By S Shamim Ahsan
Freedom, as a concept, has been the cause, reason and subject of all the revolts and revolutions. It has also served as the base for creation of Civil Society. The Rule of Law was conceived to be implemented for defining and respecting the instances and areas of Freedom so as to reject and nullify the demerits and defects of chaotic circumstances created by the Class that proclaimed itself to be Sovereign.
The emergence of Civil Society (being the result of Social Contract Theory as argued by the Thinkers of Sociology) also owes it’s origin to the basic idea of Freedom of individuals that was resolved to be protected under the contract for Rule.
The Society with a system of governance as such came into existence, after the clashes concerning the right to freedom of individual. The Society and System defined the extent and areas of rights to avoid chaos. Freedom, therefore, as a right, subject and concept in an organised Civil Society, stands endorsed as a principle that serves as the foundation for system to function in consonance with the Laws of nature.
Human rights Charter or Fundamental rights as envisaged and guaranteed in our Constitution are the instances to record that the individual freedom has been and is the prime concern for the Rule of Law in a Civil or Political Society.
A logical question therefore arises as to whether the Freedom as a right is an absolute right of an individual particularly in the circumstances when he is the member as citizen of an organised Civil Society with a Political set-up called Government ??
The answer to such question shall certainly be in negative for the simple reason that rights, if not restricted, shall result into harm and chaos that was experienced before the emergence of Civil Society. Human nature can not be left uncontrolled or unrestricted to revert back to the uncivilised stage. Application of restrictions to the Rights in form of Duties is the remedy that promotes the idea of coexistence. Our rights are the duties of others. Rights and Duties go hand in hand. Freedom can never be assured if not respected by others as a duty to respect it.
A famous quote by Aristotle, the father of Politics ,that ” Man is a Social Animal and he can not live in isolation” refers to the human nature of being part of an organised system where his freedom and right thereof are not encroached.
The concept of Freedom stands explained in unequivocal terms and in explicit manner by Rousseau ( Advocate of Social Contract Theory) when he argues that ” man is born free but everywhere in chain”. This very phrase certifies the Freedom to be a subject that can never let an individual to be free to harm the other free individuals. The fundamental idea and foundation of an organised Society, therefore, bind an individual in a chain so that he is able to exercise his right of Freedom in an organised manner with other individuals.
The restricted freedom is called Liberty. We do not have freedom but liberty to exercise our rights with a provision and reservation to be duty bound to respect the rights and liberties of others. We can never have the Freedom to harm others. The journey of our freedom ends at the point where others have their area of freedom.
The political set up in civil society might speak a hostile language for we asserting our rights and liberty but one should rest assured that the rule of law shall never allow such hostile language to be translated in hostile terms detrimental to the concept of Liberty.