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Law as an Instrument of Social Changes
Law as an Instrument of Social Changes

Law is a form of Social Science. Society and law are closely related to each other. Law tells the nature to live the social life and this also increases with the Economic, Scientific and Technological progress. Law also changes with Social Changes and plays an important role in the fulfillment of Social Needs, so for the fulfillment of social need, there is a provision by constitutional amendment and this is the responsibility of judiciary that law which violates the constitutional provisions, public interests and fundamental rights should be declared void. Legal reforms have been at the centre of the agenda for strategizing gender justice in India.Uniform Civil Code is merged in the Article- 44 by Indian Constitution as a results of social change. It signifies a uniform code of conduct without cast, religion, parentage, community and cultural recognition for all citizens of country and also Artical-21 ‘Protection of life and personal liberty’ as a results of social change. In this article new prison jurisprudence right to Speedy Trial, Right to Free Legal Service, Right to Human Dignity, Right Against Torture have been made some of the components of the fundamental rights. Law is a medium through which social objects can be achieved. So, change of law is must with social changes, otherwise law will be of no value.

Law is rooted in social institutions, in socio-economic network. These social factors influence the course of law or the direction of legal change. This is the outcome of personal and social interactions which are variable and often unpredictable. At the same time, law may itself change norms in various way. For example, in free India, legal abolition of untouchability is an attempt to change a long-standing social norm. Yet it has not succeeded much due to inadequate social support. Thus there is a reciprocal relationship between law and society. The term ‘social change’ is also used to indicate the changes that take place in human interactions and inter-relations. Society is a ‘web-relationship’ and social change obviously means a change in the system of social relationship where a social relationship is understood terms of social processes and social interactions and social organizations. Thus, the term, ‘social change’ is used to indicate desirable variations in social institution, social processes and social organization. It includes alterations in the structure and the functions of the society. Closer analysis of the role of law vis-à-vis social change leads us to distinguish between the direct and the indirect aspects of the role of law.

1. Law plays an important indirect role in regard to social change by shaping have a direct impact on society. For example: A law setting up a compulsory educational system.

2. On the other hand, law interacts in many cases indirectly with basic social institutions in a manner constituting a direct relationship between law and social change. For example: A law designed to prohibit polygamy.

Law plays an agent of modernization and social change. It is also as and indicator of the nature of societal complexity and its attendant problems of integration. Further, the reinforcement of our belief in the age old panchayat system, the abolition of the abhorables practices of untouchability, child marriage, sati dowry, etc are typical illustrations of social change being brought about in the country trough law5.

Law is an effective medium or agency, instrumental in bringing about social change in the country or in any region in particular. Therefore, we rejuvenate our belief that law has been pivotal in introducing changes in the societal structure and relationships and continues to be so. As of today, the decisions of the Court are not just being tested on the touch stone of social justice, but indeed they are being cited of as precursors to ‘social rights’. The Court has pro-actively and vigorously taken up to cause of social justice and has gone to the extent of articulating newer social rights such as the right to food, right to health, right to education Thus, the march of law is clearly in favour of Supreme Court having performed a pro-active role in social change of the languishing masses. It certainly has acted as a catalyst in the process of social transformation of people wherein the dilution of caste inequalities, protective measures for the weak and vulnerable sections, providing for the dignified existence of those living under unwholesome conditions, etc, are the illustrious examples in this regards. Social change involves an alteration of society; its economic structure, values and beliefs, and its economic, political and social dimensions also undergo modification. However, social change does not affect all aspects of society in the same manner.

While much of social change is brought about by material changes such as technology, new patterns of production, etc, other conditions are also necessary. For example, like we have discussed it before, legal prohibition of untouchability in free India has not succeeded because of inadequate social support. Nonetheless, when law cannot bring about change without social support, it still can create certain preconditions for social change. Moreover, after independence, the Constitution of India provided far-reaching guidelines for change. Its directive principle suggested a blue-print for a new nation. The derecognizing of caste-system, equality before the law, and equal opportunities for all in economic, political and social spheres were some of the high points of the Indian Constitution. Some areas where law has given the influence for social change are:
1. Area of agrarian reform policy and legislation;

2. Area of implementation of untouchability abolition law;

3. The normative aspects of employment and educational reservation for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes under the Constitution;

4. The allied field of abolition of bonded labour;

5. The problem of substantive impact of changes in the family law marriage, equal rights of women to inheritance and dowry

