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Historia ad Magna Carta Libertatatum

History of Great Charter of Liberties, as the title suggests. For the maximum number of legal terms trace their roots in Latin, the article on first charter of liberty should also be in Latin. First victory always arises from thousands of failures, this Charter could be placed as an impeccable example of this. It was signed on June 15, 1215 by making it a first charter ever which marked basis of the various fundamental rights that we enjoy today. It was signed in the muddy fields of Runnymede (seems like every good thing is evolved from the earth). The significance of Magna Carta and its protection of ancient personal liberties persisted after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 (glorious enough that formed the basis of  government throughout the world) until well into the 19th century. The original 1215 charter had concerned the medieval relationship between the monarch and the barons, rather than the rights of ordinary people, but the charter remained a powerful, iconic document, even after almost all of its content was repealed from the statute books in the 19th and 20th centuries. Magna Carta enshrined the principle of the rule of law and not simply the rule by law. It placed limits on a ruler’s power and stated that leaders must comply with the law and are not above the law ( Much before Dicey). The rights it enunciated were circumscribed severely which were available only to “free men” ( Of course, the land owners) peasants who toiled in the fields were not considered free, and women had to wait more than seven centuries to get voting rights ( Slow and steady wins the race).The spirit of Magna Carta can also be seen in the fundamental rights which are given in part three of the Indian Constitution ( Nowadays the impact of this is so much that even if a parent asks his child about his phone, the child will immediately state that I have a Right to Privacy).But is it correct to assume that the idea that liberties emerged from the source of Magna Carta, which was simply an arrangement between a bad king (As assumed by the people at that time) and the elite who no longer wanted to fund his military misadventures abroad. Enforcing that Magna Carta alone brought the concept of civil liberties reinforces the view human rights are the West’s gift to humanity (Again the effect of colonialization). That assumption undermines the fact that human rights are universal. Civilization began with an idea of equality. The destructive idea of discrimination, which includes that men are superior to women,those lighter-skinned are more important than the darker-skinned, those who speak one language are more significant than those who speak another, those who perform certain tasks are of a higher class or caste than those who perform other tasks, those who believe in spirituality are superior than other, those who do not have any kind of deformity are inferior than others, etc., are the by – products of the civilization ( A kind of social parasite which is sucking all the nutrients from the society).Magna Carta was one instrument in wresting back the authority of the elites ( basically the monarchs of Britain) who had excessive rights to ensure their interest. But as stated earlier, it was not the sole basis for human rights, for there were many others and some of them dated even much earlier such as the code of Hammurabi, the philosophy of the Greeks, the moral philosophy found in the Analects of Confucius, or the ethics found in the edicts of Ashoka. These ancient codes were not necessarily all-inclusive and perfect but each contributed towards designing the architecture of human rights, and each did so by stressing equality, by enabling the powerless to hold the powerful accountable, and by respecting dignity, to recreate the world as it was meant to be, where each of us is equal, regardless of whatever makes us appear different. The underlying value of human rights and equality is not only 800 years old but it began with humanity and will end when civilization ends. This Charter signified our first formal acceptance of the human rights principle. But the question arises that in today’s time, are we exercising it well enough? Think it yourself.

Snehal Asthana

Author is I Semester Students of BA LLB (H), in University School of Law and Legal Studies, Gurugobind Singh Indraprastha University, Dwarka, New Delhi. She did her schooling from Air Force Golden Jubilee Institute, Subroto Park, New Delhi. She is keen to write article based on history. She has written many book review too.

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