Meaning and Definition of Law, Role and Importance of Law in Society

Law Hub Nepal श्रावण १८, २०७७

Meaning and Definition of law

The term ‘law’ is derived from the old Teutonic word ‘lag’ which means fixed, uniform or constant. Different languages have their own term equivalent to law. The Latin term lex or jus or juris, Spanish term ley, French term droit, Sanskrit term Vidhi and Arabi term Kanoon are used for law in respective languages. Likewise, law is called Dharma in Hindu jurisprudence, Hukm in Islamic and res in German. The term Kanoon which is used in Nepali and recognised as our own term but this term is adopted from Arabi.

Law is a body of rules, boundary or limitation, regulations and binding rule of conduct that controls and regulates human behaviours. Generally, the term law refers to body of rules which governs human behaviours. It also regulates the relations between individuals to individuals and individuals to state. Law is the enforceable body of rules that governs the society by creating rights and duties for people. The rights, liberties and obligations of human beings are regulated through the powerful implementation of law.

The law is a set of rules made by law making authority for the proper regulations of human behaviours in society and to maintain peace and order in the society. Law making authority means federal legislature, provincial legislature or local legislature or modern state. Law is made for the well-being of society and betterment of human life. The main aim of making law is to provide justice to victims. There is no single, precise and universal accepted definition of law because jurists beings born in different phases of time. And different jurist define law on the basis of different aspects.

Definition of Law given by various jurist:

According to Austin, “Law is a command of sovereign backed up by sanctions.”

According to Holland, “Law is a general rule of external human action enforcedby sovereign political authority.”

According to Salmond, “Law may be defined as the body of principles recognised and applied by the state in the administration of justice.”

According to Savigny, “Law is a rule of human action and conduct sanctioned by national usage.”

According to Holmes, “The prophecies of what court will do in fact and nothing more pretentious, are What I mean by law.”

According to Vedas, “Law is the King of King and nothing is mighter than law, by whose aid even weaker may prevail over the strong.”

According to Oxford Dictionary, “Law are the whole system of rules that everyone in the country or society must obey.”

Definition of law according to school of thought:

1. Natural law school : According to this school, “Law is the dictate of reasons.”

2. Analytical School : According to this school, “law is the command of sovereign.”

3. Historical School : According to this school, “Law is not made but found.”

4. Sociological School : According to this school, “Law is social engineering.”

5. Realist School : According to this school, “Law is the practice of court.”

6. Socialist School : According to this school, “Law is an instrument of exploitation and domination.”

In conclusion, from the above explanation and definition, it is clear that law is the whole rules that is made by state for regulating human behaviour for maintaining peace and order in society. Law is necessary for regulating and smooth functioning of state.

Role and Importance of Law in Society

The followings are the role and importance of law in society:

1. Law is an instrument of regulating human behaviour :

Law is made for regulating human behaviours and conduct. Austin says that Law is the command of sovereign backed by sanctions. Law controls the activities of people and maintain peace and security in the society. e.g. criminal law prevents crime and illegal activities in the society by regulating human behaviour by charging punishment to criminals.

2. Law is an instrument of social control :

Law is the most powerful instrument of social control because it controls all the activities of society. Everyone must follow rules and regulations created by authority and if anyone disobey laws then he/she will be punished. Law controls the human behaviours of society and create the sense of living in society with mutual understanding.

3. Law is and instrument of social change :

Law and society keep on changing as per the time and situations. Law changes the society and society also changes the law. Society in past was different from now and law changes the traditional society into modern society. E.g. in the past there was tradition of sati system and slave system but those bad system were abolished by making law by the state.

4. Law is an instrument of environmental protection :

Law also helps to protect environment of society. Like environmental law is a law relating to environment. It deals with the management of environment and strategies for tackling the problems affecting environment. Law prohibits unnecessary and unwanted activities that affects environment and keep environment secure. Article 30 of the constitution of Nepal states that everyone has right to live in clean environment.

5. Law is an instrument of social welfare :

Social welfare is the main objective of welfare state and every states trying to provide more social welfare to it’s citizen. Law provides every individuals with an equal opportunity to improve themselves. According to Benthem, the main aim of law is to achieve maximum happiness of maximum number of people. For example, free education, old pensions and free health insurance etc.

6. Law is an instrument of justice :

Justice is the main aim of making law. Justice is the end of law. Law is only the means to achieve justice. Justice is the way in which people are treated equally and fairly. Law gives justice to victims and punishment to wrong doers. Justice must be fair, right and reasonable. There is a popular saying that Justice delayed is justice denied. According to Salmond, law is the body of principles recognised and applied by the state in the enforcement of justice. The significance of law can be ensured only through justice.

7. Law is an instrument of social engineering :

Roscoe Pound says law is social engineering. Social engineering means balancing the conflicting interests of society i.e. individuals interest, social interest and national interest. When there is conflict between various interests then balance is made between them by mediation and conciliation which is called social engineering.

8. Law is an instrument of development :

Development is the need of current society and law helps the society to be developed by making plans and policies relating to development. Development is possible only with the help of law and we can’t imagine development without any effective law and regulations. So law is the most important instrument which plays the most important role in social development.

(To be admitted in BALLB, one has to pass a tough entrance exam after +2. Law Hub Nepal will continuously publish various materials to help those who want to participate in the entrance exam.

In this context, Anish Tiwari, a Law student, has prepared above material for the frequently asked question in the subjective examination like – (What is law? Describe the role and importance of law in the society.) Tiwari has prepared it on the basis of  various study materials. – Editor)

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