Commitment to Law and Morality

Dr. Murthy K N B
Vice Chancellor

The mission statement of PES University states ‘…commitment to Law and Morality…’. What does this really mean? What is its real significance? Is it something that we should really give a thought to or is it so intuitively obvious that we just glance at it, give a cursory reading and move on? Commitment to law means following the law of the land. Everything we do should be within the boundaries of the law enacted by the local government and the law has evolved over a long period of time. Legal systems, laws and enforcement of laws are required to keep the society in order. Laws are required to make sure that all citizens and corporations including educational institutions get fair treatment. Everything we do should be legal. Now, that part seems easy. What it means to us is ‘follow all the rules’. The other way of saying this is ‘don’t break any rules’. The courts are formed to interpret actions to determine whether they are right or wrong according to law. So, where does morality figure in all this? Morality is about judging situations as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and this is where legality and morality intersect. While legality is about judging based on the written law of the land, morality is about judging based on one’s own personal values about what we consider as right and what we consider as wrong. While legality is determined by society, morality is determined by each individual. When legality and morality are well aligned, we have peace and harmony. That is the hope with which the mission statement of PES University has included the phrase ‘…commitment to Law and Morality..’. As thinking and responsible individuals who are part of a society, PES University urges its people to operate within the law and be morally responsible. One should be aware, however, that sometimes, there can be conflict between the two. When Mahatma Gandhi tried to get into a first class carriage in South Africa protesting against seggregation of colored people, he was legally wrong, but morally right. He was fighting for equality and the right to dignity of every individual. It is not that he wanted to travel first class. If a company uses child labor in a country (which has no child labor law) to manufacture products at low cost, it was legally right, but morally wrong. So, while it is important to be legally and morally right, morality should take precedence if we want to make this a better society. “The law is not the private property of lawyers, nor is justice the exclusive province of judges and juries. In the final analysis, true justice is not a matter of courts and law books, but of a commitment in each of us to liberty and mutual respect” ———- Jimmy Carter