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Ignorance of law is not excused

Published : Thursday, 20 April, 2017 at 12:00 AM Count : 271
Rana Sheikh

A Latin Legal maxim "Ignorentia Juris Non-Excusat" means "ignorance of law is not excused". This legal principle mandates that a person who is unware of law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because s/he was unware of that particular law. Another two maxims on this footings-nemo censester ignorere legem and ignorentia iuris nocet meaning nobody is thought to be ignorance of the law and not knowing the law is harmful respectively. All these legal principles direct us to be aware of law because unawareness of law is not a defence to avoid penalty or punishment. Being the citizen of a country, we all are bound by the laws and regulations made in this country from time to time for the well-being and ordered situation in the country. Before abiding by the laws, the first and foremost duty is to know them and also to be aware of.  
Laws provide rights and duties of the citizens. And the purpose of law is to control the human behaviours and their activities in a disciple way. Its function is to maintain law and order situation in the country. Anomalies and disturbance become inevitable when laws are disobeyed whether for intentionally or unawareness. There are a number of laws in the country which are not known to the commoners. When we become unaware of them, we are in difficulty to get the legal process to implement our rights and duties. Sometimes, it is found that we have taken disputed ways for not having the knowledge of the law. Sometimes, we are in illegal means in absence of knowledge of the law. In consequences, indiscipline emerges and make our life problematic. Knowledge of law can solve these problems to a greater extent.  
The above-cited maxim assumes that the law in question has been properly promulgated, published and distributed. Accordingly, we can get all the laws enforced in our country in the Bangladesh Code. But problem is that a number of people in Bangladesh are illiterate and are isolated from legal knowledge even, at a minimum. In this circumstances, to make the legal regime more effective, it should be tried to make them aware of the laws relating to our daily life. Recently the Supreme Court of Bangladesh has pointed out in its observation in the judgment of Rajon killing case about the awareness of the law and said to include it in the Primary Education Book (Daily Prothom Alo, 12 April 2017). Awareness of law is the way to make the law more effective and its ignorance is not a defence anyhow. If ignorance is an excuse, a person charged with criminal offences or any civil suit will merely claim that he was unaware of law in the question to avoid liability. In consequence, the victims will remain without remedy and the anomalies know no bounds.  
The law imputes knowledge of all laws to all persons within the jurisdiction.
Even though it would be impossible, even for someone with substantial legal training, to be aware of every law in operation in every sate's activities. Willful blindness cannot become the basis of exculpation. No one can justify his conduct on the grounds that he was not aware of the law.
Now let come forward to know the basic laws and to be known to the others. It is awareness of law that can ensure disciple in the country. Knowledge of law can be the knowledge of peaceful life. On the other hand, ignorance of law is harmful to our daily life. It paves the way of legal wrong which is not justified by the defense of its ignorance.                         
Rana Sheikh is a student of  Law, University of Dhaka 

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