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BA, LLB (Hons.) Semester - I
HISTORY OF LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN INDIA
Course Outline and Reading Material Compiled by: Mr. Risham Garg Mr. Syed Iqbal Ahmed
July, 2010 (For private circulation only)
BA, LLB (Hons.) Ist Year – Semester I
HISTORY OF LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN INDIA
Course Objectives: The subject of Legal and Constitutional History comprises the evolution, growth and development of the legal system and institutions of a country and it sets forth the historical process whereby a legal system has come to be what it is over time. To comprehend, understand and appreciate the present legal system, it is necessary, therefore, to acquire a background knowledge of the course of its growth and development. If we were to confine our attention exclusively to the law as it is, our understanding of it is bound to be deficient as it is not possible to appreciate its present ordering without some familiarity with its past. The historical perspective throws light on the anomalies that exist in the system. Legal history is not only interesting but of practical utility, as it is only by examining the origins, course of development and reasons of particular developments, that the scope and rationale of a particular rule can be found or understood. The subject deals with the development of legal institutions and traces legal history of India starting from the year 1600. India, however, has a known history of over 5000 years. A study of the Indian Legal History should comprise the historical process of development of legal institutions in the Ancient and the Medieval periods also. However, suitable references will be made to the pre-British developments (Ancient and Medieval) as well. After tracing Legal History, an overview of present modern judicial system as it stands today and as built over the period of time shall be discussed. Appropriate references to English Legal System are also necessary. A separate part will deal with constitutional history and development. Post Constitutional developments, important amendments, landmark judgments shall be discussed.
Essential Readings : 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. V.D. Kulshreshtha, Landmarks in Indian Legal and Constitutional History (8th ed., 2005) M.P. Jain, Outlines of Indian Legal & Constitutional History (6th ed., 2006) M.P. Singh, Outlines of Indian Legal & Constitutional History (8th ed., 2006) M. Rama Jois, Legal and Constitutional History of India (1st ed., 1984) M. Rama Jois, Seeds of Modern Public Law in Ancient Indian Jurisprudence Durga Das Basu, Introduction to the Constitution of India Arvind P. Datar, Commentary on the Constitution of India (2007) Glanville Williams, Learning the Law (11th ed., 2003) Joseph Minattur (ed.), Indian Legal System (2nd ed.)
Reference and Basic Readings : 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. M. Gwyer & A Appadorai, Speeches and Documents on the Indian Constitution (1957) A. B. Keith, A Constitutional History of India (1937) P. V. Kane, History of Dharmashastra Upendra Baxi, Towards Sociology of Indian Law (1985) I. C. Fawcett, The First Century of British Justice in India (1930) B.N. Pandey, The Introduction of English Law into India (1967) M.B. Ahmad, The Administration of Justice in Medieval India M.V. Pylee, Constitutional History of India (1967) Catherine Elliott & Frances Quinn, English Legal System (1st ed., 1996) W.A.J. .Archbald, Outlines of Indian Constitutional History (1926)
The Indian Judicial System: A Historical Survey: By Mr. (b) Criminal law. Justice Markandey Katju. 1853.). 1781 Unit 2: Law and Codification (a) Law and the Regulations.1753). Court System and Judicial officers in Muslim Law. (c) The Adalat System: Warren Hastings. (c) The Nature of Indian Legal System Unit 2: Judicial System in Ancient India (a) Ancient Hindu Law and Sources. (b) Legal System in Ancient India. Justice S. 12 3. (b) The Mayor's Courts (1726. 1773. 1982). (b) The “seamless web” of law and history.. Dhavan. “Introduction” in Joseph Minattur (ed. S.). “History of Courts and Legislatures” in Joseph Minattur (ed. Writ Jurisdiction of the High Courts.Course Outline PART I: LEGAL HISTORY OF ANCIENT & MEDIEVAL INDIA Unit 1: What is “Legal History”? (a) How does Legal History fit into Legal Education? . Judge. Learning the Law 54 6. “Common Law and Equity” in Glanville Williams. Indian Legal System (2nd ed. the Privy Council and the Federal Court of India (a) Jurisdiction of the High Courts (Original & Appellate).). High Court. Cossijurah. Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG. Raj Kumari Agarwala 92 PART III: CONSTITUTIONAL HISTORY OF INDIA 4 . 6 2. Legal Aid Newsletter (Nov. Allahabad 20 4. NRM Menon.). (c) Law Commission of India Unit 3: Establishment of the High Courts. Indian Legal System (2nd ed. Patna . Indian Legal System (2nd ed. The Federal Court of India. (e) The Regulating Act. Madras and Bombay. Cases: Raja Nand Kumar.S Deshpande 61 7. “Nature of the Indian Legal System” in Joseph Minattur (ed. (c) The Supreme Court of India Readings : 1. (c) Defects in criminal law and judicial administration Readings : 1. “Ancient Indian Jurisprudence VIS-À-VIS Modern Jurisprudence”: By: Hon’ble Mr. (d) The Supreme Courts at Calcutta. “Living with Legal History in the Courts”. (c) Relevance of Hindu law in the modern legal system Unit 3: Judicial System in Medieval India (a) Origin and Schools of Muslim Law.) V. Supreme Court of India 41 5. The Act of Settlement. “Our Legal System”.). Cornwallis.  AJLH 3 82 PART II: LEGAL HISTORY OF INDIA DURING THE COLONIAL PERIOD Unit 1: English and Colonial Foundations: (a) Administration of Justice at Madras. (b) Appeals from India to the Privy Council. 1833. Dharma. Bombay and Calcutta. (b) The Charter Act. Hon.
(b) The Government of India Act. The Indian Councils Act.). Unit 2: Historical Interpretation: Legal Pluralism. The Indian Councils Act. Towards Legal Literacy 139 4. (c) Representative Government Unit 3: Constitutional Developments post-1935 (1937-1947): (a) The Indian Independence Act. Punam S. 1950 . “The hierarchy of Courts” in Catherine Elliott & Frances Quinn. Alternative Disputes Resolution (ADRs) system Readings : 1.Unit 1: COLONIAL PERIOD: (a) East India Company (1600-1858). Federalism. Singh (ed. 1935. Subordinate Courts: Civil. (c) The Constitution of India.. 1996) 157 ******** 5 . Landmark Judgements. 1861. 119 2. Khanna. Unit 2: Development of Parliamentary System in India (a) The Government of India Act. Legal Service/Aid and Lok Adalat: R. Minto-Morley reforms. Unit 3: Modern Judicial System (a) The Supreme Court of India.K. Nyaya Panchayats. (b) Making of the Constitution: Constituent Assembly Debates. (c) Lok Adalats. English Legal System (1st ed. (b) British Crown (1858-1947). “The Indian Judicial System” in K. Criminal. Council of States. Swaroop. 1892.Salient Features PART IV: THE CHALLENGES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY Unit 1: Constitutional Development post-1950: Amendments. 1919. (b) Regulatory Bodies / Tribunals / Fora / Commissions etc. 1947. Sankaran & U. The High Courts.
and I believe also that never was a country in which the want might so easily be supplied. On 18 May 1783 “A Regulation for forming into a Regular Code. the element of the civil law is not easily perceptible. The same year Bentham offered to act “as a sort of Indian Solon” and thought of “constructing an Indian Constitutional code”. in 1775 Warren Hastings had A Code of Gentoo Laws or Ordinations of the pundits prepared and translated by Halhed a Judge of the Supreme Court at Calcutta. When in 1788 a codification of Hindu law on contracts and succession was proposed by Sir William Jones to Lord Cornwallis. should be enacted: and that all laws and customs having the force of law should be ascertained and consolidated and. refreshed from the pleasant contact with almost all the legal systems of the contemporary world. 6 . Speaking on the Charter Bill of 1833 Macaulay said: I believe that no country ever stood so much in need of a code of laws as India. feelings and peculiar usages of the people. it was conceived to be on the model of the “inestimable Pandects of Justinian”. James Mill. all over south and southeast Asia. like a banyan tree. That of the common law is perhaps the most dominant among them. one of his disciples at India House thought that his Draught of a New Plan for the France was applicable to India.. all Regulations that may be enacted for the Internal Government of the British territories in Bengal” was passed by the Governor-General and Council. as occasion may require. eclectic legal order which may soon grow into maturity and spread its branches. The third is that of the civil ('romanist') law which energizes the system with unruffled ethical verve and accords comeliness to its contours. The very idea to a code appears to have been derived from the codes of continental Europe. some eight years earlier. and delighted at the hopeful realisation that here in the Indian legal system lie the seeds of a unified. Like the Sarasvati near Prayag. It leaves one refreshed and delighted. Trickles of customary laws cherished by tribal societies and other ethnic communities also flow into the main stream. Three main streams join together to form the Indian legal system. Then there is the stream of laws springing from religion. 1853 declared that it was expedient: that such laws as may be applicable in common to all classes of the inhabitants. though it permeates the entire structure. Section 53 of the Charter Act.THE INDIAN LEGAL SYSTEM Joseph Minattur INTRODUCTION To delve among the laws of India is like bathing in the holy waters of Triveni. due regard being had to the rights.. So a word of explanation is perhaps warranted. amended.
Neither in India nor in France was enacted a code on the law of civil wrongs. and the character. but then there were no comprehensive enactments in England on any of the subjects covered by the Indian codes. Macaulay compared its progress with that of the authors of the French codes. being subject to us under His Majesty by the law martial and the civil law. In a letter of 2 May 1837 addressed to the GovernorGeneral the Commission stated that it derived much valuable assistance from the French code and from the decisions of the French courts of justice on questions touching the construction of that Code. It “derived assistance still more valuable from the code of Louisiana prepared by the late Mr.The first Law Commission immediately after its appointment in 1833 with Macaulay as its President took up the task of codification. When there were complaints that the progress of the Commission's work was unsatisfactory. It. It is not only in cherishing the idea of codification that the British Indian authorities executive as well as legislative bodies-appear to have been indebted to continental codes. It is also interesting to find half of the last century were on the same branches of law as were the French codes enacted earlier. recognised and enforced by our courts of justice. As early as 1686 in a letter sent to Bombay the directors of the East India Company had expressed the view that: you are to govern our people there. 7 . emphasised that such a body of law ought to be prepared with a constant regard to the conditions and institutions of India. It also stated that in the social condition existing in India it was necessary to allow certain general classes of persons to have special laws. The first Law Commission which drafted the Indian penal Code acknowledged its indebtedness to the French Penal code. in preparing which the law of England should be used as a basis. It is true that there was no comprehensive enactment on torts in England. religious and usages of the population. which is only proper to India. however. the Code of Criminal Procedure was not completed till 1810. with respect to certain kinds of transaction among themselves. He pointed out that though the French Criminal Code was begun in March 1801. Under Macaulay‟s personal direction it prepared its first draft of the Indian Penal Code and submitted it to the Governor-General in Council on 14 October 1837. Livingston”. The second Law Commission which sat in London from 1853 to 1856 expressed its view that: what India wants is a body of substantive civil law.
they were imbued with concepts derived from the civil law system. The effect of this section is that in order to get to the bottom of the matter before it the court will be able to look at and enquire into every fact whatever. The influence of Scots and their law on the framing and adoption of the early British India codes and other enactments deserves to be mentioned. added that in recasting those materials due regard should be had to Native habits and modes of thought. The fourth law Commission expressed a similar view when it recommended in 1879 that English law should be made the basis in a great measure of our future Codes. Even when Scots were members of the English Bar. but its materials should be recast rather than adopted without modification. was enjoined to prepare for India a body of substantive law. it also prepared drafts of the Code of Civil Procedure and the Code of Criminal Procedure incorporating into them materials left by the first Law Commission. Section 11 of the Indian Evidence Act adopted in 1872 could not have been enacted in a fit of absent-mindedness. they were inclined to keep Indian law unsullied by intrusions and erosions to English rules of law and tended to give due regard to native habits and modes of thought. and presumably a deliberate. Macaulay himself was of Scottish descent. It. the Penal Code in 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure in 1861. appointed in 1861. departure from the English rule and brings the Indian law in this respect very relevant and fair. Stephen has said: Section 165 is intended to arm the judge with the most extensive power possible for the purpose of getting at the truth. For a number of Scots in the 19th century their prospects were not only along the highway to London. The third law Commission. 8 . but from there across the high seas to Indian ports. In the same way a they would prefer to preserve Scots law unsullied by English notions of Legal rule. We shall refer to few instances where the influence of the civil law is clearly discernible. The section which lays down guidelines to determine relevance in the admissibility of evidence is a clear. The Indian judge appears to be invested with ample powers under the Act to get at the truth and form his own conviction at time.The Commission gave final shape to Macaulay's Penal Code. The Legislative Council adopted the Code of Civil Procedure in 1859. however. Another provision which is of interest in this regard is section 165 of the Act. Commenting on it. in preparing which the law of England should be used as a basis.
even though without consideration. In the law of contract. there was no need in India to think of a separate branch of law known as equity detached from common law. Neither the expression „justice and right‟ in the Charter of 1726 nor the phrase „equity and good conscience‟ or „justice. The reason for not interfering with a rule like this must have been the sense of fairness cherished by the framers of the Act. Indian codes or judicial procedure owe a great deal to procedure in England. In this brief introduction it is not intended to indicate all departures from English law in the Indian statutes. We have already adverted to certain departures from English law even when rules of English law were believed to have been codified for the benefit of the Indian people. however. It is true that many of the concepts and most of the judicial techniques are of common law origin. The functioning of nyaya panchyats may not be as widespread as is desired: the fact however remains that at present there is a less formal procedure than the one followed until recent years. appear to reflect the concept of cause in French law. There is also general dissatisfaction. so that a rule of the Hindu law of contract like Damdupat is not abrogated. The Contract Act which does not purport to be a complete code only defines and amends certain parts of the law of contract. protracted procedure derived from the common law system. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was 9 . The rule stipulates that interest exceeding the amount of principal cannot be recovered at any time. consideration plays a significant role in India as in England. This assumption may have been justified to a certain extent if applied to British India. It is still in force in some parts of India. But there is more than a sprinkling of other concepts and techniques. But the words of section 25 of the Indian Contract Act which accords validity to a registered agreement. the legislators were generally induced to do so on consideration of what they thought suited Indian conditions or on considerations of equity. It may. if not hostility to the complex. With the reign of dharma which may be equated with equity while it comprises the concept of law unopposed to justice. which cannot be overlooked. But with the introduction of nyaya panchayats (village tribunals) which are indigenous in origin the English procedure has been virtually replaced at the grass root level. It is generally assumed that India is a common law country. be emphasised that when such departures were made.It is not unfamiliar learning that the framers of the Indian Contract Act adopted several provisions of the Draft New York Civil Code. though no such rule existed in English law. equity and good conscience‟ in several regulations and Acts could have meant principles of English law.
gold leaves brought from Arabia and clusters of Precious stones gleaned form Indian fields do deserve to be discarded. The mosaic of Indian law may have a large number of common law pieces. is permitted to play a decisive role in the rules of succession applicable to them. the element of the civil law in the fabric of Indian law cannot be brushed aside as negligible. Though the provisions of the French and the Portuguese civil codes relative to domestic relations are in operation in certain regions only. In the Union territory of Goa. And this element affects domestic relations which are on negligible part of a citizen's life. when ceded. There are also other renoncants who are French citizens living in Pondicherry to whom provisions of the French Civil Code relative to personal law will apply with all subsequent amendments. Portuguese civil law was in force. were formed into the Union territory now known as Pondichery. Karaikal. If Indonesian law with its admixture of customary laws based on religion could be regarded as a mixed system there is no reason why Indian law should not be so regarded. customary law of various ethnic groups and laws based on religion of the several communities. but marble quarried from France and Portugal. 10 . At present the Supreme Court of India is inclined to think that the phrase has given a connotation consonant with Indian conditions. it is generally the provisions of the Portuguese Civil Code which apply to the people of this territory in matters of personal law. To cite one instance: matriliny among the Mappila Muslims of Kerala. The customary laws of various tribal communities and other ethnic groups also form part of the law administered in India. In these circumstances. there are Indian citizens who are governed in matters of personal law by the provisions of the French civil code as they existed at the time of the cession. In the light of the presence and prevalence of French and Portuguese laws. laws grounded in religion or custom are followed all over the country. It has been observed that from 1880 or there about to the present day "the formula has meant consultation of various systems of law according to the context”. In the former French settlements of Pondicherry. Daman and Diu. the introduction of indigenous judicial procedures in village tribunals and several other factors. It would be more justified to regard it as a mixed system. one cannot possibly close one's eyes and regard the Indian legal system as belonging to the common law family. Mahe and Yanam which. In the early nineteen sixties a number of territories where the civil law prevailed became parts of the Indian Union. even after the extension of several Indian enactments to the territory.careful in its use of words when it pointed out that equity and good conscience had been "generally interpreted to mean rules of English law if found applicable to Indian society and circumstances". though not favoured by the tenets of Islam.
