What is Law?
When a State passes an enactment, it is called law. In simple terms, it is a strict rule or regulation that instructs you to do or not to do a certain thing. A violation of the law may result in punishment. Law is vital in a society as it defines the rights, duties, and responsibilities of a citizen. Being a citizen, you have to act in a certain way with other citizens and the State. For instance, if someone cheats you for money, it means that person has violated a rule, and you have the right to seek justice under the law. Governments across the world are responsible to enforce the law. In short, law caters to the psychological requirements of society as a whole. Law appears in several forms such as treaties, Acts, constitutional provisions, rights, and duties.
What is Morality?
Morality is a set of social principles that determine the right and wrong acts of a person. When a person performs an act, his intention is taken into consideration in morality. For instance, if a person steals from another, he has a negative intention, and in morality, this act will be termed wrong; however, if a person offers a gift to someone, his/her intention will be considered nice and right in morality. In short, morality is deeply connected to the internal motive of a person that appears in the form of his/her external conduct. The basis of morality is ethics, customs and traditions, religions, beliefs, and community teachings. Morality is formed by social concepts and not by the State or any authority. Morality has no provision of punishments for the wrong acts committed by a person. It is simply based on a hypothetical concept that the person who commits wrong acts will suffer sometime in the future.
What do experts say about the relationship between Law and Morality?
Some thinkers believe strongly that there is a special relationship between these two concepts, i.e., law and morality. Positivists, who are more concerned with the bright side of theories, suggest the law should be studied separately. It means you should not mix laws and morals together as it will lead to confusion. However, according to some jurists, certain laws are based on morals, and there is a thin line between these two concepts.
Difference Between Law and Morality
Law is a set of rules to be followed by a citizen. If a citizen does not follow the rule, he/she is punished by the State. On the contrary, morality is a set of ethical practices that govern right and wrong acts. In India, one can find several moral principles from various religions, regions, and communities; however, a unified judiciary takes care of the law.
The State enforces the law. A community or a government body can evaluate whether the people follow the law or not, but there is no authority to govern moral practices.
Morality had evolved way before the concept of the law came into the existence. You can find that in ancient times people blindly believed in moral practices and diligently followed them; however, with the evolution of the State laws, morality took a backseat.
If a person violates the law, he/she is punished; however, if a person has wrong intentions, he/she is not liable to be punished by the State or any authority.
Laws are strict and are followed rigorously by society. It is not a person’s choice to follow the law; he has to abide by the law; however, it is a person’s choice to follow a moral principle.
Law refers to the conduct of a person while dealing with other persons or the State, but moral principles are applicable to the conduct of a person even when he/she is alone and not dealing with anyone.
Law does not consider the internal motive of a person, while moral principles focus on the intention of a person.
In the case of morality, there is no clarity because morals differ from place to place, community to community, and religion to religion; however, in the case of laws, there are defined Acts such as The Contract Law (1872), Transfer of Property Act (1882), etc.
Relation Between Law and Morality
Law and Morality have been derived from a common source
In the initial days of human civilization, there was no law and order; however, people were scared of moral practices. They knew that if they would commit something wrong, they will have to repent in the future. Later, during the evolution of the concept of the law, a few moral principles were incorporated into the law that was beneficial for the overall society. Hence, we can find several laws based on moral principles, but they are strict and enforceable. For example, abortion, which does not fulfill certain conditions, is illegal in India, but if we trace the origin of this law, we can determine that aborting a child is against the will of God or the Universe. This law is based on the moral principle and is frowned upon by several communities across the world.
The ultimate goal of the law is to encourage moral practices
Many scholars have stated that justice is based on morality; therefore, the main objective of the administration of justice is morality. Morals are the end result of the law. For instance, stealing is a shameful act in several religions, and it is punishable under Article 378 of the Indian Penal Code.
Morals and laws are a part of society
Morals are connected to society, and even laws are interrelated with society. Hence, some jurists believe that the law should be related to morals.
How do laws overrule morality?
Laws have often overruled moral principles and traditions. For instance, it is moral to visit temples and perform religious festivals, but under certain situations, e.g., during a pandemic, temples are closed, and religious processions are stopped for a limited time by enforcing a government order. In this case, the people had no other choice than to follow the legal orders of the government. Hence, under certain conditions, morality takes a backseat, and the law becomes the master.
It is challenging to define the relationship between law and morality and determine whether they are similar or completely different. But we must ensure that law ensures justice to all. The question of being moral does not arise if the law provides maximum support to society in terms of fair justice. People can take care of their moral values and principles on a personal level. But at the same time, they should adhere to the law and abide by it.