Posted On : October 21, 2020
Listen to this article

Table of Contents

Natural law is the body of universal moral principles which has laid down the ethical and moral guidelines to regulate human conduct. It is also known as the Law of Nature. Natural law exists, even when it is not recognized by the government or state. Natural law theory has influenced the enactment of common law in England. There are various proponents of the natural law like Aristotle, Plato, Hobbes, Cicero, etc.

Revival of Natural Law

Towards the end of 19th century the ‘natural law’ theories revived due to many reasons, some of which are:

  • As a reaction against the 19th-century legal theories which exaggerated the importance of positive law (law as it is) which caused the need for its revival.
  • The scientists themselves have accepted that scientific study is based on certain pre-supposed notions and in contrast to the concept of time and space the changes in the scientific investigation also became possible.
  • It was realized that abstract or vague thinking was not completely futile, as they became guidelines or a code of conduct.
  • With the pace of new emerging and increasing problems, positivists realized its helplessness.
  • The result of materialism on the society and altered socio-political conditions compelled the 20th- century legal thinkers to look for some value-oriented ideology which could help to prevent moral degradation of people in general.
  • Both the world wars had created havoc in the world and morals, and principles had no place in the world. And it was realized that it is the need of the hour to formulate such laws which should be based on natural law principles.

UDHR and Natural Law

The principles of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) are the perfect example to show the reason why natural law is important, and it exists today. The United Nations General Assembly adopted UDHR on 10th December 1948. It came in the wake of the disastrous results of both the World Wars which took millions of lives and the world incurred a huge economic loss as well. In the 19th century, the positive law became prominent but after a short time, it was felt that natural law was equally important.When the war was going on, they adopted some of the basic human rights like freedom of religion, speech, etc. The charter of UDHR committed all member states to promote universal respect for one and all without any distinction of race, sex, language or religion.

Proponents of Natural Law

In regard to the revival of the natural law theory, the main contribution has been made by John M Finnis and Lon Fuller.

John Finnis

  • He defines law as “primarily the rules made by regulative legal rules by an effective authority for a complete community.” He has a very different perspective about natural law. He considers natural law neither in the relation to human nature or metaphysics.
  • The Supreme Court of United States in the case of Lawrence v Texas, has addressed the issue of morality and the need for natural law. Finnis has tried to restate and provide modern analysis and interpretation to natural law. He also disposes of two important misconceptions about the theory of natural law:
  • He denies the fact that natural law is derived from objectivity and a set pattern of behaviour but instead asserts that it is an ascertainable from inside knowledge of innate motivation which is different in different persons
  • Natural law does not claim view that law is not law if it contradicts morality.

He has also laid down seven basic principles of human nature:

  1. Life
  2. Knowledge
  3. Play
  4. Aesthetic pleasure
  5. Sociability
  6. Practical reasonableness
  7. Religion

Lon Fuller

He rejects the notion of natural law as a body of authoritative higher law, and that a man’s conduct should be measured in light of these principles. No natural law theory can be accepted which attempts to lay down in advance an eternal, unchanging code of nature. Rather, he suggests that a new name is suggested for an old phenomenon. He suggests the term ‘Eunomics’ which he defines as “the theory or study of good order and workable arrangement”. With this he warns that Eunomics must not attempt any orthodoxy or doctrine of binding ultimate ends.

According to him, the integrity of the laws is determined primarily by the process which it uses to accomplish its goals. The morality that makes law possible requires completion of 6 conditions:

  • There must be formation of general rules to guide actions
  • These rules framed must be made known to public
  • The rules should be prospective in nature, meaning thereby they should suit to future and not regressive
  • They should be framed in such a way that they are comprehensive and easily understandable
  • These should be consistent with other rules
  • They should be stable in a reasonable way, that is should not be changed too frequently.

Indian Constitution and Natural Law:

Indian Constitution is based on the pillars of Natural Justice, which is a revised version of natural law. Although the Constitution does not specifically talk about the principle of natural justice/law, the provisions are embodied in this sense. Starting from the Preamble, the words Justice inclusive of social, economic and political and equality of status and though, etc. prove that natural law principles are there in the Indian Constitution.

Apart from the Preamble, Article 14 ensures equality before the law to all the citizens without any discrimination of any sort. Then there is an Article 21which guarantee Right to Life and Liberty, which is also the most comprehensive article of the whole constitution is based on the premises of natural justice. Article 14, 19 and 21 which is also the golden triangle of the constitution has drawn inspiration from natural law.

Prominent Indian case-laws

In Air India v. Nargis Mirza, the Supreme Court had struck down the Air India and Indian Airlines regulations on retirement and pregnancy bar on the services of air hostesses as unconstitutional on the ground that regulations were arbitrary and unreasonable under Article 14 of the Constitution.