though perhaps limited geographically in extent. Even when one is not sure whether the mention of nine years has any special significance. If in ancient days. the civil code may be found worthy of emulation in south and southeast Asia. and parts of Asia and Africa.When India adopts a civil code. 11 . a well-framed Indian civil code may easily do for south and Southeast Asia. Owing to its eclectic character and especially because it would attempt to harmonise provisions of personal laws derived from religion prevalent in the region. the Americas. It may thus pave the way for unification of laws. India would achieve significant progress in every field and would provide guidance and inspiration to other countries. one can hopefully assume that if an Indian civil code is adopted soon. He also stressed that India's influence had been increasing in Southeast Asia and West Asia. it may have in it a harmonious admixture of various laws based on religion and customary laws. it may tend to guide and inspire legislators in the neighbouring states. The Indian Prime Minister recently expressed his hope that during the next nine years. as well as provisions derived from western codes and the English common law. there is no reason why Indian legal culture cannot play a similar role in the near future as well. without any hitch or demur. What the Napoleonic code has done for continental Europe. to permeate social and political institutions and life in general in this region. Indian culture was permitted. under the directive in the Constitution it is likely to be eclectic in character.
therefore. It is generally a written document and assumes the character of a federal (several independent units joined together) or unitary form of government. It describes the methods by which this power conferred on the State is to be exercised for the benefit of the people. technicality and procedure of the inherited legal system are indeed factors which limit access to justice for the illiterate. Executive and Judicial wings of each Government) and regulates its exercise in its incidence on the people. it is a political document which distributes State power amongst different organs (Central and State Governments. It is in this context familiarity with law and its processes becomes essential to every Indian. institutional structures for enforcement of the laws and a cadre of legal personnel endowed with the responsibility of administering the system. The Constitution of India represents the collective will of 700 million Indians and.R. Nevertheless. rich or poor. In other words. man or woman. There is a view that the system is still alien to the majority of Indians whose legal culture is more indigenous and whose contact with the formal legal system (the imported British model) is marginal if not altogether non-existent. It is. the rights and benefits conferred by the laws and the Constitution offer the opportunity for those very people to enjoy the fruits of a welfare democracy which the people of India have given unto themselves on the 26th January 1950. Legislative. Democratic Republic. the reservoir of enormous power. It is said to have a quasi-federal structure. as such. Secular. India is declared to be a Socialist. State and local. Madhava Menon The legal system of a country is part of its social system and reflects the social. political. impoverished masses of our country. economic and cultural characteristics of that society. The language. young or old. difficult to understand the legal system outside the socio-cultural milieu in which it operates. The form of government is democratic and republican and the method is parliamentary through adult franchise. 12 . The Constitution: The Fundamental Law of the Land The Constitution of a country is variously described depending upon the nature of the policy and the aspirations of the people in a given society. It is true in the case of India also even though the legal system we now have is largely the gift of the British rulers. a set of operational norms including rights and duties of citizens spelt out in the laws -Central. Components of a Legal System A legal system consists of certain basic principles and values (largely outlined by the Constitution).OUR LEGAL SYSTEM N.
(e) Protection of right to freedom of speech. These basic Human Rights include: (a) Equality before law. Laws. of movement and of profession or occupation. The Rule of Law is supreme and the independence of judiciary is reality in our country. of assembly. Liberty of thought. Apart from overseeing the exercise of State power by the Executive and the Legislatures of the State and the Central Governments. Constitutional government principles involved in it ought to be understood and subscribed to by every Indian if we are to succeed in our declared goals. liberty and equality the Constitution guarantees certain Fundamental Rights and provides for its enforcement through the High Courts and the Supreme Court. Principles of State Policy have been recognized to be as sacrosanct as Fundamental Rights.The goals are spelt out in Preamble itself which seeks to secure to all citizens: “Justice. expression. faith and worship. The Supreme Court liberalized the rules so as to enable poor and illiterate citizens to have easy access to courts for enforcing their basic rights. Civil and Criminal 13 . sex etc. In other words. economic and political. (f) Prohibition of forced labour. and (i) Right to constitutional remedies for enforcement of the above rights Further. This offers a cheap and expeditious remedy to the citizen to enforce the guaranteed rights. (g) Right to freedom of religion. the Supreme Court. (d) Protection of life and personal liberty. To achieve this goal of dignity of the individual with justice. and the High Courts are charged with the responsibility of effectively protecting citizens' rights through its writ jurisdiction. they together constitute a reference for State action in every sphere. Equality of status and of opportunity. of association. The Constitution envisages a unique place for the judiciary. towards achieving the goals set out in the Preamble.” Fraternity assuring dignity of the individual and the “unity and integrity of Nation”. This forms the bulwork of democracy and compels every one to abide by the law in his own interest. (h) Protection of interest of minorities. social. (c) Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion. and to promote among them all. the Constitution gives certain Directives to State to follow in its policies and programmes. (b) Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment.
namely. 14 . is concerned with the enforcement of obligations arising from agreements and promises. Broadly speaking. criminal law is concerned with wrongs against the community as a whole. the law of contract. adoption inheritance and succession. Laws of commerce and business. Parliament. relate to economic operations of individuals. The law of contracts. each religious group at present follows largely its own norms in matrimonial and family relations. in the process. they are bound to be so because law is as large as life itself which is increasingly becoming complex in. Even law of taxation forms part of commercial laws. laws are at the more so because they are expected to regulate a variety of social and economic activities so as to subserve the common good. Injuries to person or property caused by failure to take reasonable care and caution leads to actionable wrongs under tort. law of taxation etc. mortgages. intestacy and similar matters. guarantees. The law of property includes rights of ownership. On the basis of the remedies sought and the procedure followed. Family law. divorce. State legislatures and local councils make and unmake the laws day in and day out as the occasion demands. partnerships and companies and governmental regulation of them. labour law. partnerships. trusts. The law of torts deals with propriety of actions and infraction of duties.The laws of the country are too numerous. while civil law is related to the rights duties and obligations of individual members of the community between themselves. which in India has its source both on statute and religion. In a Welfare State like ours. which usually compensates the victim of such injuries. all laws can be grouped into two categories. transfer. varied and complex. Labour law deals with the relationship between employer and employees in the production and distribution of wealth. negotiable instruments. which includes contract law. insurance. custody of children. The common man may get lost in the maze of legislations coming from all sides and contribute to its complexity by creating his own laws through contracts and agreements with others he has to deal with. loans of money. comprises of the laws governing marriage. Though the Constitution envisages a Uniform Civil Code. Inspired by the Constitution. extend the scope and application of the laws. Civil Laws and Criminal Laws. the law of tort. Courts interpret them in specific fact situations and. every sphere. the law of property. maintenance. the law relating to commerce and business. Civil Law includes a number of aspects which may be grouped under six or seven major headings such as family law. This includes transactions such as sale of goods. agency and the like.
civil and criminal. against the State or against public rights. Civil and Criminal Most proceedings in the Supreme Court and the High Courts are governed by Rules of Procedure made by the Courts themselves under powers given by statute.. On a procedural basis they are classified as cognizable and non-cognizable (cognizable are those in which the police can investigate or arrest persons without judicial warrant). Valuation of suits for purposes of jurisdiction is made according to the Suits Valuation Act. insanity mistake of fact etc.Criminal law is concerned with public wrongs or wrongs against the order and well being of the society in general. The procedures for trial and appeals including execution of decrees and orders are laid down in the Code of Civil Procedure. reputation of the individual. Certain situations where guilty intention could not have been entertained such as infancy. Procedural Laws. The trial is in the nature of adversary proceedings where two parties oppose each other in a suit or action between parties. In such situations citizens can approach these courts even through a letter sent by post as the Supreme Court has declared that procedure should not be allowed to come in the way of dispensation of justice. The Limitation Act prescribes the periods of limitation with in which suits can be filed. The writ procedure under Articles 32 and 226 is unique to these courts and is intended for the quick enforcement of Fundamental Rights whenever they are threatened by the State or its agencies. The Evidence Act regulates the relevancy. It also recognizes degrees of criminality and gradations of crime. Thus there are crimes against the human body. The amount of court fees to be paid on plaints and appeals is determined by the Court Fees Act. For the enforcement of civil rights and obligations a suit before a civil court is usually instituted. compoundable or otherwise. Offences are classified on the basis of the objective or otherwise. admissibility and probative value of evidence led in courts. which set out the precise question in dispute or the cause of action. One important aspect in this regard is that criminal laws insist (apart from a few exceptional offences) on a particular intent or state of mind as a necessary ingredient of a criminal offence. These wrongs are specific and are defined in the Penal Code and a few other special and local laws. The opposite party (the 15 . Ignorance of law is never taken as an excuse. The Civil and Criminal Procedure Codes and the Evidence Act do apply to judicial proceedings in these courts as well. The procedure commences with „pleadings‟. The persons guilty of such wrongs are prosecuted and punished by the State. property. they are recognized as defences to criminal responsibility. bailable and non-bailable.
If there is any doubt in the evidence or the prosecution. in a number of cases they are settled before trial. the benefit of doubt is given to the accused and he is acquitted. Whenever arrests are made they are obliged to produce the arrested person before the nearest Magistrate within 24 hours. The police on receiving information of the commission of an offence proceeds with the investigation. oral statements before the court and by admissions and denials of documents filed by them. trial and disposition. if so. In the case of 16 . The arrested person has right to seek the aid of a lawyer of his choice and he cannot be compelled to give evidence against himself. Criminal proceedings are governed by the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The trial involves recording of evidence of witnesses on a day-to-day basis at the conclusion of which judgment is to be pronounced in open court. Crimes being wrongs against society. A party can appear himself in court for the hearing or make appearance through an agent or a pleader. they can at any time be abandoned or compromised and. in fact. prosecution. parties have to summon their witnesses for deposing in court. search places for recovery of relevant materials. many decrees are open to appeal in higher courts within the specified period. Refusal to obey a judgment may lead to penal consequences. They are authorised to interrogate people. to decide the punishment to be awarded therefore.defendant) may file a written statement to admit or deny the allegations in the plaint. It is designed to give every accused a 'fair trial' consistent with the constitutional commitment to individual liberty and freedom A criminal proceeding involves four major stages. namely. the State undertakes the prosecution on behalf of the victim. Under our law every accused is presumed innocent and the prosecution (the State) has to prove the guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In all bailable cases they are bound to release the person on bail. They are not to use 'third degree methods' in interrogation and confession given to police is not admissible as evidence in court. Judgments are enforceable through the authority of the court. answers and interrogatories. investigation. seize property connected with the crime and prepare a report on their findings for necessary action by the prosecuting authorities. Because civil proceedings are private matters. According to the Advocates Act right to practise law before courts is given to Advocates only. The defendant has the right to cross-examine every prosecution witness while he cannot himself be questioned unless he consents to be sworn as a witness in his own defence. The pleadings may be supplemented by the parties by making admissions of fact. arrest the suspects (with warrant from the Magistrate in non-cognizable cases). the purpose of which is to determine whether the accused is guilty of the offence charged and. In the proceedings. The hearing of a suit commences with the serving of a copy of the plaint to the defendant.
In the case of poor person the Criminal Procedure Code provides for the appointment of counsel at State expense to defend the indigent accused in all major criminal cases. arbitration councils. Citizens can directly approach the High Courts or the Supreme Court to seek redress for the violation of Fundamental Rights. expeditious and less cumbersome in terms of adjudication. nyaya panchayats etc. a poor person can declare himself to be a 'pauper' in which case he is exempted from co fees and a variety of related court expenses. there is enough scope for a deserving convict to get correctional treatment as part of sentence. the Criminal Procedure Code provides for the Magistrates Court (First or second Class depending on the extent of powers for punishment) and above them the Sessions Courts. The High Courts and Supreme Court enjoy civil and criminal jurisdiction apart from the writ jurisdiction. State and State. On the criminal side. there are a variety of adjudicative procedures followed in tribunals. administered. They are found to be cheap. This higher judiciary is named as the Union Judiciary and appointments to it are made by the President of the Union on the advice of the Chief Justice. he has a right to be heard on the determination of sentence. The emphasis in modern criminal justice being reformation and rehabilitation. quasi judicial administrative agencies. which the Statutes confer. Criminal Procedure Code or other State laws. Legal Aid Schemes set up in State also provide such persons with the services of lawyers to conduct litigation on their behalf. The Constitution itself provides for the Supreme Court and the High Court in each State at the apex of the judicial system and confers original and appellate jurisdiction on them primarily to resolve disputes between Union and the State. Legal Aid has now assumed an important place in judicial procedure in country. the Judge finds him guilty. They are created by Statutes and enjoy such powers and jurisdiction.indigent persons there is provision for legal aid at the State expense. These courts have a supervisory function over the subordinate courts (State Judiciary) which are set up by each State according to its requirements under the Civil Procedure Code. If at the end of trial. The State judiciary under the High Court is organised in a hierarchy on the civil and criminal sides based on their jurisdiction. Apart form the civil and criminal proceedings prescribed in the respective codes. State and the citizen and in limited cases appeals arising out of private disputes involving substantial questions of law. Right to counsel by a lawyer of one's choice is a constitutional right every citizen possesses. In civil proceedings. usually one in 17 . where private disputes are processed and settled through informal procedures. territorial or monetary. Courts of Law Courts are institutions wherein disputes are adjudicated and justice.
1961). Their removal from service requires a special procedure and the control of their judicial functions vest on the higher judiciary. Without the expert assistance of lawyers on either side of a dispute. 18 . Their salaries and service conditions are determined by law and cannot be changed to their disadvantage. acting on the advice of the Cabinet and the Chief Justice of India. They are enrolled into the profession by the Bar Council created by Parliament under the-Advocates Act. They are officers of court and are constituted into an independent profession under an Act of Parliament. On the civil side the Civil Procedure Code provides for the Munsiffs' Court (with limited pecuniary jurisdiction). The President. For organizational purposes they have formed themselves into bar associations. They are free to administer law without fear or favour and they cannot be interfered with by any one including the top functionary of the Government. They have the power to punish those who commit contempt of court or disobey their legitimate orders. Sales Tax Tribunals etc. No others may practice before the courts. appoints the Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court.30. in exceptional cases. a second appeal to the Supreme Court. Thus there are Motor Vehicles Compensation Tribunals. That is why the legal profession is often referred to as a noble and a learned profession. Appeals from these courts and tribunals usually lie to the High Courts and. judges will find it difficult to find the truth on disputed facts in issue and interpret the law applicable to varied situations. all of which are judicial bodies adjudicating disputes in the areas assigned to them. the Sub-Divisional Court and the District Court each with varying pecuniary and territorial jurisdiction.000 Advocates practising in the various courts in the country.each District. There are at present approximately 2. Lawyers and the Bar Lawyers are the key functionaries assisting the judges in the administration of justice. There can be Special Courts set up for specific purposes and also Administrative and Revenue Tribunals to adjudicate upon specific categories of disputes. Judges All judicial officers from the Supreme Court Judge to the Munsiff in a small taluka are independent of both the legislature and the executive. (The Advocates Act. The Governor of the State appoints the Judicial Officers of the State similarly on the advice of the State High Court/Government. The Personnel of the Law Administration of justice requires the co-operation not only of the parties and the judges but also of officers of court who include the Advocates. the court staff and the paralegal personnel who assist the lawyers and judges.
The Bar Councils at the State level and the Central level consist of elected members of the profession who undertake the responsibility of not only admitting new entrants. Legal Services to the poor is one of the social obligation of every lawyer required under the Bar Council rules of professional conduct. ***** 19 . but also improving the quality of legal services particularly through the exercise of disciplinary powers over erring members of the profession.
