Rule of Law
The rule of law generally refers to the "authority and influence of law in society," especially as a constraint upon behavior, including behavior of government officials. This phrase is also sometimes used in other senses. In its general sense, the phrase can be traced back to the 16th century, and it was popularized in the 19th century by British jurist A. V. Dicey. The concept was familiar to ancient philosophers such as Aristotle, who wrote "Law should govern". Rule of law implies that every citizen is subject to the law. It stands in contrast to the idea that the ruler is above the law, for example by divine right. Despite wide use by politicians, judges and academics, the rule of law has been described as "an exceedingly elusive notion" giving rise to a "rampant divergence of understandings ... everyone is for it but have contrasting convictions about what it is. A.V. Dicey in his famous work, An Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution, enunciated the concept as including three things– (i) absence of arbitrary power, that is, no man is above law and the persons in authority do not enjoy wide, arbitrary or discretionary powers, (ii) equality before law, that is, every man irrespective of his status and position is subject to the ordinary laws of the land and the jurisdiction of ordinary courts, and (iii) individual liberties. Dicey’s view of ‘rule of law’ has been criticized from various angles, particularly because of his unshakable faith on common law as protecting the rights of the individuals. History of Development of Rule of Law
Although credit for popularizing the expression "the rule of law" in modern times is usually given to A. V. Dicey, development of the legal concept can be traced through history to many ancient civilizations, including Ancient Greece, China, Mesopotamia, India and Rome. In ancient times, in Western philosophy, the Ancient Greeks initially regarded the best form of government as rule by the best men. Plato advocated a benevolent monarchy ruled by an idealized philosopher king, who was above the law. Plato nevertheless hoped that the best men would be good at respecting established laws, explaining that "Where the law is subject to some other authority and has none of its own, the collapse of the state, in my view, is not far off; but if law is the master of the government and the government is its slave, then the situation is full of promise and men enjoy all the blessings that the gods shower on a state." More than Plato attempted to do, Aristotle flatly opposed letting the highest officials wield power beyond guarding and serving the laws. In other words, Aristotle advocated the rule of law: It is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the laws. According to the Roman statesman Cicero, "We are all servants of the laws in order that we may be free." In China, members of the school of legalism during the 3rd century BC argued for using law as a tool of governance, but they promoted "rule by law" as opposed to "rule of law", meaning that they placed the aristocrats and emperor above the law. In contrast, the Huang-Lao school of Daoism rejected legal positivism in favor of a natural law that even the ruler would be subject to. In the middle ages, in Islamic jurisprudence rule of law was formulated in the seventh century, so that no official could claim to be above the law, not even the caliph. However, this was not a reference to secular law, but to Islamic religious law in the form of Shariah law. In 1215, Archbishop Stephen Langton gathered the Barons in England and forced King John and future sovereigns and magistrates back under the rule of law, preserving ancient liberties by the Magna Charta in return for exacting taxes. In modern times, the first known English...
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