusiasts, it was a puzzle of greatly
different things , a mixture of customary law, case law, and a number of
variegated enactments. The social system was equally confused, plagued with
social evils like the caste system, discrimination against women, unsociability,
child marriages, illiteracy, the dowry system etc.. What had to be done was to
make a set of laws that govern each set of individuals individually, yet
Judiciary & Social Change
- Composition & Hierarchy of Courts in India
As defined by the constitution of India, India has adopted a federal form of
government, meaning that the power to pass laws is divided between the center
and the states. Nevertheless, the Constitution creates an integrated judicial
structure consisting of courts for the execution of both federal and state laws.
The Apex Court of India is the Supreme Court in New Delhi. In the states that
obey the supreme court, there are diverse high courts. The High Courts are
preceded by district and subordinate courts, known in India as the lower courts.
There are specific tribunals to adjudicate sector-specific claims such as labor,
consumer, service matter disputes, in order to complement the working of the
- The supreme court of India
On 28 January 195o, India's Supreme Court came into being. In colonial times, it
replaced both the Federal Court of India and the Privy Council's Judicial
Committee, which were deemed apex courts. A Supreme Court with a Chief Justice
and 7 judges was envisaged by the Constitution of India as it existed in 195o.
The authority to raise the number of judges in the coming years has been given
to the Parliament. At present, the Supreme Court's overall strength is 34
judges, including the Chief Justice as
- High Courts
India is composed of 24 High Courts at the rank of state and union
territory. Each High Court has jurisdiction over a state, a union territory,
or a collection of states and union territories.
- District and Sub-ordinate Courts
The courts operating below the High Courts are referred to as the lower courts.
They are made up of district courts and subordinate courts. Every state is split
into regions ruled by a 'District and Sessions Judge'. When he/she presides over
a civil case he/she is known as a 'Sessions judge', when he/she presides over a
criminal case, the judge is known as a 'District Judge.'. When she presides over
a district court in a town that is classified by the state government as a
metropolitan area, the district judge is sometimes called a 'Metropolitan
Sources Of Law
The mother of law in India is the Constitution which, gives due acknowledgment
to statutes, case law and custom law in line with its dispensations. Laws or
rules are instituted by Parliament, State Legislatures and Union Territory
Legislatures. There is likewise an immense assortment of laws known as
subordinate enactment or rules, guidelines just as by-laws made by Central and
State Governments and nearby authorities like Municipal Corporations,
Municipalities, Gram Panchayats and other neighborhood bodies.
enactment is made under the authority designated either by Parliament or State
or Union Territory Legislature. The decisions of the Supreme Court are binding
on all Courts inside the domain of India. As India is a place where there is
diversity, various customs and conventions which are not against any rule,
statute, and so on are somewhat recognised and considered by Courts while
delivering judgements in specific spheres of nature.
Disputes are bound to occur among persons, among groups, as well as between
individuals or groups and authorities in each and every society. All such
disputes have to be addressed in line with the expectations of the rule of law
by an independent body. This definition of the rule of law means that the people
are subject to the same law, poor and rich, man or woman, forward or backward
Safeguarding the rule of law and maintaining the dominance of the law is
the core element of the judiciary. It safeguards the individual's rights,
resolves conflicts in compliance with the rules and assures that democracy does
not give way to the hegemony of groups or individuals. In order to be able to do
all this, it is necessary that the judiciary is independent of any political
In order to fulfill his duty, “the interest of society
” must be the driving
force for a judge while he sits. His responsibility to society is to satisfy the
various social expectations of justice, order and security. While engaging with
any issue, he must give the welfare of the society a prime feature. The strong
interest of the judiciary in upholding the values of good governance is also
expressed in remarks focusing on the rule of law, human rights, fundamental
rights and gender justice, as well as recommendations and guidelines issued from
time to time on topics ranging from police and prison reforms, democratic
reforms, the uniform civil code, children's and women's rights, affirmative reforms in favor of the Dalit's and the deprived sections like the S/Cs, S/Ts and
the OBCs to environmental jurisprudence that has given a new meaning to the
right to life as well as reconciliation between development and protection of
the ecology and environment. The strong involvement of the judiciary in the
processes and practices of achieving the objectives of sustainable human
development and establishing an enabling atmosphere is well established in many
of the judicial judgments. The judiciary has not limited itself to interpreting
only the law and the constitution in this pursuit.
