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Rule of Law UPSC NOTE

 What is rule of law?

  • The rule of law is a fundamental principle and ideal in governance,

  • This often defined as a system where everyone, from individuals to the most powerful institutions, is accountable to the same set of laws. 

  • It's not just about having laws, but about applying them fairly and consistently to everyone, regardless of their status or position.

key characteristics of the rule of law:

  1. Equality before the lawEveryone is subject to the same laws, regardless of their

wealth, power, or social background. No one is above the law.

  1. Clarity and predictability of the law: Laws should be clear, concise, and accessible to everyone. Individuals should be able to understand their rights and obligations under the law.

  2. Accountability of governmentThe government and its officials must be accountable to the law, just like everyone else. This means there are mechanisms in place to ensure that they follow the law and can be held liable for any violations.

  3. Independent judiciary: There should be an independent judiciary that is free from political

interference and can impartially apply the law to all cases.

  • Access to justice: Everyone should have equal access to justice, regardless of their means. This means they should be able to afford legal representation and have their cases heard in a fair and impartial manner.

  • The rule of law is vital for building a just and stable society. It promotes fairness, protects individual rights, and reduces the risk of arbitrary government power. 

  • It also provides a predictable environment for businesses and investors, fostering economic growth and development.

Credibility crisis facing the rule of law in India

  • We all accept and agree about the integrity of the rule of law for a democratic development.

  • Scholars have already identified and underscored the Rule of Law Index as an essential component of the national vision for development in the Viksit Bharat journey

  • The real credibility crisis of the rule of law is located not so much at the normative level but at the level of the rule of law reality that is constituted by the perception and experiences of the consumers of the law.

  • The victim and the victimiser, the enforcers of the law — the policeman, the courts....Above all.

  • The perceptions and the experiences of those who exercise overall command on the rule of law. 

  • The ‘command group’, that in the contemporary context is constituted by the majoritarian will, decide the ways in which the rule of law is to be understood and used as a power resource.

  • Policing, through encounters, and now policing through ‘bulldozers’, has gained currency to replace ‘investigation’, which involved visiting a scene of crime, interrogation of witnesses, arrest, search and seizure. 

  • The encounter and bulldozer methods evoke populist support and appreciation from the administration. 

  • But because these shortcuts are neither adequately debated nor subjected to pre-determined democratic checks and balances, there exist huge possibilities of their gross abuse at the ground level

  • We need to learn from two examples of abuse which led to suffering

  • The shooting of a young car mechanic of Algerian descent led to large-scale violence in several cities in France resulting in police action against

thousands of youth mostly of Arab and black origin. 

  • Example was the custodial torture and civilian deaths in the course of security force action and inquiry after the ambush of Army vehicles in Poonch district. 

  • The allegations of custodial violence speak of a brutal, unacceptable high-handedness by the security forces. 

Importance of maintaining a credible and fair rule of law system in India 

  • The essential condition for the continued trust in the rule of law is the faith in the inherent

“goodness” or desirability of the “norm” that sets the boundaries between the right and wrong. 

  • We are all taught about the virtues of a “norm”-abiding life. 

  • In the modern secular context we are told to respect the fundamental norm, the Constitution of India. 

  • Even the father of the nation, M.K. Gandhi, considered the normative raison d’etre sacrosanct

  • For him, a duly enacted law needed to be respected. 

  • But he also said that it was the moral duty of a citizen to oppose an unjust law by all democratic means.

  • The Dandi March, a mass civil disobedience movement undertaken by Gandhi against the salt tax, set an example for the respect for “norms” when he agreed to be willingly subjected to criminal proceedings for breaking the law

  • But, today, the rule of law faces a new credibility crisis and the normative raison d’etre subjected to disillusionments of, at least, two kinds

  • The first is those arising out of the out-datedness or infirmities in the law/laws

  • The second, those arising out of an altered perception of law itself that treats law as a “power resource”, which can be moulded as per the social requirements.

  • As a part of smart governance, the present government has addressed the problem of infirmities and out-datedness in laws by suitable amendments in the laws and their updation to a large extent. 

  • After a detailed identification of the problematic laws, in the first phase, the Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provision) Act, 2023 was passed to bring about changes in 42 central Acts of varied

genre, ranging from the Indian Post Office Act, 1898, the Railways Act, 1989, and the Cinematograph Act, 1952.

  • In the second phase, the colonial period Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 were replaced by the Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita and the Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill, 2023, respectively

  • These new Indian penal laws have been envisaged to shed the colonial law legacy and, at the same time, rid the penal laws of infirmities and update them to modern thinking in the field. 


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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Rule of Law UPSC NOTE
Rule of Law UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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