Rule of Law – Features, Exceptions, Doctrines of Rule of Law UPSC

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Rule of Law facilitates the complete knowledge and clear picture of the maximum and supreme power held by the law persisting in the country. There are numerous methods through which the laws of the rules can be determined such as low corruption, fundamental rights etc. The article facilitates the complete details of the rule of law such as the factors, principles etc. There are certain exceptions to the Rule of Law, such as the equality of law, allocation of discretionary powers of the Ministers, and executive bodies.

Recently, the Rule of Law Index is being discussed a lot in India. The World Justice Project (WJP) releases the Rule of Law Index every year. WJP is an independent organization that releases this rank-based index every year. The index can be considered a quantitative assessment to identify the extent of law followed in any country. The aspirants preparing for the IAS exam ought to have an in-depth understanding of the core principles of rule of law in order to attain proficiency in the subject.

What is Rule of Law?

The rule of law is a concept presented by Dicey. The rule of law reiterates the opinion that the law holds the supreme authority. This prescribes that the state or the nation must take into account the extreme supremacy of the law, and ought not to be guided or governed by any other autocratic powers. No individual can be treated in an uncivilized manner. The violators of the law can be penalized. The ideologies of rule of law are-

  • The law beholds the supreme power, all the citizens and strata are accountable to the law.
  • The law provides everyone equal rights and liberty.
  • It opposes the possession of any autocratic power or implementation of any autocratic rule.
  • The law must be enforced by the courts, as the mere mention of the same in the constitution will not lead to the proper implementation.

Rule of Law in Indian Constitution

The doctrines of the Indian Constitution specifies and prescribes the concept of Justice, Liberty, and Equality.

  • The Part III of the Indian Constitution has specified the enforcement of the law. In the Maneka Gandhi vs Union Of India case, it was yet again reiterated that Article 14 opposes autocratic power and provides liberty and equality to the citizens.
  • The laws also cover the three strata of the judiciary. Courts possess powers to bring down the executives not following the law or in the case of any unlawful behaviour.
  • In the Chief Settlement Commissioner vs Om Prakash, the essentiality and distinction of rule of law were again presented.

History of Rule of Law

The Kings were entrenched with complete autocratic powers and the obsolete rights to control overpopulation. Sir Edward Coke opposed the concept of obsolete powers and felt the need of implementing a law that would take the Kings accountable and subservient to law. He formulated the idea of the Rule of Law, he established the principle that no one can be penalized for autocratic rule. The law must cover the rights of all citizens.

Rule of Law Doctrines

WJP defines the rule of law with the help of some universal principles. A nation with a better rule of law upholds universal principles at all costs. The universal principles for determining the rule of law are as follows:

  • Government officials are accountable to the nation’s law/order.
  • Laws are transparent and protect the fundamental rights of citizens.
  • The law administration process is fair.
  • Justice should be offered by people who are neutral and have ample resources.

Exceptions of Rule of Law in India

The exceptions to the rule include the meaning of the rule of law, which does not mean that the powers possessed by the citizen and the publics are equal. It does not restrict the specified classes from becoming the subject of special laws. There are special rules reserved for certain sections of society such as lawyers, doctors, and nurses.

Rule of Law Index History

It offers a comprehensive picture of the rule of law in each country. Since WJP provides an unbiased opinion of the rule of law in countries, it plays a significant role in determining the effectiveness of the law.

WJP uses several factors/indicators to determine the effectiveness of law in each country. A detailed report is published worldwide every year by WJP. Governments and law officials can use WJP to measure the effectiveness of law and order. The index report consists of around 128 countries around the globe. A poor rule of law impacts residents’ daily lives, and national integrity suffers. The rule of law follows three basic principles such as the supremacy of law, equality before law, and the third is judge-made constitutions.

Factors for Determining Rule of Law Index

As said above, WJP uses several factors to determine the rule of law in any country. The parameters used by WJP to create the respective index report are as follows:

  • Restrictions on government powers
  • Low corruption
  • Open governance
  • Fundamental Rights
  • Order and security of citizens
  • Civil justice
  • Criminal justice
  • Regulatory enforcement

About Rule of Law Index

Recently, the rule of law has been in discussion in our country. In 2020, a petition was filed regarding its poor ranking of India in Index. In the petition sent to Supreme Court, the pathetic ranking of India in the index was mentioned.

  • The Supreme Court was also asked to direct the government to take steps and improve the rule of law in India.
  • However, things were not beneficial as India again scored a low ranking in the rule of law rankings published in 2021.
  • As of 2021, India is 79th in the rule of law rankings published by WJP. Moreover, India has never secured a top-50 ranking in the Rule of Law Index published by WJP.

The nation should ensure fair laws for everyone to have a better rule of law. One should know about the rule of law as it is an essential topic for competitive exams. Know the importance of the index.

Rule of Law UPSC

The Doctrines of the Rule of Law, the history, and the Rule of Law Index are some of the essential topics of the IAS syllabus. It is of utmost essentiality for the candidates to be completely conversant with the topic in order to prepare well for the upcoming exam. The right preparation strategy is to be curated by the candidates taking into consideration their strengths and weaknesses.

Rule of Law UPSC notes and questions will further assist the candidates in enhancing their rock-solid preparation strategy. The notes can be utilized in an apt and accurate way along with the recommended books to cover the core concepts in an effective and efficient manner.

Rule of Law UPSC Questions

The Rule of Law UPSC Questions have been curated by the experts and facilitated here to assist the candidates in their preparation strategy for the upcoming exam. Check here the list of questions and move a step forward in accomplishing the desired goals.

Question: What are the primary features of the rule of law? [1] Equality before Law [2] Liberty and Civil Rights [3] Limitation of Powers [4] Responsibility of the People toward Government. Which of the following statements is correct with respect to the Rule of Law? [A] 1,2,3 and 4 [B] 1,2, and 3 [C] 1,2,4 [D] 2,3,4

Answer: (Option B) 1,2 and 3

Mains Question: Justify how the Rule of Law assists in addressing ethical problems.

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