Allahabad Part A: Judicial System in Ancient India India has the oldest judiciary in the world. p. Havell.B. and independence of the judiciary. integrity. Havell. No other judicial system has a more ancient or exalted pedigree. Justice S. and these standards have not been surpassed till today . The reader will discover from them that Indian jurisprudence was found on the rule of law. The reader is advised to study The History of Aryans Rule in India by E. that arbitrary power was unknown to Indian political theory and jurisprudence and the kind‟s right to govern was subject to the fulfillment of duties the breach of which resulted in forfeiture of kingship.L. that in criminal trials the accused could not be 1 2 History of the Constitution of the Courts and Legislative Authorities in India."1 (italicized by me). a retired member of the Indian Civil Service. 20 . and Political Theory of Ancient India by John W. that the Indian judiciary consisted of a hierarchy of judges with the Court of the Chief Justice (Praadvivaka) at the top. that the King himself was subject to the law. that supernatural modes of proof like the ordeal were discourage . But the effect of this misrepresentation. Henry Mayne described the legal system of ancient India "as an apparatus of cruel absurdities". which has few parallels in history. each higher Court being invested with the power to review the decision of the Courts below . The Wonder that was India by A. p. learning. do not share the prejudices of their imperialist predecessors though their approach may be different from ours. "there was a dearth of legal principles. Spellman. historians. and others. Basham.147. Dhavan High Court. An Anglo-Indian jurist made the following remark about what he called "the oriental habits of life" of the Indians before the British turned up in India: "It (British rule in India) is a record of experiments made by foreign rulers to govern alien races in a strange land. In fairness I must state that several British Indologists of eminence like E. We must go the original texts to get a true and correct picture of the legal system of ancient India. and thinkers in the heyday of imperialism. I shall give a few specimens.B. or imperialist self-interest. was to create a false picture of the Indian judicial system both in India and outside. S. Spellman.3."2 These statements are untrue. to adapt European institutions to Oriental habits of life. A. Alan gledhill. Alan Gledhill: The Republic of India. that ancient India had the highest standard of any nation of antiquity as regards the ability.The Indian Judicial System: A Historical Survey By Mr. impartiality. But before describing the judicial system of ancient India I must utter a warning. and to make definite laws supreme amongst peoples who bad always associated government with arbitrary and uncontrolled authority. wrote that when the British seized power in India. that disputes were decided essentially in accordance with the same principles of natural justice which govern the judicial process in the modern State today: that the rules of procedure and evidence were similar to those followed today . that the judges were independent and subject only to the law. by Cowell (1872).Basham. It is not for me to guess why they were made. They may be due to sheer ignorance. or contempt for Indian culture and civilization which was a part of the imperialist outlook which dominated British Jurists. The reader must reject the colossal misrepresentation of Indian Jurisprudence and the legal system of ancient India by certain British writers.L.
he forfeited his kingship. that the fundamental duty of the Court was to do justice "without favour or fear". were heard by a bench of several judges and rarely by a judge sitting singly . I shall endeavour to describe the judicial system of ancient India. Rule of law in Ancient India Was there a rule of law in ancient India? Let the texts speak for themselves.6 But its signifiance for jurists is that even the sovereign was not above the law. In the Mahabharata. civil or criminal. Coming to the historical times of Mauryan Empire. It refutes the view that the kings in ancient India were "Oriental despots" who could do what they liked regardless of the law or the rights of their subjects. The great King of Hastinapur could not compel the humblest of his subjects to give his daughter in marriage to him without accepting his terms."4 These provisions indicate that sovereignty was based on an implied social compact and if the King violated the traditional pact. the King of Ayodhya. Such a king is not a king but misfortune. simply because his subjects disapproved of his having taken back a wife who had spent a year in the house of her abductor. the realm was divided into 3 4 5 6 SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK 21 ."3 "The people should execute a king who does not protect them. The king submitted to the will of people thopugh it broke his heart. hearing and decree . According to the Artha-shastra of Kautilya.C.).punished unless his guilt was proved according to law . Rama. it was laid down " A King who after having sworn that he shall protect his subjects fails to protect them should be executed like a mad dog. that the decrees of all courts except the King were subject to appeal or review according to fixed principles ."5 The Principle enunciated by Kautilya was based on a very ancient tradition which was already established in the age of the Ramayana. that all trials. was compelled to banish his queen. The renunciation of the throne and the vow of life-long celibacy (Bhishma Pratgyan) by Prince Deva Vrata is one of the most moving episodes in the Mahabharata. Kautilya describes the duties of a king in the Arth-shastra thus : "In the happiness of his subjects lies the King‟s happiness. whatever pleases him he shall not consider as good. but deprives them of their property and assets and who takes no advice or guidance from any one. in their welfare his welfare. that in civil cases the trial consisted of four stages like any modern trial – plaint. In the Mahabharata it is related that a common fisherman refused to give his daughter in marriage to the King of Hastinapur unless he accepted the condition that his daughter‟s sons and not the heirapparent from a former queen would succeed to the throne. that such doctrines as res judicata (prang nyaya) were familiar to Indian jurisprudence . reply. but whether pleases his people he shall consider to good. who is generally recognised as the Prime Minister of the first Maurya Emperor (322-298 B. Judiciary in Ancient India With this introductory warning. whom he loved and in whose chastity he had comlete faith.
It was also desirable that disputes should be decided in the first instance by an arbitrator within the family. the minor disputes being decided by the lowest court and the most important by the king. The institution of family judges is noteworthy. "The binding effect of the decisions of these tribunals. The next higher court was that of the judge. The significance of the family courts is that the judicial system had its roots in the social system which explains its success. The fountain source of justice was the sovereign. Hierarchy of courts in Ancient India According to Brihaspati Smiriti. tehsils and Parganas). and finally the Supreme Court which takes the place of the King‟s Court. and at the top was the King‟s court. Manu. the next of the Chief Justice who was called Praadivivaka. Consequently. The lowest was the family arbitrator. and each following decision shall prevail against the preceding one because of the higher degree of learning and knowledge". The Court consisted of three jurists (dhramastha) and three ministers (amatya). Law courts were established in each sangrahana. Modern Japan has a somewhat similar system of family Courts. Brihaspati and others. for it is hardly likely that three ministers were permanently posted in each district of the realm. described in detail the judicial system and legal procedure which prevailed in India from ancient times till the close of the Middle Ages. We are following an ancient tradition without being conscious of it. Sthaniya was a fortress established in the center of eight hundred villages. a kharvatika in the midst of 200 villages and a sangrahana in the center of ten villages.11 7 8 9 10 11 SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK 22 .7 This suggests the existence of circuit courts. the Civil Judge. there was a hierarchy of courts in Ancient India beginning with the family Courts and ending with the King. Khrvatika and Sangrahana (the ancient equivalents of the modern districts. or adhyaksha. Dronamukha. a dronamukha in the midst of 400 villages. the Munsif. and in later times commentators like Vachaspati Misra and others. ending with that of the king.administrative units called Sthaniya.8 The jurisdiction of each was determined by the importance of the dispute. the District Judge. Yajn-valkya. Katyayana. and also at the meeting places of districts (Janapadasandhishu). The decision of each higher Court superseded that of the court below. The unit of society was the joint family which might consist of four generations. In Indian jurisprudence dispensing justice and awarding punishment was one of the primary attributes of sovereignty. 10 It is noteworthy that the Indian judiciary today also consists of a hierarchy of courts organized on a similar principle-the village courts. The great jurists. the High Court.9 According to Vachaspati Misra. is in the ascending order. the number of the member of a joint family at any given time could be very large and it was necessary to settle their disputes with firmness combined with sympathy and tact.
the judge at least has done his duty.13 He should act under the guidance of his Chief Justice (Praadvivaka). and his dress and demeanour were to be such as not to overawe the litigants. (The oath of Vivasvan is the oath of impartiality: the son of Vivasvan is Yama. he is guilty. who is impartial to all living beings). having taken the oath of the son of Vivasvan.12 A very strict code of judicial conduct was prescribed for the king. his duty is not to please the king for this is no occasion for soft speech (vaktavyam tat priyam natra). if the judge fails in his duty.Being the fountain source of justice. the king‟s functions became more numerous and he had less and less time to hear suits in person. judges.17 The King’s Judges The judges and counselors guiding the king during the trial of a case were required to be independent and fearless and prevent him from committing any error or injustice. Says Katyayana: "The king should enter the court-room modestly dressed. He was required to take the oath of impartiality. take his seat facing east. and under the guidance of judges learned in law.14 These provisions are significant. He was required to decide cases in open trial and in the court-room. in him the seven virtues meet like seven flames in the fire"16 Narada enjoins that when the king occupies the judgment seat (dharmasanam). he must be impartial to all beings. A king who dispenses justice in this manner and according to law resides in heaven". ministers and the Brahmana members of his council. and with an attentive mind hear the suits of his litigants. if the king does not listen."20 Delegation of Judicial power by the King As civilization advanced. The king was required to be modestly dressed (vineetavesha) so that the litigants were not intimidated. 19 When the judge realizes that the king has deviated from equity and justice. but strictly according to law. and was compelled to delegate more and more of his judicial 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK 23 .”18 "The judge guiding the king must give his opinion which he considers to be according to law. in the beginning the king was expected to administer justice in person. and decide cases without bias or attachment. The code of conduct prescribed for the king when acting as a judge was very strict and he was required to be free from all "attachment or prejudice"15 Says Narada: "If a king disposes of law suits (vyavaharan) in accordance with law and is self-restrained ( in court). the god of death. it is the duty of the judge (samya) to warn the king and prevent him. Says Katyayana: "If the king wants to inflict upon the litigants (vivadinam) an illegal or unrighteous decision.
or seven. wise. Shukra-nitisara says: "Five causes destroy impartiality and lead to judges taking sides in disputes. five. and judges must sit in benches of uneven numbers. steadfast. even if he was the king. Integrity Every Smriti emphasizes the supreme importance of judicial integrity. free from anger. enmity. and of good family. wise in wordly experience and should function in groups of three. the king cannot hear suits in person he should appoint as a judge a Brahmin learned in the Vedas. Katyayana says: "If due to pressure of work.22 In course of time. and hearing a party in private. God-fearing. Quality of the Judiciary: Integrity I shall now say a few words about the quality of the Judiciary and the code of conduct prescribed for judges. A trial had to be in open court and judges were forbidden to talk to the parties privately while the suit was pending because it was recognised that a private hearing may lead to partiality (pakshapat). Our ancients realized that when two minds confer." 25 Kautilya also enjoined that suits should be heard by three judges (dharmasthstrayah)."*23 The strictest precautions were taken to ensure the impartiality of judges. impartial in temperament."21 The qualifications prescribed for a judge were very high. But the state in ancient India was more interested in the quality of justice than economy. does not follow this excellent safeguard. fear. The concept of integrity was given a very wide meaning and the judicial code of integrity was very strict. Our present judicial system. Today every suit is heard by a single Munsif or civil Judge or District Judge for reasons of economy. and they provided that the King must sit with his counselors when deciding cases. but leaving untouched his powers as the highest court of appeal."24 Another safeguard of judicial integrity was that suits could not be heard by a single judge. a judicial hierarchy was created which relieved the king of much of the judicial work. Under the Maurya Empire a regular judicial service existed as described above. greed. A judge who performs his judicial duties in this manner achieves the same spiritual merit as a person performing a Yajna. Says Brihaspati: "A judge should decide cases without any consideration of personal gain or any kind of personal bias. there is less chance of corruption or error. The foremost duty of a judge was integrity which included impartiality and a total absence of bias or attachment.function to professional judges. Shukra-nitisara enjoined that "Persons entrusted with judicial duties should be learned in the Vedas. leading a righteous life. assiduous in his duties. of good 21 22 23 24 25 SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK 24 . According to Katyayana. There are attachment. Shukra-nitisara says: "The judges appointed by the king should be well versed in procedure. and his decision should be in accordance with the procedure prescribed by the texts. "A judge should be austere and restrained. created by the British.
and by temperament capable of complete impartiality between friend and foe. 5.28 Vishnu says: "The state should confiscate the entire property of a judge who is corrupt. Brihaspati says: "A judge or chief justice (Praadvivaka) who privately converses with a party before the case has been decided (anirnite). truthful. truthful. and truthful. It may also be compared to the peoples‟ assessors under the Soviet judicial system who sit with the professional judge in the Peoples‟ Court but are equal in status to him and can overrule him."34 Their status may be compared to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council which "humbly advise" their Sovereign. or desire (for personal gain). "If they (the 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK Shukra. the Sovereign could decide the matter himself."twelve shopkeepers"-whereas the councilors who sat with the Sovereign were to be learned in law. with one important difference. active (not lazy). free from anger. learned in law. Yajanvalkya enjoins: "The Sovereign should appoint as assessors of his court persons who are well versed in the literature of the law. on the contrary he was to pass a decree (Jaya-patra) in accordance with their advice. soft in speech. Shukr-nitisara says: " The King after observing that the assessors have given their verdict should award the successful party a decree (Jaya-patra)."26 Punishment for corruption Corruption was regarded as a heinous offence and all the authorities are unanimous in prescribing the severest punishment on a dishonest judge. If in a difficult case the jurors were unable to come to a conclusion. is to be punished like a corrupt judge. impartial to friend or foe. Brihaspati says: "A judge should be banished from the realm if he takes bribes and thereby perpetrates injustice and betrays the confidence reposed in him by a trusting public.character and temperament.275 SANSKRIT SLOK 25 . Shukra-nitisara says."31 These assessors or jurors were required to express their opinion without fear. and the murderer of a Brahmin are in the same class of criminals. IV."29 Judicial misconduct included conversing with litigants in private during the pendency of a trial. if they keep silent they will go to hell accompanied by the King."27 A corrupt judge."30 Jurors The most noteworthy feature of the judicial system was the institution of sabhasada or councilors who acted as assessors or adviser of the King. greed. They were the equivalent of the modern jury. but their advice is binding. Katyayana says: „The assessors should not look on when they perceive the Sovereign inclined to decide a dispute in violation of the law. even to the point of disagreeing with the Sovereign and warning him that his own opinion was contrary to law and equity."32 The same injunction is repeated in an identical verse in Shukr-nitisara. The jury of today consists of laymen. a false witness. But there was one exception.33 The Sovereign-or the presiding judge in his absence-was not expected to overrule the verdict of the jurors.
