Relationship Between Law and Morality

Law and morality- you have heard these two terms in your daily life. However law and morality have two different meanings, but if we talk about jurisprudence, it shows the relationship between law and morality. In this article on the relationship between law and morality, we will understand this relationship with the help of definitions and some case laws. 

So let’s start with both the definitions of law and morality. 

What is the law? 

As per the definition of law: the law is a set of rules and principles that is created by the state to regulate human conduct. 

In simple words, the law is a bunch of rules and regulations which are made by our legislature and in force by the executive so that the people should act according to the law. 

What is molarity? 

As per the definition of morality: morality is the set of principles, beliefs and behaviour standards created and enforced by society.

In simple words, morality is a set of principles and moral values which were created by our ancestors. 

For example, if somebody helps a person who is drawing in the water, it shows his morality. 

Every law made by the legislature doesn’t contain the element of morality. Also, morality is not law. But there are some laws created by the legislature which contain law and morality in one statute. 

Let’s take a simple example to understand the law and morality.

There are 2 persons named Mohit and Rohit. Mohit is a vegetarian and Rohit is non-vegetarian. 

Relationship Between Law and Morality

Now if we talk about Mohit-

  • Morally-Mohit is a good person.
  • Legally– Mohit is a good person

If we say about Rohit- 

  • Morally- Rohit is a bad person (because he is a non-vegetarian)
  • Legally- Rohit is a good person 

In the situation of Rohit, morally, he is a bad person because he consumes bad meat. But if we see this situation according to the law, he is a good person because no law makes non-veg illegal.

Morality can be different for every person. There can be situations where a particular act is moral for you and the same act is immoral for another. 

Let’s take some examples to understand the relationship between law and morality. 


  • It is legally wrong
  • It is morally wrong


  • It is morally wrong
  • It is legally wrong

Live-in relationship

  • It is legally right
  • It is morally wrong


  • It is legally wrong
  • It is morally right

These are some situations that can be good for the law but bad in the eye of morality and vice versa. 

History of law and morality

In ancient times, there was no difference between laws and morality. Even under the Sources of Hindu Law like Vedas and Smritis, morality was considered equal to the law. 

But with time, the law and morality were seen as unequal to each other. 

In India, it was the Dharma that was considered as law and morality. This means there was no difference between law and morality. 

But in the later stage when the Mimamsa and Commentaries arrived, they made the distinction between obligatory and recommended rules. 

Obligatory rules

Obligatory rules are a set of rules which have to be followed. It is considered as law.

Recommended rules

Recruitment rules are not strict but it will be good for a person if he obeys them. It is called morality.

Middle age period

In the middle age period, Christian morals were considered as the basis of law. In the Middle Ages, the Bible was considered the major influencing factor for the basis of law. 

Difference between law and morality

Law Vs morality

S NoLawMorality
1Law is regulated by external sources i.e., by rules and regulationsMorality is regulated by internal sources by the conscience of a person
2The law is the same for everyoneMorality is a subjective concept that can be different for different people. 
3There is a set punishment for the violation of lawsThere is no punishment for an immoral act but a guilty feeling.
4The laws are enforced by the stateMorality is regulated by the people of society
5Laws are influenced by moralityIt has emerged before the laws
6The laws control the actions of a person legallyMorality controls the act of a person Morally.
7Laws made by the legislature are strict.Moral values do not force any person to obey such rules and moral values.

Relationship between law and morality

Even though there are many differences between law and morality, there is a relationship between law and morality. 

Moral as the basis of law

Generally, all the laws made by the legislature are based on moral principles and the origin of law is moral. The law and morality both regulate the conduct of a person in society. 

Morals as a test of law

Some of the jurists say that there should be no contradiction between law and morality. Any law which is contrary to morality should be removed. 

Whether the law made by the legislature is wrong or right, it should be checked on the basis that the law is contrary to morality or not. 

Morals as the end of laws

The main purpose of making a law is to provide justice for a person with whom something wrong happened. The purpose of morality is to remove the conflict of interest from society. It means the objectives of morality and laws are almost the same. 

Views of different schools on law and morality

Analytical school

19th Century

According to the analytical school, the law and morality are not the same. They are different from each other. Morals should be studied separately from the law.

A renowned jurist John Austin said on the relationship between law and morality that law has nothing to do with morality. He distinguishes them as positive law and positive morality.

Sociological or natural law school

According to the sociological school of law, the law and morality are the same. The laws are based on the principles of morality. 

Hart and Fuller Debate on Law and Morality

HLA Hart

There is no need for moral consideration in law. Law is the law.

Whether a person is over or not is a moral question but not considering it as law just because it is immoral is wrong. 

Lon L Fuller

He said that “law cannot be considered as a law if it does not follow its basic code. The basic code for the law is rationality, not ethical values”.

Fuller’s view on morality and law

Fuller was a naturalist. He believed that we can achieve social order with the help of laws to regulate human behaviour. He believed that our legal system is derived from the norms of justice and it also contains moral aspects. 

8 principles of legality

Fuller stated the 8 principles of legality

  1. The law should be general
  2. It should be publicly promulgated
  3. Laws should be prospective (they should apply to future behaviour, not to past)
  4. Laws should be clear and intelligible
  5. There should be no contradiction between laws
  6. It should be a constant
  7. There must be the possibility of obeying the law
  8. The law should be administered in a way that should not diverge from its obvious and apparent meaning. 

Hart criticized 8 principles of legality. He said that these principles are merely one means of efficiency. These principles cannot be called morality. 

Dudley and Stephen’s case

In this case, four people sit on the boat and go far away from the land. No, it was clear that all of them would die due to thirst and hunger. Then, one defendant agreed to kill one person so that others could eat his body and survive. He took this decision for the sake of others. 

According to that person, it was the only way for them to save their life. But when they reached the home, they were considered guilty of the murder of that guy. However, in that situation morally he was right because he made the decision so that he could save his and his friend’s lives but according to the law, he was guilty of murder. 

Understanding Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)


In the present time, law and morality are considered as different sides of one coin. But if we check history, the law and morality were considered the same and equal to each other. 

In the ancient times of India, it was her Dharma that was considered as morality as well as law. 

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