Law: Meaning, Nature and Characteristics
Meaning of law
Law is a collection of rules imposed by authority. It is a relation of individual with one another. This relation affects the social and economic order. It is a body of rule of conduct. This is the way that a court uses to make a decision. It is a regulation established by a community, society or nation by some authority and applicable to all people living under it. It influences the political, economic and social system of every civilized society. It affects every person directly or indirectly and regulates practically for every known human activity. It is those rules and principles that govern and regulate social conduct which can be enforced in the court. It operates to regulate the action of a person. It is enforced for maintaining peace, security, and justice in the state. Law is correlated with justice. It is not static, it is dynamic in nature and will be changed as per the requirement of the state.
Law can be either public or private. Public law is concerned with the public or it looks public as a whole and this is divided into three class such as constitution law, administrative law, and criminal law. Similarly, private law concerns to the individual. It is separated into such special fields as a contract of agencies, sales, negotiable instruments, etc. These areas generally pertain to the business sector.
According to Hooker, "Law refers to any kind of rule or cannon whereby actions are framed."
According to Salmond, "Law is the body of principles recognized and applied by the state in the administration justice."
According to Austin,"Law is a rule of conduct imposed and enforced by the state."
Black’s Law Dictionary: A rule or method according to which phenomena or actions co-exist or follow each other.
According to Justinian, "Law is the king of all mortal and immortal affairs..“
Ulpian defined law as “the art of science of what is equitable and good."
Black Stone says, "Law in it's most general and comprehensive sense, signifies a rule of action, and is applied indiscriminately to all kind of actions whether animate or inanimate, rational or irrational"
A state is sovereign. Sovereignty is exclusive and most important element of the nation. It is the supreme power of the state over all its people and territories who are living under it. The state exercises its sovereign power through its laws. The Government of the State (those who are selected by the people living in that state) is basically machinery for making and enforcing laws. Each law is a formulated will of the state. It is backed by the sovereign power of the State. It is a command of the state (sovereign) backed by its coercive power. Every violation of law is punished by the state.
Nature of law
Law is the result of continuous effort through a workable set of rules in the society. It is not pure science based upon unchanging and universal truth. It affects every activity of the individual. The nature of law are as follows:
- Justice is an aim of Law- Justice is always provided through law. The law means to provide justice to people.
- Create a peaceful and harmonious relation between people living under society-Law is made for keeping peace and harmonious relation by providing security.
- The law is pervasive (spreading or spread throughout)- Every person is presumed to know it.
- It regulates human activities- It regulates human behavior in three ways: Prohibitory, mandatory and permissive.
- Ignorance of law is not excused.
- It is a set of rules which is set by the state.
- It regulates the human conduct.
- It is created and maintained by the state.
- It has the certain amount of stability, fixity and uniformity.
- It is backed by coercive authority.
- Its violation leads to punishment.
- It is the expression of the will of the people and is generally written down to give it definiteness.
- It is related to the concept of 'sovereignty' which is the most important element of the state.
Ignorance of Law is not excuse
'Ignorance of Law is not excused' is derived from a latin word which means every people living under a society/community must have knowledge of the law. A person who is unaware of law can't escape from the law. A person who is unaware of the law, can't escape from his/her liabilities in case of violating the law of the state. This principle states that everyone must follow the law of the state no matter even he/she is not aware of the law. For an example, a person who is running his business activities without the permission of a state will be penalized by a state. It doesn't matter whether a person knows about the law or not. It doesn't matter whether he is aware or not. The state will penalize the person. He/she will be punished according to law. Therefore, ignorance of law is not excused.
Types of Law
There are two main kinds of law. They are:-
- National law
- International law
1. National Law
The body of rules which regulates the actions of the people in society and it is backed by the coercive power of the State. There are two types of national law and they are,
i. Constitutional Law
Constitutional Law is the supreme law of the country/state. It stands written in the Constitution of the State/country. The Constitutional Law lays down the organization, powers, functions and inter-relationship of the three organs of government. It also lays down the relationship between the people and the government as well as the rights, freedoms (fundamental rights) and duties of the citizens. It can be called the law of the laws of the country in the sense that all law-making in the state is done on the basis of powers granted by the Constitutional Law i.e. the Constitution.
ii. Ordinary Law:
It is also called the national law or the municipal law. It is made by the government (legislature) and it determines and regulates the conduct and behavior of the people. It lays down the relations among the people and their associations, organizations, groups, and institutions. The legislature makes laws, the executive implements these and judiciary interprets and applies these to specific cases.
2. International Law
The International Law is the body of rules which guides and directs the behavior of the states in international relations. It is backed by their willingness and consent that the states obey rules of International Law. It is the law of nations and is not backed by any coercive power.
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- Law is a result of continuous effort through a workable set of rules in the society.
- Justice is always provided through law. The law is a means to provide justice to people.
- Law is made for keeping peace and harmony relation by providing security.
- Law regulates human behavior in three ways:Prohibitory, mandatory, and permissive.
- Law is related to the concept of 'sovereignty' which is the most important element of the state.
- 'Ignorance of Law is not excused' means every people living under a society community must have knowledge of the law. A person who is unaware of the law, can't escape from his/her liabilities in case of violating the law of a state.
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