Difference Between Rule of Law and Rule by Law

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 16, 2022, 10:52

The statutes of law form the base for governance and maintaining civic order. However, there is a Difference Between Rule of Law and Rule by Law. Law is supreme. The interpretation of it by the ruler of the land renders it favourable or hostile for the people subjected to it.

What is the Difference Between Rule of Law and Rule by Law?

The Major Differences Between Rule of Law and Rule by Law have been summarized in the table below.

Parameters

Rule of Law

Rule by Law

Genesis

During the English ruler King James I's reign, this doctrine was promulgated by the then Chief Justice, Edward Coke.

The term ‘rule by law’ had first originated during King James I rule when he emerged victorious in the fight against the Church and common judicial position bearers.

Significance

The government leverages fair and just principles of law to dispense justice and maintain order.

‘Rule by law’ is the exercise of absolute power by the ruler of the land who suspends the just rights of other residents and rules by whim.

Coverage

All law-abiding citizens of a country come under the purview of rule of law.

All residents of the area ruled by the tyrant forcefully have to abide by the unconstitutional rules imposed on them.

Implementation

Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. Law courts guarantee liberty to people and safeguard their just rights.

People are oppressed and subjugated by dictators or tyrants who assume the position of supreme lawmakers.

The mechanism for handling breach

Legal proceedings can be initiated, or punishment can be meted out to anyone for breaching law only in approved courts of the country through trial proceedings approved by the Constitution.

Dictators and tyrants enjoy unbridled power; breach of law by them cannot be challenged in any court of law.

Difference Between Rule of Law and Rule by Law in Indian Perspective

In India, before independence, Britishers used to rule by law. However, after India became a sovereign state, the rule of law was established, and legal rights were enshrined in the Constitution. During the emergency imposed by the prime minister Smt. Indira Gandhi, rule by law had again taken predominance.

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Exemption from Rule of Law

In the Constitution, various articles have been specified to grant exemption to dignitaries and people’s representatives from the ‘rule of law’. These have been discussed below:

Article

People enjoying exemption from legal proceedings

105

Members of Parliament (for saying or voting for something in parliament or parliamentary committees)

194

Members of state legislatures (for saying or voting for something in the legislature or legislative committees)

361(1)

Indian President and State Governors (for exercising powers during discharging of official duties)

361(2)

Indian President and State Governors (immunity from criminal proceedings during official term)

361(3)

Indian President and State Governors (cannot be arrested or imprisoned during their official term)

361(4)

Indian President and State Governors (exempted from civil proceedings during the official term for actions conducted in a personal capacity, before or after assuming an official role, until two months have expired after delivery of notice).

31-C

Laws enacted by State legislatures for the implementation of Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSPs) are specified in clause (b) or (c) of Article 39 even though they violate Article 14 (upheld by the Supreme Court of India).

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Rule of Law Must Prevail over Rule by Law

The Difference Between Rule of Law and Rule by Law can be analyzed with examples. During the Nazi rule in Germany and more recently in North Korea, one can understand the severity of ‘rule by law’ where rulers could mount atrocities on selected communities or people in general without any fear of supreme law. Rule of law must be preserved under all circumstances to uphold the dignity of human rights.

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FAQs on the Difference Between Rule of Law and Rule by Law

Q1. What is the main Difference Between Rule of Law and Rule by Law?

The Main Difference Between Rule of Law and Rule by Law is that the rule of law implies that everybody is governed by legal statutes consistent with the principles of humanity. Rule by law implies that a person or group assumes the position of supreme authority exercising unlimited powers and abusing others' rights.

Q2. Give an example of ‘rule by law’ to clarify the Difference Between Rule of Law and Rule by Law?

To clarify the Difference Between Rule of Law and Rule by Law, In North Korea, Kim Jung-un is the present dictator who has abolished most of the fundamental rights of his people. Recently, he has passed a law that mandates trimming of the hair of men and women only in accordance with the 28 hairstyles approved by the government. Violators are punished.

Q3. Are foreigners given exemption from the rule of law in the Difference Between Rule of Law and Rule by Law?

Diplomatic immunity is provided to heads of other nations, ambassadors, UNO Officials, and diplomats from civil and criminal proceedings are foreigners given exemption from the rule of law in the Difference Between Rule of Law and Rule by Law.

Q4. With respect to the Difference Between Rule of Law and Rule by Law, which apex body in India ensures ‘the rule of law’?

With respect to the Difference Between Rule of Law and Rule by Law, The Supreme Court of India checks abuse of the law, although the parliament is responsible for enacting rules for governing the country.