Law is the reflection of the will and wish of the society. To know any society, the study of the law enacted by that society is a must. The law, though it is the product of society is responsible for the social transformations.
There are two modes of this aspect.
- “Law changing the society”, which means that the law of the land compels the society to evolve according to it. And
- “Society changes the law”, as per its needs. It needs. It means the law is made by the society according to its requirement by its democratic institution i.e. Legislative or by adopting custom and usage.
When law changes society it is the sign of the beginning of the development of the society. In the matter of ‘Nirbhaya’ where the commonest of the common was talking on how the law must be, what must be the punishment etc. here this compelled the government to consider the sentiments of the society and set up a commission to give suggestions and untimely the criminal law amendment bill came into existence. The change required in the society can be initiated by a single person also and this has been proved in India right from Raja Ram Mohan Roy up to Anna Hazare! Thus the demand takes root and shakes up the government to either reform the existing laws or make new or even delete the existing unworthy laws.
Definitions of law
The laws are variously defined by the scholars:
- Kant defined it as “a formula which expresses the necessity of an action”.
- According to Duguit, laws are “the rules of conduct normal men know they must observe in order to preserve and promote the benefits derived from life in society.”
- According to Roscoe Pound, “Law is an authoritative cannon of value laid down by the force of politically organized society”.
He stated, “Laws must be stable and yet cannot be standstill.” As defined by Lundberg and others “Social Change refers to any modification in established patterns of inter-human relationship and standards of conduct.” The definition is very apt and properly encompasses all ingredients of social change.
The pattern of 4 Inter-human relationships between Caste Hindus and Scheduled Castes was that of touch-me-not-ism as the same and is polluting them i.e. the Caste Hindus. Thus, modification in established patterns of inter-human relationships and standards of conduct was brought through legal means mainly the Constitution of India. The equal laws like I.P.C. (Indian Penal Code); Cr.P.C. (Code of Criminal Procedure); Evidence Act etc. & especially through the Untouchability (Offences) Act, 1955 & the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 (Amended with a new name in 1976) & the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
As customs grow out of the habits and beliefs of specific people, rather than expressing those of abstract humanity; legal changes are codifications of customs, and they can only be national and never universal. There are two contrasting views on this relationship:
- Law is determined by the sense of justice and the moral sentiments of the population; & legislation can only achieve results by staying relatively close to the prevailing social norms.
- Law and especially legislation, Is a vehicle through which a programmed social evolution can be brought about.
The Binding Force of Law
Law is binding because most people in society consider it to be. Some consider the content of the law to command obedience, which is seen as a compelling obligation. The law achieves its claim to obedience; & at least part of its morally obligatory force, from a recognition that it receives from those, to whom it is supposed to apply. Even when laws are against accepted morality, they are often obeyed. Under certain conditions, many people will violate their own moral norms and inflict pain on other human beings; and that succinctly underlines the notion that most people willingly submit to authority and, by extension, the law.
Sanctions for disobedience to the law are among the primary reasons that laws have binding force. They are related to legal efficacy & are provided to guarantee the observance and execution of legally mandated to enforce behavior.