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Concepts of Law and Justice

Updated: Aug 2, 2021


Law is a body of rules which regulates human conduct in a society and which is enforced by the State in the courts of law. Justice is the moral idea of being right, just and reasonable. Law aims to ensure justice in the society. 

Classification of Law

Law can be classified into different categories on different bases. On the basis of territorial jurisdiction, law may be National or Municipal Law and International Law. Again it may be divided into Civil Law and Criminal Law or Public Law and Private Law. We should learn the meaning of each of them.

I. National or Municipal Law and International Law

All laws applying within the national boundaries are municipal laws. For example: Indian constitution or the statutes passed by Parliament and State Legislatures. Laws emanating from the Parliament or the Central Government are sometimes called Central Laws and those being passed from state legislature are called State Laws. International Law is a body of rules which regulates the relationship between different countries. These are generally in form of treaties and International Customs. International Law is further divided into two parts:

(a) Public International Law: Also called Law of Peace. It regulates the relationship of different countries as members of International Community. (b) Private International Law: Also called Conflict of Laws. It regulates the relationship of private individuals or juristic persons like companies of two or more different countries. For example: the marriage of an American with an Indian or dispute between two companies of different countries.

II. Criminal Law and Civil Law

Criminal Law concerns with public wrongs or offences against the state or society at large. State prosecutes for criminal offences which are specific and are defined in Indian Penal Code, 1860 and some other penal laws. Criminal Procedure Code or CrPC. 1973 deals with the procedure to be adopted for enforcing Criminal Law. Civil Law relates to restoration of rights of private individuals or juristic persons like, companies. For example, Law of contract regulates the relationship between two or more parties making the agreement.

III. Public Law and Private Law

Public Law is that part of law which deals with relations between the state and ordinary individuals in circumstances where state has special rights or powers. Criminal Law is a public law. Constitutional Law and Administrative Law are also public laws. Private Law regulates relations among subjects. Hindu law and Mohammedan law regulate relations among Hindus and Muslims, hence they are private laws.

IV. Common Law and Civil Law Systems

Laws laid down by courts in judicial decisions also called precedents constitute the Common Law. England and those countries which have modeled their legal system on the basis of English Law are members of Common Law System. India is also a part of Common Law fold. Civil law system does not recognize precedent or decisions of the courts as laws. Countries like Germany and France are Civil Law Countries. The do not recognize precedents or Judge Made Laws.

V. Substantive Law and Procedural Laws

Law which provides specific provisions as to the rights, duties or obligations of an individual is normally substantive laws. Indian Penal Code provides specific crimes and their punishments are hence it is substantive law. Procedural laws are those laws which regulate the functioning of the court or the judicial system to ensure compliance of the substantive laws. For example, Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 regulates the functioning of Civil Courts and Cr. P.C. regulates the affairs of a criminal court.

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