Laws, their purpose, and the need of the Citizen: Guest Post

Human Beings, for all we know, are considered as ‘Social Animals’. What does that mean? Basically, we live in groups with a well-defined hierarchy of control and power. And to have a system that works in the long term, we need some Rules and Regulations. Some Dos and Don’ts. In ancient times, we had “Leaders” of our “Tribes”, which were the social settlements of the people at that time. These leaders were the people who were responsible for conflict resolution. In more modern times, we saw Kings, their ministerial boards, and eventually the “Judiciary” as we know it now.

Basically, we’ve always had something to give us references as to what is socially acceptable or not at that point in time. Of late, our Laws have tried to been made as the rules that control acceptable conduct in society in today’s times.

Now that I have set the base as something which is easily acceptable, I’m going to mess a little with your head now. During the British Raj, our farmers paid a hefty tax on their produce, the ‘Lagaan’, which we all know about, all thanks to Aamir Khan. We know that Lagaan was oppressive on our people, but I’m sure the British regime would have passed it quoting it to be necessary for rationing their citizens and the soldiers of the Colonial British Army, and it’s various other troops and battalions from colonized nations fighting in the name of the Queen.

We are also familiar with the ‘Caste System’, which in itself has Historically been a system of rules and regulations which is highly oppressive in nature to those whom it considers “Low Class” and even “Untouchables”. Up until 1865, that is, up to 82 years in Independent America, slavery was considered Legal. South Africa had Apartheid as a Law since 1990-1994. Heck, women weren’t allowed to vote. These were all state-sanctioned Laws. These existed and
came into power because they satisfied the ‘morality’ of those in power back then. But, these ended, right? How did that happen? People with a different set of moral values found a voice, and they propagated their ideas. When they did that, the downtrodden felt they had found a voice, and they joined. And then, whatever happens to oppressive regimes when the oppressed find their voices, happened. These all became a thing of the past. Laws changed. Because laws are supposed to serve the society by bringing normalcy and welfare to ALL. If they oppress some to favor the others, what good are they?

But any law that has been written is not set in stone. Like I mentioned before, in a Democratic setting, laws are supposed to be congruent with the morality of the society at any point in time. With time, our moralities change. Therefore, to keep up with changing times, laws are required to be amended. If possible, they are changed, but if they are really obsolete, they are done away with. Like the British did away with Sedition in 2009 because no well-functioning Democracy has a place for such an autocratic and archaic Law. The colonizer has done away with it, even though some of its prior colonies haven’t. But that’s a conversation for another time. The Judgement of the Supreme Court practically abolishing Article 377 of IPC, which criminalized same-sex relationships and marriages, and considered them illegal and ‘unnatural’, is a prime example of how Archaic Laws should be, and normally are done away with.

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How can Love between two consenting adults be considered illegal and unnatural?
Is the concept of Laws even necessary? Absolutely YES. For any system to thrive, it needs a user manual, its own set of Dos and Don’ts. But that being said, ensuring that the Laws stay relevant with moving times and are not used to unjustly benefit some over others is a very continuous process in which all of us, as a part of this system need to participate.

Let’s put the impending rant on a back burner for now and think how our Laws have come into being. What is the thought process behind them all? In a modern democracy, such as ours, a proposed Law is put in front of the Parliament, where our representatives, yours and mine, sit, study, argue, and vote on the proposed piece of Legislation. At least that’s what they’re supposed to do. That was the process behind it, a big part of which is voting. For simplicity’s sake, I am going to assume that our representatives vote the way their conscience would find appropriate for the system to run smoothly. What does that tell us? We need to ensure that the ideology that we send to represent us is in congruence with what we consider as a “peaceful, inclusive and just” ideology, or else the Laws formed thereon are unjust, defeating the whole purpose of creating Laws to give justice through our established systems.

Our system right now is not a just system. Had it been just, Kuldeep Sengar would not have been a free man for as long as he was, ensuring that the family of the woman he raped is killed. Rapists wouldn’t roam free in their streets. False rape accusers too would’ve been taken to task. George Floyd wouldn’t have died, and neither would Jayaraj and Bennicks have. Kashmir would’ve been a peaceful place. Punjab would’ve been given its dues. Mere talking about
dissent against the Government in power would not have been Seditious. You must be thinking that how do I, a measly little person, take this fight against the all-mighty system? That’s the fun part, you do not. It all begins with choosing your representative correctly. Use public platforms to question the candidates. Hold them Accountable. They have been elected to serve you. Ensure that they know that. Ensure that their Ethical values coincide with
the ideals of the General Public. This works on the assumption that an overwhelming majority of us is some sort of a commonly acceptable Ethical group of people. I’m pretty sure even the Nazis would’ve had their justifications for their rampant killings of the Jews.

Our Laws are meant to serve us, remember that. They are supposed to provide a system of living (not mere existence) where everyone is held accountable for their actions and eventually, justice prevails. But that is an ever-ongoing process because as mentioned above, the meaning of justice changes as the understanding of the people changes. Here comes our role as citizens and a part of this system. We need to look out for the Laws we find which we consider out of time and the Laws which we find against the acceptable Fabric of Social Harmony. That being said, we also need to be prepared for the chance that we could be in the wrong. Nobody knows everything about everything. I need you to be honest to yourself when you take a stand when it comes to Society and its laws, and accept if you’re proven wrong with grace. After all, we are looking for overall improvement, right?
So, you find something off about an existing/upcoming Legislation, you take an informed stand against it as to why you feel that the Legislation is not suitable for the time and place that we live in. You find your voice; you take a stand. Use the beauty of Social Media to find like-minded voices. Amplify. Protest, write about it, sing about it, while staying within the boundaries of ethical law. Make your voice heard. That is the least, a functioning democratic system of being can demand of its citizens.

There will be repercussions, they could be directly upon you. There always is a cost that comes with taking a stand against the authorities in power. But, in the end, the decision is yours. You can either tackle the cost of taking a stand against the status quo of your times, which will eventually diminish provided you get the public opinion to support you or the cost that comes with living in a world that is governed by unjust rules of engagement.

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The laws keep a check on the citizens they govern, and the citizens, in turn, keep a check of the laws their representatives make to govern them. This is how the eventual system of checks and balances will ensure that no part of this system reaches a position to affect an abuse of its powers.

I know the world of Politics and Law-making is not as simple and 2 dimensioned I have sort of presented in here. I also know that our ethics are all over the place in today’s times, or I guess that’s what the News Media amplifies and represents. But a man can anyway wish for a better world to live in, right? So, here’s me wishing for it, trying to do my bit by taking a stand from time to time, and hoping that someday you will too.


All the views presented in this article belong to the author. The Notorious Reader is in no way responsible for them. These opinions in no way reflect the view of the notorious reader website or the people affiliated to it. 

Gurkirat Guest Post Thenotoriousreader

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