NCERT Solutions for Class 8 Social Science Chapter 4 - Understanding Laws

Question 1:

Write in your own words what you understand by the term the ‘rule of law’. In your response, include a fictitious or real example of a violation of the rule of law.


The Rule of law means that law is supreme and not the arbitrary will of any individual. Nobody is above the law. As long as an individual obeys law and does not violate it, he cannot be punished. The Rule of law also means that everybody is equal before the law. All individuals are equal in the eyes of the law. No person is exempted from the jurisdiction of law. Rich-poor, educated and illiterate, powerful and weak, all are equal before the law. Any person who violates the law is punished according to the law. R.K. Sharma, I.G. Haryana was involved in a murder case and he was punished by the court.

Question 2:

State two reasons why historians refute the claim that the British introduced the rule of law in India.


The Rule of law is the distinctive feature of the Indian Constitution. Generally, it is believed that it was the British government that introduced the rule of law in India. But it is not true. Historians have rejected this claim on several grounds.
Firstly, British Colonial rule was arbitrary. British officials exercised their powers arbitrarily and they were not held responsible under the law. Sedition Act of 1870 was a part of the British law.
Secondly, Indian nationalists played a very important role in the development of the rule of law during the British government. The Indian nationalists strongly criticised the arbitrary use of authority by the British officials. Moreover, they demanded equality with the Britishers. By the end of the 19th century many Indians entered legal profession and they demanded respect for the rule of law and justice.

Question 3:

Re-read the storyboard on how a new law on domestic violence got passed. Describe in your own words the different ways in which women’s groups worked to make this happen.


Domestic violence is a serious problem and it affects the rights and dignity of women. Women are generally beaten up by their husbands, by their fathers and even brothers and sons. Women are illtreated by their sons and daughter-in-law. Women’s organisation were demanding protection against being beaten, the right to continue living in a shared household and often temporary relief. In 1999 Lawyers Collective, a group of lawyers, law students and activists, after nation-wide consultations took the lead in drafting the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill. Ultimately the Bill was introduced in the Parliament in 2002. But this bill was opposed by the women’s organisation because the Bill was not effective to check domestic violence. The Bill was sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee. Several women’s organisations such as National Commission for Women made submission to the Parliamentary Standing Committee. It submitted its recommendations to the Parliament. The committee’s reports accepted most of the demands of the women’s groups. A new bill was introduced in Parliament in 2005. The Bill was passed by the Parliament and after the assent of the President, it became an act. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act came into effect in 2006.

Question 4:

Write in your own words, what you understand by the following sentence:
They also began fighting for greater equality and wanted to change the idea of law from a set of rules that they were forced to obey, to law as including ideas of justice.


No doubt the Rule of Law was a unique feature of British Constitution. But in India during the British rule, colonial rule was arbitrary and there was no equality before law. During the end of the 19th century, Indian Nationalists started the protest against the arbitrariness of British officials and demanded supremacy of law. They demanded that Indians should be treated equal with the Britishers and same law should be applied to both. They demanded not only equality but justice also. Indian lawyers started using law to defend the legal rights to the Indians.

Question 5:

State one reason why you think the Sedition Act of 1870 was arbitrary? In what ways does the Sedition Act of 1870 contradict the rule of law?


The Sedition Act 1870 was arbitrary as the Rowlatt Act allowed the British government to imprison people without due trial. Indian nationalists including Mahatma Gandhi were vehement in their opposition to the Rowlatt bills. Despite the large number of protests, the Rowlatt Act came into effect on 10 March 1919.