Morality in Rule of Law
By: Anjali Tiwari
Rule of Law
It is the mechanism that promotes all citizens' equality before the law. It also ensures a non-arbitrary structure of government and particularly prohibits the exercise of authority in arbitrary ways. The legal constraint on rulers indicates that the government, like its citizens, is bound by existing laws. Rule of law refers to government based on laws rather than the humor, whims, or caprices of the persons entrusted with it for the time being. The rule of law is based on three basic and fundamental assumptions: one, that lawmaking must primarily be in the hands of a democratically elected legislature; two, that even in the hands of a democratically elected legislature, there should not be unrestricted legislative power, because, as Jefferson put it, "Let no man be trusted with power but tie him down from making mischief by the chains of the Constitution; and third, that there must be an independent judiciary to protect the rule of law."
A necessary feature of the rule of law is that it must not be arbitrary or irrational, and that it must pass the test of reason, which the democratic form of governance strives to achieve by holding the law's makers accountable to the people.
There is a denial of the rule of law wherever we see arbitrariness or unreasonableness. That is why Aristotle advocated a government based on the rule of law above one based on the rule of men. In the context of the rule of law, the term "law" does not refer to any statute established by the legislative authorities, regardless of how arbitrary or tyrannical it may be.
A.V. Dicey, a British jurist, published the Doctrine of Rule of Law in 1885, in which he articulated three separate but related notions in Rule of Law:
1) There is no such thing as arbitrary power: no one is above the law. Except for violations of law established in an ordinary legal manner before ordinary tribunals, no one is penalized by the government solely by its own fiat.
2) Equality before the law: Everyone, regardless of position or circumstance, is subject to the ordinary law and the courts' jurisdiction. There is no one who is above the law.
3) Individual Liberties: The general principles of the British Constitution, and particularly individual liberties, are judge-made, that is, they are the outcome of judicial decisions deciding the rights of private individuals in specific cases brought before the courts from time to time.
Morality, on the other hand, is concerned only with the conscience of society's citizens in determining whether or not a certain act is right or wrong, good or terrible. Morality is frequently used as a criterion for assessing our own interests.
In Confucian thought, morality relates to personal values, rules for coordinating interpersonal interactions, and strategies to administer a country, among other things. A system of standards for behavior is known as moral law. These rules may or may not be part of a religion, be written down, or be legally binding. Moral law is equated with heavenly commandments by some. Others view moral law to be a set of universal rules that everyone should adhere to. Natural law and God's teachings through sacred scriptures are frequently cited as sources of morality. Morality can be religious or moral, making it a very personal idea.
Morality in Rule of Law
Both laws and constitutions, according to Ronald Dworkin, are inextricably linked to political and moral ideals. The law is not logically deduced from real moral principles. Rather, it is constructed by legislatures that agree on public laws fashioned by a political consensus on what is right and wrong. Morality and the rule of law have a tight relationship since morality is a complement to the rule of law. At the same time, it should be regarded as a haphazard connection between the two, as laws are developed and shaped by a legal consensus of right and wrong, not by moral principles. Even if morality has a role in the creation and modification of laws, it is never legally binding and has no constitutional value.
When morality prioritizes the moral ideals and consciences of the state's subjects, rule of law prioritizes the supremacy of law. For example, a man has no obligation to help a beggar or the distressed, and he can ignore his ailing and elderly parents without fear of legal or penal penalties, but morality forbids this because it amounts to bad behavior condemned by morals and ethics. It is a controversial truth that laws have a tangential beginning in the morals and ethics derived in the civilization that initially regulated people's behavior, but morality alone cannot be the basis for law. Morality and the rule of law have both evolved in response to the evolution of society, which is a valid assertion. In another case, a person who commits a murder may be acquitted by a court under current laws and justified by the court, but this does not provide moral justice to the deceased's loved ones.
As a result, morality only has a minor role in the rule of law, despite the fact that it is strongly contradictory to it.
When a large number of jurists claim that morality and law are distinct, a variety of jurists put them on the same level. However, law and morality interact, react, and change one another. Morals have invaded the fabric of law in the name of justice, equality, good faith, and conscience. When it comes to establishing laws, interpreting them, and exercising judicial authority, moral considerations are crucial. The existence of morality in the rule of law is a highly debatable matter, because on one hand, the law, whose supremacy is greatly praised in the rule of law, is derived from morals, while on the other hand, the same morals are only partially adapted in the implementation or application of such law.