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Law: An Apparatus For Harmonizing Social Change

Law can simply be defined as a set of rules that are used to regulate or control a society. Control is necessary in a society because it is always necessary to maintain a balance between society and the individuals that live in it so that they can cohabit interdependently, which will aid in social change. A society is a diverse community that includes people of many classes, castes, creeds, colors, genders, and backgrounds. It is critical that no distinction be made between these individuals, regardless of their identities, in order to achieve homogeneity, which can only be achieved via the application of law.

Every society and its citizens look forward to social change since a positive change is always welcome. The function of law in bringing about social transformation is critical. Harmony and peace between people and society are lacking in a lawless society. Due to various elements such as money, power, and prestige, one group of individuals can always be in a position of authority and control over the other groups who are comparatively weak in a society made up of many sorts of people.

This situation is not unusual, since every culture has encountered it at some point. Not only that, but society also faces a number of other problems. Poverty, drug misuse, corruption, prostitution, rape, lynching, child marriage, acid assaults, child labor, and discrimination based on caste, race, color, and gender are only a few examples. Law serves as a driving force for society to overcome all obstacles by enacting legislation and statutes that will make a difference in today's and future societies.

The society has undergone various changes in recent years, and while the law has aided in these changes, it is important to remember that societal challenges are not going away; rather, they are intensifying. It is past time for society to make optimal use of current laws so that they can be successful in bringing about meaningful social transformation. As a result, the answer to the issue of how the law might be utilized to bring about social change resides inside the society and its people.

The relationship between law and social change

Economic, political, legal, and sociological disciplines all utilize the phrase "social change." This implies that societal transformation is impacted by a number of factors. Law is the most important subject among the others since it is a code that governs society. The highest power in the hands of states to control what is good and wrong in society is the law.

Law is there not only to give a set of norms by which a society should operate, but also to provide regulations that the society is expected to accept in its own way in order to protect the welfare of its citizens. Traditionally, the rules that society used to control itself in order to inject uniformity, consistency, and progress into society.

The established social standards assumed the form of the legislation. People in society were expected to obey the rules in their daily lives, and breaking them would result in a criminal or civil offence. Currently, the same trend is being followed. The main difference is that current rules have been amended in order to remodel society for a more appealing appearance.

Because the link between law and society is so ancient, it takes nurturing and care to keep it alive and well. Several studies have stated that legislation is the most effective tool for controlling social change, yet social change may also become a statute. The existence of numerous components in the environment causes social change.

The demographic structure, technical advancements, changes in people's ideas, and an improvement in people's welfare are some of these factors and so on. Benjamin Cardozo, an American judge, stated that law should not be considered as a rigid tool attempting to bring about social change, but rather as a flexible instrument of necessity bringing about societal good. This is also the core of the Indian Constitution.

The authors of the Constitution were emphatic that India should not be humiliated in any way after gaining independence, as it had been for several years before to 1947. As a result, the Indian Constitution may be cited as an example of how legislation can be utilized to effect social change. Law is a highly dynamic subject, which allows it to adapt to its surroundings. As a result, this topic may assist a society in a variety of ways.

Theories involved in social change

There are two hypotheses that explain how societal transformation might occur. They are available under the following headings:
  1. Linear theory of social change- This theory of social change claims that society improves and advances as it progresses toward a better civilization. As a result, society evolves as a result of the transformation of its people.
     
  2. Cyclic theory of social change- This theory of social change claims that the changes that occur in a society are cyclic in nature and so occur again. As a result, this theory considers societal change to be continuous rather than consistent. Theories of social change are incapable of bringing about change in society; consequently, law is required. Law facilitates the implementation of these notions by guiding them via processes. Social movements cannot take place without legal restrictions.

Law as a controller of the society:

Law may assist society in bringing about social change in two ways, as detailed below:
  1. By ensuring social stability and maintaining an ordered lifestyle within society
  2. Bring about social change by adapting itself to meet the demands and requirements of society and its people.

Both of these reasons speak to the need of establishing the rule of law in any community, especially in a democratic country like India. The rule of law states that no one is above the law of the nation, ensuring that law is the highest factor that governs any civilization.

