Is there a Higher Law than the Constitution?

Is the written constitution subject to another, higher, principle? A higher law? It is. Read on.

Is there a Higher Power than the written Constitution?

Most democratic countries have – with the exception of the United Kingdom –  a written constitution. The questions is now …

[1]. Is there a Higher Law than the Constitution?

What is it? It is the Rule of Law. It is the Higher Law by which human beings rule themselves.

Such a rule must be fair, easy to understand and obey. It must apply equally to all: whether be he a prime minister or a poppadom seller.

[2]. Is the written Constitution the Supreme principle animating the Law?

[3] Some lawyers argue that the written Constitution is supreme legal document; that there is nothing higher. This is not entirely correct.

[4]. The Rule of Law is the Higher law that regulates the affairs of a nation’s constitution.

[5]. The written Constitution is born of it.

A child cannot have any greater capacity than its mother.

[6]. What is the difference between parents and their offspring?

The one is born of the other. The mother gives sustenance and protection to her child. They share the same DNA.

[7]. What is the difference between the Rule of Law and the Constitution?

[8]. Assume the nation is a human body.

The Constitution is its brain. The head is Parliament. The limbs are the Government.

[9]. The Rule of Law is like the conscience that guides the body, mind and soul.

[10]. It is that spirit of justice that animates the entire national being.

[11]. When you sleep, your conscience lies awake.

That is how the Rule of Law works.

[12]. What does a road map do?

It brings you safely to your destination. It sets out the milestones you have to cross.

[13]. But a map has to be read intelligently.

A map is useless without a person who can interpret it the right way.

[14]. A Constitution is like a road map.

The Rule of Law is that animating spirit that guides a nation in the right path.

[15]. An Objective Standard

[16]. The Rule of Law has but one purpose: to bring about the happiness, and the protection of – and justice to – the people.

That is the higher purpose; and the principle behind it, the Higher Law.

[17]. Does an Absolute Monarchy give rise to Choice?

An absolute monarchy is not based on choice. It is based on despotism. One group of individuals inflict their sense of right and wrong upon the citizenry.

[18]. History has proven that neither an absolute monarchy nor despotism bring about happiness.

Nor do they protect individual rights. We are not a nation of despots.

[19]. An Organic Constitution animated by a Liberal Principle

It is the spirit of the Constitution – not its words or letter – that directs the life of the monarchy and national leaders. That is spirit is the Rule of Law. It is the Rule of Law that demands accountability, and gives rise to justice and equality.

[20].  May our leaders exercise arbitrary power?

The answer is, ‘No’. All those vested with power – be they Rulers, Speakers of Parliament or political leaders – are bound by,

[a] the Rule of Law,

[b] the Federal Constitution, and

[c] the State’s Constitution.

That which binds them is the Rule of Law. Any words in any Constitution, that is contrary to the Rule of Law is, to that extent, void. Those who wield power must employ it for the good of the nation – and in accordance with the Rule of Law. Laws must not be interpreted to oppress or petrify the people into silence or sullen obedience.

[21].  The Rule of Law is the Sentinel of the Nation

The Rule of Law stands as a sentinel over the written words of the Constitution. It flows into the words, infusing them with a deep and abiding sense of fairness. It ensures that these powers are justly exercised; and are not perverted to injure the people, or cause injustice.

Who can forget the words of Thomas Fuller, uttered more than 300 years ago?

“Be ye never so high, the law is above you.”





Gratitude: The author expresses his gratitude to the following friends for their unceasing and often Olympian efforts:  the Japanese artist, En. Samad Hassan, KN Geetha, JD Prabhkirat, GS Saran, Wan Nursalena Wan Abdullah, Nathan Sithambaram, and ‘Rajan’ Ratna Kumar


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