Updated: May 13
There is an inseparable relationship with Law and the Society from time immemorial. The primitive Homo sapiens even before originating any type of language might have had some sort of social relationship among their own living community (probably caves) and had set their own customs to follow.
Can we call it the beginning of a primitive rule of Law?
Probably yes, that triggered the need for some sort of Law. Over a period of time, the modern man had acquired the skill of communication with each other and had then developed language as a tool for such conveyance of ideas from human to human. They started living together in an area where they could find food and rear their animals. It might be on the bank of a river or a valley where they could find their comfort. They slowly started to follow certain customs and habits which regulated their behavior in the group or society and accepted one of them as their leader. They also started worshiping some kind of power which we call as a god. The fear of God had instilled a submissive behavior in humans to follow the customs and habits set by their community. As time passed by, they started distinguishing what is right and what is wrong for them in their own society. They started framing their own rules which best suited them. Another community or society living in a faraway place had their own set of rules which might be different from other community. Each community had its own set of rules and their own right and wrong as they practice. In essence, what is right in one society may be wrong in another society and vice versa. Then the society had gradually evolved to learn human behavior in their group and brought out new concepts of ethics and morality to ascertain what is right and what is wrong. As the primitive societies emerged from smaller groups to larger communities and then to civilizations, the customs, habits, practice, and norms were adopted as the laws of such communities or civilizations. The top ten civilizations right from Mesopotamian Civilization to the latest Incan Civilization evolved many sets of laws suited for them. With the advent of such civilizations, the laws followed by them were codified and more robust jurisprudence based on legal reasoning, legal systems and institutions for delivery of justice were created. The English Law or what is called the common law system in England and Wales had been developed over a longer period from the 11th century. The English Law had borrowed many ideas from Roman Laws and Canon laws. The English Judges played a pivotal role in gradually evolving the common law system when legislations were scarce and they used equity, good conscience and natural justice to arrive at the judgments based on the circumstances of each case. The Indian legal system dates back to the Vedic period. Manusmruti is an ancient legal text among many other Dharmasastras of Hinduism. The Edicts of Ashoka of Buddhist Law was also practiced among believers of Buddha. Sharia Law was also brought to India by the Mughals. After the Mughals, the British had ruled India for 200 years through East India Company and most of the present-day Indian Laws were codified then. The British Empire had to leave India in the hands of Indians and we had adopted our present Constitution, which is the supreme law of India. As the Society grew from smaller groups to larger communities, more stringent laws were required to be made to regulate the society and individuals. Law gives an order in society, a kind of fear in the minds of individuals so that their behavior will be in tandem with the societal norms. The Law also acts as a deterrent against crimes being committed by the individuals in the society or against another individual. Such domestic laws which served exclusively for a particular community started branching out when commercial transactions started between two communities, countries, civilizations and continents. Any law whether it was ancient or modern had an impact on the society it applied. Every law has a purpose to serve, and enforce ability part and the strength to withstand the test of judicial scrutiny. A law that does not serve the society well is a liability on the State, hence, the legislature takes utmost care in drafting laws. All the laws drafted and enacted have to be within the framework of our Constitution and any part which is inconsistent with the Constitution will be ultra vires and will be liable to be struck down by the Supreme Court of India. The Law is ever-evolving and changing according to the needs of the society and the world as a whole. The Law is deeply ingrained in the Society and no modern society can survive without a vibrant legal system.
Lawyering is a noble profession and the Lawyers have a social responsibility to be torchbearers of the societal norms and help the State in maintaining the rhythm of the Society by judiciously practicing Law for the benefit of the society and its people.