Here you will find the Essay on “Rule of Law” for CSS, PMS, and Judiciary Examination. Rule of Law means “the rule of law is a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions, and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws“. But it is also a truth that the definition of rule of law is different in every country according to that country’s political conditions.
Essay on “Rule of Law”
The rule of law is an ancient ideal first posited by Plato as grounded in divine reason and so inherent in the natural order. It continues to be important as a normative ideal, even as legal scholars struggle to define it. The concept of impartial rule of law is found in the Chinese political philosophy of legalism, but the totalitarian nature of the regime that this produced had a profound effect on Chinese political thought which at least rhetorically emphasized personal moral relations over impersonal legal ones. Although Chinese emperors were not subject to law, in practice they found it necessary to act according to regular procedures for reasons of statecraft.
The rule of law is an ambiguous term that can mean different things in different contexts.
In one context the term means rule according to law. No an individual can be ordered by the government to pay civil damages or suffer criminal punishment except in strict accordance with well-established and clearly defined laws and procedures.
In a second context, the term means rule under law. No branch of government is above the law, and no public official may act arbitrarily or unilaterally outside the law. In a third context, the term means rule according to a higher law. No written law· may be enforced by the government unless it conforms to certain unwritten, universal principles of fairness, morality, and justice that transcend human legal systems.
The rule of law requires the government to exercise its power in accordance with well-established and clearly written rules, regulations, and legal principles. A distinction is sometimes drawn between power, will, and force on the one hand, and law on the other. When a government official acts pursuant to an express provision of a written law, he acts within the rule of law. But when a government official acts without the imprimatur of any law, she does so by the sheer force of her will and power.
Under the rule of law, no person may be prosecuted for an act that is not punishable by law. When the government seeks to punish someone for an offense that was not deemed criminal at the time it was committed, the rule of law is violated because the government exceeds its legal authority to punish. The rule of law requires that government impose liability- only insofar as the law will allow. Government exceeds its authority_ when a person is held to answer for an act that was leg·a11y permissible at the outset but was retroactively made illegal.
For similar reasons, the rule of law is abridged when the government attempts to punish someone for violating a vague or poorly worded law. Ill-defined laws confer too much discretion upon government officials who are charged with the responsibility of prosecuting individuals for criminal wrongdoing. The more prosecutorial decisions are based on the personal discretion of a government official, the less they are based on law.
Well-established and clearly defined laws allow individuals, businesses, and other entities to govern their behavior accordingly. Before the government may impose civil or criminal liability, a law must be written with sufficient precision and clarity that a person of ordinary intelligence will know that certain conduct is forbidden. When a court is asked to shut down a paint factory that is emitting pollutants at an illegal rate, for example, the rule of law requires the government to demonstrate that the factory owner failed to operate the business in accordance with publicly known environmental standards.
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.”
Under the Constitution, no single branch of government in Pakistan is given unlimited power. The authority granted to one branch of government is limited by the authority granted to the coordinate branches and by the Bill of Rights, federal statutory provisions, and historical practice. The power of any single branch of government is similarly restrained at the state level.
A clash 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. Before the Civil War, for example, African Americans were systematically deprived. of their freedom by carefully written codes that prescribed the rules and regulations between master and slave. Even though these slave codes were often detailed, unambiguous, and made known to the public, government enforcement of them produced unsavory results.
The rule of law is a concept as old as Western civilization itself. In classical Greece, Aristotle wrote that “law should be the final sovereign; and personal rule, whether it be exercised by a single person or a body of persons should be sovereign in only those matters which law is unable, owing to the difficulty of framing general rules for all contingencies.” In 1215 Magna Charta reined in the corrupt and whimsical rule of King John by declaring that government should not proceed except in accordance with the law of the land.
The rule of law is the principle that governmental authority is legitimately exercised only in accordance with written, publicly disclosed laws adopted and enforced in accordance with the established procedure. The the principle is intended to be a safeguard against arbitrary governance.
In continental European legal thinking, rule of law is associated with a Rechtsstaat. According to Anglo-American thinking, hallmarks of adherence to the rule of law commonly
include a clear separation of powers, legal certainty, the principle of legitimate expectation and equality of all before the law.
The concept is not uncontroversial, and it has been said,
“the phrase ‘the Rule of Law’ has become meaningless thanks to ideological abuse and general over-use”
In Commonwealth law, the most famous exposition of the concept of rule of law was laid down by Albert Venn Dicey in his Law of the Constitution.
“The rule of law is a political principle the classic exposition of which is in Dicey Law of the Constitution. Dicey identified three principles, which together establish the rule of law:
- The absolute supremacy or predominance of regular law as opposed to the influence of arbitrary power.
- Equality before the law or the equal subjection of all classes to the ordinary law of the land administered by the ordinary courts; and
- The law of the constitution is a consequence of the rights of individuals as defined and enforced by the courts.” The concept “rule of law” is generally associated with several other concepts, such as:
Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali – No ex post facto laws (Latin word, No crime can be committed, no punishment can be imposed without complete trial of courts (having been proscribed by a previous penal law) is a basic maxim in continental legal thinking.
Presumption of innocence – All individuals are “presumed innocent until proven otherwise”
Double jeopardy – Individuals may only be punished once for every specific crime committed. Retrials may or may not be permitted on the grounds of new evidence.
Legal equality -All individuals are given the same rights without distinction to their social stature, religion, political opinions, etc. That is, as Montesquieu would have it, “law should be like death, which spares no one.”
Habeas corpus in full habeas corpus ad subjiciendum, a Latin term meaning, “you must have the body to be subjected (to examination)”. A person who is arrested has the right to be told what crimes he or she is accused of and to request that his or her custody be reviewed by the judicial authority. Persons unlawfully imprisoned have to be freed.
Eight Sub-rules of the Rule of Law
Sir David William’s Lecture in Cambridge, Lord Bingham of Cornhill postulated eight sub-rules of the rule of law in his speech on 16 November 2006:
- The law must be accessible and so far as possible intelligible, clear, and predictable
- Questions of legal right and liability should ordinarily be resolved by application of the law and not the exercise of discretion
- The laws of the land should apply equally to all, save to the extent that objective differences justify differentiation
- The law must afford adequate protection of fundamental human rights
- Means must be provided for resolving, without prohibitive cost or inordinate delay, bona fide civil disputes which the parties themselves are unable to resolve
- Ministers and public officers at all levels must exercise the powers conferred on them reasonably, in good faith, for the purpose for which the powers were conferred and without exceeding the limits of such powers
- Adjudicative procedures provided by the state should be fair
- The state must comply with its obligations in international law, the law which whether deriving from the treaty or international custom and practice governs the conduct of nations.
The concept of “rule of law” per se says nothing of the “justness” of the laws themselves, but simply how the legal system upholds the law. As a consequence of this, a very undemocratic nation or one without respect for human rights can exist with or without a “rule of law”, a situation which many argue is applicable to several modern dictatorships. However, the “rule of law” or Rechtsstat is considered a prerequisite for democracy, and as such, has served as a common basis for human rights discourse between countries.
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