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HomeLaw NotesBALLB Entrance ExamIntroduction to Law: Meaning, Definitions, Natures and Characteristics

Introduction to Law: Meaning, Definitions, Natures and Characteristics

Meaning and Definition of Law

Law is a body of rules, regulations and binding rules of conduct made by sovereign political authority to control and regulate human behaviours. Law is a set of rules that regulates human behaviours by determining the rights and duties of citizens. The law sets everything that a man can or cannot do. Law is made by law-making authority for the effective regulation of human actions in society.

The term ‘law’ is derived from the old Teutonic root word ‘lag’ which means fixed, uniform and constant. It means the law of a particular country should remain the same throughout the whole territory of that country. Different languages have their own term equivalent to law, as given below:

LanguageCorresponding Term
LatinLex, Jus, Juris
FrenchDroit
GermanyRecht, Res
SpanishLey
ArabiKanoon
SanskritVidhi
Hindu JurisprudenceDharma
Islamic JurisprudenceHukum

Definitions of Law:

There are no single and similar definitions of law given by jurists because they were born at different points in time and in different situations. They are as follows:

“Law is the King of King and nothing is mightier than law, by whose aid even weaker may prevail over the strong.”

– Veda

“Law as a rule, which must be obeyed and followed by citizens to sanction or legal consequences.”

– Black’s Law Dictionary

Definitions of Jurists

‘Law is a command of sovereign backed up by sanctions.’

– Austin

‘Law is a general rule of external human action enforced by sovereign political authority.’

– Holland

‘Law may be defined as the body of principles recognized and applied by the state in the administration of justice.’

– Salmond

‘Law is a rule of human action and conduct sanctioned by national usage.’

– Savigny

‘The prophecies of what court will do in fact and nothing more pretentious, are what I mean by law.’

– Justice Holmes

‘Law as an instrument of social engineering.’

– Roscoe Pound

‘Law as an instrument of exploitation and domination’

– Karl Marx

In conclusion, from the above explanations and definitions, we can say that law is a body of rules, regulations and principles that determines the rights, duties and powers of citizens and states and regulates their activities to maintain peace and order in society. The law is a binding rule made by supreme authority that everyone must follow and if anyone disobeys the law, he/she may be punished. The law prohibits illegal activities and crime in society, promotes peace and security in society and provides justice to victims.

Nature & Characteristics of Law

The law is a body of rules that everyone must follow and if someone disobeys the law, he/she will be punished. The nature of law is dynamic and changing from time to time because the same law cannot be fit all the time and it requires some amendment to meet the needs of society as the needs and desires of people change. The nature of law has been mentioned below:

Nature of Law

1. Dynamic: Law is dynamic in nature because society keeps changing from time to time. The law is made to address the needs and desires of people and the needs and desires of people keep changing according to time and situation. That’s why laws should be changed from time to time to meet the needs of society. For example, the life imprisonment period was 20 years before 2075 BS, but the time period of life imprisonment increased to 25 years after the enactment of the National Criminal (Code) Act, 2074.

2. Binding: The law is binding in nature. Once the sovereign body has made law, everyone must follow that law and if anyone does not follow and disobeys the law, the state will punish such people. In this regard, Austin has said that law is the command of the sovereign backed by sanction. Article 48(b) of the Constitution mentions that everyone has to abide by the constitution and law. It means everyone must follow the law.

3. Territorial: Law is territorial in nature because the law of a particular country applies throughout the whole territory of that country. For example, the law of Nepal applies throughout the whole territory of Nepal without any distinction.

4. Clear and uniform: The law should be clear and uniform. The sentences or words in the law and regulations should not have a double or confusing meaning. The words used in law should have a clear and exact meaning. The law should be uniform and applied equally throughout the whole territory of the country.

5. Determines Rights and Duties: Determining rights and duties is another nature of law. The law creates the rights and duties of citizens and the government. If the rights of any citizen are violated, he/she may approach a court for remedy. People are also obliged to follow the duties stipulated by the law. For example, Articles 16 to 46 of the Constitution guarantee the rights of citizens, and Article 48 stipulates the duties of citizens, whereas Schedules 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 of the Constitution mention the power, function, and duties of government.

6. Justice Oriented: Law is always justice-oriented, and law should be able to promote justice. If law cannot provide justice, then there is no meaning in having such a law. In this regard, Salmond has said that law is a body of principles recognized and applied by the state in the administration of justice. There is a popular saying that justice delayed is justice denied. It means the delivery of justice must be speedy; otherwise, there is no meaning in doing justice after a long time of filing a case.

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Anish Kumar Tiwari
Anish Kumar Tiwari
Anish Kumar Tiwari is the Editor-in-Chief and SEO Expert at Law Scholars Nepal who is continuously publishing law related information and legal knowledge with the aim of increasing legal awareness in Nepal.
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