LAW AS AN INSTRUMENT OF SOCIAL CHANGE
Law, the collection of rules imposed by authority, forms the backbone of every country. Any nation can reach a state of utter pandemonium if the laws are not followed by the citizens of that nation. It took our leaders months to write the longest constitution in the world. There certainly are reasons behind the Constitution of India containing 444 articles in 22 parts, 12 schedules and 118 amendments. Why did the leaders take so long to constitute the law by which the nation should be governed? The answer is simple enough — to avoid confusion and lay guidelines for governing India.
There are numerous cases that are being already fought for and also countless many filed every day. Even a layman can understand the importance that law holds in the life of every individual. Everything, from assassination and theft to industrial and land disputes, is totally covered in the set of law and order. But a significant question arises on the impact of law and order on the social front of the nation. Can law be an instrument of social change?
The question itself takes mind back to various social issues that have been highlighted since the third pillar of our democracy, our Judiciary stepped into it; one of it being the Food Security Bill. Honourable Supreme Court of India, appointed State Advisors across the Nation to help in drafting a Food Security Bill that would give the poorest of poor citizen a right to live a life of dignity by means of providing food and nutrition at a nominal rate. Even though the Food Schemes that were passed in the parliament were much debated upon, one thing can be certain, the impact of these schemes will be directly felt by a certain part of the society. Saying that the problem of Hunger will be eradicated totally will be incorrect but it will certainly be beneficial for the society.
Besides providing the food security, law can also drive significant changes on the social front. Every day the newspapers are tainted with headlines of rape and murder. Can the law do nothing to prevent it? After the brutal assault and murder of the paramedical student in the capital city, Delhi, the entire nation froze for a while. They stood united to fight for the departed. But out of all the accused, the one who did the most heinous and brutal crime of all was judged by the Juvenile Justice Court. A person responsible for stopping another life, let alone assaulting the body in worst imaginable way, would walk free and be able to breathe in free air in a few years. What message does this send to the society? Had he been punished on the basis of the intensity of the crime committed, it would have sent a strong message to the society. It would have been the first of many steps that we have to initiate in order to drive a social change and make India a safer place to live in.
The law and order are not just the dictates which have to be followed word to word. If a person can commit a crime that a child could never think of, he certainly does not fit into the definition of ‘juvenile’. Law, if observed, can create an ideal state, a State that is fit for living. A fear of immediate and stringent ruling against the criminal can instill a fear in the mind of the possible wrong doers. It would set an example and certainly make the world a better place to live in.
Another problem, just as big as the increasing number of cases of violence, is corruption. This issue was also recently very much highlighted after demand for a Jan Lokpal Bill. Corruption has an indirect impact on the life of the people. Apart from being morally wrong, people who support, observe or be a silent spectator to corruption are also a social hazard. They are a ‘social hazard’ because the increasing corruption has caused irreparable damage to the nation. Making money by depriving the citizens of their right has been a daily affair for many. This acts as an obstruction on the path of development and also causes the common man a mountain of trouble that he has to deal with every day. From ill formed road to sky-rocketing price of the vegetables, it all dates back to the time when corruption began. It has caused a slow but irreparable damage to the economy of the country. Something has to be done in order to check the problem from increasing furthermore.
This check can only be applied if the law of the nation is drafted to punish the corrupt. The third pillar of the democracy, the Judiciary, has also fallen into the trap of corruption over the years; sometimes under the influence of the powerful and at other times under the influence of money. If the lawmakers and enforcers of the law fail to abide by the law, the common man would also follow their footsteps.
With power comes great responsibilities, is often heard. Law can be used as an instrument of social change but to observe it, most importantly of all, the ones enforcing it should treat it with respect and abide by it. Secondly, the rules and regulation that are laid down should be followed by a set of stringent rules that can instill fear into the mind of those who merely think of breaking the rules and regulation let alone putting their thoughts into action. Thirdly, the law makers should think at the grass root level and device the laws that can drive change.
An ideal social state would be when the society is free of criminal activities and governed with equality. People cannot learn to be morally correct by themselves, this has to be taught by means of law, not just passing them but observing them without delay and stringently. In words of a great man, “No man is above the law and no man is below it: nor do we ask any permission when we ask him to obey it”.