Author: Devansh Singh, Student at Bennett University, Greater Noida
‘Rule of Law’ is recognized as one of the most important classical principles of administrative law, which serves as the very basis for the administration and is categorized as the heart of administrative law. It primarily denotes ‘Supremacy of Law’, which simply means that law is supreme and no one is above the law, and thus, ensures the absence of arbitrary powers, thereby protecting the individuals against the arbitrary action of the administrative authorities. ‘Rule of law’ mainly promotes equality before law between the general masses and the administrative authorities as per Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. The said expression ‘Rule of Law’ has basically derived from a French phrase known as “la principle de legality”, which essentially means ‘Principles of Legality’. It connotes a government based on the principles of law and not of individuals. This concept of rule of law was first originated by a British jurist called Sir Edward Coke, which was subsequently propounded and developed by Professor A.V. Dicey, who is also known as the “Father of Rule of Law”. According to Dicey, ‘Rule of Law’ meant “the absolute supremacy or predominance of regular law as opposed to the influence of arbitrary power and excludes the existence of arbitrariness, of prerogative, or even wide discretionary authority on the part of the government.” So, in brevity, we can say that the rule of law, by and large, imbibes the notions of equality, fairness, and non-arbitrariness and ensures that all the affairs of the state between the individuals across all the sections of society must be governed and performed in consonance with the laws and nothing shall be governed by an arbitrary power so that no one is subjected to any sort of harsh or uncivilized treatment and is humiliated. Hence, it is considered as the counter theory for arbitrariness and provides individuals the fair procedure in cases of abuse of power, and thus, safeguards the society from the error of judgment as the society is not governed by an individual. In this contemporary era, the relevance of ‘Rule of Law’ is such that it is regarded as a key ingredient in all organized and disciplined societies as it plays a huge role in forming the basic framework of all legal systems. Moreover, it is considered as one of those mediums by which the unconstrained powers of the executive are kept under control via the supremacy of courts. Furthermore, it also provides supremacy to institution of justice, i.e., judiciary. So, the core essence of rule of law in India is that it serves as the foundation of administrative law and aligns itself with the notion of citizen rights, thereby opposing the anarchy and arbitrariness of the administrative authorities. Thus, it forms the most integral part of the administration in safeguarding the rights of the individuals and in uplifting the fundamental rights of the citizens of India.