assessors) are unable to decide a dispute because it raises difficult or doubtful issues (sandigdha-roopinah), in such a case the Sovereign may decide in the exercise of his Sovereign privilege.35 Criminal Trials In criminal trials it appears that the question of innocence or guilt of the accuse was decided by the judge or the jurors, but the quantum of punishment was left to the King.36 In the trial scene in Mrichchhakatika, The Little Clay Court, the judge after pronouncing Charudatta guilty of the murder of Vasantasena, referred the question of punishment to the King with the remark, "The decision with regard to Charudatta‟s guilt or innocence lies with us and our decision is binding (Pramanam), but the rest lies with the King."37 Interpretation of the Text of the law Principles of interpretation were developed to high degree of perfection. Judges were required to decide cases, criminal and civil, according to law (samyak, yath-shastram, shastro ditena vidhina). This involved interpretation of the written text of the law-a task which created many problems such as the elucidation of obscure words and phrases in the text, reconciliation of conflicting provisions in the same law, solution of conflict between the letter of the law and principles of equity, justice and good conscience, adjustment of custom and smritis, and so on. This branch of law was highly developed and a number of principles were enunciated for the guidance of the courts. The most important of them related to the conflict between the dharm-shastra and the artha-shastra. Three systems of substantive law were recognized by the court, the dharma-shastra, the arthshastra, and custom which was called sadachara or charitra. The first consisted of laws which derived their ultimate sanction from the smritis and the second of principles of government. The bordr line between the two often overlapped. But the real distinction between the smritis and arth-shastra is uniformaly secular, but that of the dharma-shastra not always so. IN fact so remarkably secular is the arth-shastra in its approach to the problems of government that this has induced some writers to advance the theory that the artha-shastra (literal meaning: the science of „artha‟ or pursuit of material welfare), did not evolve from the dharma-shastra but had an independent origin and developed parallel to it. Whatever their respective origins, in several matters the arthashastra and the dharma-shastra are in conflict. How did the law courts resolve this conflict when it arose in particular suits? The first principle was that of avirodha: the court must try to resolve any apparent conflict between the two.38 (This is called the principle of harmonious construction today. But if the conflict could not be resolved, the authority of the dharma-shastra was to be preferred. Bhavishya purana provides : "whens mriti and artha-shastra are inconsistent, the provision in the artha-shastra is superseded (by smriti); but if two smritis, or two provision in the same smriti are in conflict, whichever is in accordance with equity is to be preferred."39 Narada smriti lays down a similar rule of interpretation according to reason in case of conflict
35 36 37 38 39 SANSKRIT SLOK The State and Government in Ancient India, by A.S. Alkkar, p.249. I am indebted to this work for several valuable ideas. SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK
between two texts of the smritis.40 But while interpreting the written text of the law, the court was to bear in mind that its fundamental duty was to do justice and not to follow the letter of the law. Brihaspati enjoined: " The court should not give its decision by merely following the letter of the shastra for if the decision is completely devoid of reasoning, the result is injustice (dharma-hani)."41 Brihastpati further says that the court should decide according to the customs and usages of the country even if they are in conflict with the letter of the law; 42 and he gives several remarkable illustrations which incidentally throw a flood of light on contemporary social conditions. He points out that the maternal uncle‟s daughter is accepted in marriage by brahmanas of the south; in Madhya desha (Central India), brahmanas become hired labourers and craftmen and eat cow‟s flesh; eastern brahmanas eat fish and their women are addicted to drinking and can be touched by men even when in their monthly courses. On account of the acts specified these communities, in their respective countries, should not be liable to undergo penance r incur judicial punishment.43 Changing customs: Changing laws In view of the vital part played by custom (achara, sadachara, charitra ) in society, the State was required to maintain an authenticated record of the customs observed in the various parts of the country. Katyayana enjoins: "Whatever custom is proved to be followed in any particular region, it should be duly recorded as established (dharya) in a record stamped with the seal of the Sovereign."44 But even an established custom could be formally "disestablished" if in course of time it became inequitable. In fact, it was the duty of the Sovereign to remove from time to time the dead or rotten branches of custom. Katyanana enjoined: "When the Soverign is satisfied that a particular custom is contrary to equity (nyayatah) in the same way-that is in the way it was established- it should be annulled by a formal decision of the Sovereign."45 This remarkable provision indicates how highly developed was the judicial and legal system of ancient India. The state was required to keep an authenticated record of all valid customs prevailing in the different regions of the realm. Very often the decision in a suit depended on proof of the existence of a custom. Narada says, "The basis of a judicial decision (vyavahara) may be: (i) Dharma-shastra, (ii) (previous) judicial decisions (vyavahara) or custom (charitra) or the decrees of the Soverign. The authority of these four is in the reverse order, each preceding one being superseded by the one following it.46 The artha-shastra contains an indentical provision. Evolutionary concept of law The significance of these provisions can not be overemphasized. By gearing law to changing customs Indian jurisprudence gave the concept of law a secular content. Moreover, it developed the evolutionary concept of law and rejected the concept of an absolute, eternal,
SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK
40 41 42 43 44 45 46
never-chaning law. Both Manu and Parashara say: "The laws of kritayuga are different from those of treat and dwapara, and the laws of kali yuga are different from those of all the previous; ages- the laws of each age being according to the distinctive character of each age (yuga roopanusaratah)."47 Mode of Proof (Law of Evidence) The law of evidence (the mode of proof) is an index of the quality of a judicial system. In this respect, the Indian judicial system was in advance of any other system of antiquity. In ancient societies proof by supernatural devices, such as trial by ordeal, was quite common. In England it prevailed till the very close of the middle ages. But our judicial system prohibited resort to supernatural devices, if oral or documentary evidence was available.48 Discovery of truth is real test The real test of any judicial system is that it should enable the law courts to discover the truth, and that of ancient India stands high under this test. "In disputes the Court has to ascertain what is true and what is false from the witnesses," enjoins Gautam.49 All available evidence indicates that in ancient India bearing false witness was viewed with great abhorrence.50 All the foreign travelers from Megasthenes in the 3rd century B. C. to Huan Tsiang in the 7th century A. D. Testified that truthfulness was practiced by Indians in their wordly relations. "Truth they hold in high esteem", wrote Megasthenes. 51 Fa Hien and Huan Tsiang (who visited India during the reign of Harsha) recorded similar observations. A virtue practiced for a thousand year became a tradition. The procedure and atmosphere of the Courts discouraged falsehood. The oath was administered by the judge himself, and not by a peon as today. While giving the oath the judges were required to address the witness extolling truthfulness as a virtue and condemning perjury as a horrible sin. Brihaspati says, "Judges who are well-versed in the dharmashastra should address the witness in words praising truth and driving away falsehood (from his mind)".52 The judges‟ address to the witness did not consist of set words but a moral exhortation intended to put the fear of God in him. All the texts are unanimous on this point.53 According to Narada, "The judges should inspire awe in the witness by citing moral precepts which should uphold the majesty of truth and condemn falsehood". 54 All the smirtis were unanimous in holding that perjury before a law court was a heinous sin as well as a serious crime.55 There were other provisions, calculated to reduce the changes of false evidence being given. Katyayana enjoined, with much common sense that there should be no delay in examining witnesses- obviously because delay dims the memory and stimulates
47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55
SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK A.L. Basham: The Wonder that was India, p.116. Ancient India as described by Magasthenes and Arian, by Mc. Rindle, p.6. SANSKRIT SLOK Manu, VIII, 79-87; Narada I, 200-228, Katyayana, 388-390; Yajnaa-II, 273-74. SANSKRIT SLOK Brihaspati V, 34; Manu VIII, 80-87; Yajna II, 73-74; Narada I, 220-228; Baudh I, 13,14,19.
pilot (niyamaka). a state textile industry. "The Sovereign should not grant any delay in the deposition of witnesses. a state mining industry. Under the Mauryan Empire there was a State mercantile marine."60 The rates were to be fixed by the 56 57 58 59 60 SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK 29 .imagination. There were strict regulations to ensure the safety of vessels: "For navigation on large rivers which cannot be forded (atarya) even during winter and summer season. and a state trading department in charge respectively of a Superintendent-General of Shipping (navadhyaksha). but also on lakes. with a captain (shasaka). or charged excessive prices.”59 The artha-shastra also contains regulations indicating that the state mercantile marine operated on the high seas and it provided that "passengers arriving in port on the royal ships shall pay their passage money (yatra-vetanam).” 58 The chapter contains a provision for the ships to have adequate few for ships.57 According to the artha-shastra these courts took cognizance not only of offences against the States but also violations of the law by officials in the discharge of their official duties. I shall give a few illustrations. a crew to hold the sickle and the ropes. and commerce. and in the vicinity of Sthaniya and other fortified cities. Textiles (Sootradhyaksha). if the labourer in the factory was given less than a fair wage or did not do its work properly. These Courts had all the characteristics of administrative courts. The artha-shastra provides a complete Administrative Code prescribing rules of maritime and riparian navigation. there shall be a service of large boats (mahanavo). It enjoined that the State should have a Superintendent-General of Navigation whose duties are defined thus: "The Superintendent of ships shall examine the accounts relating to navigation not only on the oceans and mouths of the rivers. The artha-shastra says. persons accused of theft. The regulation of each state industry was under its own rules and all the rules were compiled and classified in the artha-shastra and may be regarded as an Administrative Code. The modern capitalist notion that there should be no industries run by the State would have appeared idotic to our ancients. the Kantakasodhana courts intervened to punish the culprits. dacoity and sex offences had to appear before the same court. for delay leads to great evil and results in witnesses turning away from the law. "Three commissioners (pradeshtarah) or three ministers shall deal with measures to suppress disturbance to peace (kantakasodhanam kuryuh).”56 Administrative Courts An important feature of the judicial system of ancient India were the Special Courts of criminal jurisdiction called the Kantakasodhana Courts. mining (akaradhyaksha). Officers charged with misconduct. and to clear the boat of water. natural or artificial. Thus if traders used false weights or sold adulterated good. Administrative Code The State in ancient India had a public sector of huge dimensions engaged in commerce and industry. The existence of an Administrative Code is indicated in the Fourth part of the Artha-shastra.
It prescribed: "If the official of the Superintendent stares at the face of such woman or tries to engage her in conversation about matters other than her work (in other words.63 Another regulation made it a punishable offence to show any undue favour to a women worker.70 The Sovereign was not to interfere with the judiciary but on the contrary the latter 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK 30 . Cases were heard in their serial order except in case of urgency.”64 Collection of taxes and import duties There was a code prescribing rules governing the collection of taxes and import duties. clothes (vastra). These regulations were not enforced by the ordinary courts but by Commissioners (Pradeshtarah) who functioned as Kantak Shodhana courts. But the artha-shastra contains strict regulation against the taking of liberties with such women or withholding their wages. their duty shall be doubled". Penalties were prescribed for making a false declaration. Similarly. It provided.67 The Administrative Code in the 4th Section of the artha-shastra contains detailed regulations for the control of the other departments of the state. and ropes. he will be punished.”61 One of his duties was to give employment to women in their own homes. He had a large organization under him. the merchant was liable to pay a penalty amounting to eight times the normal duty. The artha-shastra prescribed the duties of the Sootradhyaksha and the other officials working under him. One rule enjoined: "If the merchandise bears no seal. I shall sum up the fundamental principles on which the judicial process in ancient India was founded: The trial was always in public68 and always by several judges collectively. This development was in charge of the Superintendent General of taxes (Shulkadhyaksh).69 Delay in the disposal of cases was condemned by all authorities and judges who were guilty of such delay were liable to be punished. which was a huge industry exporting textiles to foreign countries had a public as well as a private sector. coats (varma). Cotton was distributed among them and spun into tread and either collected by the department or delivered by the women themselves. the manufacture of textiles and cotton yarn. 62 "Delay in payment of wages shall be likewise punishable. makes what an American would call a pass at her) he will be punished as if he is guilty of a first assault.Superintendent-General. The merchants at the customs were liable to declare their merchandise which had to bear a seal when imported. It enjoins: "The Superintendent-Genral of Weaving shall employ qualified persons to manufacture treads (sutra). the merchant was liable to be detained in a lock-up reserved loiterers.65 But in case of counterfeit seal. 66 If the seal was torn. the existence of this code proves beyond doubt that the people of India were a sea-faring people with extensive trade relations with foreign countries. Incidentally. "If an official pays wages to a woman for no work done. The public sector was under a Superintendent-General of Textiles (Sootradhyaksha).
was under a duty to interfere in case of a wrong (judicial) decision by the king. The country was divided once more into small kingdoms. he was liable to be punished. rose in his seat out of deference. the unity of civilization was preserved. This could not but have a profound effect on the judicial system. and both of them appeared before the Qadi who. The Muslim conquerors brought with them a new religion. The Prophet himself set the standards. 75 Abdul Rahim : The Principles of the Muhammedan Jurisprudence. 73 Political Theory of Ancient India: John W. p. and a new social system. on seeing the Caliph. or harassment.71 The Judges were to be impartial . The ideal of justice under Islam was one of the highest in the Middle ages. If a judge was guilty of partiality. The procedure for suits was prescribed by law. He is further reported to have said that to God a moment spent in the dispensation of justice is better than the devotion of the man who keeps fast every day and says prayer every night for 60 years. This high tradition reached its zenith under the first four Caliphs.128. and champerty was a punishable offence. He said in the quran. But this did not result in any great change in the judicial system which had taken roots during the preceding thousands of years. Oxford.72 Citizens were strictly forbidden to instigate or finance or file complaints in which they were not interested."73 Part B: Judicial System in Medieval India After the disintegration of the Harsha empire a veil of obscurity descends on the history of India which does not lift till the Muslim invasion. Corruption was the most heinous offence in a judge and a corrupt judge was banished from the realm and forfeited all his property. This I is indicated by the fact that the great commentaries on law like Mitakshara and Shukarneeti Sar were written during this period and enjoyed an all-India authority. Edited by D. The standards and ideals of justice were maintained in each kingdom. Spellman. Clarendon Press. during the pendency of the suit they were forbidden to have any private talks or relations with the parties. It is rported of him that he had once a personal law suit against a Jewish subject. in spite of political divisions. wherefore observe a just weight and diminish not the balance". or deliberately violated the prescribed procedure.Ross. and every suit was initiated by a complaint or plaint filed by the aggrieved party who prayed for the redress of a legal wrong. 74 Fakhr-ud-din Mubarak Shah.74 Thus the administration of justice was regarded by the Muslim kings as a religious duty. "Umar considered this to be such an unpardonable weakness on his part that he dimissed him from office. But the establishment of the Muslim rule in India opened a new chapter in our judicial history. And He appointed the balance that he should not transgress in respect to the balance. a new civilization.12. I cannot do better than quote the verdict of a very recent English writer: "In some respects the judicial system of ancient India was theoretically in advance of our own today. this is the commencement of a law suit (Vyavahara)”. The first Qadi was appointed by the Caliph Umar who enunciated the principle that the law was supreme and that the judge must never be subservient to the ruler. and the fundamental principles of law and procedure were applied throughout the country. page 21. 71 72 31 ."75 The Muslim kings in SANSKRIT SLOK SANSKRIT SLOK “ When a person who is the victim of a wrong in violation of the Smritis and the custom of the realm files a plaint (or complaint) before the sovereign. "Justice is the balance of God upon earth in which things when weighed are not by a particle less or more. p.
p.Ahmad in the administration of Justice in the Medieval India. page 108. quoted by M. by M. II. p. (This however did not prevent the Sultan from executing the defendant without a trial). Ibid. One dynasty was replaced by another within a comparatively short period. "the main defect of the Department of Law and Justice was that there was no system. The bulk fo the litigation in the country (excluding those decided by caste. 32 . Consequently the quality of justice depended very much on the personality of the sovereign. unlike the judicial traditions of ancient India which had struck deep roots in the course of several thousand years and could not be uprooted by political divisions. "The medieval State in India as elsewhere throughout its existence had all the disadvantages of an autocracy-everything was temporary. but no harm was done to him. page 606 Mughal Administration. Administration of Justice in Medieval India : M. elders or village Panchayats mostly for the Hindus) naturally came up before the courts of Qazis or Sadars. As a modern writer says. and the manner of replacement was violent. quoting Briggs. personal. Consequently.B.. If the King was drunk „his Magistrates were seen drunk in public‟. Brani : Tarikh Firuz Shahi. p.80 According to the greatest historian of the Mughal Empire. Encyclopaedia of Islam. every town and every village large enough to be classed as a Qasba had its own Qazi.Ahmad. 77. No Sultan felt secure for a long time. According to Barani. and the Sultans of India never felt secure.India bought with them these high ideals. In theory. The administration of Justice in Medieval India. thoroughly conversant with the prescriptions of the sacred law. Every provincial capital had its Qazi and at the head of the judicial administration was the Supreme Qazi of the empire (Qazi-ul-quzat). Under the Moghal Empire the country had an efficient system of government with the result that the system of justice took shape. 77 But unfortunately the administration of justice under the Sultans worked fitfully.B. and had no basic strength. Vol. The unit of judicial administration was Qazi-an office which was borrowed from the Caliphate. Islamic standards of Justice did not take root in India as an established tradition. Balban regarded justice as the keystone of sovereignty "wherein lay the strength of the sovereign to wipe out the oppression"."81 This view is not accepted by other writers. Amhad. he was charged by the Imperial Diwan in the following words: 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 Badaoni : Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh. It is reported by Badaoni that during the reign of Sultan Muhammad Tughlaq the Qadi dimissed a libel suit filed by the Kind himself against Shaikhzada Jami. p. The personal factor in the administration had become so pronounced that a slight deviation of the head from the path of duty.. a Qazi had to be "a Muslim scholor of blameless life. no organization of the law courts in a regular gradation from the highest to the lowest. Rise of the Muhammendan Power in India. produced concomitant variations in the whole „trunk‟. Moreover.79 During the Sultanate.272. the democratic ideal of government preached by Islam was obscure in India.B. by Sir Jadunath Sarkar. 278. The reason was that the outstanding feature of the entire Sultanate period was confusion and chaos.76 Individual Sultans had very high ideals of justice. p.82 On the appointment of a Qazi. Volume I. 272.273. nor any proper distribution of courts in proportion to the area to be served by them.78 Justice in not possible without security.
sale-deeds. . .. and a good part of our legal terminology is borrowed from it. The provincial Governors and Faujdars arrogated to themselves the status of sovereigns and awarded punishment for criminal offences in their own names. mortgage bonds and other legal documents very carefully. which administers both Union and State laws. Hence. A relic of this usurpation of the Emperors‟ power is the name Faujdari given to criminal trials even today. Manual of Officers Duties. Civil and Sessions Judgewith the District Judge as its head. . the plaintiff and the defendant are termed Muddai and Muddaliya and scores of other legal terms remind us of the great days of the Mughal Empire. I shall not give a detailed description of the organization 83 84 85 Manual of Officers Duties. be honest. p.Munsif. 27."85 After the death of Aurangzeb. each district in the State has its hierarchy of judicial officers. therefore. There is overwhelming evidence that all the Emperors from Akbar to Aurangzeb took their judicial function seriously and discharged their duties Jahangir made a great show of it and his Golden Chain has become famous in history. incapable of growth and change. except so far as it reflected changes of juristic thought in Arabia or Egypt. a Persian Mss. Each State has its own judiciary."Be Just. In fact. He held his court of justice every Wednesday and decided a few cases selected personally by him but he functioned not as an original court but as the court of highest appeal. were notorious for taking bribes. According to Sircar. nor attend entertainments given by anybody and everybody. Quoted by Sir Jadunath Sircar. As during the Maurya Empire. 33 . The Mughal judicial system has left its imprint on the present system. 27. Hold trials in the presence of the parties and at the courthouse and the seat of Government (muhakuma). p. . the Mughal Empire collapsed within two generations. Write your decrees. Quoted by Sir Jadunath Sircar. Know poverty (faqr) to be your glory (fakhr). But it took a long time. The Indian legal system today suffers from a similar weakness for it s theoretical foundations are outside India. Civil Judge. Our civil courts of first instance and called Munsifs. or syupplement the Quranic law by following the line of its obvious intention in respect of cases not explicitly provided for by it. Part C: The Judicial System Today I shall now give a very brief description of our judicial system today. Ibid. 115. these noble ideals werenot observed. "No Indian Emperor‟s or Qazi‟s decisions was ever considered authoritative enough to lay down a legal principle to elucidate any obscurity in the Quran. After the conquest of Bengal by the British the process of replacement of the Mughal system of justice by the British began. so that learned men may not pick holes in them and bring you to shame. be impartial. p."83 But due to lack of supervision and absence of good tradition. was that all its three sources were outside India. Muslim law in India was. The weakness of IndoMohammedan Law. Barring the Supreme Court. a Persian Mss. Do not accept presents from thepeople of the place where you serve.84 The Emperor was the fountain source of justice. it became necessary for Indian Qazis to have at their slbow a digest of Islamic law and precedent compiled from the accepted Arabic writer. "all the Qazis of the Mughal period. according to Jadunath Sircar. with a few honourable exceptions. India has no federal judiciary like the United States. The Sadre Diwani Adalat continued to function till it was replaced by the High Courts.
