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Doctrine of Rule of law – No one is above law

Recently a news wide spread regarding police brutality in Tamil Nadu. A man with his family committed suicide due to the torture and harassment. The constable was charged for abetment to suicide. In this situation, the question of rule of law has been raised. Apart from this, in Vikas Dubey Case, question of rule of law was raised. India has witnessed fake encounters, police brutality, discriminations, mob lynching and every time question of rule of law has been raised. But what is Rule of Law? What does it mean? 

The word rule of law originated from the French phrase “le principe de legalite” which means principle of legality. According to manusmriti, “No one is above law, not even the king”. In Gouriet v. Union of post office workers, Lord Denning opined in this case that Every person in land, regardless of their status or power, law will always be above and law will prevail above them. 

The concept of rule of law was given by Prof. Albert Venn Dicey in the book “The law of the Constitution”. Although he attributed the origin of doctrine of the rule of law to

Sir Edward Coke.  

Concept of rule of law given by Dicey

Prof. A.V Dicey gave three pillars of concept of rule of law – 

  • Supremacy of Law 

According to him, law prevails over other factors. There is a legal maxim – “rex non potest peccare” which means king can do no wrong. But nowadays, this maxim is not applicable. Even the King can be punished for the act which is punishable by law. 

  • Equality before law 

Article 14 of Constitution of India deals with equality before law and equal protection of law and A.V Dicey also said that everyone should be punished equally before law. According to him, special law and special courts are a threat to the principles of equality. 

  • Predominance of the legal authority

Judiciary should be given Independence and they should be free from external influence. Courts are the enforcer of the rule of law and their judgement can give relief to the victim as well as an innocent can be put behind the bar.