Supreme Court of India
Source: Wikipedia

India holds the most ancient legal systems throughout the world. People have this misconception about the Indian legal system that it achieved its systematic development and shape during the period of British rule, however, we people have a traditional ideology of adhering to laws and regulations along with performing our duties for the society which is being followed from the verses of Manusmriti that speak of 'Dharma.' Manusmriti asserts The Rule of Law is the supreme power, and it should be regulated in the states, even the kings are subjected to ensure all his matters abide by the law of Dharma.

India has witnessed various rulers and civilizations, such as the ancient Indus valley to the Vedic Age period to Mauryan dynasties and Haryanaka in North heeded by Chola and Sangam dynasties in the south of India, afterward the Islamic Delhi Sultanate Realm followed by Mughals then finally the British Rule in India.

After India attained its independence on 15th August 1947, it created a constitutional assembly to formulate its constitution, which followed the concepts of Secularism, Fraternity, Democracy, Right to Equality for each and everyone in the country. But we held the same set of laws, legal system, and infrastructure, which are from the British period and still enforced in India.

India carries the most ancient Judiciary System in the world. No other judiciary has this oldest or superior pedigree.

Legal system during
Ancient Times

India has the oldest legal history in the world determined by the Neolithic era, consisting of the criminal and civil adjudication method, which continued up to the Indus Valley Civilization. However, the primary proof of India's historical ancestry and legal system can be discovered from the Vedic age, where various Hindus texts such as Puranas and Smritis demonstrate that the concept of law and justice is based on the idea of Dharma.

The term 'Dharma' basically signifies the principle of holiness, righteousness, unity, and duty. Once during the instruction to Bhisma, the righteous king, Yudhishthira said- the root of any conflict is nothing but Adharma, and the end of any rivalry is harmony and Dharma!

In Brihaspati Smriti, it is mentioned that during the period of Ancient India, there was a hierarchy of courts that commonly started with the family courts and ended with the king. At the top, it was kings court 4; the second next court was the judge, who was also the next chief justice and often called Adhyaksha or Praadivivaka.

Legal System during
Medieval India

Mitakshara school law was the most prevailing law formulated by a ruler of the 11th century named Chalukya during the age of Medieval India. At present, this law has managed to become a foundation of joint families. During the 11th century, Islam existence came into India; it was that time when Mohammad Ghori defeated the great warrior Prithviraj Chauhan at the 2nd battle of Taraian (1992 AD), thereupon QutubuddinAibak acquired the Slave Dynasty and became the first Delhi Sultan.

During the period of the Sultanate, there were about seven courts of justice which were associated with seven distinct branches of law. Diwani-i-Mazlim handled the conflicts which involved bureaucracy and administration. The Qazi took charge of religious laws and didn't led by any judicial supervision. Non-Muslims had their particular courts and autonomy to practice their law. It denotes the legal system during the period of the Sultanate wasn't well organized.

Legal System in
Colonial Period of India

With the British East India Company, the law system directed on recorded judicial precedents took place in India. The administration system of Mughal wasn't efficient and well-organized, which gave power to the English Governor of Surat to establish their own rules and legal procedures to control the workers laboring at the factory.

King George-1 issued a charter to the East India Company to set up the mayor's courts in places like Mumbai, Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras. These courts possess the power to decide matters associated with civil and criminal cases, however, it is the company that gives power to them to perform.

The step taken by king Geroge-1 of granting the charter led to the formation of the mayor's court that eventually had authority all over the other courts, and their role was to deal with the matters that take place within their territory and areas of the company. The Britishers passed the Regulating Act of 1773 after their triumph in the Battle of Plassey (1757). Thereupon, at Calcutta, a supreme court was established, and its power is the same as today's supreme court of Delhi.

Legal System after Independence in India

It was a huge task and responsibility for the leaders of India to formulate a constitution after independence to govern a country of over 350 million population with vast diversity. This task comes under constituent assembly, which involves the role of each section of society, with the president of the council, Dr. Rajendra Prasad to the head of the drafting body of the Constitution, Dr. B.R Ambedkar. Then after almost three years, on 26th January 1950, India attained its constitution and became a republic country.

India's constitution is considered a guiding force that is responsible for making Acts and Legislations across India, and any law that violates the constitutional provision will be regarded as unconstitutional. Even after forming its own constitution, India still follows multiple primitive laws which belong to the era of the British for various offenses, such as the Indian Penal Code 1860 and Indian Contract Act (1872); these laws are from before the Independence of India to suppress the freedom fighter's voices, and now being used by many governments to stop the activists, opposition leaders, and dissenters. It isn't restricted to laws only, but the legal profession and judicial system which India now follows are also from the British period.

While India owns an ancient legal background, it is still not progressing and adopting an advanced democratic legal system. It lacks modern infrastructure, a decent ratio of judges, and justice for the victims of heinous crimes like sexual assault. India got its Independence years ago, but the colonial mindset and cultures are still alive in thinking and actions. It follows the tailor-made laws and rules from the colonial days and is lagging when it comes to implementing what is needed for our country. However, there is always room for improvement and development if we come together and contribute.

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