This post is contributed by Vohra Mahee Ashish, Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad
I. Meaning – Every person is considered equal before the law. This concept contradicts autocracy and dictatorship.It maintains law and order and also peace and harmony in the society.
It is derived from the french principle- “La Principle De Legality” which means principle of law.
II. Origin – In 13th Century, Justice Bracton introduced the concept of rule of law without naming it rule of law. He said that law is supreme and even kings are governed by it.
Sir Edward Coke – He is the originator of the concept of “Rule of Law”.He said that everyone is in the control of the god and law.
Dicey’s theory of Rule of law- He made the concept of rule of law very popular. His theory has three concepts-
- Absence of arbitrary power/ Supremacy of law
- Equality before law.
- Predominance of the law of the land.
a) Absence of arbitrary power/Supremacy of law – It says that everyone must be treated equally.Article 14 of the constitution deals with it.Irrespective of cast, creed, race, religion, gender, place of birth , everyone is equal in the eyes of law.
b) Equality before law – Article 14 of the constitution of India talks about it.
Difference between equality & equity – Equal should be treated equally and unequal should not be treated equally.
c) Predominance of law of land – The Third meaning of the rule of law is that the general principles of the constitution are the result of juridical decisions determining file rights of private persons in particular cases brought before the Court.
Basics points to remember in Delhi Declaration, 1959–
- The importance of rule of law in Individual liberty- It means that the state should not pass laws that do not affect people generally. It should not interfere with people’s religion and it should also not impose unnecessary restrictions.
- The importance of the rule of law in the Criminal Justice Administration – It means that no one should be arrested without the authority of law. It should follow the concept of presumption of innocence until proven guilty. It should provide legal aid and should have a fair hearing.
- The importance of the rule of law in the Judicial Process – There should be independence of the judiciary and it should also maintain professional ethics.
Exceptions in Rule of Law-
- Private person do not have the same powers as public officials.
- Existence of specific acts affecting only a particular group of individuals. For example- Advocates Act, Arms Act etc.
Professor Joseph Raz, Postulates of Rule of law-
- Law and its applicability should be general and should be prospective and not retrospective.
- Law should be stable and not change frequently.
- There should be clear rules and procedure for making laws.
- Independence of judiciary has to be guaranteed ( Provided under Article 50 ).
- Principle of Natural Justice should be followed. i.e, Audi alterum Partum and Rule against bias.
- Court should have the power to use judicial review.
- Court should be accessible to everyone.
- If admin officer use discretion, it should be fair and reasonable.
Case Laws – B.P. Singhal Vs UOI (2010) – In this case, it was held that supreme polity of rule of law is to maintain fairness and reasonableness. The government should not use their arbitrarily or encroach the rights and interests of People.
Subramaniam Swamy Vs. Director CBI (2014) – In this case it was held that , Criminal justice system mandates any investigation in the crime should be fair and in accordance to law and it should not be tainted.
Glanrock Estate Pvt. Ltd Vs. State of TamilNadu (2010) – In this case, It was held that Rule of Law is closely interrelated to the concept of seperation of power, equality , liberty and judicial review.
Here is a link to another topic on Administrative law-