Law is a useful government agency that establishes a social order that individuals must follow in order to avoid avoidable disputes that might stymie the society's general progress. Law may be used as a weapon by the state to install terror in the minds of the people so that they do not break the law of the nation by their acts.

Fear is required to raise public knowledge and consciousness so that individuals consider before they do anything wrong, so safeguarding society's citizens from any type of injustice that would exploit them and their life.

As a result, law makes a society worth living in. The public must be familiar with the law as a social change instrument in order to comprehend social change. Simply increasing public awareness of the law may have a significant impact on how a society evolves. The second argument mentioned above considers legislation as a source of public opinion, implying that the state takes measures in response to popular requests.

The defamation statute, which the Rajiv Gandhi government sought to introduce but later dropped because to popular resistance, is an exemplary example of public opinion being molded in the jar of legislation. This means that popular opinion takes the place of legislation anytime it is necessary. As a result, legislation may be changed in any way that the community desires in order to use it as a tool for social change.

The Indian Constitution as an instrument for social change

The Indian Constitution was enacted on January 26, 1950, by the Constitution builders in order to give birth to a reformed India. The Constitution has a set of basic rights stated in Part III of the Constitution that give individuals with specific rights that must be controlled in order to bring about social change throughout the country. Because Indians had been oppressed for numerous years before to independence, the Constitution was enacted as a fundamental law that would control the movement of all other laws in the country.

Taking into account the country's actual social structure at the time, the Constitution's authors ensured that no social component would be left unprotected. Other than the fundamental framework of the Constitution, as the head of the Constitution's drafting committee, Dr. B.R. Ambedhkar, accurately pointed out, the Constitution of India may be altered as and when the society requires it.

When the Supreme Court of India heard the landmark case of Kesavananda Bharati v. Union of India, this was also taken into consideration. One of the parts that make up the core framework of the Constitution is fundamental rights. Certain fundamental rights are included in its ambit, and they apply to every Indian citizen, regardless of their background.

The right to equality and equal protection under the law is discussed in Article 14 of the Constitution. The rule of law is promised as the core essence of the Constitution in this very Article. Along with Article 14, the Constitution has numerous additional articles that have been crucial in bringing about societal transformation.

The Constitution establishes not only fundamental rights, but also a set of principles that the government must follow in order to manage the nation's social developments. In Part IV of the Constitution, these ideas became known as the Directive Principles of State Policy. Although there is no requirement that these set of principles that the State is officially required to adopt and apply are enforceable in a court of law, they are necessary in order for the State to offer social justice to its citizens.

For many years, social challenges such as poverty, discrimination, forced labor , and accountability have been firmly established in Indian culture. These social issues were taken into consideration after the Constitution was enacted, and it is true that India has overcome several social issues affecting the people and the country as a whole.

The Indian Constitution was primarily created to strike a balance between individual liberty and the promotion of social justice in the country. Parts III and IV of the Constitution, taken combined, have been a driving force in bringing about a social revolution in the country, and so have established a conscience for the Constitution.

Ways in which law can be used as an instrument for creating social change
Law, as a tool for bringing about social change, can be utilized in two ways:
  1. laws that bring about societal change
  2. The legislation is being changed by the society.
When someone argues that laws are bringing about change in society, they imply that laws are forcing society to observe them in order to make a difference or change in the current milieu. Untouchability, for example, has been a long-standing societal concern. Untouchability should be outlawed, according to Article 17 of the Indian Constitution.

As a result, the law brought about social transformation by largely eliminating the social issue. Anyone who practices untouchability will henceforth be prosecuted for breaking the law of the nation. When society makes a legal reform, it signifies that society is adapting to the law in the way that it wishes. Sati was a tradition in which wives were compelled to be burned alive with their dead husbands. The Hindus were required to observe this tradition. The society enacted steps to end the practice. As a result, society influenced the existing legislation in some way.

