What is Law, Liberty and Equality? Explained

A state enacts laws so that its citizens can live in peace and independently. It is impossible to establish equality without law. The essence of law is that all are equal in the eye of law. As citizens of the state, it is important for all of us to know about the characteristics, classification and sources of law. Also important is to know about the nature of liberty, classification, means of protection of liberty, concept of equality, relationships among law, liberty and equality and to know the importance of the rule of law in our civic life.

At the end of this article, we would be able to

• explain law, liberty and equality;

•describe the sources of law;

•analyze the relationships among law, liberty and equality;

• analyze the importance of rule of law;

• be loyal to and abide by laws.

 

Law

Law is understood as rules and regulations recognized and approved by society and the state; it regulates external human behaviour. Laws are made for the welfare of the people. Law determines the relationship between one with other individuals, between individuals and the state and between states. Laws are enacted and applied by the state or sovereign authority. Violation of law is liable to punishment. Some fundamental characteristics are noticed in law. They are discussed below:

 

1. Statutes: Laws are a collection of customs, rules and regulations.

 

2. Related to external behaviour: Laws regulate people's external behaviour and activities. For example, illegal activities are punished. People refrain from committing crimes for fear of punishment.

 

3. State approval and recognition: The norms of society which are approved by the state become law. State authority acts behind the making of laws. Without the approval and recognition of state, no rules and regulations become laws. 4. Savior of individual liberty: Law acts as a savior of individual liberty. For this reason, laws are said to be the basis of individual liberty.

 

5. Universal: Laws are universal. These are equally applicable to all regardless of their nationality, religion, race, commuity, sex and economic status. All people in the society are deemed as equal in the eyes of law.

 

Classification of Laws

Generally laws are classified into three types:

a) goverment law; b) private law and c) international law.

 

1. Government law: The laws that are enacted and applied to keep individuals' relations with the state are called government laws. They are again divided into the following parts:

 

a. Criminal laws and penal code: To carry out the role of judiciary, these kinds of laws are enacted. If an individual's rights are violated, his or her rights are protected by this law.

 

b. Administrative laws: These laws are enacted to control the activities of the executive and personnels related to it. Different administrative functions are performed according to these laws.

 

c. Constitutional laws: These laws are mentioned in the constitution. The state is governed by the constitution.

 

2. Private laws: The laws that are made and implemented to maintain relations of individuals with other individuals are called private laws. For example, contracts and deeds. These kinds of laws play a supportive role in maintaining social order.

 

3. International laws: The laws that are made to maintain relations of states with other states are called international laws. International laws deal with how states will behave with others, how one state deals with a citizen of another state and finally how international crisis can be solved.

 

Sources of Laws

There are a number of sources of laws. These sources are described below:

 

1. Customs: Rules that have been in vogue in a society for a long time are called customs. Before the emergence of state, people's behaviour was controlled by customs. After the emergence of state, customs that received state approval, turned into laws. Many laws in the United Kingdom have been created based on customs.

 

2. Religion: Religious edicts and scriptures are sources of laws. Every religion has its own rules to be followed by their adherents. These edicts help to administer the social life beautifully and in a disciplined way. As a result, many aspects of these religious edicts have become laws by state approval. For example, Muslim laws, Hindu laws etc. In our country, family laws and laws related to property have been issued from the said two religions.

 

3. Books of legal experts: When we read English stories, novels or newspapers, we consult with English dictionaries or encyclopedia to find out the meaning of an unknown word. Similarly, when judges found difficulty in giving their judgements, they had sought help from the commentaries of other legal experts. These judgements later became laws. For example, 'Law of the Constitution' by Professor Dicey and 'Commentaries on the Laws of England, by Blackstone.

 

4. Judgements: When judges find it difficult to give their judgements by using a prevailing law, they depend on their intellect and conscience to interpret the prevailing law and thus give a new judgement. These judgements are later followed by other judges as laws. So, judgements are sources of laws.

 

5. Sense of Justice: In the court, sometimes no law exists to give judgement on a case. In that case, judges resolve these cases by using their sense of justice. Later on, these become laws.

 

6. Legislature: In modern times, legislature is the main source of laws. In keeping with public opinion, legislatures of different countries enact laws, amend old laws suitable to the changing context.