In Maneka Gandhi v Union of India, the meaning of life and personal liberty under Article 21 came up for consideration and the Supreme Court held that the law established by the state should be just, fair and reasonable.

In A.D.M. Jabalpur v Shivakant Shukla, this was a case of Habeas Corpus petition. This was in the context of suspension of enforcement of Articles 14, 21 and 22 during the time of emergency. Court held that even in the absence of Article 21, the right to life and liberty of a person cannot be taken away.


The concept of natural law has taken several forms. The idea began with ancient Greek’s conception of a universe that is governed by an unchanging, eternal law; the natural law had its importance in every period. Even when there was degradation of natural law in the 19th century, it was realized that natural law and not positivism is the panacea for all the problems.

Later, after the drastic consequences of the World Wars, there was the setting up of a natural law school. Post World War situation was the reason for the introduction of UDHR. There have been several theories on natural law, like some scholars believed that morality is essential for existence of a person in the society, while others gave it different names like natural justice.

But an excess of everything is dangerous; even the natural law has committed excesses. The abstract principles of the natural law led to the development of some of the laws which were in conflict with different communities or sections of the society. Therefore, any law should be based on the mixture of natural law principles of morality and justice, and the positivistic principle of some fixed proposition, which is the law as it is and even a cue can be taken from the sociological or historical school.

Written By:


Recommended Free Legal Advices
question markInterim maintenance 3 Response(s)
final maintenance will be more if she is not earning. it will be less if only child maintenance have to be provided. hiding the facts of sending amount online is not fatal. If order for 3,50,000 is made then you can challenge it in HC. you not filed child custody case ? Hope this clarifies, Advocate Ankur Goel (Complete Law Shield) #YourLifeYourChoice Note - This is just a small advice. Proper advice can happen only after going through details.
question markDispute with flatmate regarding security deposit 1 Response(s)
Dear Sir Please argue with police that it being a civil case police have no jurisdiction. Further try to explain the things. If they went to civil court then you can defend.
question markSenior citizen harassment & domestic violence 1 Response(s)
Dear Sir/Madam, There are several provisions for protection of Senior Citizens as follows: ====================================================================== http://socialjustice.nic.in/UserView/PrintUserView?mid=52569 The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007 What are the important features of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007? Ans. The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007 envisages providing need based maintenance to the parents/grand parents from their children. Tribunals will be set up for the purpose of settling the maintenance claims of the parents in a time bound manner. Lawyers are barred from participating in the proceedings of the Tribunals at any stage. The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007 also contains enabling provisions like protection of life and property of senior citizens, better medical facilities, setting up of old age homes in every district, etc. What is the applicability of the Act? Ans. The Act extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir and it applies also to citizens of India outside India (Section 1(2)). When will the Act come into force in the States? Ans. The Act come into force in a State on such date as the State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint (Section 1(3)). What is the definition of Child/children under the Act? Ans. The Act defines "children" as son, daughter, grandson and granddaughter who are not minor. What is the definition of Maintenance under the Act? Ans. The "Maintenance" includes provision for food, clothing, residence and medical attendance and treatment. What is the definition of a Senior Citizen under the Act? Ans. A "senior citizen" means any person being a citizen of India, who has attained the age of sixty years or above. Who are eligible for claiming maintenance under the provisions of the Act? Ans. The Act provides that a senior citizen including parent who is unable to maintain himself from his own earning or out of the property owned by him, shall be entitled to make an application for claiming maintenance. Whether a person other the claimant can file application on his/her behalf? Ans. An application for maintenance may be made:- a. by a senior citizen or a parent, as the case may be; or b. if he is incapable, by any other person or organization authorized by him; or c. the Tribunal may take cognizance suo motu. Please contact me through the administrators of this website.
question markICICI abuse 1 Response(s)
Dear client, Under the Indian Penal Code, bank harassment can be punished under several sections. Section 506 deals with criminal intimidation, and anyone who threatens another person with injury or harm can be punished with imprisonment for up to two years or with a fine, or both. If the threat is to cause death or grievous hurt, the punishment can be imprisonment for up to seven years. In the context of bank harassment, a bank employee who threatens a customer with legal action or harm may be liable under this section. The Information Technology Act, 2000, also provides provisions to punish bank harassment. Section 66D deals with cheating by impersonation by using a computer resource, and anyone who uses a computer resource to cheat by impersonating another person can be punished with imprisonment for up to three years or with a fine, or both. In the context of bank harassment, bank employees who create fake social media accounts to harass customers may be liable under this section. Legal remedies for bank harassment include filing a complaint with the Banking Ombudsman, filing a complaint with the Consumer Forum, filing a criminal complaint, or filing a civil suit. In a civil suit, the person can seek compensation for the losses suffered as a result of the bank's harassment.
question markProperty Dispute between brothers 1 Response(s)
Dear Sir, The description given by you is so lengthy, please make it short and re-submit, as experts have no time to spare as this is free and charity work.