The doctrine of Rule of law is the building block of justice delivery system in any democratic society. Laws are part and parcel of any country’s polity. It promotes peace and harmony among the citizens thus ensuring the smooth and rapid development of the society.
The principle of Rule of Law is intended to safeguard an individual interest against any arbitrary action of the government authorities. It promotes equality thus eliminating any discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, status, caste, sex, place of birth etc.
In other words, it means that Law is supreme and is above any individual (either ruler or the ruled).
Origin of Rule of Law
The concept of Rule of Law is very old. Its origin can be traced back to the thirteenth century France, when a judge in the reign of Henry III, wrote: “The king himself ought to be subject to God and the law because the law makes him king.”
But the actual credit in popularizing the doctrine of ”Rule of Law” goes to British jurist A.V. Dicey who in his classical book “Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution“ published in 1885 tried defining this concept.
According to Dicey, Rule of law consists of 3 components:
- Supremacy of Law: According to this principle, a man can only be punished if he violates the law of the land and the punishment can only be based on rule of law. In other words, there is nothing called arbitrary power or discretionary power.
- Equality before the law: According to it, all classes of people are subjected equally to the ordinary law of the land. That means, no man is above the law. Every Official of the Government just like a normal citizen has to obey the same law and there can be no special courts or special treatment for them.
- Predominance of Legal spirit: It means that the Constitution is not the source but the consequence of the rights of the individuals.
Rule of Law and India
In India, the Constitution is the source of the individual rights instead of the other way round, as was suggested by Justice A.V. Dicey. That means Predominance of Legal spirit is not a part of Indian “Rule of Law”.