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Judiciary of India



India has one of the oldest legal systems in the world.

The Preamble defines India as a 'Sovereign Democratic Republic', containing a federal system with Parliamentary form of Government in the Union and the States, an independent judiciary, guaranteed Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy containing objectives which though not enforceable in law, are fundamental to the governance of the nation.

The fountain source of law in India is the Constitution which, in turn, gives due recognition to statutes, case law and customary law consistent with its dispensations.

One of the unique features of the Indian Constitution is that, notwithstanding the adoption of a federal system and existence of Central Acts and State Acts in their respective spheres, it has generally provided for a single integrated system of Courts to administer both Union and State laws.

At the apex of the entire judicial system, exists the Supreme Court of India below which are the High Courts in each State or group of States.

Below the High Courts lies a hierarchy of Subordinate Courts.

Panchayat Courts also function in some States under various names like Nyaya Panchayat, Panchayat Adalat, Gram Kachheri, etc. to decide civil and criminal disputes of petty and local nature.

Before the arrival of the Europeans in India, India was governed by laws based on The Arthashastra, dating from the 400 BC, and the Manusmriti from 100 AD.

In fact there existed two codes of laws one the Hindu code of laws and the other Muslim code of laws.

They were influential treatises in India, texts that were considered authoritative legal guidance. Manusmriti's central philosophy was tolerance and pluralism.

The Judiciary, the Executive, and the Legislature were the same person the King or the Ruler of the Land. But the villages had considerable independence, and had their own panchayth system to resolve disputes among its members.

Only a bigger feud merited a trans village council. This tradition in India continued beyond the Islamic conquest of India, and through to the Middle Ages.

Islamic law "The Sharia" was applied only to the Muslims of the country. But this tradition, along with Islamic law, was supplanted by the common law when India became part of the British Empire. The history of Modern Judicial System in India starts from there.


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