• Credit of reviving the original analytical
legal thought in 20th century “Pure theory
• He was born at Prague in Austria in 1881.
• He was a professor of law at the Vienna
• Judge of Supreme Court of Austria for 10
• In California he expounded his Pure theory
Pure Science of Law
• Suggested that law is related to politics , sociology ,metaphysics
& all other extra legal discipline
• He rejected Austrins definition law as a command.
• He introduce subjective consideration where as he wanted
it as a objective.
• Theory of Interpretation.
He described law as ‘normative science’ as distinguished from
natural science which are based on cause & effect such as law
The law of natural science are capable of being accurately
described,determined &discovered in the form of which it
is an essential characteristics of natural science.
According to him science of law is knowledge of what law ought to
be or it is the ought character which provides normative character
to law. E.g- a commit theft he ought to be punished.
Like Austrin , Kelson also consider sanction as an essential
element but he prefer it to call it norm.
He termed his basic norm as Grundnorm, thus all
other norms drive its validity from Grundnorm.
Grundnorm is no longer a hypothesis but a fiction of law.
We cannot say Grundnorm good or bad as we have to
test it politically ,religiously or ethically
Commits an offence
Certain basic assumptions which can be summarized as :
1.) Aimed at reducing chaos and confusion created by the
supporters of natural law philosophy.
2.) Pure theory of Law deals with knowledge of what law is and
it is not concerned about what law ought to be.
3.) The theory considered as a normative science & not a
4.) Theory of norms not so much concerned with the
effectiveness of legal norms.
5.) Formal theory confined to a particular system of positive Law
as actual in operation.
Implications of Kelson’s Theory
Kelson’s pure theory of law covers a wide spectrum of legal
concepts such as State, sovereignty, private & public law,
legal personality, rights & duties.
Law and state are not different but they are in fact one and
There is no difference in public and private law.
Denies any legal difference between natural and juristic
Criticism of his theory
1.) It excludes all reference of social facts and felt needs of the society,
thus pure theory of law without sociological foundation
2.) That all the norms excepting the basic norm are pure has no
3.) the theory is found to be based on hypothetical considerations
without any practicability.
4.) Does not provide solution for the conflicts arising out of
ideological differences, rejects the element of justice as a
mere emotion which is indeed not true.
5.) Kelson’s account of legal dynamics is inadequate, it ignores
the purpose of law.
6.) It also suffers from methodological shortcomings. He ignores the
fact that the action of the authority enforcing law to be valid,
has to be in accordance with the procedure and therefore ,
it became necessary to probe into the content of law.
Legality or validity cannot be judged.
But our Indian constitution amendment is a integral part of
mechanism & is open for judicial review.
Legality or validity of legislative law is determine by
constituent law .
Constituent law cannot be judge or determined on the basis
of external source.
Valid Law has to satisfy two condition :--
1.) Legally constituted body
2.) Legally valid procedure
To amend constitution “Doctrine of basic structure” is given
by Supreme Court. And basic structure is nothing but