What is Natural School of Jurisprudence?
Natural school of law has a long history which can be traced back to 2500 Years. It mostly starts with Greeks and Romans, through religious teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and its political adaptation by Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. The main idea behind natural law theory is that there exists some morality and justice which is the main basis of law. It can be understood by common logic and natural reason. According to Cicero,
“True law is the right reason in agreement with nature.”
Three main components of Natural law are:
“Natural law as a law which derives its validity from its own inherent values, differentiated by its living and organic properties, from the law promulgated in advance by the state or its agencies.”
Natural law school talks about law which are in harmony with nature
What are the features of Natural School of Jurisprudence?
Naturalists believe that unjust law is no law at all. Man made laws must be in confirmation of natural law. This means that positive law must be in agreement with the natural law principles like justice, reason and morality. Naturalists also opine that where law of a country is immoral the citizens must not obey it.
Natural law is common to all states. For e.g. the principle to not to kill is applicable to each and every state. According to Friedman, ‘Natural law concerns a universal order governing all men’. It is also valid forever as it signifies truth and truth cannot be changed.
The principle of natural law can be understood by reasoning and common sense. Aristotle had said that man can discover the eternal principle of justice by his reason; and because man’s reason is part of nature, the law discovered by reason is called ‘Natural law’.
Justice and Morality are the two pillars of Natural law. Law is based on morality. It shapes public opinion which also influences Law. The basic feature of natural law is that it comes from an absolute source like God or Nature.
Theories of Natural Law:
1. Ancient Theory of Natural Law: There are various Greek philosophers like Heraclitus, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Stoics. Socrates argued that, there is a moral law, which is guided by the nature. Plato in his ‘Republic’ argued that only worthy and intelligent person should be the king. In his ‘The Laws’ advocated legal regulations for human activities, and in personal affairs of human beings. Aristotle defines natural law as “reason unaffected by desires”. He talks about basic principles of Justice and Morality which is having universal validity. According to him natural laws are more valuable than positive laws as natural law is given by nature whereas positive law is merely a product of human mind.
2. Medieval Theory of Natural Law: In medieval times church became much more superior to the governments also. They wanted the dominance of religious philosophy. So they tried to connect law of nature with the law of God. According to St. Augustine divine wisdom was revealed in the scriptures.
3. Renaissance Theory of Natural law: Renaissance period marks a general awakening and resurgence of new ideas in all the fields of knowledge. New discoveries and spreading of knowledge shattered the foundation of the old moral values. Renaissance theory became a theory of “Natural rights of man and states”. The freedom of individual became a feature of natural law.
Decline of natural law philosophy in 19th Century
In 19th Century, Natural law theory came under attack from rationalist and secularist approaches. Thinkers like David Hume and Adam smith (1723-90)
Criticized Natural law theory for its assertion that there was some ultimate metaphysical purpose to human existence.
4. Modern Theory of Natural law: The two world wars gave a great moral challenge to jurists worldwide. A new renaissance of natural law or sociological jurisprudence has emerged as a reaction to positive law. The various theorists of this modern theory were Stammler, Kohler, John Rawls, Jerome hall, Prof. Lon fuller and Finnis. This modern theory believed that there must be a higher set of principles, separate from the positive law, which the later must satisfy if it is to be regarded as valid law.
An Appraisal of Natural law Theory
Natural law theory has successfully come out of the bitter hostility of the positive theory and succeeded in reviving itself with a bigger force. Natural law theory inspired the fathers of the American constitution and has dominated the American Supreme Court. The constitution of India is also having many elements of it. It guarantees fundamental rights to the people also give the power to Supreme Court and high courts to exercise control over Tribunals. The principle of natural justice was incorporated in Article 311 of the Constitution which provides that no civil servant can be dismissed or reduced in rank without giving him a reasonable opportunity of showing cause against the action proposed to be taken against him.
Following are the merits of the natural law theory:
Following are the Demerits of Natural law Theory:
Natural School of Jurisprudence philosophy in modern judicial system
The natural law theory finds its place in the modern judicial system as the principles of natural justice. In natural justice minimum fairness is guaranteed to the person who comes under the judicial system.
These principles are broadly classified into 2 types:
1. Nemo judex in causa sua (Rule against bias): This maxim means that man should not be judge of his own cause, this also means as the impartiality of the judge.
2. Audi Alteram Partem (Right to fair hearing): No one should be condemned unheard. Everyone deserves a chance to put his point before the decision is given. Important ingredients of fair hearing are as follows:
Today Natural law school has come a long way and must not be looked in singularity but with the whole concepts of school of law and their evolutionary existence in pursuit of a better society.