For purposes of constitutional competence, these actions are characterized as those coming under the writ jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India under Article 32 of our Constitution and the various High Courts, under Article 226. The traditional extent of writ jurisdiction was of course a colonial inheritance from the British-era and the remedies that could be invoked were those of habeas corpus, quo warranto, mandamus, prohibition and certiorari. However, the Indian Courts have pushed the boundaries of constitutional remedies by evolving the concept of a ‘continuing mandamus’ which involves the passing of regular directions and the monitoring of their implementation by executive agencies. In addition to designing remedies for ensuring that their orders are complied with, the Courts have also resorted to private law remedies such as injunctions and ‘stay’ orders in Public Interest Litigation (PIL) matters. The Supreme Court of India has been able to shape appropriate remedies for a variety of situations on account of the wide discretionary powers for granting constitutional remedies that have been conferred on it as per the language of Article 32 of the Constitution. Furthermore, under Article 141 of the Constitution of India, the Supreme Court’s rulings are considered to be the ‘law of the land’ and become binding precedents for all courts and tribunals in the country’s legal system. Hence, the Supreme Court’s decisions in Public Interest Litigation (PIL) matters have progressively shaped a unique jurisprudence that gives due weight age to the interests of the underprivileged and backward sections in society. A significant consequence of this is that creative remedies designed for particular fact-situations come to be widely reported to by Courts all over the country. In this way, the rulings given in PIL cases create an active judicial dialogue within the whole legal system.

Bihar Legal Support Society v. The Chief Justice of India & Ors:
“The majority of the people of our country are subjected to this denial of ‘access to justice’ and overtaken by despair and helplessness, they continue to remain victims of an exploitative society where economic power is concentrated in the hands of a few and it is used for perpetuation of domination over large masses of human beings…… The strategy of public interest litigation has been evolved by this Court with a view to bringing justice within the easy reach of the easy reach of the poor and disadvantaged sections of the community.”

Keshavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala.
By a narrow majority of 7-6 it was ruled that Parliament’s power of amendment was not absolute and it could not amend the ‘Basic structure’ of the Constitution, which in the opinion of the judges consisted of elements such as democracy, rule of law, secularism, separation of powers and judicial review.9 The said decision did not curry favour with the Indira Gandhi-led government of the day and three of the judges who ruled for the majority were superseded in the matter of appointment to the position of Chief Justice of India in 1973. Nevertheless, the decision had given a clear signal in defense of judicial independence.

People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India,
where the Court sought to ensure compliance with the policy of supplying mid-day meals in government-run primary schools. The mid-day meal scheme had been launched with much fanfare a few years ago with the multiple objectives of encouraging the enrolment of children from low-income backgrounds in schools and also ensuring that they received adequate nutrition. However, there had been widespread reports of problems in the implementation of this scheme such as the pilferage of foodgrains. As a response to the same, the Supreme Court issued orders to the concerned governmental authorities in all States and Union Territories, while giving elaborate directions about the proper publicity and implementation of the said scheme.

Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus ticket to trading on derivatives markets. Property law defines rights and obligations related to the transfer and title of personal and real property. Trust law applies to assets held for investment and financial security, while tort law allows claims for compensation if a person's rights or property are harmed. If the harm is criminalized in legislation, criminal law offers means by which the state can prosecute the perpetrator. Constitutional law provides a framework for the creation of law, the protection of human rights and the election of political representatives. Administrative law is used to review the decisions of government agencies, while international law governs affairs between sovereign states in activities ranging from trade to environmental regulation or military action. The legal response to a given social or technological problem is therefore in itself a major social action which may aggravate a given problem or alleviate and help to solve it.

# Korotayev, Andrey (2004). World Religions and Social Evolution of the Old World Oikumene Civilizations: A Cross-cultural Perspective (First ed.). Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press. ISBN 0-7734-6310-0. p. no1-8.
# “Family Law And Religion -The Indian Experience” 10 Feb. 2009 p. no 1-23.
# New York University Review of Law and Social Change, 13, 1-50.
# Law & Society Review, 1977 p. no. 571 – 588.
# Freiberg, P. (1991, January). The guru of prevention calls for social change. APA Monitor, pp. 28-29.
# West Roman Empire in the 4th and 5th cent. and lasted into the 15th cent., i.e., into the period of the Renaissance. The ideas and institutions of western civilization derive largely from the turbulent events of the Early Middle Ages and the rebirth of culture in the later years.
# timeline after the middle Ages. Modern history can be further broken down into the early modern period and the late modern period. Contemporary history describes the span of historic events that are immediately relevant to the present time.

# Liberty and Social Relatives”, 1979 p. no. 85-104.
# Northern Rhodesia”, 1959 p. no. 318-319
Lecturer in Law, Nandini Nagar Vidhi Mahavidyalaya Nawabganj, Gonda (U.P)
. AIR 1987 SC 38.
. (1973) 4 SCC 225 .
. (2007) 1 SCC 728.

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