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Are Judges Above The Law?

Are Judges Above The Law?

By Anuj Mishra

From the ancient or during Vedic period the main aim of the law in the Vedic period was to preserve "dharma" which means righteousness and duty. Dharma consists of both legal duties and religious duties. It not only includes laws and court procedures, but also a wide range of human activities like ritual purification, personal hygiene regimes, and modes of dress. Dharma provided the principal guidance by which one endeavoured to lead his life.


The historical times of Mauryan Empire, Kautilya describes the duties of a king in the Arth-shastra thus : "In the happiness of his subjects lies the King’s happiness; in their welfare his welfare; whatever pleases him he shall not consider as good, but whether pleases his people he shall consider to good." The Principle enunciated by Kautilya was based on a very ancient tradition which was already established in the age of the Ramayana. Rama, the King of Ayodhya, was compelled to banish his queen, whom he loved and in whose chastity he had complete faith, simply because his subjects disapproved of his having taken back a wife who had spent a year in the house of her abductor.


The king submitted to the will of people though it broke his heart. In the Mahabharata it is related that a common fisherman refused to give his daughter in marriage to the King of Hastinapur unless he accepted the condition that his daughter’s sons and not the heirapparent from a former queen would succeed to the throne. The renunciation of the throne and the vow of life-long celibacy (Bhishma Pratgyan) by Prince Deva Vrata is one of the most moving episodes in the Mahabharata.


In the Mahabharata, it was laid down “A King who after having sworn that he shall protect his subjects fails to protect them should be executed like a mad dog.” The people should execute a king who does not protect them, but deprives them of their property and assets and who takes no advice or guidance from any one. Such a king is not a king but misfortune." It simply indicates that sovereignty was based on an implied social compact and if the King violated the traditional pact, he forfeited his kingship.

From Vedic period the fountain source of justice was the sovereign. In Indian jurisprudence dispensing justice and awarding punishment was one of the primary attributes of sovereignty.

Being the fountain source of justice, in the beginning the king was expected to administer justice in person, but strictly according to law, and under the guidance of judges learned in law.

One of the oldest legal systems in the world today is the Indian judicial system and it still incorporates certain features inherited from the British judicial system during their centuries of colonial rule in India. The Indian Constitution, which is the supreme law of the country, provides the framework of the present legal and judicial system of the country. India’s judicial system follows a “common law system” along with the regulatory law and the statutory law. Law in India primarily evolved from customary practices and religious prescription to the modern well codified acts and laws based on a constitution.


Judges are not above law. Law is the supreme, it is above everyone. From ancient time till today the law has its supremacy. Even king was also under the or below the law. It was believed that the law is the supreme authority. Judges are the person who are appointed by the president and are those people who are there to provide legal assistance to needy and enforce punishment to the wrong doer. Judges are the part of judiciary which is an independent part of government .Everything is described in The Constitution of India which is the written legal document or structure for the functioning of government. Indian legal system has its three parts that are, legislative, executive, and judiciary all comes below the law. Law is the supreme.


The rule of law is the legal principle that law should govern a nation, as opposed to being governed by arbitrary decisions of individual government. It primarily refers to the influence and authority of law within society, particularly as a constraint upon behaviour, including behaviour of government officials. Rule of law implies that every citizen is subject to the law, including lawmakers themselves. In this sense, it stands in contrast to an autocracy, dictatorship, or oligarchy where the rulers are held above the law. Lack of the rule of law can be found in both democracies and dictatorships, for example because of neglect or ignorance of the law, and the rule of law is more apt to decay if a government has insufficient corrective mechanisms for restoring it. Government based upon the rule of law is called monocracy.

It is also said in Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, it says “Equality before Law” where it is defined as “The state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.”


Now after the British rule India is following mostly the concept of British constitution and many concepts are adopted from different countries. Few changes and amendments has been made in the Constitution which all provide the rule of law that is Law is Supreme, everyone comes below the law. Though In Indian legal system judiciary is independent but that doesn’t means it is above the law. Judiciary also comes below law. From time to time we can see there are many cases against the Judges of the Supreme Court when they did something wrong. Cases against corrupt judges, there are many cases which has punished many judges. E.g., 1.A.R. Antulay vs. R.S. Nayak & Anr on 29 April, 1988.




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