Law | Characteristics of Laws | Classifications of Law | Sources of Laws | Rule of Law in Civic Life


Law is a Persian word that has specific rules and regulations. The English meaning of this word is 'Law'. Law is used equally everywhere. The scholars have defined law in many ways.

Aristotle says, "the expression of logic and reason in a society is the law."

According to Professor Holland, 'Law is that general rule which controls people's and applied and established by the supreme authority'.

According to lawyer Samond, 'Laws are some set rules designed by the state to implement justice'.

Law determines the relationship between one with other individuals, between individuals and the state and between states. In short, the law means the accepted rules of the society approved by the state that controls the external gesture of the people. Laws are made for the welfare of the people. Laws are enacted and applied by the state or sovereign authority. Violation of the law is liable to punishment.

Characteristics of Laws

Some fundamental characteristics of law are noticed. They are discussed below:

1) Statutory rules: Laws are the collection of some customs, norms and rules.

2) Related to external behaviour: Laws control the external gesture and activities. For example - if one defies the law, he gets punished. It keeps a man abstain from doing crime for fear of punishment.

3) State approval and recognition: The rules and regulations approved by the state are made into laws. In other words, the state has the authority to make laws.

4) Savior of individual freedom: The law acts as the savior of the individual's freedom. For this reason, the law is called the foundation of an individual's freedom.

5) Universal: The law is universal. To the eyes of the law, all men are equal. The law is applied equally irrespective of caste, religion, race, tribe, gender, rich and poor.

6) Clear: The law will inevitably clear or else the innocent might be harmed.

7) Changeable: The law will be changeable in terms of nation and time.

Classification of law

The classifications of law are not certain. Many scholars have given various opinions about this.

Professor Holland classifies law in two types:

1) Private law,

2) Government law

According to professor American socilogts RM McIver, laws are of two kinds -

1) National law, 2) International law.

He divides national law in two ways.

a) Constitutional law

b) General law.

Laws are six kinds according to origin -

1. Constitutional law

2. General law

3. Custom based general law

4. Laws formed by the Departmental Officer

5. Administrative law

6. International law

Laws are generally three kinds -

1. Public law

2. Private law

3. International law

1. Public Law: The laws enacted and applied by the government are called government laws. To run the state, many kinds of laws have to form and implement. The parliament formulates state - related laws. Public laws are as follows -

a) Criminal laws: To carry out the judiciary's role, these kinds of laws are enacted. If an individual's rights are violated, his or her rights are protected by this law. Criminal law has been applied to maintain law and order of society, keep the peace, ensure individual rights, and give punishment.

b) Administrative laws: These laws are enacted to manage organizations of the state and ensure services to the people and control the activities associated with these.

2. Private law: Despite the law is not formulated by the state, accepted by the society. The law is enacted and enforced to protect the relationship between individual to individual and maintain society's discipline for example the law about agreement and deeds.

3. International laws: The laws made and applied to maintain relations with one state with other states are called international laws. International laws are dealing with how states will behave one another, how one state deals with a citizen of other states, and finally, how international crises can be solved.

Sources of Laws

There are several sources of laws. These sources are described below:

Customs: Rules that have been in vogue in a society for a long time are called customs. Before the emergence of the state, people's behaviour was controlled by customs. After the emergence of the state, customs that received state approval turned into laws. Many laws in the United Kingdom have been created based on customs.

Religion: Religious edicts and scriptures are one of the sources of laws. Every religion has its own rules to be followed by its adherents. These edicts help to administer social life beautifully and in a disciplined way. As a result, many aspects of these religious edicts have become laws by state approval. For example- Muslim laws, Hindu laws etc. In our country, family laws and laws related to property have been issued from the said two religions.

Books of legal experts: When we read English stories, novels or newspapers, we consult with English dictionaries or encyclopedias to find out the meaning of an unknown world. Similarly, when judges found it challenging to give their judgements, they sought help from other legal experts' commentaries. These judgements later became laws. For example, 'Law of the Constitution' by Professor Dicey and 'Commentaries on the Laws of England' by Blackstone.

Judgements: When judges find it difficult to give their judgements using an existing law, they depend on their intellect and conscience to interpret the prevailing law and thus give a new judgement. Other judges as laws later follow these judgements.

So, judgements are sources of laws.

Sense of Justice: Sometimes, no law exists to judge a case in court. In that case judges resolve these cases by using their sense of justice. Later on, these become laws.

Legislature: In modern times, the legislature is the primary source of laws. In keeping with public opinion, legislatures of different countries enact laws, amend old laws suitable to the changing context.

Rule of Law in Civic Life

The rule of law means nobody is above the law. Everybody is subjected to the law. In other words, everybody is deemed equal in the eyes of the law. The opportunity to get equal treatment for all the people in the eyes of the law is said to be the rule of law.

Supremacy of law means everybody is subordinate to law. Equality by law is understood as people get the opportunity to be treated as equal regardless of their identities such as nationality, religion, gender and profession. As a result, the rich and poor, the weak and the strong, get equal rights. If the priority of the rule of law persists, the government shall refrain from abusing laws and the people shall abide by legal regulations.

The importance of the rule of law is unlimited. Anarchy arises in society from the absence of laws. Civic freedom, democracy, social values, equality do not exist in society where the rule of law is absent. The rule fo law is a must for establishing equality, freedom and fundamental rights.

The rule of law creates a good relationship between rulers and the ruled. Government becomes stable and peace is established in the state. Suspicions, movements and revolutions become inevitable in their absence. Disorder and conflict weaken the firm basis of society. The differences between the rich and the poor, the weak and the strong take deeper root in society.

Therefore, the rule of law is necessary for social equality, civic rights, a democratic society and stable state system. The rule of law is an indicator of a civilized society.

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