The Chief Justice is in charge of the administrative work of the Court and distributed judicial work among his companion judges. civil and criminal. but in practice no transfer has taken place except at the desire of the judge concerned. It can also declare invalid any law passed by Parliament or the state legislature in violation of the fundamental rights of any citizen. The High Courts hears appeals or revisions from the decisions of all subordinate courts. and testamentary cases. he can be overruled by his colleagues. quowarranto. But while sitting in Court. In the State of Uttar Pradesh alone over three thousand petitions are filed in a year. prohibition. The remedy under Article 266 has proved to be a very popular remedy and several thousands of petitions are filed every year by citizens throughout India for the protection of their rights. the High Court can restrain the State from interfering unlawfully with the rights of any citizen and invalidating any act or order already done or passed. a High Court Judge enjoys complete security of tenure which is the foundation of judicial independence. certiorari. He has no administrative control over any judge and his status may be described as primus inter pares (first among equals).of our state judiciary. During his tenure of office. though appeals from its decision may lie to the Supreme Court. it has original jurisdiction in matrimonial. or any other orders of directions. A judge can be transferred from one High Courts to another. by issuing writs of habeas corpus. He is also consulted in the appointment of judges in his own Court. The number varies from 36 for the Allahabad High Court to 3 for Assam. 34 . High Courts At the apex of the State Judiciary is the High Court. As I have shown above. It consists of a Chief Justice and as many judges as the President of India may sanction. The recruitment to the High Court bench is partly from the bar and partly by promotion of district Judges of not less than five years‟ standing. and a High court or supreme court Judge can be removed only on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity. and if sitting on a bench of three Judges. and after each House of Parliament has passed by a two-third majority an address to the President for his removal (Articles 124 and 217). mandamus. Company. empowering them to prevent the infringement of fundamental rights of citizens and other rights. it was fully understood and enforced in ancient India. Katyayana and all other lawgivers (whose injunctions have been quoted above) emphasized the Supreme importance of judges being independent and fearless even of the king. In addition. as it is the subject-matter of another article in this volume. It is a court of record and not subject to the superintendence of any court or authority. In the exercise of this power. his judicial status is no higher than that of any other judge and his decisions can be reversed by any two judges in Special Appeal. Every High Court Judge is appointed by the President. A special jurisdiction was conferred on all High Courts by Article 226 of the Constitution. The Constitution of India adopted the English doctrine of security of tenure. Independence of Judges The principle of judicial independence did not originate with British rule.
" Another great American Judge. V. Jurisprudence. A great American Judge. avowed or unconscious. Rao vs. and utility.86 Roscoe Pound is also of the view that "current moral ideas and ethical customs are drown upon continually although seldom consciously. and history and custom. 470. " It gives the opinions of our Supreme Court a constitutional force. The judicial process can be an effective weapon for forging national integration. observed. 3.88 In ancient India the judges were required to be well versed in all branches of knowledge (vidya) as well 86 87 88 Nature of the Judicial process (1921) Cordozo.p. Judiciary has maintained its ancient traditions After the attainment of freedom the Indian judiciary has maintained the ancient Indian tradition of judicial independence and integrity. The High Courts. and District Judges who have dispensed impartial justice between citizens of different communities and castes."87 The Supreme Court of India has observed that in determining whether any restriction on a fundamental right was reasonable. There can be no doubt that the Supreme Court by its decisions and opinions. The highest praise must go to our subordinate judiciary-the Munsifs. State of Madras. p. Vol. 133-11 quoted by Roscoe Pound in Jurisprudence (1949) Vol. Indian Judges have lived up to the injunction of Brihaspati that a Judge should decide cases without any motive of personal gain or prejudice or bias and his decisions should be in accordance with the law prescribed by the text.The Supreme Court and National Integration The Constitution of 1950 created for the first time in Indian history a Supreme Court for the whole of India. 474. The Supreme Court has set the pace and its record of independence is second to none in the world. Benjamin Cordozo. The establishment of this Court with an all-India jurisdiction is likely to accelerate the development of a common law extending over every nook and corner of the republic. with the authority of Article 141 behind them. Oliver Wendell Homes. Civil Judges. The Weakness of Our Judicial Process The great weakness of our judicial process is that it lacks theoretical nourishment. on the whole. and whose record compares very favourably with that of British judges who were not always impartial between Indian and British litigants.G. Article 141 enjoins "that the law declared by the Supreme Court shall be binding on all Courts in India. wrote. even the prejudices which judges share with their fellowmen have a great deal more to do than the syllogism in determining the rules by which men are governed. In England the law Courts were the most effect weapon for creating a common law for the English people. the prevalent moral and political theories. shall accelerate the process of establishing a common law for the whole of India. "The felt necessities of the time. there was no abstract of reasonableness and it was inevitable that the prevailing conditions at the time. "Logic. 297 35 . too. pp. institutions of public policy. are the forces which singly or in combination shape the progress of the law. and cases of judges carrying favour with the executive have been rare. have maintained a high degree of independence. 1. The impact on the judicial process of theories of jurists is profound though unseen and subconscious. AIR 1952 Mad. and the social philosophy and the scale of values of the judges participating in the decision should play an important part. and the accepted standard of right conduct.
the judicial process in the U. Fundamental Criminal Code of U.as jurisprudence and the science of government (dharma-shastrartha kushalai rartha shastra visharadai).92 but the Indian Penal Code. 1965(1) SCA 809 SANSKRIT SLOK Article 21. though it can be an effective form of punishment in many cases.. The law declared by the Supreme Court has a binding supremacy throughout the territory of India. our High Courts and the Supreme Court are invested with the power to interpret the constitution and declare any law or act of the State invalid on the ground that it is unconstitutional or illegal or restrictive of the fundamental rights of a citizen.S.93 On the other hand.91 This provision has been adopted by the Soviet Criminal Code. On the one hand. the standard of legal education in our universities and law colleges is very low.S. Western Europe.90 Now.P. ignores it altogether. Again the moral and theoretical foundations of our penal code are foreign. Manu prescribes public censure as one of the punishments for crime. derives nourishment from Marxian Jurisprudence which is constantly evolving. It cannot therefore be said that state commercial enterprises have no relations to the Indian traditional concept of governmental activities. S. Our ancient jurists had evolved the evolutionary concept of law and grasped the scientific truth that the laws must change with social conditions: SANSKRIT SLOK 36 . drafted by Macaulay. S. traditional concept means a concept according to tradition.. AIR 1965 SC 1039.R. The syllabus for the law degree in an Indian University does not include Indian Jurisprudence or the theory of the State in ancient India or the History of Indian Law. Consequently our judicial process is an edifice constructed without theoretical foundations. S. But which tradition: Indian or British or American? But in India as I have already indicated the state from times immemorial has had a public sector. A poor 89 90 91 92 93 Katyayana 57. and the U. State of U. The low standard of legal and juristic studies in India today creates an urgent problem. or rather on foundations supporting other structures in other lands. A. Kasturi Lal vs. the judge and lawyer have received constant inspiration and education from the jurisprudence of their civilization which has been developoing for twenty centuries. Evidently the Soviet jurists have more regard of Indian jurisprudence than Indian themselves. But where does the Indian judge or lawyer received his inspiration from? Not from the jurisprudence of his own civilization. To give an illustration. The interpretation of the Constitution and the adjustment of the rule of law with economic progress require of our judges a profound knowledge of jurisprudence and the social science and a capacity for applying the law of social evolution to judicial process.89 But what about today? What is the legal and social philosophy on which the Indian judges are broght up today? In England. As an illustration I may cite a recent decision of the Supreme Court in which a distinction was sought to be drawn between governmental activities proper and government‟s commercial undertakings which (it was observed) "have no relation to the traditional concept of government activities. R. He knows something of Roman Law and of the theories of western jurists but very little about the evolution of the law and jurisprudence of his own civilization. Similarly. and its appellate powers are wider than those of any other federal court in the world. The Supreme Court‟s observation is founded on a British or American but not on any Indian traditional concept.
natural or legal. and many were burnt alive for the offence of heresy.legal education makes poor jurists and judges. 1964. Women were tried and burnt for the offence of being witches and men for having communion with the devil. They are correlated in both systems. In 1508. p. I shall cite the following illustrations from Keeton‟s Elements of Jurisprudence. In fact. Gaspari Bailey of Chamberg of Savoy was able to publish a volume including forms of incitement and pleading in animal trials. Spellman. and the unfortunate bird was accordingly ordered to be destroyed. The divine right of kings prevailed in Europe till the end of the 17th century. on the other hand. but the emphasis is different. trails of animals for criminal offences were taking place in Europe. But the almost complete neglect of Indian jurisprudence and political philosophy leaves the education of every Indian lawyer and judge incomplete. including Jeanne D‟ Arc who today is worshipped as a saint. the word right (adhikar) does not occur even once in the whole of the Anushasan Parva or the Arthasastra. are primary. p. I have come to the conclusion that the foundation of legal studies must be the study of Indian jurisprudence and every Indian University should include it as a compulsory subject for the Bachelor of Law Degree. the beetles of St. This emphasis on rights in one case and obligations in the other has had important effect on social institutions like marriage. But this is true of every system of jurisprudence. 37 . John w. in Provence. a job to be performed as one of the many social obligations. The Greek and Roman civilizations were based on slavery.94 In Germany. Indian jurisprudence is founded on theories which emphasise that rights are corollaries of the duties. which everyone had to perform. I am all in favour of our Universities teaching the best that Western and Soviet thought and science can tell us."95 Rights and Duties An important difference between Indian and Western jurisprudence is their respective attitudes to rights and duties. were tried and condemned for ravaging the fields. Till the very end of the seventeenth century. So late as 1688. The present disparity between the power and intellectual equipment of those who will be our future judges creates a problem which the state can ignore only at its peril. Counsel for the defendant failed to establish the innocence of his feathered client. Even freedom of speech is recognised as a duty to speak without fear.128. There was no freedom of belief or worship in Europe. I concede that there is much in Indian jurisprudence which is out of date today. though every right must have a corresponding duty. and was accused of contumacious crowing. and in 1545. Under Indian jurisprudence marriage was a duty. These absurdities find no place in their judicial system of ancient India which according to one British writer was "in advance of our own today. a cock was solemnly placed in the prisoner‟s box. In Western jurisprudence. In Indian jurisprudence the emphasis is on obligations. Jean de-Maurienne were similarly indicted. The law of reason was often identified with the law of a Christian God. But the pre-occupation of Western jurisprudence with rights has 94 95 Elements of Jurisprudence: Keeton. the caterpillars of Contes. rights. Some of the peculiar absurdities which disgraced law and justice in Western Europe are absent in Indian jurisprudence.
S. a Synthesis The role of the Indian judiciary cannot be isolated from the social objectives of the nation. Its judgment in the Dred Scott case was overruled by war. und grun des lebens goldner baum (Gray. Its judgment that the currency that preserved the Union could not be made legal tender was overruled by the Sixteenth Amendment. The high rate of divorce is the result of neglecting the „duty‟ aspect of marriage. A former Attorney-General of the United States writes of the U. Theodore Roosevelt proposed recall of judicial decisions: Wilson tried to liberalize its membership. Supreme Court: "………….96 "the facts of life are more potent than abstract theories. Justice Homes called them. 96 38 . Jefferson retaliated with impeachment. Our Constitution has. The judicial system does not operate in a vacuum. In theory the judiciary does not legislate. Supreme Court delivered opinions which affected the destinies of the American people. abolition Grau. individual liberty and social control. In no major conflict with the representative branches on any question of social or economic policy has time vindicated the Court."97 Indian Constitution. Many of the judgments against New Deal legislation are rectified by confession of error. should attain actual supremacy as a source of constitutional dogma. Lincoln disobeyed a writ of the Chief Justice. with no might except the moral force of its judgment.resulted in marriage being looked upon as an alliance from which each partner tries to get us much as he or she can. But as Goethe observed.. The administration of justice has a social function and the judicial process is only a part of the larger social process. it only states what the law is. Roosevelt proposed to „reorganize‟ it. and green the golden tree of life). may friend. teurer freund. Its judgments repressing labour and social legislation are now abandoned. Future role of Indian Judiciary What shall be the role of our judiciary in the coming social and economic revolution. "Surprise turns to amazement when we reflect that time has proved that its judgment was wrong on the most outstanding issue upon which it has chosen to challenge the popular branches.Faust. Under the guise of explaining the law the U. 97 The struggle for Judicial Supremacy: Jackson. and Franklin D. The Judges cannot help making the law while interpreting it. this Court has repeatedly overruled and thwarted both the Congress and the Executive. The maxim Fiat fiat iusticia et peret mundes (Justice must be done though the beams may fall) emphasizes the impartiality of the judges but does not permit the judiciary to be indifferent to social needs. S. is all theory. It has been in angry collision with the most dynamic and popular Presidents in our history. set before the Indian people the ambitious goal of achieving a synthesis of the Western and the Communist way of life. Therefore the courts of law cannot function in defiance or ignorance of the social objectives or "the felt necessities of times" as Mr. It is surprising that it should not only survive but. Scene IV." In practice the judicial process is infinitely more complex than the bare theory of separation of powers. ist alle theorie. Jackson denied its authority.
The Soviet system placed economic progress before political freedom because the Soveit Government has uptil now been struggling with the problem of transforming a multi-national. sprawling. I have already indicated that the state in ancient India had a huge public sector. The division of the world into black and white and with no shades of grey is good propaganda for the "cold war" but a poor statement of facts. and multi-religious community living in a huge. not speed. There is no choice left for India in this matter. Today the words "economic planning" and "political democracy" are accepted on both sides of the so-called iron curtain. The Indian Constitution has set before our people a very ambitious and difficult goal. The Compulsive forces of social life are irresistible in the end. in the following words: "Nikita Khruschev has challenged the West to complete against communism in the task of developing the under developed lands… And as the Fifties give way to the Sixties the question that India faces is: can these poor people. Condition of National Survival The people of India has taken upon itself the titanic task of the transformation of her economy within one generation. in a desperate attempt to keep its masses from starving to throw aside its democratic institutions 39 . It is possible to achieve a rapid economic transformation under the present system of laws? This is the fundamental question facing not only India but the whole of the non-communist world. Our Constitution attempts to achieve a synthesis of the two.R. Social control of industry is in accord with the Indian tradition. The Himalaya is no longer our shield. But a brake is a brake. of political and economic freedom. multi-lingual. But the political system of the Soviet State is very different from that of India. it provides safety. state into a modern industrial nation. It reflects a way of life which enables a particular people to realize its objectives and ambitions. Our state is determined to achieve within a few years what took Britain and other countries several centuries. multiracial. If it fails to do this. The difference is one of emphasis. It reflects the spirit of non-alignment in the field of constitutional law.S.of anarchy in production and preservation of democracy in Government-in a word.S. And what India needs is speed in social and economic revolution. We are living under a constitution based on the principle of the parliamentary democracy. nor does it operate in a vacuum. and the Arthashastra prohibits such trade practices as cornering the market to raise prices. A Constitution is not a collection of abstract theories. Industrial strength has now become a condition of our survival. I must not be understood to mean that there is absolutely no political freedom in the Soviet State or economic progress in the Western democracies. in a special article devoted to India. which has the merit of acting as a brake on the arbitrary exercise of power. multiplying at the rate of 9 million a year be kept alive under a system of free parliamentary government? Or will India be forced. because our very survival as a nation depends upon the speed of our economic development. it will be amended or discarded by agreement or otherwise. The only other country in the world which was able within a single generation to transform itself from a backward rural and agricultural community into a modern industrial and highly powerful state in U. This problem was states ten years ago by an American journal.