Law: the ideal weapon for creating social
Change
There have been various societal issues that legislation has addressed and attempted to improve. The judges, according to Justice PN Bhagwati, have the obligation of creating life and infusing blood into a legislative framework in order to produce a living element that can suit the demands of society. Without the support of legislators, law as a topic cannot control or bring about social change. As a result, judges who have legal authority can utilize law as a tool to effect social change.

The globe as a whole has been confronted with some societal challenges that have hampered global progress. Before discussing how the law has acted as a driver for society's automobile, it is vital to be aware of specific social concerns for which the law has worked and should continue to work in order to eradicate the problem entirely from the globe. Below are some of the significant societal challenges that demand that the law be brought to the ground and used as a tool for social change.

Racial discrimination

Racial prejudice is one such societal issue that has plagued many regions of the world up to this point. Racial discrimination is when two groups of individuals are treated unfairly because of their skin colour or ethnic heritage. Statistics show that, as most Americans have stated, the globe still has a long way to go in eliminating racial prejudice.

Racial prejudice has been widespread in parts of America, Africa, and India. Racial prejudice fosters inequity in society, which is both unfair and unjust. People have stated that the law has been successful to some while failing to reach out to many about racial prejudice while looking at an image of America. According to the Americans, although Democrats believe that colour equality has not yet been attained, Republicans believe that the legislation has already accomplished its goal of creating equality between Blacks and Whites. Several nations have enacted anti-discrimination legislation to combat racial discrimination.

Climate Change

Climate change is a new social concern that has recently been added to the list. Climate change is a social issue since it has a wide range of consequences for society. Several great individuals have stated that handling climate change as a social issue would require greater public engagement in order for people to be aware of the consequences. Typhoons have already begun to strike various locations of the South Pacific as a result of climate change.

Climate change is causing problems in many other places of the planet. This problem is causing the earth's biodiversity to dwindle. Conventions, talks, and treaties are being held to prevent this societal issue from growing. The use of law in the form of treaties, acts, and conventions demonstrates that law may be used to effect social change.

The exploitation of women and children

Exploitation of women and children has long been a global societal concern. This is an example of a social issue that follows the cycle idea. Women have always been oppressed as a result of men's domination over them. As a result, crimes against women have increased in comparison to crimes against males.

Child labor, child maltreatment, child marriage, and child trafficking are all typical examples of child exploitation. Several laws have been passed to control these variables in order to bring about social change and to protect children's rights in order to provide them with an environment in which they may develop into responsible members of the country.

The aforementioned social challenges are classified as some of the most serious social difficulties that the world is now experiencing, and only legislation can bring about change in society.

Law as an instrument of social change in India
India, being a diversified nation, has a diverse population, and the impact of society on individuals in India is disproportionately greater than in other countries due to the abundance of traditions, customs, and cultures in Indian society, all of which have a significant impact on the public. Both in the past and now, the law has been a powerful tool for the nation in bringing about social change.

Several judgements dealing to social concerns have also been issued by Indian courts, making individuals aware of the laws that are in place so that they do not get affected by social difficulties. Below are some of the societal changes that have been wrought as a result of the use of law as a tool.

Fundamental Rights in the Indian Constitution

Fundamental rights have been a reflection of legislation as a tool for social change that has strayed. Fundamental rights include the right to live freely (Article 21), the right to free and compulsory education (Article 14), the right to equality (Article 14), the right to freedom (Article 19), and a number of other rights that are necessary to make a difference in today's society.

The basic rights are enforceable in a court of law, which means that anyone can go to court if their fundamental rights are being violated. Right to both free and compulsory education In the year 2002, education was included to the right to life under Article 21A. The society thought it was necessary to educate its children in order to make them more aware of the societal changes that were occurring around them. It was carried out in such a way that schooling became a legal requirement for all children under the age of 14.

Public Interest Litigation

The Supreme Court provided individuals with one such vehicle, public interest litigation, in order to foster a different approach to law on the side of the people. A person representing a group of individuals can use public interest litigation to approach the court on the grounds that they are impacted by something that has to be stopped in order to avert additional suffering.

The Supreme Court has been able to narrow the scope of the locus standi by making public interest litigation available to individuals, allowing any public-spirited person to approach the court without reservation. This was a significant social reform brought about by the Indian court, demonstrating that law may be utilized to effect social change as and when necessary by society.