 

Rule of Law in Civic Life

Rule of law means nobody is above law, everybody is subjected to law. In other words, everybody is deemed equal in the eyes of law. The opportunity to get equal treatment for all the people in the eyes of law is said to be rule of law. Supremacy of law means everybody is subordinate to law. Equality by law is understood as people. get the opportunity to be treated by law as equal regardless of their identities such as nationality, religion, gender and profession. As a result, the rich and poor, the weak and the strong get equal rights. If the primacy of rule of law persists, government shall refrain from the abuse of laws and the people shall abide by legal regulations.

 

The importance of rule of law is unlimited. Anarchy arises in the society from the absence of laws. Civic freedom, democracy, social values, equality do not exist in the society where rule of law is absent. Rule of law is a must for establishing equality, freedom and fundamental rights.

 

Good relationship between rulers and the ruled is created by rule of law. Government becomes stable and peace is established in the state. Suspicions, movements and revolutions become inevitable in its absence. Disorder and conflict weaken the strong basis of the society. The differences between the rich and the poor, the weak and the strong take deeper root in the society. Therefore, rule of law is necessary for social equality, civic rights, democratic society and stable state system. Rule of law is an indicator for a civilized society.

 

Liberty

Generally, liberty is understood as whatever one does at his own will. In real sense, liberty does not mean this sort of unlimited freedom. Because, unlimited freedom creates anarchy in the society. For example, if somebody is allowed to do anything at his own will, it might harm others resulting in conflicting environment. So, liberty in civics is used in a different sense. In this sense, liberty is to act at one's will within the limit without interfering or creating obstacles to others' activities.

 

Liberty refers to such opportunities and environment where one harms others, everybody enjoys their rights. Liberty helps individuals to grow their personality and eliminate all the obstacles to the enjoyment of rights.

 

Forms of Liberty

Liberty has different forms:

1. Personal liberty, 2. Social liberty; 3. Political liberty 4. Economic liberty and 5. National liberty.

 

1. Personal Liberty: Personal liberty is understood as liberty which does not harm others if it is enjoyed. For instance, to practice religion and maintain family secrecy. This sort of liberty is of individual's personal matter.

 

2. Social Liberty: Social liberty includes the right to protect life, to enjoy property and to take on a legitimate profession. This sort of liberty leads to the growth of civic life. To protect rights for the people living in the society, social liberty is required. This liberty has to be enjoyed in such a manner so that it does not harm others.

 

3. Political Liberty: Political liberty includes voting, the right to be elected, the right to obtain security abroad. This sort of liberty creates opportunities for individuals to participate in governing the state. Political liberty is very much important in the democratic system.

 

4. Economic Liberty: Economic liberty refers to taking on a profession according to one's competence and also to get due wage. Citizens enjoy economic freedom to get financial benefits. Other liberty cannot be enjoyed without this liberty. Economic liberty is necessary for staying free from exploitation by other social classes.

 

5. National Liberty: Bangladesh is an independent state and free from interference by other states. This status of Bangladesh is known as national liberty. As a result of this freedom, a state remains free from control of other states. Every independent state enjoys national liberty.

 

Law and Liberty

Political scientists differ in their opinions about the relationships between law and liberty. Many of them say that the relationships between law and liberty are intimate. Again, some of the political scientists say that law and liberty are mutually antagonistic. As a matter of fact, this relationship is not mutually antagonistic, rather intimate. It is discussed below:

 

1. Law protects freedom: Law acts as a protector freedom. For example, we have the right to live. We enjoy the right to live because of law. John Locke rightly said, 'where there is no law, there is no freedom.'

 

2. Law is the guardian of freedom: Law acts as a guardian of freedom. Just as parents keep their children safe from dangers, so laws protect freedom from all kinds of opposing forces.

 

3. Law is a condition of liberty: A single law is a single piece of freedom. All can enjoy freedom as there exists the control of law. According to Willouby, freedom is protected as their exists the control of law.

 

4. Law enlarges freedom: Law enlarges freedom of the citizens. Law creates the necessary conditions for a peaceful and orderly life. In the process, though laws control freedom, actually laws enlarge freedom.

 

So, it can be said that the relationship between law and liberty is very close. Not all laws protect liberty. For example, the laws of Hitler of Germany. Because, his laws were against humanity. But laws that are based on people's consent are deemed as a protector, guardian, condition and basis of freedom.