19. as were Manu. Narada. Kautilya. But wise judges do not drop like Ganga from heaven: they grow out of the social soil and are nurtured by the social atmosphere. 1959. 40 . Brihasparti. Challenge of Communism. Yajnavalkya. Dec. and other legal giants of ancient India. Parashara.(as much of Asia already has) and adopt in their place the ruthless methods of communist China. wisdom and patriotism of our future judges depends to some extent the future of the rule of the law and parliamentary democracy in India.98 It is no exaggeration to say that on the ability. The continued neglect of legal education is against the national interests. Katyayana. 98 News Week. Great judges are not born but made by proper education and great legal traditions.
which was before the beginning of agriculture. Hence the law of inheritance was created. Apart from the criminal law. Since man wanted his property to go to his child after his death. it seeks to explain what law. Supreme Court of India Jurisprudence is the philosophy of law. there are other systems like religion. Justice Markandey Katju.? The answer is that law. This was only possible if the women with whom he had sex relations had no sex relations with any other man. while prescribing rules of social conduct (as do religion. One can retain property as long as one is alive. Thus. There was no private property at that stage or social development. * Judge. some other laws had also to be developed in connection with property. which is also one of the basic laws. but people wanted to retain their property even after their death. In order to safeguard this property the law of crime had to be created. etc. whose purpose is to protect private property. apart from the criminal law. the Industrial Disputes Act. how it originated. etc. Law is a set of rules which govern society. After private property came into existence man was seized with the acquisitive instinct. Jurisprudence. This needs to be explained. Only then could he be sure that a particular child was his child. the social system etc. It was only when forests were cut and agriculture started that private property came into existence. The institution of marriage also came into existence with the coming of private property. fruits. the Indian Penal Code (which deals with crimes). exclusiveness of sex relations is the basis of marriage. he wanted to make sure that a certain child was his child. In other words. How could this be done? This could be done by ensuring that one‟s property goes to one‟s child.g. When man was in the hunting stage.g. and his life was controlled by customary rules. what is law. Thus the basic law is the Criminal Law. Once man claimed that a certain plot of land belonged exclusively to him. At that stage man was living in tribal society. nuts. another claimed another plot of land. It was when private property came into existence that law also came into existence.“Ancient Indian Jurisprudence VIS-À-VIS Modern Jurisprudence” By: Hon’ble Mr. discusses law in the most general way e. because in a sense one‟s child is part of oneself. 41 . He wanted to acquire property and retain property.) is mainly concerned with property. the income-tax Act (which deals with the imposition and collection of Income-tax). on the other hand. he was mainly living in forests and survived by eating animal flesh. Most laws deal with specific subjects e. how does it develop. morality. morality. Hunting was done collectively by the males of the tribe. etc. etc. In other words it seeks to explain what law is about in the most general way. which also prescribe rules of social conduct. etc. and the animal which was killed in the hunt was eaten collectively. because the forests had not been cut for doing agriculture. what is its purpose. what is its relation with other social phenomena like the economy. morality. etc. What is it that makes law different from religion. what are its basic concepts and structure. However. whose main purpose is to protect property. The first rule in this law is the law against theft.
the commentary called Mitakshara on the Yajnavalkya Smriti). Vashisht. It is not necessary to go into further details about this as that would not be necessary for this discussion.and the purpose of the marriage institution is to ensure retention of private property even after one‟s death. Yajnavalkya Smiriti and the Smritis of Vishnu. aunts. which was not easy.g. the commentary of Jimutvahan who wrote a book called the Daya bhaga (which is not a commentary on any particular Smriti but is a digest of several Smritis). Apastamba.g. etc. Manusmriti. literature. etc. Gautam. This trend was followed in the civil law system which prevailed in Continental Europe where the commentaries of eminent Jurists are cited in the law Courts. However. which is a commentary on the Mitakshara (which founded the Banaras School of Mitakshara). Australia.g. astronomy.) in which Court decisions are cited as precedents. although these systems also regulate social conduct. and did not go into details. The problem with customs. for the simple reason that there was no parliament or legislature in those times. unlike custom or religion. Commentaries were then written on these commentaries. etc. That is evident from the large number of legal treatises written in ancient India (all in Sanskrit). Papinian and ultimately the great Justinian Code. morality. just as it was done in ancient Rome. Who will then inherit his property? This could obviously not be answered by custom. mainly deals with property and this is what distinguishes it from religion. Later. etc. Viramitrodaya. in fact this a fiction. grand nephews. philosophy. medicine. 42 . Thus. They were books written by certain Sanskrit scholars in ancient times who had specialized in law. we see that law. grammer. unlike in the common law system (which prevails in England and the former. and in fact the Hindu law really emanated from books called the Smritis e. Parashar. and there was no statutory law in ancient India. Hence text books were required to deal with this subject. Nanda Pandit (whose commentary Dattak Mimansa deals specifically with the Law of Adoption). etc.g. Narad. These Smirits were not laws made by parliament or some legislature. All law was originally customary law. But what would happen it there is no son and the deceased only leaves behind him several relations who are distantly related to him e. Ulpian. It is said that all Hindu law Originated from the Vedas (also called Shruti). second cousins. etc. however. Only a very small fraction of this total legal literature survived the ravages of time. Customary rules could of course tell us that when a man dies his property should go to his son. e. English Colonies including India. USA.g. Custom no doubt prevailed over these written texts but for that clear proof was required by the person asserting its existence. e. Ancient Indian Jurisprudence In ancient India not only was there tremendous development of mathematics. In ancient Rome most of the law was not made by the legislature but by the writings of eminent Jurists e. commentaries (called Nibandhas or Tikas) were written on these Smritis. and this requirement was fulfilled by the Smritis and Commentaries in ancient India. but there was also tremendous development of law. was that it was often vague and uncertain. We may now deal with Ancient Indian Jurisprudence. but even what has survived in very large. Gauis.
the word „pinda‟ means the rice cake offered in the shraddha ceremony to the ancestors (vide Dayabhaga Chapter XI. According to Jimutvahan. got divided into two branches – the Mitakshara and the Dayabagha. What was the basic difference between the two branches? The difference arose because two different interpretations were given by the commentators to one word „pinda‟. In this book a list of persons is given who have the right to give shraddha. if the deceased died leaving behind him one or more sons.3 is the son‟s son‟s son etc. The Hindu Law. At serial No. Hence. the need for food and water. Sloka 106 and 187).2 in the list in the Parvana Shraddha.g. The Shraddha is a religious ceremony to satisfy the needs of the spirit of the deceased. To give an example.e.It is not necessary to deal with the various Smritis and Commentaries in this short time so I shall confine myself with some broad outlines. that one can go lower in the list. the person who had the right to give Shraddha to a deceased had the right to inherit the property of the deceased. as we all know. hence C cannot inherit his grandfather A‟s property. and will be shared equally by all the sons if there are more than one sons (because if there are more than one sons each of them had the right to give shraddha to his deceased father). then according to the Dayabhaga C will not inherit the property of his grandfather A.2 is the son‟s son at serial No. if the deceased left behind him his son‟s son. because C has no right to give shraddha to A since his father B was alive when A died. and one cannot go further below in such an eventuality. then one does not have to go below that list and the entire property will be inherited by the son (if he is the sole son).To understand this it is first necessary to know that according to the traditional ancient Hindu law approach. It is only if a deceased dies leaving behind no son. The Mitakshara prevailed over the whole of India except Bengal and Assam. Since C has no right to give sharddha to A. There is a shloka of Manu stating that when a man dies his inheritance will go to his nearest spinda (vide Manusmriti Chapter IX. at serial No. 32-33 and 40). In that case. according to the Dayabhaga. According to ancient Hindu belief. because he is at serial No. while the Dayabhaga prevailed in Bengal and Assam. for example. after his death. and the entire property goes to B or. the person who has a right to give „pindas‟ to the deceased (i. It is for this reason. then it is shared equally by all the brothers. This brings us then to the question who has the right to give shraddha? The answer to this question is given in the book called “Parvana Shraddha‟ (which is also in Sanskrit). the rule was that if any one higher in this list is alive then one does not have to go below the list. Thus. if a dies leaving behind him his son B and B‟ son C. the person who has the right to give shraddha to the deceased) has the right to inherit his property. Thus the Dayabhaga has followed the traditional ancient Hindu law approach that the person who has the right to give shraddha to a deceased has the right to inherit his property. What is the meaning of the work „sapinda‟? That will depend on the meaning of the word „pinda‟. he has to be offered rice cakes (called „pinda‟) and water. and the list terminates there. (because B is alive). 43 . then the property will go to that grandson.1 in the said list is the son. when a man dies.. Thus. there is no inheritance at birth in the Dayabhaga (unlike in the Mitakshara). if B has brothers. his spirit had still some needs e.
whereas the Manusmriti has about 3000. however. according to the Mitakshara. We can compare this separation of law from religion. Vijnaneshwar preferred Yajnavalkya Smriti to Manusmriti. Apart from that. According to Vijnaeshwar. etc. preferred Manusmriti because in it law is not separated from religion and the Dayabhaga takes a religious approach towards inheritance. morality etc. the right to inherit has nothing to do with the right to give shraddha. the third dealing with morality. In other words. because in coparcenery. morality etc. unlike in Mnusmriti where all these are jumbled up. the Yajnavalkya Smriti is divided into three chapters. morality. as already stated above. and the third chapter is called prayaschit which does with penance. naturally preferred Yajnavalkya Smriti to the Manusmrit since the former had clearly separated law from religion. and it has nothing to do with the right to give shraddha. The separation of law from religion. The Manusmriti was better known and more prestigious than the Yajnavalkya Smriti. and it is a good example how the law developed. as it was a complete break from the traditional Hindu law view that the person who has the right to do shraddha has the right to inherit the properly of the deceased. Vijnaneshwar takes a wholly different approach. the Yajnavalkya Smriti is more concise and systematic. It means the particles on the body of the deceased. the next dealing with law. particularly civil law. is a commentary on the Yajnavalkya Smriti. particularly towards women. there is no concept of coparcenery property in the Dayabhaga. with the similar separation made by the positivist jurists Bentham and Austin. the word „pinda‟ does not mean the rice cake offered in the funeral ceremony at all. The Yajnavalkya Smriti was written later than the Manusmriti and it shows a great advance over the later. We will find one shokla dealing with religion. Thus the Yajnavalkya Smriti was a great advance over the Manusmriti because in it there is a clear separation of law from religion and morality. The Mitakshara. who in their Smritis confine themselves entirely to law. etc. Also. The Manusmriti is not a systematic work. Vijnaneshwar. was carried further by Narada and Brihaspati.For the same reason. etc. who separated law from religion. it is more liberal than the Manusmriti. The first chapter is called Achara which deals with religion and morality. On the other hand. Mitakshara is a much more secular law as compared to the Dayabhaga. which deals with law. The Dayabhaga. Thus we find that in the Yajnavalkya Smriti. law is clearly separated from religion and morality. inheritance is by nearness of blood or propinquity. the second chapter is called Vyavahara. In Mitakshara. It has only about 1000 sholks. Thus we see that by giving two different interpretations given to a single word „pinda‟ Hindu law got bifurcated into two different branches. This was a completely revolutionary approach adopted by Vijnaneshwar. since. on the other hand. there is inheritance at birth by the son in the ancestral property of his father. 44 . who adopted a secular approach towards inheritance. Yet. The question is why? If we compare Manusmriti with Yajnavalkya Smriti. An interesting question arises as to why Vijnanvalkya preferred to write his commentary on the Yajnavalkya Smriti and not on the Mnusmriti. everything is jumbled up. we will find a striking difference.
I am not going into various details about the Hindu law of inheritance. and one of such departures in the illustrative rule. and they really means all armed forces necessary for the security of the country (which would include an Air Force. It really means that one should protect the curd from all dangers. The son of a man from his legally wedded wife is called an „aurasa putra‟.S. adoption can only be done after performing a ceremony called dattak homa. Now in this sentence the word „crow‟ is merely illustrative and not exhaustive. To give an example. As regards the right of an auras putra. There is no mention of an Air Force there. they are mentioned in various legal texts (the Smritis and the commentaries). On the other hand. In the U. The first aircraft was invented by the Wright brothers in 1903. (4) The Vyavaharmayukha and Nirnayasindhu of the Bombay School of Mitakshara hold that assent is required only for the woman whose husband is living. dogs or to get damaged by dirt or fifth etc. Constitution is a very ardous and lengthy procedure because it requires two-third majority of both Houses of Congress and ratification by three-fourth of the States. Vachaspati Mishra. also). but for a different reason.S. an adopted son is called a dattak putra. However. One the other hand. is of the same opinion. the enemy may invade and occupy the country. and since a woman alone cannot adopt. Hence the words „Armies and Navies‟ have to be interpreted as illustrative and not exhaustive. in his life time. According to him. Constitution was promulgated. sometimes departures from the literal rule are permissible. (3) The view of the Dravida School of Mitakshara is that the word „husband‟ in the expression „except with the assent of the husband‟ is only illustrative and not exhaustive. 45 . There is a text of Vashishta which says “a woman should not give or take a son in adoption except with the assent of her husband”. The statement does not means that one should protect the curd only from crows but allow it to be eaten up by cats. partition. and hence a widow can freely adopt unless she had been expressly forbidden by her late husband. adoption. In this connection it may be mentioned that the illustrative rule of interpretation is a departure from the literal rule which normally has to be adopted while construing a text. today‟s reality is that a modern Army cannot fight without air cover. However. and since the husband is dead no assent of his can be had at the time of adoption. The above widely differing interpretations of the text of Vashishta shows how by creative interpretation the law developed in different parts of the country. founder of the Mithila School of Mitakshara. to show how the law progressed I will only give some illustrations. marriage etc. obviously because there were no aircraft in 1791 when the U. and hence if the husband had given assent in his lifetime his widow can adopt after his death. We can take another example. there is no mention anywhere what would be the rights and duties of a dattak putra. in Sanskrit there is an off quoted statement “Kakebhyo Dadhi Rakshitam” which means “protect the curd from the crows”. and hence if the husband is dead the assent of his father or other senior male member of the family is sufficient. We may take another example. Article 1 Section 8 states that Congress (the American parliament) can raise Armies and Navies. However. (2) The Dayabhaga view is that the husband‟s assent is not required at the time of actual adoption. By the time this is done. Constitution. Hence the word „crow‟ in the above statement is only illustrative and not exhaustive.S. Amendment to the U. This has been interpreted in 4 different ways by our commentators : (1) The Dattak Mimansa of Nanda Pandit holds that no widow can adopt a son because the assent required is assent at the time of adoption.
