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Lex non a rege est alterius

Lex non a rege est alterius

Literal Meaning: The Law must not be violated even by the King

Origin: Latin

Explanation

The Latin Legal Maxim- “Lex non a rege est alterius” underscores the concept that the law is supreme and even the sovereign (King) is not above the law. This is a foundational concept in many legal systems, including that of India, where the rule of law is a key principle of the Constitution.

The Magna Carta of 1215 established the constitutional principles which curb the power of the King in medieval England. Earlier it was believed that the monarch (King) derived the power from God, also they are considered representatives of God on Earth. Thus, through the constitutional principles, there is a shift of sovereignty towards the people from the divine law.

India’s legal system is developed through colonial influence which gives emphasis on the principle of rule of law and judicial independence. The Independence of India marked the introduction of the written Constitution, which is regarded as the supreme law of the land. It even states that nobody is above the law irrespective of their position or power in society, thereby promoting justice, equality, and the rule of law. The maxim is regarded as the guiding principle that underscores the country’s commitment towards establishing a just and equitable society.

Application

In India, this maxim’s application can be seen in the following forms-

  • Constitutional Supremacy- In India, the Constitution of India is regarded as the supreme law of the land, where the rule of law prevails, which implies that even the President and the Prime Minister are subject to the provisions of the Constitution.
  • Separation of Power- The Indian legal system provides a system of check balance among the branches of government (Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary), thus emphasizing that no branch should dominate the other.
  • Judicial Review- The Judiciary has the power to review the constitutionality of any act, law, or provision that is inconsistent or ultra vires to the Constitutional provision,
  • Rule of law- The principle of Rule of Law is a core element that describes the Lex non a rege est alterius, in the best way. It is evident from many cases, that even the politicians, government officials, and other individuals having position and power in the society are accountable for their actions.

Benefits of Lex non a rege est alterius

  • Ensures Rule of Law- As stated above, this principle of the rule of law is the core element that describes this maxim in the best manner. The Rule of Law promotes consistency, stability, and predictability in the legal system of the country.
  • Promotes Accountability- Through the Principle of Separation of Power, the individuals are accountable for their actions, which is a fundamental aspect of a democratic society.
  • Ensure Public Participation- Every democratic society emphasizes the greater participation of the public at large. When all individuals irrespective of their position and power are treated equally under the law, it ensures public trust and confidence.

Criticism of Lex non a rege est alterius

  • Challenges in Implementation- Issues such as corruption undermine the application of the rule of law in society. Sometimes political influence is evident in the society which will undermine the effectiveness of the rule of law.
  • Judicial Overreach- Though the Judiciary is empowered with the principle of judicial review sometimes it is evident that the judiciary encroach upon the domain of legislative and executive branches of government.
  • Strict Interpretation- We know that law is dynamic and subject to adaptation to changing societal circumstances but due to strict interpretation it can lead to rigidity in law and outdating of law.

Case Law

  • Indira Nehru Gandhi v Raj Narain and others (1975)- The Supreme Court reinforced the principle of the rule of law and stated that not even the Prime Minister, is above the law. In this case, the Supreme Court of India invalidated the election of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on the grounds of electoral malpractice, demonstrating the supremacy of the law over executive authority.
  • S.R. Bommai v Union of India (1994)- In this case, the Supreme Court examined the extent of the President’s power to dismiss state governments under Article 356 of the Constitution. The Court ruled that such decisions are subject to judicial review. This case affirmed that the exercise of constitutional powers by the executive must conform to the Constitution, reinforcing the supremacy of law over executive action.

The Indian legal system upholds the principle of “Lex non a rege est alterius,” which guarantees that the rule of law governs the nation, through its constitutional framework and judicial rulings.

Also Read: 
Rights of undertrial prisoners in India
How To Send A Legal Notice In India

Sarita Gupta
Sarita Gupta
I graduated and secured Third Rank under my University. Currently, I am pursuing my post graduation in Law with dual specialization in Constitutional Law and Cyber Law.
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