Law as an instrument of Social Change

By- Huda Zehra, a student at Unity Degree, Lucknow

Law is the set of rules and regulations which is used to govern and control the society. Austin defines Law “a command given by superior to an inferior”. People with different languages, caste, colour, creed, religion, gender and background resides in the society and it is very important that no one has to face the discrimination on any of the ground. Social change is necessary and every society wants social change because change is the law of nature and everyone welcomes the good changes. Law plays a very significant role in upbringing the social change as it maintains the balance between the society and individuals. A society without law doesn’t consist of harmony, cooperation and peace.  

It is said that if you want to know about any society then focus on the laws enacted by that society and you will know what kind of society it is. Society is corrupted with many serious issues like dowry, poverty, corruption, rape, lynching, child marriage, child labour, sexual harassment etc., and all these issues can only be eliminate by rules and regulations made by law, statutes an various acts. From several years various types of ill practices came to an end only due to the development of law.

Interrelation between Law and Social Change:  

The relationship between law and social change is old and natural. Various researches prove that law is the best instrument for the social change. The word Social Change is common in economics, political science, sociology and law. Social change refers to the transformation or change in the culture, practices and values of the society. On the other hand Law regulates the society and better knows that what is right and what is wrong. Law is not only for making rules and regulations on which the society should run but also to eliminate the ill practices from the root of the society and ensures welfare of the people. 

Values and customs that the society follows routinely and continuously took the shape of the law. People of the society must follow that values and customs in their life. 

The Indian Constitution as an instrument for social change:       

The Constitution of India is the supreme law of our country which came into force on 26th January, 1950. It consists of a set of Fundamental Rights in Part III that provides certain rights to every citizen of India and everyone has equal rights. No person is allowed to take away the fundamental rights of another person. The Indian Constitution also aims at abolishing the evil practices deeply rooted in the Indian society like dowry, child labour, child marriages, sexual harassment, rape, poverty, corruption and many more. It is true that with the help of supreme law our country has overcome from many social problems.

Article 14 of Indian Constitution provide us Right to Equality in which all individuals are equal in the eyes of law and no one will be discriminated on the basis of caste, colour, creed, religion, gender or any other ground and no person should be specially treated in any field. This article acts as an instrument of social change because earlier there was a huge discrimination between the high class and low class peoples in which higher class suppress the lower class, but now only due to our supreme Constitution everyone is on equal scale.

Method in which law can be used an instrument for social change: 

Law as an instrument for social change consists of mainly two aspects:

  • Law changes the society, means that every person of the society will have to follow the rules and regulations made by the law. When law changes the society then development and welfare of every individual takes place. For example, Article 17 which talks about prohibition of untouchability and due to this law the untouchability get abolished which brings a kind of social change in the society. 
  • Society changes the law, means that society itself makes some rules according to their needs and requirement. The laws that society makes are based on customs, traditions and legislation. When society changes the law according to them then it is a sign of wisdom and achievement. For example, Sati Pratha was a mandatory custom practised by the people; later several reformers took steps to abolish it and in this way they change the law.

Some important social changes of the society:   

If law acts as an instrument for social change, then the people who make the law have the biggest role in it. There are certain important changes in the society, they are as:

  • Abolition of Sati: Reformers takes steps to abolish Sati, a tradition in which the wife was burnt along with her husband’s body. Raja Rammohan Roy was the first person who came forward against this ugly tradition.
  • Racial discrimination:  Discrimination or inequality on the basis of colour and origin called as racial discrimination. Several parts of India, Africa and America face this situation to very long which is unfair and wrong. Now our Constitution has provided us Right to Equality which means that every person is equal in the eyes of law.
  • Exploitation of women and children: The exploitation of women and children is the common issue from earlier time. Men were given higher status then women and thinks that the only duty of women is to look after the family and their children. Exploitation of children is also seen in the form of child marriage, child labour and child trafficking. Now the provision of equality of status and opportunities has been provided for women by the Indian Constitution.
  • Abolition of child marriage and child labour: Prohibition of child Marriage Act, 2006 deals with the elimination of child marriage and the law has also made certain provisions for the abolition child labour.
  • Right to information: Constitution provides us fundamental right of freedom to speech and expression and also includes the right to get information.
  • Other social changes such as climate change, protection of fundamental rights, public interest litigation, rape, gender equality, bonded labourers; dowry death and status of backward classes were also seen in the society.

Law plays a vital role in changing the society and brings so many changes that ensure the welfare of the society.  A lot of social laws have been passed by the government and the society successfully overcomes from many social issues like dowry death, human trafficking, women exploitation, illiteracy and many others. Many changes have been made, but there are still such issues, which it is the responsibility of the law to solve.

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