 

Equality

Etymologically, 'equality' is understood as equal status of all in the society. But not all the people in the society are equal and they are not born with equal competence. In real terms, equality is understood as such a social environment in which irrespective of their ethnic, religious, racial identities, all people according to their qualities receive equal opportunities and by utilizing these opportunities they can develop their own skill. Essentially, equality implies three things. First: abolishing privileges for a particular individual or a class. Second: to manage adequate privileges for all. Third: to enjoy equal opportunities according to competence.

 

Forms of Equality

Human beings require multiple opportunities for multifaceted development. To enjoy these multiple opportunities equality can be divided into different types. For example,

1. Social equality; 2. Political equality; 3. Economic equality; 4. Legal equality; 5. Natural equality and 6. Personal equality.

 

1. Social Equality: Social equality means social opportunities equally enjoyed by all the members in the society regardless of their ethnic, religious, racial and gender identities. No individual or a particular class is allowed to enjoy special privileges.

 

2. Political equality: It refers to the opportunities in taking part in activities of the state by all. For political equality, citizens enjoy the right to express opinion, the right to be elected and the right to vote.

 

3. Economic equality: It means the opportunities for a job according to one's competence and to get just wage. Economic equality includes getting rid of unemployment and getting legitimate profession.

 

4. Legal equality: To keep everybody equal in the eyes of law despite their varying identities like ethnic, religious, racial is legal equality. Legal equality ensures that nobody should be arrested without offence and imprisoned without due process of trial.

 

5. Natural Equality: Every human being is born free and equal. But in reality every human being cannot be equal physically and mentally. For this reason, the concept of natural equality is almost out of order these days.

 

6. Personal Equality: Personal equality implies the elimination of barriers such as ethnic identity, religion, race, lineage and status among human beings.

Relations between Equality and Freedom

There are two opinions in political science regarding and freedom. relations between equality

These are:

1. equality and freedom are complementary to each other and

2. equality and freedom are mutually antagonistic. The genuine relationships between these two will be revealed if we explain these opinions.

 

1. Mutually dependent: Equality and freedom are mutually dependent. Just as freedom cannot be imagined without equality, so equality also cannot be thought of without freedom. So, it can be said that the more a state would be based on equality, the more freedom will be ensured.

 

2. Basis of democracy: Equality and freedom act as the basis of democracy. Just as equality is required to establish rights of the people, so freedom is required. If equality and freedom do not co-exist, democratic rights would not be possible to enjoy. Equality eliminates differences between the top and the bottom, freedom offers the right to enjoy all the opportunities.

 

Finally, it can be said that equality and freedom are alternative and complementary to each other. Equality based society cannot be possible unless we enjoy political, social and economic freedom. With these freedom, people participate in state functions and enjoy the right to movement and freedom of right to life. Freedom is required for enjoying all the opportunities equally by all living in the society. So it can be said that equality means freedom and freedom means equality.

Now can you answer the followings based on above article?

1. How many types of law are there?

a. 2                         b. 5                         c. 3                         d. 6

 

2. What is the main idea of law?

a. all are equal in the eyes of law

b. it regulates external behaviour

c. it is the saviour of individual freedom

d. it is related to rules and policies.

 

3. The purpose of enacting government laws is

i) to save relationship between individuals

ii) to save relationship between individual and state

iii) to run the judiciary

 

Which one is correct?

a. i and ii

b. ii and iii

c. i and iii

d. i, ii and iii

 

Read the following paragraph and answer questions 4 and 5:

Recently, the Ka court resolved the dispute with Myanmar over the maritime boundary through their mutual understanding.

 

4. By which law did Bangladesh resolve this dispute?

a. Government                 b. Private             b. Constitutional               c. International

 

5. The resultant effect of the said law is that -

a. A state behaves well with another state

b. The relationships between state and individual continue

c. Different states will run their administration properly

d. Independence of judiciary shall be protected

 

Case Study

1. Mr. Shamol Mitra is a member of parliament. In order to stop eve teasing in his constituency he placed a bill in parliament which was passed by the voice vote. Mr. Arca Barua is the chief of the higher court in that country. While giving judgment to a case of an accused, he finds no evidence from the prevailing law. Depending on his wisdom and sense of judgment, he then determines the punishment.

a. Who is the book "Commentaries on the Laws of England" by?

b. What is international law? Explain.

c. What kind of source is that where Shamol Mitra placed the bill? Explain.

d. The method of judgment given by Mr. Arca Barua is one of the important sources of law-analyze.

 

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