Gender equality and justice
The concept of equality of status, opportunities and justice has been applied by
the Indian judiciary when interpreting statues relevant to women's growth and
empowerment. For example, in Gayatri Devi Panjari v. State of Orissa
Sc1531), the Orissa High Court upheld the government's policy of giving priority
to women while allocating merit shops in addition to 3o percent observation for
women in that regard.
The Court held that it could not be taken as a limit for
any group and the government could still prefer women over men if there were
reservations for women because the quota policy aims to ensure the minimum while
the preference policy aims to promote the empowerment of people with
disadvantages. In another case, the court extended the benefits of Maternity
Benefits Act of 1961. Women, who make up almost half of our population, need to
be honored and treated with respect wherever they work to earn their livelihood.
Whatever the nature of their tasks, their occupation and the position where they
work, all the facilities to which they are entitled must be given.
Backward Classes of the Society:
The Apex Court has developed the principle of 'creamy layer test' in Indra
Sawhney v. Union of India
, AIR 1993 SUPREME COURT 477, to ensure the positive
effects of social justice to the deprived class, needy people, and marginalized
persons belonging to the creamy layer.
A good example of social ordering by means of judicial procedure is Bandhua
Mukti Morcha v. Union of India
, AIR 1984 S C 8o2. The Apex Court tried to
eradicate the socio-economic evil of bonded labor, including child labor, and
provided some guidelines to be followed in order to eliminate repeating such
Caste system and Judicial Process:
In Lata Singh v. State of U. P.
, AIR 2oo6 SC 2522, the Apex Court had provided
protection to a major boy and a girl who had solemnized inter-caste or
Dowry death is perhaps one of the worst social disorders prevailing in the
society, which demands heavyhand of Judicial Process to root-out this social
evil. In Raja Lal Singh v. State of Jharkhand
, the Supreme Court has laid down
that there is a clear nexus between the death of Gayatri and the dowry
relatedharassment inflicted on her, therefore, even if Gayatri committed
suicide, S. 3o4-B of the I. P. C. can still be attracted.
Legislation & Social Change
Legislation is a mechanism for regulating, directing and limiting the actions of
persons and groups living in society. In the pursuit of their self-interest at
the detriment of others, individuals and groups left in absolute freedom will
collide with each other. They do serious damage to society, resulting in
anarchy. Legislation is one of the several organizations that oversees and
guides individual action into appropriate channels. Others include social
practices, rituals, religious law, etc.
Law has many branches and is a vast
subject. All laws are social in a broad sense, only those laws that are enacted
for the purpose of social protection are known as social laws in a narrow sense.
There are many types of laws such as taxation, corporate, civil, criminal,
commercial, etc. Law that has its origins in law may be more correctly called
enacted law, all other forms are distinguished as unenacted. Laws are a form of
social rule originating from government institutions, the more common term.
When they are made and put into effect by a law-making body or authority, laws
become legislation. Legislations, particularly social policies, have played a
significant role in bringing about social change. Two things can be uncovered by
a careful analysis of the role of legislation in social change.
- The state and society strive to put legal norms into line with current
social norms by laws.
- Legislations are also used on the basis of modern legal standards to
strengthen social norms.
Only when a legal sanction is given to the current social standard will social
reform be a successful means of social change. By itself, no law can replace one
norm with another. This can hardly alter standards. Global reform can hardly be
brought on by unaided social legislation. But with the help of popular opinion,
a shift in social norms may be caused by a change in social behavior. In order
to understand this point, some examples of social legislation made in India will
Before and after independence, a variety of laws were made in India with a view
to bringing about social change. Any of these may succeed, while a few others
remain as dead letters. Legislation is an instrument to monitor, direct and
limit the actions of individuals and groups living in society. Legislation is a
tool to govern, guide and restrict the behavior of individuals and groups living
In the pursuit of their self-interest at the detriment of others,
individuals and groups left in absolute freedom will collide with each other.
They do serious damage to society, resulting in anarchy. Legislation is one of
the several organizations that oversee and guide individual action into
appropriate channels. Others include social practices, rituals, religious law,
etc. Law has many branches and is a vast subject.
From a wide perspective, all laws are social in character, from a thin
perspective just those laws that are established with the end goal of social
welfare are recognized as social legislation. There are many kinds of laws, for
example, taxation, corporate, common, criminal, business and so forth. Social is
that part of law which is a total of various socio economic standards of the
individuals. It is a social foundation that typifies the social standards made
on the order of a competent legislative authority These laws are authorized
keeping in view the requirements of the time, the conditions of the country and
its socio-political goals.
