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Vilas Naik asked: Does Rule of Law exist in Indian India?

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  • Rumel Dahiya replies: In legal terms there are three theoretical concepts of Rule of Law viz; Rule according to law; rule under law; or rule according to a higher law (meaning law based on universal principle of fairness, justice and equality).

    The rule of law requires the government to exercise its power in accordance with well-established and clearly written rules, regulations, and legal principles. This implies that there must be laws that govern and regulate legal, social and economic behaviour of individuals and are equally applicable to all irrespective of their social standing, political clout or material condition. The laws must be framed in an unambiguous terms and notified for every citizen to know about and understand them. In this respect, Indian laws are fairly comprehensive and modern. The problem is in implementation.
    The rule of law also requires the government to exercise its authority under the law. This requirement is sometimes explained with the phrase "no one is above the law." It is here that India measures poorly. In theory the laws are universally applicable. In practice, however, some people escape the provisions of law. They are more equal than others in this respect. The role of regulatory law enforcement agencies leave much to be desired. Occasional judicial activism and civil society pressure result in cases being taken up but slow judicial process and weakness of prosecution mechanisms results in influential people walking away free. On the other hand, some innocents or those accused of minor infringements of law are treated unfairly.

    A conundrum is presented when the government acts in strict accordance with well-established and clearly defined legal rules and still produces a result that many observers consider unfair or unjust. All written laws must conform with universal principles of morality, fairness, and justice. In this respect one can say that our laws are fairly egalitarian and liberal and are by and large framed in modern context. However, the administrative practices make a mockery of the moral interpretation of law. The discretionary powers with the political masters and the bureaucracy is most often exercised in a manner that the disadvantaged are still more disadvantaged and those with influence benefit at the cost of others. The only remedy lies in people demanding their rights more forcefully. The following links will make the issue clearer still.;