INTRODUCTION: Rule of law in simplest terms means law rules, that is, law is supreme. The term ‘Rule of law’ is derived from the French phrase “la principle de legalite” (the principle of legality) which means a government on principle of law and not of men. Rule of Law is a viable and dynamic concept and, like many other concepts, is not capable of any exact definition. It is used in contradistinction to rule of man. Sir Edward Coke, the Chief Justice in King James I’s reign is said to be the originator of this principle.
Rule of Law, although studied as an abstract legal concept, has enormous value in its practical implications. Its flexibility to provide a just fair and reasonable order is undeniable. Gradually with passage of time it has transformed its shades and colours from natural Law to the Modern Rule of law and with passage of time its significance is becoming more evident as a tool of governance. It’s an effective tool in curbing the misuse of the power hands of State. Rule of law today is synonymous with the principles of justness, fairness and reasonableness.
He suggested that a rule can only become ‘law’ only if it has has appropriate moral dimensions. Besides, laws which are opposed to the divine plan, such as the laws of tyrants inducing to ‘idolatry’, must not be observed. This is because our duty is to obey
Natural law theory states that there are laws that are immanent in nature and the man made laws should correspond as closely as possible. Man can’t produce natural laws but he can find and discover through his reasoning. If a law is contrary to a natural law then it is not a law. Laws should be related to morality. It is a concept of a body of moral principal that is same for all the man and it can only be find through human reasoning alone.
If the law lacks morality, and principles that ensure justice, and fairness is it even a law at all? . Yes it may be in a book of laws, signed by congress, and enforced by superiors, but the question still remains is a law actually a law if it doesn’t ensure the best interest of all people ? . Is a unjust law one that doesn’t bind lawmakers to obey ?.
Throughout the history of mankind, society has defined itself by law and the order that law creates. “Laws are the binding rules of conduct or action which the vast majority of the society has to abide”. Justice on the other hand is rather an abstract concept. There is no right or wrong definition of justice, but is rather agreed upon the concept of being fair and equal. Many would assume that the sole purpose of law is to establish justice, which seems like a wonderful philosophical theory but is slightly difficult to follow.
Without morality, law does not exist because it does not contain real justice. Real justice is following natural and moral law in how a person punishes and acts. Natural law is instilled into the hearts of men by God and provides a means of deciphering right from wrong. It can be “discovered by reason alone and applies to all people, while divine law can be discovered only through God 's special revelation and applies only to those to whom it is revealed and who God specifically indicates are to be bound.”12 Though one may not believe in divine or moral law, natural law can still be used to determine justice from injustice. Many do not understand that natural law and civil law are both branches of moral law, and when either are used, moral law is being referenced.
Although the existence of moral obligation cannot be denied, the question as to whether we have moral obligation to legal norms is controversial. It seems quite true that there is no moral obligation to obey a law simply because it is a law. However, I agree that laws have an important function of social stability and order, in determining what is just and moral. This also brings cases where certain action is not immoral in itself, but laws could make it so. I was especially persuaded by the Raz's claim that the reasons for obeying the law must come from the reasons for having that law.
Common law, like many early legal systems, did not originally consist of human rights but of procedural remedies. The use of these remedies, overtime, created the modern system in which rights are seen as primary over procedure. It was not until the 19th century, that English common law continued to be developed by judges rather than being created by legislators. The doctrine of judicial precedent involves the application of the doctrine of binding judicial precedent, stare decisis. This means that inferior courts are bound to follow the legal principles set out by superior courts in earlier cases.
Indeed in Plato’s ideal republic the state’ laws are replaced by the “philosopher king’s” law. These philosopher kings were to be trained and would do so through rationally perceived dictates of ultimate virtue. They would cease to be encumbered by the various legal forms but instead become characterised by wisdom and be accepted through its very excellence. The closest Plato nears to the concept of natural law theory is in the Republic whereby he analogises health, as the natural order of the body, and justice as the natural order of things within the state, and in his discussion of the formal idea of justice as “just by nature” and finally in Laws, in which the Athenian Stranger, discussing how one would establish a state in which laws have a greater power than the rulers, proposes to speak about divine law which would supply the need for a governing higher