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Rule of Law (Short Notes)

April 3, 2023


In a system governed by rule of law, discretion when conferred upon executive authorities, must be confined within clearly defined limits. The rule of law from this point of view means that decisions should be made by the application of known principles and rules and in general, such decisions should be predictable and the citizen should know where he is. If a decision is taken without any principle or without any rule it is unpredictable and such a decision is the antithesis of a decision taken in accordance with the rule of law, S.G. Jaisinghani v. Union of IndiaAIR 1967 SC 1427(1967) 2 SCR 703: (1967) 1 ITJ 903: 65 ITR 34. 

The rule of law has really three basic and fundamental assumptions one is that law-making must be essentially in the hands of a democratically-elected legislature; the other is that even in the hands of a democratically-elected legislature, there should not be unfettered legislative power; and lastly there must be an independent judiciary to protect the citizen against excesses of executive and legislative power, Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab(1982) 3 SCC 241982 SCC (Cri) 535

The rule of law is not merely public order. The rule of law is social justice based on public order. The law exists to ensure proper social life. Social life, however, is not a goal in itself but a means to allow the individual to live in dignity and development himself. The human being and human rights underlie this substantive perception of the rule of law, with a proper balance among the different rights and between human rights and the proper needs of society. The substantive rule of law “is the rule of proper law, which balances the needs of society and the individual”. This is the rule of law that strikes a balance between society’s need for political independence, social equality, economic development and internal order, on the one hand and the needs of the individual, his personal liberty and his human dignity on the other. It is the duty of the Court to protect this rich concept of the rule of law. (Para 131), National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India(2014) 5 SCC 438.

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