therein). Atidesh realy means going from the known to the unknown. It may be mentioned herein that the Mimansa principles of interpretation were the principles regularly used by our great jurists whenever they faced any difficulty in interpreting a legal text (because of ambiguity. his natural family as well as his adoptive family). Kishori Lal Sarkar. and this was used by our ancient Jurists to solve the problem of the rights and duties of a dattak putra. His rights and duties are given in the smritis. which was created for religious purpose. which may be seen if one wishes to go deeper into the subject. The books on Mimansa are all in Sanskrit. the Saurya Yagya. 46 .g. Thus. the agnihotra is also a prakriti yagya. e. As stated above. conflict etc. the aurasa putra is treated as prakriti yagya. and this development was aided by the creative thinking of our ancient Jurists. One of the Mimansa principles is called the atidesh principle. Thus. because its rules of performance are given in the second chapter of the Shatapath Brahman. an adopted son is legally exactly like a natural son (except that his prohibited degrees of relationship for marriage are on both sides. which is a Vikrit yagya. began to be used in the field of law. The yagyas whose rules of performance are given in the Brahmanas are known as Prakriti yagyas. Shatapath Brahmana. I am not going into the further details about the ancient Hindu Law principles which would require a great detailed analysis. the Saurya yagya. but there is a good book in English called “Mimansa Rules of interpretation‟ by Prof. It can be said in brief that Hindu law was not stagnant but underwent continuous development as society developed.g.This legal vacuum was overcome by our ancients jurists by using one of the Mimansa principles of interpretation. belongs to the category of the Darshapaurnamas. the Darshapaurnamas is a prakriti yagya. Similarly. Such yagyas are called Vikrit yagyas. Hence. But as regards a dattak putra (adopted son) his rights and duties are not given anywhere. Hence the atidesh principle was used and it was said that legally a dattak putra stands on the same footing as an aurasa putra. there were certain other yagyas whose rules of performance are not given anywhere e. How was a vikrit yagya to be performed? For resolving this difficulty (in fact all the Mimansa principles were created for resolving the practical difficulties in performing the yagya) the atidesh principle created. a son which a man has through his legally wedded wife is called an „aurasa putra‟. For instance. and hence he has the same rights and duties. Aitareya Brahmana. because the rules for its performance are given in the first chapter of the Shantapath Brahman. we may consider how the atidesh principle. The atidesh principle will have even greater utility in modern times because since society in the modern age is fast changing often cases will come up before the Court where the law is silent (because the legislature cannot contemplate all the situations which will arise in the future). while the dattak putra is treated as a vikrit yagya. In other words. Now. it was held that a Vikrit yagya should be performed in accordance with the same rules as the Prakriti yagya of the same category. What is this atidesh principle? To explain this it may be mentioned that the rules for performing certain yagyas are given in religious books called the Brahmanas. etc. However.
is not a very accurate view. In this connection. as explained by the Viramitrodaya. Though no doubt the smritikars and commentators relied heavily on customs. was only its early character. whose father is regarded as the German Jurist Savigny (1799-1861). This. whose follower was the British Jurist Sir Henry Maine (see Maine‟s Ancient Law”). This however. This principle made the Hindu law dynamic. However. they also used their creatively to develop the law to make it more just and rational according to their own notions. Law was found. it may be mentioned that in the guise of commenting on the Smritis.e. They also incorporated new usages which had sprung up. is administered by the Courts”.) when a number of commentaries and digests (Nibandhas and Tikas) were written on it.The basic structure of the ancient Hindu law was that laid down in the Smritis which was supplemented and varied by custom. The study of ancient Indian Jurisprudence really belongs to the school of Jurisprudence called historical Jurisprudence. the customary rules in society. Their authority was based on their deep scholarship and the respect which they commanded by their writings. The smritikars and commentators did not exercise any sovereign power such as is possessed by the king or the legislature. As Justice 47 . but also because society was undergoing changes and this required creative thinking by the later Jurists to make the law in consonance with social developments. Also. law is not a consciously created phenomenon but was the gradual distillation of the volksgeist (the spirit of the people).D. Thus. Medhatithi in his commentary on the Manusmriti wrote that the Smritis were only codifications of the existing customs. These commentaries and digests were necessary not only because Smritis were written in Shlokas which were very terse and concise. however. Subsequently. The Smritis and commentaries repeatedly stated that customs would override the written text. it made remarkable progress during the post smriti period (commencing about the 7th Century A. but the writer should only bring into detailed shape what he finds as raw material i. As law develops from a few simple principles of primitive societies to complexity in later society custom has to be supplemented with writings of legal scholars. because customs kept changing as society progressed. Savigny was a strong advocate of customary law and was opposed to legislation. No doubt. the historical school was essentially reactionary in character in as much as it made a fetish out of custom. not made. because of which it was sometimes difficult to understand the meaning. the commentators utilizing their creativity developed and expounded the Smriti text in greater detail and differentiated between the Smriti rules which continued to be in force and those which had become obsolete. As stated by Mayne in his treatise on „Hindu Law and Usage‟: “Hindu law is the law of the Smritis as expounded in the Sanskrit Commentaries and Digests which. According to Savingy. the difference in the Smritis was in part due to different local customs. as modified and supplemented by custom. the historical school made an important contribution to our understanding by suggesting that law is not merely a set of artificial rules imposed on society but is an outcome of the social system as it has evolved in history. and the same has been said in the Smriti Chandika (which is the basic text of the Dravid School of Mitakshara) and the Vyavahar Mayukh (which is a basic text of the Bombay School of Mitakshara).
We do not speculate how the atom should behave according to our own wishes. when we study the atoms in physics we study the nucleus. The same approach was adopted by Austin and Bentham in jurisprudence. political science. The social sciences.) or living organisms like plants and animals (botany and zoology) and also the physical body of human beings (medical science. Legislation is. There are two kinds of sciences (1) natural science and (2) social science. therefore. logical inferences etc. including anatomy. equality and fraternity proclaimed by the French National Assembly and the National Convention. Savigny was inspired by his profound study of Roman law. This method was careful observation. whose development was to him the model of wise juristic guidance moulding the law through gradual adaptation for centuries before the Corpus Juris gave the final form of codification. Savigny was of the view that „law comes from the people. They insisted that we should study the law. The natural sciences study inanimate matter (e. Modern Jurisprudence The first attempt to create a scientific theory in jurisprudence was the positivist theory of the English jurists Bentham and Austin.g. in fact. This was in sharp contrast to the preceding theory in jurisprudence which was called the natural law theory. but we study it as it is. and not how we would like it to be. The historical school is entirely unsuited to the scientific era. This may be true of feudal or pre-feudal law. economics.g. discuss this theory at some length. The natural law theory postulated that along with the positive. We may. This was the scientific approach because in science also we study objective phenomena as it is and not how we like it to be. the legal concepts etc. on the other hand. and not how we would like it to be. study the social behaviour of human beings.Holmes said. Science studies objective phenomena as it is. This explains Savingny‟s preference for the jurist rather than the legislator as the medium of legal progress. the dominant source of law today. physiology etc. as it enables rapid change in the law. including the legal structure. man-made 48 . For instance. physics.). and this rapid change is necessary in modern industrial society which is fast changing in view of new scientific discoveries and inventions. sociology etc. This was precisely the approach adopted by the positivist jurists in law. Jurisprudence is also one of the social sciences. In the age of rapid technical growth people are not prepared to wait for the slow growth of custom. Historical jurisprudence presented a determined reaction to the rationalizing of the eighteenth century. Savigny‟s views were coloured by his hostility to the French Revolution which destroyed the feudal order and spread the revolutionary ideas of liberty. The French thinker Auguste Comte is known as the father of positivism. e. not from the State‟. The British jurists Bentham and Austin utilized the positivist approach of Auguste Comte to the subject of jurisprudence. logical analysis. chemistry etc. What he did was to introduce the method of the natural sciences into the social sciences. experimentation. etc. “It is revolting to have no better reasons for a rule than that it was so laid in the time of Henry IV”. as it is. the electrons orbiting around it. but it certainly is untrue of the modern industrial era where almost all law comes from the State.
therefore. the higher law will prevail. In the words of Blackstone. not of law but of violence”. Positivism. However. St. Thomas Aquinas in his “Summa Theological‟ state. and it had been used to defend slavery (in Ancient Greece and Rome). natural law was of the view that law is what it ought to be.law there exists a higher law which emanates from God or reason or morality or some other source. slavery was a „natural‟ phenomenon. we are bound to transgress that human law”. But these ideas would be unacceptable to the ancient Greeks and Romans. with natural law one can prove everything and nothing. if a human law commands a thing forbidden by the natural or divine law.e. What is natural? The answer may differ not only from age to age but even from person to person. if sought to be enforced. How can one frame a legal system on this basis? People wish to have clear-cut. and therefore. “A human law. There was also a temporary revival of natural law after the World War II. replaced natural law as the predominant theory in jurisprudence. Thus what is regarded as „natural‟ in one era and in one society may not be so regarded in another. As Kelsen said. According to the natural law jurisprudence. 49 . Natural law theories arose during the periods of historical transitions and turmoils e. It was proclaimed that liberty. Totalitarians have found support in the natural law writings of Duguit and Del Vecchio. and has the nature. Human laws must not be permitted to contradict natural law. the great British jurist of the 18th Century: “Those laws must be obeyed which are accordant with nature. Natural law is such a hazy concept that. the natural law was obviously too vague and uncertain a concept to be accepted in modern industrial society which requires clear-cut rules and ideas. the Danish jurist Ross (1899-1979) in his book „On Law and Justice‟ (1958) and logical positivists like Carnap (1891-1970) said that the metaphysical speculation underlying natural law was totally beyond the reach of speculation. They pointed out that natural law can be used to defend or fight for every conceivable demand. if there is a conflict between this higher law and the positive man-made law. Positivism lays great emphasis on statutory law. equality or liberty would be „unnatural‟. Thus. during the American and French Revolution. particularly in Germany where jurists like Radbruch were of the view that Nazi racial laws were so bad that they could not be regarded laws at all. In modern times the natural law theory was most vehemently advanced during the American and French revolutions.g. The basic difficulty with natural law is that it is vague. insofar as deviates from reason. To a Greek or Roman. the others are null in fact. the law made by the legislature or its delegates. while advocates of greater freedom have relied on the writings of the French Philosopher Martain (1882-1973) and the American jurist Lucey. Similarly. and instead of obeying them they ought to be resisted. and a bad law was not law at all. soon after this „revival‟. the higher law and the positive man-made law. is called an unjust law. i. Bentham regarded natural law as metaphysical nonsense. and it is ideally suited to the industrial era (unlike historical jurisprudence which was the jurisprudence of the feudal and pre-feudal era). equality and fraternity are inherent and „natural‟ to man. it can only result in confusion. known laws so that they may regulate their conduct accordingly. though they also believed in natural law.
We may contrast this with the natural law theory which says that a bad law is not a law at all. and had to be replaced by simplification. and standardizing it all over France. the Code Napoleon was a great step forward in history. Thus.The confusion and uncertainties in the feudal laws in most countries of Europe upto the 18th century were impeding the growth of industry. positivism seeks to exclude value consideration from jurisprudence. in France. each province having its own laws (often a hotch-potch of local customs. The Austinian analytical school is widely regarded as the classical positivist theory.g. as considered without regard to their goodness or badness”. it had a great defect and that was this: it rigorously excluded a study of the social. positivist jurisprudence regards law as a set of rules (or norms) enforced by the State. Positivism only studied the form. decrees of the parliaments. Every law has a certain historical background and it is heavily conditioned by the social and economic system 50 . in a legal system. and we are not concerned with its goodness or badness. Before this Code there were scores of legal systems in France. structure. and since in modern society the most common form in which such command occurs in a statute. Thus. Thus. According to Austin: (1) Law is the command of the sovereign. and especially codification. statutory law. In the 20th century. By simplifying the law.) and the result was total confusion and uncertainty in the law. As long as the law is made by the competent authority after following the prescribed procedure it will be regarded as law. uniformity and precision in the industrial era. Austin regards law as the command of the sovereign. unless we see the historical background and social and economic circumstances which give rise to a law it is not possible to correctly understand it. Positivist jurisprudence was thus of great help in society‟s progress from the feudal to the industrial era. The separation of law from ethics and religion was a great advance in Europe from the feudal era (in which they were all mixed up). backed up by sanctions (2) Law is different from morality. the main positivist jurist is Kelsen. clarity. and confines the task of the latter to analysis and systematization of the existing laws. “The science of jurisprudence” Austin says “is concerned with positive laws or with laws strictly so called. It was of the view that study of the social and economic conditions and the historical background which gave rise to the law was outside the scope of jurisprudence and belonged to the field of sociology. While positivism was a great advance over natural law and was suited to modern industrial society. systematization. the Civil Code of 1804 (the Code Napoleon) evoked great admiration from the French lawyers. However. Positivist jurisprudence was the response to this situation. concepts etc. etc. economic and historical background of the law. but it is not necessary to deal with his theory (The Pure Theory of Law) here. the German Code of 1896. were given the highest place in positivist jurisprudence. It was followed by other Codes. religion. etc. e. Roman Laws.
Many matters never come to Court. statutes. Also. legislative law and judge made law. as already mentioned above. The greate defect in positivism therefore was that it reduced jurisprudence to a merely descriptive science of a low theoretical order. There was no attempt by the positivist jurists. A law is a norm (or rule of conduct) meant for repeated application. it is an oversimplification to say that „law is what the Courts do in fact‟. thus. are only „probable law‟ The realist school thus totally negated the normative nature of law. This was definitely a great advance over positivism since. rules.S. and periods of social advance. Gray was of the view that although sometimes it has been said that law is composed of two parts. A law reflects a certain social or economic relationship. Thus it deprived the subject of jurisprudence of flesh and blood. and the law will reflect both. Thus. are not law but the material which the judge uses in making law. 51 . The basic mistake of the realists is lack of a true understanding of the nature of law. This law is so clear that no Judge in India can possibly hold that a Hindu can have more than one wife. It is true that in modern scientific society social relationships are fast changing. This defect in positivism was sought to be overcome by sociological jurisprudence. There are periods of rest and consolidation. and thereby it negated law itself. consists of a set of rules reflecting these relationships. sociological jurisprudence considerably broadened the scope of jurisprudence. There are many schools of sociological jurisprudence e. Positivism reduced the jurisprudence to a very narrow and dry subject which was cut-off from the historical and social realities. the law cannot be properly understood without knowing its historical and social background. obviously something had to fill in the vacuum. and this relationship is created by the productive forces then prevalent in a given society. formalized and protected by the law. the „Institutional School‟ of Durkheim. Thus. the „Harvard School‟ of Roscoe Pound etc. The most extreme school of sociological jurisprudence in the U. which became an important trend in the twentieth century. Since over a course of time the cycles of economic production kept repeating themselves certain enduring social relationships came into existence which were reflected. like in sociological jurisprudence. as if Judges can solve all problems of society.A. For example. sociological jurisprudence shifted the centre of gravity of the legal system from statue to judge made law. This was done by the sociological jurist by giving free discretion to the Judges. According to Gray. was the realist school. and yet the law is usually complied with. one of the founders of the realist school.prevailing in the country. rules etc. Normativism is an essential feature of a legal order.g. Since normatively was rejected by the sociological jurists. What is common in most of them is their de-emphasis on legislation and emphasis on judge made law. Frank regarded Court decisions as „actual law‟ while statutes. Law. There are important areas in the law in which judicial discretion cannot be exercised. It is not possible in this short time to discuss all these schools. and not exhausted by its fulfillment once. but in truth all law is judge made law. to study the historical and socio-economic factors which gave rise to the law. 1955 a Hindu can have (at a time) only one wife. „Living Law‟ school of Ehrlich. etc. but that does not mean that there is instability all the time in society. Sociological jurisprudence studies the legal system not in isolation but as part of the social reality. after the Hindu Marriage Act.
Despite creating a host of schools and theories. overcame an important defect in classical positivism. It has been mentioned above that positivist jurisprudence laid great emphasis on statutory. intelligent and dull. the kharif crop during the monsoons. man made law (as contrasted to historical jurisprudence which emphasized on customary. However. Consequently. and even the statutory law had to be interpreted by the Judges in a manner as to fulfill the needs of society. and again the rabi crop thereafter. society was relatively stable. the invention of aircraft in 1903 and the launching of the first man made satellite in 1957 have brought revolutionary changes in society. Since scientific and technical progress has no end (because of new scientific discoveries and inventions) social relations keep changing endlessly. A feudal society is basically an agricultural society in which the productive techniques were primitive and changes in them were very slow. etc. however pointed out that there were great gaps in the statutory law which had to be filled in by the Judges. required in the modern era. therefore.Thus. After all. and is unable to satisfy the intellectual needs of modern society. sociological jurisprudence arms a Judge with tremendous powers to play an active role and even make law. For example. Ancient Indian Jurisprudence and Modern Jurisprudence Having given the basic feature of ancient India jurisprudence and modern jurisprudence. it seems to have exhausted the possibility of any further development and is lying stagnant. then again the kharif crop in the next monsoon. modern western jurisprudence is undergoing a deep crisis. Ancient India jurisprudence related to semi feudal and feudal society. thus.Whereas under positivism a Judge is only a passive agent and it is none of his function to make law (that is the task of the legislature).) without radical changes in productive techniques. At present. having started off from a correct approach. Sociological jurisprudence. suffers from major defects. There are all kinds of Judges. scientific and unscientific. However. whereas modern jurisprudence is related to industrial society. we may summarize the differences between the two. it in turn. Thus the bullock (In India) and the horse (in Europe) were used for tilling the land for agriculture. Modern industrial society is characterised by the revolutionary nature of modern industry. This method of production did not change for centuries. arming Judges with wide discretionary legislative powers solves few problems. Sociological jurisprudence. i. production was low. To give all power to Judges is thus a superficial solution to the problems of the modern world. non-manmade law). active and passive. thus. In sharp contrast to this is the relative instability of industrial society. The productive techniques being primitive. Sociological jurisprudence. i. Within a short period man has not only flown in heavier than air machine (thus 52 . Since the economic cycle in feudal society kept repeating itself for centuries (e. A new theory in jurisprudence is.g. the main form of feudal law was customary law supplemented by written texts. solutions to vital problems still eluded.e. and hence changes in the productive technique could not be hazarded for fear that if the experiment failed people would starve. rabi crop in winter. sociological jurisprudence soon got derailed. shifted the centre of gravity of the legal system from statutory law to Judge made law.e.
