Since the beginning of time, the law and society have had a special relationship. Both have a symbiotic relationship, functioning as the cause and consequence of one another’s changes. Both, however, vary as the times and requirements change. Though the modifications are done with the same goal in mind, the differences between the Law and the Society make them diverge.
However, NGOs that are registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 (hereafter the Act) can tackle the problem of law and social convergence. NGOs often work at the grassroots level to address any social or economic issue that has a direct or indirect influence on society. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) strive not just to raise awareness, but also to change society for the better. As a result, NGOs may launch a variety of activities and campaigns, functioning as a social catalyst. Even though these activities have a significant influence on people’s lives and society, the Act’s description of NGOs’ roles ignores a critical obligation that NGOs must fulfil: bridging the gap between the law and society.
CONVERGENCE OF LAW AND SOCIETY IS REQUIRED
When seen from a sociological perspective, the law refers to the state-mandated general conditions of human behaviour. The law is heavily impacted by the values that exist in a community and is thus regulated by those values and standards.
When seen from a sociological standpoint, the law is a part of the society and the social ideals that the society has created to govern and coordinate their activities and aspirations. However, due to significant disparities within society, the process of establishing laws became a complex undertaking that was delegated to the state for the sake of society’s well-being.
Because the state has the authority to make laws, there is a distinction between societal standards and laws that are rigidly enforced by the state. However, as a result of this difference, specific features of both law and society emerged, causing the holy link between the law and society to suffer a major blow, causing the law and society to split from one another.
On the one hand, the law is a far more formalised and complicated collection of rules that the state imposes on the people, whereas social norms have evolved into an informal set of standards that are implicit in everyday life. Law, on the other hand, needs a great deal more thought and discussion before it can be established and executed. This cumbersome process makes law incapable of serving the needs of the society at the right time leading to incompatibility between law and society.
However, the belief that the enactment of the law should wait for society’s approval is completely a wrong notion. The relationship between the law and the society is not only influenced by the society alone but also the law is seen many times influencing the society. Although the law is a state tool, it can bring about social reforms and changes that have a positive influence on society. The Supreme Court reinforced this position in Joseph Shine v. Union of India, where it clarified its intents as a judicial body and via the authorities provided under Article 142 of the Constitution.
As a result, the requirement for law-society compatibility appears to be self-evident in this circumstance. The need of bringing law and society together was also stressed in Justice Bhagwati’s decision, in which he emphasised the importance of law going forward, not backward, with society, to make society more controlled and coordinated with better measures.
ROLE OF (NGOs) IN BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN LAW AND SOCIETY
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are now widely recognised as social service organisations that, rather than pursuing profit, strive for the improvement of society. An NGO, on the other hand, is much more. The acronym NGO stands for Non-Governmental Organization, and it defines the organization’s tasks and obligations.
They may be classified as non-state actors who share the same goal as the government in improving society but strive to deliver better services than the government. NGOs generally work at the grassroots level, offering direct services to the poor and disadvantaged through their programmes and social projects. NGOs are capable of leaving a profound imprint in the minds of people through their mass campaigns, social drives, and programmes, therefore influencing their behaviour and attitude. NGOs can help with a variety of societal issues that require greater attention than they presently do, such as education, the environment, health, and human rights. Furthermore, NGOs serve as social mobilizers, assisting in the dissemination of knowledge and mobilisation of individuals for a social cause.
The ability of NGOs to function as social mobilizers are frequently beneficial to the government, as policy awareness and uniting people for a cause are far easier for NGOs to do than for the government. As a result, in the interaction between law and society, NGOs can serve as a link between the two. NGOs that have a close relationship with society will be extremely beneficial in informing the public about the laws that have been enacted.
Society will be more easily compatible with the laws created as a result of this and will have a greater knowledge of the law, therefore improving the law-society connection. NGOs can also educate the public about the legislation’s shortcomings, therefore sparking additional legal changes and modifications to bring the law more in line with the requirements of society.
Talking about the legal status of NGO’s, not just as international political players, but also as organisations involved in the formulation, implementation, and enforcement of international law, NGOs are becoming increasingly significant. Have these groups attained a level of international recognition comparable to that of states or international governmental bodies? This issue is difficult to answer since the reality of international NGO engagement and influence differs from the international legal framework that governs this participation. NGO regulations have evolved naturally within each organisation, treaty body, or international court up to now. There are no specific international laws that apply to NGOs as a category.
THE ROAD AHEAD
Even while it is now difficult to make law and society fully harmonious, NGOs will play a critical role in achieving this goal. To enforce laws in society more efficiently, changes in the law and society must occur simultaneously. Law and society can merge again if NGOs play their part in raising public awareness of legal changes in the country and the benefits and drawbacks of various laws, as well as their direct and indirect consequences on society. NGOs may be referred to as social catalysts and mobilizers, but as previously stated in this article, NGOs bear a far greater duty in the larger context of acting as a link between the law and society.
Author(s) Name: Aditi Dehal (Student, Himachal Pradesh National Law University, Shimla)