In a handful of occasions, public interest litigation has had a significant influence on society. The MC. Mehta v. Union of India case stands out among them all. In this public interest case, the Supreme Court was encouraged to give people with a free and healthy environment in terms of water, air, and the environment, and it was determined that these demands were inside the scope of Article 21 of the Constitution.

Child marriage

As the home of many religions, India has experienced a multitude of traditions and practices that have been legislation for many years, even if the customs or traditions were not honest and fair. Child marriage was one of these inequitable rituals that existed until the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929. This Act was revised again in 2006, becoming the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006. Child marriage is a form of one-sided exploitation of girls.

In an age when youngsters should be pursuing education, they are married to absolve parents and society of responsibility. The consequences for the youngster are serious. Because society was in need of the same, legal force was required to eradicate this social issue from society. As a result, legislation was enacted for society to obey in order to bring about social transformation.

Rape

Rape occurs as a result of the nation's worldview, not merely because of societal issues. Rape might simply be described as sexual exploitation of a person by another person for the gratification of the latter, rather than classifying it according to who does it and who suffers it in order to maintain a mainstream conversation. Only by the application of law can individuals in society alter their minds and cease committing such horrific crimes.

The number of rape incidents among women in India has increased dramatically, implying that, before educating our society's daughters, we must educate our entire body. A strong deterrent for criminals, which may also work as dread for them and make them think twice before committing such a crime, can be used to bring about a societal change through changing people's thinking.

Section 377

The Supreme Court of India struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which used to criminalize unnatural offenses, i.e., if intercourse occurs between two men or two women, it will be declared an offence under this provision, on the grounds that homosexuality is no longer an offence in the eyes of the law. In the historic case of Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, the Supreme Court decriminalize all forms of consensual intercourse among adults, including gay sex.

The Supreme Court's ruling ushered in a sea shift in Indian culture, customs, and beliefs. The majority of people, particularly the queer community, were pleased with the decision. In a sense, the Supreme Court re-established Article 21 by stating that everyone has a right to life and personal liberty that should not be limited by cultural standards.

Loopholes in the law to make a social change
We have already discussed how the law may be utilized to effect social change as well as how the law has been effective in making an influence in society. It is now vital to identify the flaws in law as a tool for bringing about social change so that these flaws may be addressed and law can function as an effective tool for bringing about social change. We've explored a number of societal concerns that have been regulated by the law but have yet to be resolved.

Because social concerns take time to resolve, the law should be strong enough to help speed up the process. Rape laws have been enacted, but the number of rapes has not decreased. Every other day, there will be a rape incidence reported in the newspaper. This clearly states that existing laws are insufficient to bring about social change. Until today, the globe has been subjected to racial and caste oppression.

Protests, mass rallies, and everything else are failing because the laws in place do not have a strong enough root to have a societal influence. Although homosexuality has entered the mainstream, few people embrace it since it contradicts societal standards. As a result, tougher law enforcement is required to address these societal challenges so that people begin to take the rules seriously and carefully.

Conclusion
Coming to the end of the debate on how law may be used as a tool for social change, it can be argued that law is already a tool for bringing about social change, and it has brought about many social changes, but it still has a long way to go in bringing about societal transformation.

References:
  • http://www.nmu.ac.in/Portals/46/SLM/LLM.PAPER-1.pdf
  • https://www.worldwidejournals.com/indian-journal-of-applied-research-
    (IJAR)/special_issues_pdf/December_2015_1453448341__45.pdf
  • https://acadpubl.eu/hub/2018-120-5/4/344.pdf
  • https://www.mbauniverse.com/group-discussion/topic/social-issues-group- discussion-topics/law-should be-instrument-social-change
  • https://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/5133/7/07_chapter%201.pdf
  • http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/1592/Law-and-Social-Change-in-India.html
  • https://www.careerride.com/view/law-can-be-an-instrument-of-social-change-12270.aspx
  • https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1501262
  • https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2016/06/27/3-discrimination-and-racial- inequality/

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