Difference Between Act and Law

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 21, 2022, 12:29

People interchangeably use the terms law and act. However, both are intrinsically different. The main difference between law and act is that laws govern the day-to-day affairs of society, and any layperson can understand it. On the other hand, acts are subject-specific and pertain to a specific issue.

Definition of Law

Law is a set of rules designed to control and guide people's behaviour in accordance with societal norms.

  • Laws protect individual rights and maintain public order.
  • Laws are more generic, and they are not difficult to understand.

Definition of Act

The term act refers to a bill passed by the legislature.

  • A bill becomes an act when the Parliament or equivalent passes it through an established procedure.
  • An act is a piece of legislation that enacts new or amends existing laws.
  • Moreover, an act concentrates on a specific topic and might include several laws.

Difference Between Act and Law

Act

Law

The legislature creates an act to address a specific issue. It includes provisions that are pertinent to it.

Standards of law govern the actions of any community.

Acts are specific- it has a target population and a particular issue to address.

Laws are mostly generic.

Acts are made within the framework of the law.

Laws are already established.

A bill becomes an act when it is passed in the Parliament or equivalent. Here, the Parliament is formed and guided by some laws and rules of procedure.

Laws provide the framework for converting a bill into an act. For instance, the constitutional law defines how to introduce a bill in the Parliament, the procedure of voting, quorum, minimum votes required to make it a law, and amendment procedures.

Sometimes, acts amend existing laws.

Laws put forth the procedure to amend them via addition, modification or repeal. For instance, Article 368 of the Constitution of India deals with the amendment.

An act, being subject-specific, requires the use of complex terminologies and jargon. It might not go well with a layperson.

Laws are easy to comprehend, and any layperson can understand them.

An act cannot be enforced until it is made a law. For instance, the Consumer Protection Act 2019 is not enforceable unless the eight draft rules come into force.

A law is regulatory in itself.

An act outlines its objectives, why people should follow it, how to implement it, and provides a framework to make relevant laws or rules out of it.

As Kelsen opines, the law is merely concerned with what to do and what not to do.

Acts are informative. They inform people about specific laws or rules.

Laws are both restrictive and protective. On the one hand, it restricts people from doing something, and on the other, it protects the rights and liberty of the people and maintains public order and social harmony.

 

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Acts and Laws become complementary and supplementary, defining each other's existence; rather than opposing each other. In simple words, an act provides the guidelines to make a law or amend an existing law, and laws govern the procedure of act-making.

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FAQs on Difference Between Act and Law

Q.1. What is the definition of law according to the Constitution of India?

Article 13 (3) of the Constitution of India confers a broader scope to the idea of law. In addition to executive ordinances, by-laws, orders, notifications, rules, and regulations, it includes customs and usages.

Q.2. Do laws limit the scope of acts?

Yes. Laws define the procedures to convert a bill into an act. Also, Article 13 (2) of the Constitution of India limits the State to ensure that all acts, laws, rules, and regulations do not contradict fundamental rights.

Q.3. What are natural laws?

Natural law philosophy holds that everyone has inherent rights bestowed upon them by God, nature, or reason rather than acts.

Q.4. Can an act change the laws?

An act can amend the laws as far as it does not contradict the core purpose of the law. For instance, in India, this principle is called the basic structure doctrine. No act of the Parliament can hamper some features fundamental to the Constitution of India.