Team Law Community
June 23, 2020


Life,Liberty and Equality. We often come across these concepts and engage in discourse about how natural law is the foundation for all positive/man-made law. It would be prudent to engage in a philosophical discussion as to what natural law is all about so as to understand how the whole human rights debate stems from these ideas laid down by great philosophers like Rousseau, Hobbes,Locke, Rawls, and so on.

Being born as a human being guarantees certain rights which cannot be abridged and need to be protected by the establishment. It would be pertinent to turn our attention towards the Fundamental Rights provided under Part III of the Constitution. The framers of this sacred document interpreted the natural law progression of ‘human rights’ asserted by various thinkers in a manner which serves the principles on which any democracy rests.


Malleable Constitution: Jurisprudential Evolution

From the above, it can be inferred that the link between these medieval/early modern thinkers is that of dynamism. The society is an ever changing entity and the law needs to adapt to these changes so as to ensure that the pillars of justice, equity and reasonableness stand strong in any circumstance whatsoever.

The vision behind the Fundamental Rights was a society wherein individuals would coexist and despite interruptions on enjoyment of these rights, the morality of this ever twisting social fabric would never get perverted. The primary argument that was propagated by natural law theorists was the inalienability of these rights which is reflected in the rights provided for by the Indian Constitution. The harmony between philosophy and law can be better explained through the landmark judgement of Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India,wherein the right to sexuality was recognized as an integral part of Right to Life under Article 21.

A paradigm shift in the society requires a change in the existing legal framework. This was the crux of the above mentioned Apex Court judgement whereby it was held that the right to self-determination is an integral part of human life and is entitled to protection under the Constitution. The concept of dynamism, which had been discussed earlier, comes into play here to expand the ambit of ‘life’ under Article 21. These civil liberties which extend to the freedom of expression, the right to privacy and equal treatment form a crucial part of the human rights debate and need to be discussed wholeheartedly.

By striking off that part of Section 377, IPC which criminalized consensual sexual intercourse among individuals of the same sex, the Apex Court took a major step towards the idea of an ‘inclusive society.’ The idea of constitutional morality is thus an extension of the harmonious relation between natural and positive law since it involves such ideals and principles which are required to create a welfare state.



Just like a ‘state of nature’ cannot exist and gives way to a social contract for protection of the God-given rights, in a similar manner the rule of law dictates the superiority of constitutional morality over what the society considers moral or natural. It can therefore be asserted that Part III of the Indian Constitution is a tool which serves two important purposes:

·      Bridging the gap between the archaic philosophy of natural law and the modern understanding of human rights owing to its dynamic nature;

·      Being a tool for transforming the society into an even better version of itself and closer to what our framers imagined it to be.

Despite such a great foundation laid by the sacred document, i.e. our Constitution, the fact of the matter is that these morals are often desecrated and we stray further away from a welfare state. The administrative framework that exists in India often fails to ensure that the constitutional morality reigns superior over the moral constructs created by the society. It would be interesting to generate a constructive discussion as to how can greater harmony between the philosophy of law and its actual application on the ground level be ensured.

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