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Law and Morality Essay

J. M. FINNIS: Rules made, in accordance with regulative legal rules, by a determinate and effective authority (itself identified and standard constituted as an institution by legal rules) for a ‘complete’ community, and buttressed by sanctions in accordance with the rule-guided stipulations of adjudicative institutions. [1] NATURALISTS ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: A rational ordering of things which concern the common good, promulgated by whoever is charged with the care of the community. [2]

SOCIOLOGISTS ROSCOE POUND: Law is more than a set of abstract norms, it is also a process of balancing conflicting interests and securing the satisfaction of the maximum wants with the minimum of friction. [3] WHAT IS MORALITY? No single definition can be offered to describe what morality is, but in general morality can be understood as a rule prescribing between what is wrong and what is wrong. It could also mean a value of the acceptable and unacceptable norm of a given society.

Some reserve terms moral and immoral only for the realm of sexuality and use the words ethical and unethical instead of the word moral when discussing how the business and professional communities should behave towards their members or toward the public. [4] RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN LAW AND MORALITY 1. The existence of unjust laws proves that morality and law are not identical and do not coincide. 2. The existence of laws that serve to defend basic values, law and morality can work together.

3. Laws can state what overt offenses count as wrong and punishable. 4. Laws govern conduct at least partly through fear of punishment. 5. Morality can influence the law in the sense that it can provide the reason for making whole groups of immoral elections illegal. 6. Law can be a public expression of morality which codifies in a public way the basic principles of conduct which a society accepts. [5] PUBLIC PROSECUTOR v MOHD ROMZAN BIN RAMLI[6] BRIEF EXPLANATION ON THE CASE:

Mohd Romzan bin Ramli was charged under the offence of incest under the provision of section 376A of the Penal Code- a person is said to commit incest if he or she has sexual intercourse with another person whose relationship to him or her is such that he or she is prohibited, under the law, religion, custom or usage applicable to him or her, to marry that person; and was sentenced to six years of imprisonment and one stroke of rotan under section 376B(1)- punish with imprisonment between 6 to 20 years and whipping; of the same Code.

The accused had committed the crime in between early January 2006 to 26th May 2006 in a room at his house in Kulai, Johor Bharu, Johor. To an 11-year old girl, Nurul Atikah bte Abdul Kadir, which is also his stepdaughter. In 2006, the girl was forced to undress by the accused and was disturbed sexually by him. He had done the disturbance to her several times. In addition, he threatened her not to tell anyone and had beaten her. Father of the victim, lodged a police report after he had noticed changes in his daughter after he had picked her from his ex-wife’s home.

After medical check-ups were done by the doctor, the victim suffered from injuries in her private part and was treated by a psychologist. The accused pleaded guilty in front of the judge,Zawawi Salleh in the High Court of Johor Bharu, prosecuted by the Deputy Public Prosecutor, Husmin Hussin (Johor, State Legal Advisor Office). However, his sentences was changed to eleven years of imprisonment and three strokes of rotan, after the case was appealed to the High Court Of Johor Bharu from the Sessions Court Johor Bharu.

The sentences were changed as it was unfair to the victim by taking her trauma and injuries into account and the public views about this case. OPINION/CONCLUSION In my opinion, the action of appealing the judgement made by the Sessions Court of Johor Bharu was a just and fair decision. Six years of imprisonment with one stroke of rattan is too little compared to the crime. According to John Austin, he defines law as a command given by a sovereign who may be a King, council or parliament. Such a command in his view is backed by coercion so that any person who violates the law, suffer the pain provided by law.

[7] The accused needs to be punished for what he had done to the victim. The victim was just a little, innocent girl compared to him whose already old enough to think about right and wrong. Secondly, punishments for committed crimes are not only to punish the criminals, it is also as a deterrence to the public to not commit the same crime as they will be punished in accordance with the law too. Six years imprisonment and one stroke of rattan are not sufficient enough to deter the crime. As John Austin stated on why do we have to obey the law?

It is because of the fear of sanction. Austin view is the fear by which the law, by its coercive power, strikes in the heart of the people is what makes people obey the law. If we remove the element of fear from the law, it would not be obeyed as there would be no deterrence. In other words, if a law is made without sanction, it would be disobeyed. [8] Lastly, after the High Court Judge of Johor Bharu sentenced the accused to eleven years of imprisonment and three strokes of rattan, only then, the justice can be seen.

Bentham refers justice as maximum happiness of maximum number of people. [9] The public’s views on the case are also need to be considered. Minimum sentences given could cause an uproar in the society. Even Hart mentioned that justice is a shared concept; everybody wants justice seen and done. This is also supported by the aim of having law is to maintain peace and harmony. ———————– [1] M. D. A Freeman, Lloyd’s Introduction to Jurisprudence, page 178. [2] M. D. A Freeman, Lloyd’s Introduction to Jurisprudence, page 143.

[3] Hari Chand, Modern Jurisprudence, 1994, International Law Book Services, Kuala Lumpur, page 205. [4] Jacques T. Ethics Theory and Practice, (5th ed. ). New Jersey: Prentice Hall, (1995): 3. [5] Basic Observations on Law and Morality. 10 September 2001. Web. 13 August 2012. [6] “Public Prosecutor v Mohd Romzan bin Ramli. ” Malayan Law Journal, 22nd January 2012. Web. 13th August 2012. . [7] Hari Chand, Modern Jurisprudence, page 72,80,81. [8] Hari Chand, Modern Jurisprudence, page 74. [9] “Jeremy Bentham. ” N. p. Web. 14th August 2012. .


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