Limitations to the Application of Rule of Law
The rule of law is defined as the supremacy of law over everybody in a political system. Rule of law is seen as a provision made by the constitution with emphasis on supremacy of the law, equality before the law and the presence or inclusion of the principle of individual rights.
The law should be able to guide every individual and activities in a state. According to Professor A.V. Dicey, the political leaders that are entrusted with the affairs of the state should abide by the rule of law and govern the people according to the provisions of the constitution of that particular countiy.
He maintained that when this is respected, there will be absence of arbitrary government. In addition, powers in government, should not be concentrated in the hands of a few individual but should be exercised by different institutions to make for good governance.
What are the Limitations to the Application of Rule of Law?
- Immunity of Heads of States: He may not be sued or appear in court. This privilege is not extended to the citizens and it is a limitation to the rule of law.
- Diplomatic Immunity: Diplomats cannot be prosecuted in the country where they are residing as accredited representatives of their country.
- Immunity of the Parliament: The law makers are immune from every utterance, actions or statements made in parliament.
- Delayed Justice: Justice delayed is agreed to be justice denied. The reasons are that some individuals have spent years in custody with their cases frequently postponed.
- Tribunals: They are not constitutional or legal courts. Membership of a tribunal in most cases are people without legal knowledge. Individual rights for a fair hearing are always denied them.
- Delegated Legislation: Most bodies or organisations exercising this power of legislation have often made it possible for the rights of citizens to be violated and even without the possibility of obtaining any redress.
- The rich and the privileged few: They often use their wealth and positions to prevent justice. This is a limitation to the application of the rule of law.
- Types of Government: A one party system can grow into dictatorship, thereby limiting the application of the rule of law.
- The Military in Politics: The intervention of the military in the political process and suspension of the constitution are limitations to the rule of law.
- State of Emergency: If a country is in crises or about to fight a war, state of emergency could be declared. Arbitrary rule may be enthroned and citizens may be denied of some of their rights.
- Customs and Traditions: In the process oftlying to respect customs and traditions of a particular people, the application of the rule of law may be neglected.
- Unlawful Detention, Arrests and Torture: Certain punishment administered by the law enforcement agent e.g. the police, are limitations to the application of the rule of law.
- Attitude of Government: In most cases, the executive might refuse to honour the decisions of the law courts.
- Illiteracy, Poverty and Ignorance: This can limit the application of the rule of law.