Law is central to society and our daily lives in this globalized world. No society can claim to have adequate civic education for building a civil society if people don’t have a sound legal framework. Law is not a self-contained system of legal rules immune from political, economic and community influences. Law and society both reflect and shape each other, they are not abstract and remote from everyday life. These two concepts reflect and shape each other. Law affects you personally in ways which might not seem immediate or obvious.
The legal structure of a country is principal for socio-economic and political development for the smooth functioning of the state’s organs. Human history dictates that when there was no system or set of laws, there was only the rule of jungle and the concept of survival of the fittest was prevailed, which led to the the inferior and the weak to be fed up from such unfairness and intolerance. Therefore, the need of the time was a proper set of rules which treat all homo sapiens equally, evenly and uniformly.
Therefore, the laws, the rules and regulations, the process through which they come into operation and the institutions that apply them, comprise of the legal framework of a country. In many countries, the uncertainty in the application of law and its weak enforcement lead to creation of hindrance in their path towards progress, advancement and development. In the struggle against discrimination and protection of the socially weak and in distributing opportunities in the society, it is the law that makes an important contribution to an equitable and just society so a legal framework can prove to be very helpful in cementing the existing inequalities through law. Law is the regime that orders human activities and relations through systematic application of the force of politically organized society and an aggregate of legislation, judicial precedents and accepted legal principle.
So, law should be responsible enough to protect the rights of every individual, no matter what and regardless of the fact that he or she is an accused or the victim. For instance, a victim should have a right to have his or her allegations investigated and to be informed regarding the progress and protection from the accused etc. Similarly, on the other side, the accused should have a right to apply for bail if he or she has been detained and arrested.
Therefore, laws were not only made but also implemented, but again, those laws became tools in the hands of the powerful and are now used by them, so that they may establish their hegemony, leadership and preponderant influence forgetting that our religion Islam stresses that, “Everyone is equal and no one will get priority over another on the basis of colour, caste, sex or socio-economic strata.”
Unfortunately, laws are made but are not observed. They are confined to mere weapons which are used to bring the weak under power and pressure and no means to bring justice in the society. Even though, the law is for everyone, yet one must think, “who is the justice for?”, because in our country, the traffic signals are red, yellow and green for the general masses but it’s always green for the higher official authorities.
Hypothetically, we see that everyone is subordinate to law and nobody is above law but practically if it happens at the larger scale, we would not have any impediment or stumbling block in our path towards happiness, success and justice.
The Constitution of Pakistan, which is the supreme document, provides the legal and basic scaffold and structure. If the three organs- legislature, executive and judiciary- work transparently and are accountable, then the law can become effective and the ineffective application of law can be made effective by evaluating and considering some of the following factors both at individual level as well as in society. When we talk about the law at the individual level, the most dominant element in attaining justice is “equality” i.e. not only do the rights of the victim need be protected but also the rights of the accused or the offender need to be protected. Both parties shall be given an equal right of representation in any dispute because a person who is rich and wealthy enough when charged even with a minor offence can hire an entire team of legal practitioners for his or her defense, and on the other hand, we see that the person who is less wealthy, is not even entitled to legal aid.
In addition, in our constitution, the rights are not only guaranteed but also protected. The law enforcement agencies should enforce the laws properly and their system should be transparent and crystal clear, because if the rights of an individual are protected then automatically it will result into automatic protection of rights of society at large. There should be a fine balance between protecting the rights and values of society and ensuring that individuals are not disadvantaged in the process. This is only possible if there is proper implementation of rule of law combined with integrity of judiciary.
Despite the fact that the legal framework already exists in our country, there is the need for a national strategy, including new legislative provisions, provided any such legislation is justified fully by the government and is consistent with rule of law and democratic principles.
Last but not least, one may agree with Chief Justice Gerard Brennan, when he says:
“In a democracy, the rule of law is not achieved by raw power but by the public acceptance of the law and by public confidence in institutions which promulgate and administer it.”
I must say this is the time when law should be put into practice and it should be equal for all because the prosperity and sustainable development of a country is based on evenhanded powers and coordination among the three organs of the democratic state. Only then will this country be a reflection of heaven on earth and there will be no fears and depression.