In a Welfare State, the need and value of social policy should not be
compromised. Our Constitution represents the expectations of the masses to
become a welfare state where everyone has the right to live a dignified life and
there is a fundamental right to pursue happiness. In a wider sense, all men in
the country have the right to fundamental human rights, such as the right to
life, housing, health at work, education, etc.
These privileges can now only be
protected through state intervention. Social law provides us with a sufficiently
formalized legislative system to accomplish these objectives. As the social
order undergoes changes, it is a known reality that new challenges and demands
emerge that can not be allowed to get out of control. Welfare laws must fix
concerns such as youth delinquency, emerging modes of violence, socio-economic
injustices, socio-economic inequality and social security issues. It also
anticipates the course of transition in society. Social law is therefore
- to ensure social justice,
- to bring about social reform,
- to encourage social welfare,
- to bring in the social change required.
- The defense and advancement of the interests of socio-economically
vulnerable social classes.
For the first time, the British government in India developed the supreme power
of law in social matters, ensuring uniformity in law and social order that India
had not had until then. In the last century, on the one hand, we have had a
number of laws designed to bring about major changes in the status of women,
girls, scheduled castes and other marginalized groups, while on the other hand,
there were laws to bring reform in social structures such as family, marriage,
A lot of social laws have been passed since Independence. We know that
many of the evil practices, such as sati pratha, child marriage, etc., could
still have continued if they were not limited by sufficient legislation in time.
Pre Independence Laws That Brought In Major Social Change
Abolition Of Sati Practice
In India, British officials and British missionaries first protested against the practice of Sati and demanded its abolition by the parliament in the face of intense resistance from the Conservative Hindus of the time.
On account of this unfortunate widow, it was Raja Rammohon Roy who first came forward
and urged the liberal and forsighted Governor General, Lord Bentinck, to avoid this barbaric murder of Hindu
widows. Thus, on December 4, 1829, an ordinance abolished the barbaric practice
of 'Sati'. This ugly tradition continued to survive in some provinces of India
in spite of the national liberation movement and anti-caste focus, and one such
example was the case of Roop Kanwar's death.
Roop Kanwar Case
However, what is abnormal is that after a long slip by of time this barbarous
activity had returned in specific pieces of the nation. On fourth September,
1987, Roop Kanwar of Deorala in Rajasthan demonstrated Sati. She was simply 18
years old youngster at the hour of her passing. After the occasion she was
given the status of Sati Mata
. The Special Court at Jaipur had blamed 11
individuals for celebrating the demonstration of Sati. The Commission of Sati
(Prevention) Act, 1987 was passed by the Government. The unsettling act of Sati
was restricted forever from the Indian soil.
Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929
The child marriage restraint act was passed in 1929 to abolish child marriage in
india. The government understood the potiential dangers, this evil of child
marriage had to the life of both the female and the male. Lack of sexual
unawareness, menstrual health and the stress of married life added to the
disadvantages of child marriage.
Post Independence Laws That Brought In Social Change
Untouchability Offences Act 1955
The 17th Article of the Indian Constitution states that untouchability is a
punishable offence. For the eradication of untouchability the 'Untouchability
Offences Act' was passed by Indian Government in 1955 in which any person
forcing the disabilities of untouchability can be sentenced to six months
imprisonment or a fine of Rs. 500/- or both for his first offence. For every
subsequent offence the sentence will include both a term in jail as well as
fine. If considered necessary, the punishment can also be increased.
This Act provides penalties for the offences like preventing a person from
entering into public temples or places of worship, preventing the drawing of
water from sacred lakes, tanks, wells etc. Enforcing all kinds of social
disabilities such as preventing people from the use of a dharmasala
, any shop,
public restaurant, public hospital, hotel, educational institutions or any other
place of public entertainment denying the use of any road, river, well, water
top, river bank, cremation ground, etc.
Law is the ideal instrument for preserving justice and ensuring that in
society, lawlessness does not continue to reign. A surge of positive social
change is triggered as legal judgements are aimed at changing the system. Only
one example of legislation that can spur social reform is the groundbreaking SC
decision that forbids offenders from running in elections.
The law has enormous potential for meaningful social change to be initiated. The
face of many cultures all over the world has been transformed by legal changes.
In several developing countries, issues such as low levels of literacy and
gender inequality have been removed due to legal frameworks to tackle the issue.
Legislation has the power to influence societal change. It is meant to bring
about a social order where human rights are safeguarded.
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