Class 8 Civics

Understanding Law

Equal for All

The laws of our country are equal for all. This means that the law of land does not discriminate on the basis of religion, caste, gender or socio-economic status. Right from a poor worker to the President of India, everyone is equal in the eyes of the law of the land.

History of Evolution of Law

During olden days, different places had their own different laws. People of different communities followed their own sets of laws in their areas. There were different degrees of punishment for the same crime, in many cases. It was quite normal to give light punishment to a person from upper caste, and harsh punishment to a person from lower caste.

Major changes in the laws came during the colonial rule in India. Gradually, discrimination in punishment on the basis of caste was done away with. Many historians believe that law of the land started properly during the British rule. Many other historians believe that the British laws were arbitrary and draconian. It is believed that the nationalist leaders played important role in evolution of laws in India.

The legal profession started to emerge in India by the end of the nineteenth century. The legal professionals of India began to demand due respect in courts. Thus, the Indian lawyers and judges also played important role in evolution of laws in our country.

The people's representatives got the right to make laws once the Constitution of India came into force. The Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies have the right to make new law and to amend old laws.

Making of New Law

You have read that it is the legislature's job to make law. But a parliamentarian cannot make a law out of the blue. It is the public who raises the demand for a new law, from time to time. The voice of the public is raised through various non-political platforms. Various media of communication help in raising such demands. Once enough pressure is built on the parliament, one or more parliamentarians may submit a proposal to make a new law. After thorough debate, the bill is passed by the parliament. After that, the bill goes for the President’s assent. Once the President’s assent is acquired, the bill becomes a law.

Unpopular and Controversial Law

Sometimes, a bill passed by the parliament may prove to be highly unpopular. By virtue of endorsement from the parliament, it can be constitutionally valid and legally right. But if the public doubts the intention behind the law, then the public has all the rights to criticize and protest the new law. When protest against such a law increases then the parliament is bound to have a rethink on it.

People can resort to various activities (protest march, letters to editors, debates on TV, etc.) to raise their voice against the new law. People can also go to the court for getting a resolution. If the court finds suitable reason for protest, it can make the law null and void.

To understand this, we can take example of laws which are often made by municipalities in order to evacuate vendors and hawkers from footpath. Vendors often set up shops on footpaths in big cities. It creates problems for people, especially for pedestrians. But we should also keep in mind that the small shopkeepers too have a right to livelihood. That is why such laws often face popular protest.