Rule of law is a new “lingua franca” of global moral thought and the pinnacle of human civilisation and culture. It is a fundamental principle of constitutionalism as well as a quality of good government and democracy.
The French word “la principe de legalite,” which translates to “the principle of legality,” is the source of the English phrase “rule of law.” “A government based on principles of law and not of men,” is what is meant by this. ‘La Principe de legalite’ is an idea that opposes the exercise of arbitrary power.
It is a legal concept with broad application that has the approval of authorities. It is typically written in the form of a maxim or logical assertion termed a “Rule,” because it serves as a standard or norm for their judgement in ambiguous or unforeseeable situations. The rule of law, also referred to as “the supremacy of law,” states that judgements should be determined by using established rules or laws without the use of discretion.
The idea of the rule of law has a long history. It is a timeless ideal that was addressed by Plato and Aristotle in the early days of Greek philosophy, approximately 350 BC. “Where the law is subject to some other authority and has none of its own, in my view, the collapse of the state is not far off,” wrote Plato.
“However, if law is the master of the government and the government is its slave, then the situation is full of promise and men enjoy all the blessings that the gods shower on a state.” The idea of the Rule of Law was also supported by Aristotle, who stated that “law should govern and those in power should be servants of the laws.”
This idea is credited to Sir Edward Coke in the UK, who asserted that the king must be subject to both God and the law and so upheld the rule of law’s superiority over administrative pretensions. This idea was later expanded by Professor Albert Venn Dicey.
He was a free-thinker. At the end of England’s golden age of laissez-faire during the Victorian era, he wrote about the idea of the rule of law. Because of this, Dicey’s idea of the rule of law included the idea that political officials would not have extensive powers. Where there is discretion, he claims, there is room for arbitrariness.
The Upanishad in India is where the idea of the rule of law first appeared. According to this, the law is king of all monarchs. It surpasses the monarchs in strength and rigidity. Nothing is more important than the law. The weak will defeat the mighty thanks to its power, and justice will win out.
Thus, the idea of law evolved in monarchies to regulate the use of arbitrary power by the rulers who claimed divine authority to rule. In a democracy, the idea has taken on a new meaning, and it now requires those in positions of authority to be able to openly defend their use of their positions as morally and legally appropriate.
The Rule of Law is a strong and evolving notion that, like many others, defies precise description. This does not imply, however, that there is no consensus over the fundamental principles it stands for. The phrase “rule of law” is used to contrast with “rule of man” and “rule by law.”
Even with the most authoritarian types of administration, there are laws that restrict how the government’s powers are used, but this does not imply that the rule of law is present.
As a result, the term “Rule of Law” refers to a system of law that is certain, regular, and predictable and is based on the ideals of freedom, equality, non-discrimination, fraternity, accountability, and non-arbitrariness. Rule of law is desirable in this regard.
Natural law has a modern name for it. Man has always made an appeal to something greater than his own creation from the beginning of time. Roman jurists referred to it as “jus naturale.” The ‘law of god’ was what Medievalists referred to it as. Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau referred to it as a “social contract” or “natural law,” and modern people refer to it as the “Rule of law.”
The following are some of the components of the rule of law:
Every member of society, including government officials and law enforcement officers, is subject to the law. Every government agency and official may be subject to the ultra vires doctrine by the court for actions that go beyond their legal jurisdiction.
Additionally, a person can only be penalised for breaking an already-existing rule or regulation; never for breaking a law that did not yet exist at the time the offence was committed.
No matter a person’s race, class, level of money, religion, or other characteristics, courts must treat them all equally. Every accused individual should have the right to a fair trial, be informed of the allegations against him, have the chance to refute the charge against him, and have the conduct of the case evaluated by fair judges.
A system with regular, transparent, and steady procedure is characterised by formality and logic. It is also characterised by high predictability and low discretion. The benefit of such a system is that it exhibits constant, measurable behaviour.
Every judge should be free to make decisions without being subjected to any unlawful influences, inducements, or pressures, and the judiciary should be apart from the legislative and executive branches. To reduce the likelihood of power abuse, a government’s authority should be divided among three separate branches with sufficient checks and balances.
All state officials are required to always behave in conformity with the law, and no governmental action should ever be despotic, tyrannical, arbitrary, or unlawful.