The internet was unknown ten years ago but is indispensable today. Since each major technical advance in modern industrial society brings about a change in social relations. in certain circumstances. However. and also the statutory law did not always keep pace with the pace of social development due to advancement in technology. in the law. Thus while ancient Indian jurisprudence can be said to belong to the historical school of jurisprudence.ostensively violating the law of gravity). the Industrial Revolution of 18th and 19th century in Europe and America. and largely spontaneous (because for centuries the same kind of primitive productive technique was used for agriculture). but has actually penetrated into the outer space. industrial society is based on continuously altering and improving them. also uses the ideas of sociological jurisprudence by supplementing the legislation wherever there is a legal vacuum or when compelling social need arises. therefore. By continuously changing the techniques of production (by new scientific inventions and discoveries) modern industry is constantly causing major changes in social relation and. the rules of natural justice (when there is no statutory rule).g. Hence. This is in sharp contrast to customary law which evolved very slowly over the centuries without radical and abrupt departure from the past. legislation has become the most important source of law in modern society. This required Judge made law to fill in these gaps. we can say that modern industrial jurisprudence while mainly positivist. in that it relies mainly on legislation. Thus we see that while upto the feudal age society was relatively stable and human progress was very slow. which later spread all over the world. While feudal society was based on conservation of production techniques. e. Also. legislation brings about at a particular moment abrupt change in social relations. there were often gaps in the statutory law. As already stated above. which is not possible by slow customary growth. 53 . Machine production ushered in totally new kinds of social relation. it calls form new legal norms. the main source of law in modern times is legislation. Hence. as pointed out by the sociological jurists. sociological jurisprudence and natural law. has completely altered this situation. The basic feature of modern society is its remarkable instability due to the revolutionary nature of modern industry. it sometimes uses some concepts from natural law. modern jurisprudence is a combination of positivism. By its very nature.
avoid its constitutional obligation to provide free legal aid to the accused by pleading financial or administrative inability. They have always come across „Law for the poor‟ rather than „Law of the poor‟. It is. The State is under a Constitutional mandate of equal justice implicit in Article 14 and right to life and liberty conferred by Article 21. the urgent necessity of introducing a dynamic and comprehensive legal service programme with a view to reaching justice to the common man. 1375].LEGAL SERVICE/AID AND LOK ADALAT R. That is not only a mandate of equal justice implicit in Article 14 and right to life and liberty conferred by Article 21. The poor in their contact with the legal system have always been on the wrong side of the line. unfortunately. in our country the poor are priced out of the judicial system with the result that they are losing faith in the capacity of our legal system to bring about changes in their life conditions and to deliver justice to them. Swaroop Need for introduction of an adequate and comprehensive legal aid/service programme had been felt for many years and it was increasingly being realized that there could not be any real equality in criminal cases unless the accused got a fair trial of defending himself against the charges laid and unless he had competent professional assistance. but also the compulsion of the Constitutional Directive embodied in Article 39-A. the Supreme Court observed that it was not possible to reach the benefits of the legal process to the poor.” The State cannot. necessary that we should inject equal justice into legality and that can be done only by dynamic and activism scheme of legal services. We would strongly recommend to the Government of India and the State Governments that it is high time that a comprehensive legal service programme is introduced in the country. State of Bihar [AIR 1979 SC 1369. therefore. the Supreme Court in Hussainara Khatoon case observed: “Today. but also the compulsion of the Constitutional Directive embodied in 54 . Impressing upon the Government of India as also the State Governments. therefore. The result is that the legal system has lost its credibility for the weaker sections of the community. In Hussainara Khatoon v. to protect them against injustice and to secure to them their constitutional and statutory rights unless there was a nationwide legal service programme to provide free legal services to them. The law is regarded by them as something mysterious and forbidding – always taking something away from them and not as a positive and constructive social device for changing the social economic order and improving their life conditions by conferring rights and benefits on them.
as a sentinel on the qui vive. even though poverty line is drawn liberally. Bishop [404 F Supp 2d. which does not help lowly and lost. As such it is not a pledge or a plan of a Government. to ensure fair trial and whatever is necessary for this purpose has to be done by the State. Somebody has rightly said. where less than 33 percent of the people know how to write and read sufficiently and usefully. Supp. It is also the constitutional obligation of the Court. but as stated. 995]: “the law does not permit any Government to deprive its citizens of constitutional rights on a plan of poverty” and to quote the words of Justice Black mum in Jackson v. 1987. as the guardian of the fundamental rights of the people. The Founding Fathers of the Constitution of India have right from the Preamble. There are several reasons why. wherein. 1973. which would prompt to have a very effective.Article 39 A. the status of people‟s movement. AIR 1981 SC 928.” It is in this context. taken a positive approach of doctrine of philosophy of Equal Justice which becomes apparent on 55 . poor and downtrodden and which creates distance between law and justice. 930). State of Bihar. useful and efficient infrastructure for providing free and competent legal aid in a country like India. it is constitutional mandate to the State and right of public. There are several reasons. the right to legal aid or to avail legal services in a country like India. but a constitutional obligation and compulsion. to enforce the fundamental right of the accused to fair trial and his right account of indigence or poverty. as pointed out by the Court in Rhem v. Legal-aid is not a charity or a chance.‟ which is a constitutional commandment and statutory imperative. Malcolm [377 F. and not upon an International Standard. The State may have its financial constraints and its priorities in expenditure but. over and above the provisions made in Section 304 of the Criminal Procedure Code. but has assumed. 2. the provisions for legal services have been made in the Constitution as well as in the Legal Services Authorities Act. democratic republic. 571]: “human considerations and constitutional requirements are not in this day to be measured by dollar considerations” (Khatri v. assumes wider significance. the „Welfare State‟ doctrine has been adopted. aspects and facets prevalent in this country. Majority of the people are poor or indigent and most of them live below the poverty line. which is under-developing. It is imperative to reach the goal of „equal access to justice. which is not now an opinion. “What is the use of the system. Constitutional Mandate “The State is under a constitutional mandate to provide free legal aid to an accused person who is unable to secure legal services on account of indigence and whatever is necessary for this purpose has to be done by the State.
may of right. Now. 21. 3.‟ It is an essential ingredient of reasonable. AIR 1978 SC 597]. Insertion of Article 39A providing for equal justice and free legal aid -As a principle of policy to be followed by the State: The Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act. 1976 has inserted Article 39-A as a Directive Principle of State Policy.f. fair and just‟ procedure for without it a person suffering from economic or other disabilities would be deprived of the opportunity for securing justice. This article (Article 39-A) also emphasises that free legal service is an inalienable element of „reasonable. in particular. provide free legal aid. who is arrested. cannot possibly be regarded as „reasonable.the plain perusal of the preamble of the Constitution. expressly provides that. it is not enough that there should be some semblance of procedure provided by law but the procedure under which a person may be deprived of his life or liberty should be „reasonable‟. on the basis of equal opportunity and shall.1977]. nor shall he be denied of the right to consult and to be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice. it had been provided that: “Any person. Equal justice and free legal aid – The State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice. by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way. or any such Code. 39-A. even in the Old Criminal Procedure Code. Union of India. of the grounds for such arrest. a procedure which does not make legal services available to an accused person who is too poor to afford a lawyer and who would.” Long before the Constitution. therefore. shall be detained in custody. be defended by a pleader. have to go through the trial without legal assistance. fair and just procedure to a prisoner who is to seek his liberation through the court‟s process that he should have legal services available to him.1. The preamble promise is further strengthened by the constitutional provisions in Articles 14. 51-A and 226 of the Constitution of India. under this Code. fair and just. 22(1). as soon as may be. Article 22(1) of the Constitution. This Article stipulates that – “39-A. no person can be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law. fair and just [Maneka Gandhi v. The 56 . “No person. accused of an offence before the Criminal Court or against whom proceedings are instituted. to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities” [Enforced w. under Section 340(1). 32. 19.” Free legal services an essential element of fair procedure: When under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. without being informed.e.
993] the Supreme Court. The Court has observed: “But the question is whether this fundamental right could lawfully be denied to the appellants if they did not apply for legal aid. it must be recognized that there may be cases involving offences. Exercise of this fundamental right whether conditional upon the accused applying for free legal assistance: In Sukh Das v. State of Bihar [AIR 1981 SC 928] the Court went a step further and held that the constitutional obligation of the State to provide free legal service to an indigent accused extends not only at the stage of trial but also at the stage when he is first produced before the Magistrate. the Supreme Court while interpreting legal aid as a fundamental right which the state is constitutionally obliged to provide to every indigent accused in criminal proceedings. “It is [legal assistance to poor or indigent accused] necessary sine qua non of justice and where it is not provided. This is a constitutional right of every accused person who is unable to engage a lawyer and secure legal services on account of reasons such as poverty. Union Territory of Arunachal Pradesh [AIR 1986 SC 991.. indigence or incommunicado situation and the State is under a mandate to provide a lawyer to an accused person if the circumstances of the case and the needs of Justice so require. because nothing rankles more in the human heart than a feeling of injustice and those who suffer and cannot get justice because they are priced out of the legal system. clearly an essential ingredient of „reasonable.. fair and just‟ procedure for a person accused of an offence and it must be held implicit in the guarantee of Article 21.right to free legal service is. injustice is likely to result and undeniably every act of injustice corrodes the foundations of democracy and rules of law. where social Justice may require that legal service may not be provided by the State. Union Territory of Arunachal Pradesh. “of course. economic offences or offences against law prohibiting prostitution or child abuse and the like. such as. However. provided of course the accused person does not object to the provision of such lawyer. lose faith in the legal process and a feeling begins to overtake them that democracy and rule of law are merely slogans or myths intended to perpetuate the domination of the rich and the powerful and to protect the establishment and the vested interests.” In Khatri v. therefore. further observed that. dealt with the question whether this fundamental right could lawfully be denied to the accused if they did not apply for free legal aid. Is the exercise of this fundamental right conditional upon the accused applying for free legal assistance so that if he does not make an application for free legal assistance the trial may lawfully proceed without adequate legal representation 57 . in Suk Das v.
” [Refer also to State of Kerala v. Kuttan. It is the common knowledge that about 70 per cent of the people in the rural areas are illiterate and even more than that percentage of people are not aware of the rights conferred upon them by law. 1988 Cri LJ 453]. The law ceases to be their protector because they do not know that they are entitled to the protection of law and they can avail of the legal service programme for putting an end to their exploitation and winning their rights. Legal aid would become merely a paper promise and it would fail in its purpose. Legal aid would become merely a paper promise and it would fail its purpose. Moreover. There is so much lack of legal awareness that it has always been recognized as one of the principal items of the programme of the legal aid movement in this country to promote legal literacy. It is this absence of legal awareness which is responsible for the deception. That is why it has always been recognized as one of the principal items of the programme of the legal aid movement in the country to promote legal literacy. The result is that poverty becomes with them a condition of total helplessness. the Supreme Court has held thus:“But even this right to free legal services would be illusory for an indigent accused unless the magistrate or the Sessions Judge before whom he is produced informs him of such right. ignorant and illiterate accused to ask for free legal service. exploitation and deprivation of rights and benefits from which the poor suffer in this land. It would in these circumstances make a mockery of legal aid if it were to be left to a poor. This miserable condition in which the poor find themselves can be alleviated to some extent by creating legal awareness amongst the poor. it is common knowledge that about 70% of the people living in rural areas are illiterate and even more than that percentage of the people are not aware of the rights conferred upon them by law. It would make a mockery of legal aid if it were to be left to a poor ignorant and illiterate accused to ask for free legal services. Their legal needs always stand to become crisis oriented because their ignorance prevents them from anticipating legal troubles and approaching a lawyer for consultation and advice in time and their poverty magnifies the impact of the legal troubles and difficulties when they come.. Even literate people do not know what are their rights and entitlements under the law. they cannot become self-reliant. State of Bihar [AIR 1981 SC 928] we ruled that the Magistrate or the Sessions Judge before whom an accused appears must be held to be under an obligation to inform the accused that if he is unable to engage the services of a lawyer on account of poverty or indigence. because of their ignorance and illiteracy. they cannot even help themselves. In Khatri v.being afforded to him? Now. he is entitled to obtain free legal services at the cost of the State. The Magistrate or the Sessions Judge before whom 58 .. State of Bihar. This is the reason why in Khatri v.
Unfortunately the judicial Magistrate failed to discharge this obligation in the case of the blinded prisoners and they merely stated that no legal representation was asked for by the blinded prisoners and hence none was provided. under Section 340 (1). There may be cases involving offences such as economic offences or offences against law prohibiting prostitution or child abuse and the like. many High Courts issued circulars and orders.the accused appears must be held to be under an obligation to inform the accused that if he is unable to engage the services of a lawyer on account of poverty or indigence.” The Supreme Court in that case directed the magistrates and Sessions judges in the country. therefore. where social Justice may require that free legal services need not be provided by the State. However. as of right.” Reports of Law Commission of India Though even in the old Criminal Procedure Code. on conviction. to assign a pleader for the defence of the accused at the expenses of the State. he must be provided legal representation at the cost of the State. indigence or incommunicado situation.“We would. or under any such Code. direct the magistrates and Sessions judges in the country to inform every accused who appears before them and who is not represented by a lawyer on account of his poverty or indigence that he is entitled to free legal services at the cost of the State.” The Supreme Court also directed the State of Bihar and required every other State in the country“[T]o make provision for grant of free legal services to an accused who is unable to engage a lawyer on account of reasons such as poverty. with the addition of the words „of his choice‟ at the end]. The only qualification would be that the offence charged against the accused is such that. it had been provided that: “Any person accused of an offence before the Criminal Court or against whom proceedings are instituted. and incorporated rules in the Criminal Rules of Practice providing for assignment of an advocate for the defence of an accused in Session trials and other cases of serious nature in consonance with the Constitutional mandate and fundamental human rights. 59 . this right under the said section did not make it obligatory on the part of the Court in a Sessions case.” [Section 303 of the new Code corresponds to the said section. may of right. he is entitled to obtain free legal services at the cost of the State. under this Code. The emphasis being on “any person accused of an offence in a criminal case is entitled to be defended. be defended by a pleader. by an Advocate”. Unless he is not willing to take advantage of the free legal services provided by the State. it would result in a sentence of imprisonment and is of such a nature that the circumstances of the case and the needs of social justice require that he should be given free legal representation.
by notification. in a trial before the Court of Session. (c) the fees payable to such pleaders by the government. (3) The State Government may. and generally. paras 24. the Court shall assign a pleader for his defence at the expense of the State.Right to be provided with a lawyer by the State: For the first time it was in the year 1958. The Law Commission in its Forty Eighth Report also suggested for making provision for free legal assistance by the State for all accused who were undefended by a lawyer for want of means.1. with the previous approval of the State Government. with this change made by the Joint Committee.” (p. as from such date as may be specified in the notification. the accused is not represented by a pleader. the Court shall assign a pleader or an Advocate for his defence at the expense of the State. make rules providing for (a) the mode of selecting pleaders for defence under sub-section (1). and where it appears to the Court that the accused has not sufficient means to engage a pleader. the provisions of sub-section (1) and (2) shall apply in relation to any class of trials before other Courts in the State as they apply in relation to trials before Courts of Sessions. Under Section 60 . for carrying out the purposes of sub-section (1). that the State aid will be available only where the accused “has not sufficient means to engage a pleader”. (b) the facilities to be allowed to such pleaders by the courts.” The section provides that when in the trial and more so in trials before the Court of Sessions. Legal aid to accused at State expenses in certain cases (1) Where. Again in 1969 the 41st Law Commission Report. Recommendation codified in Section 30: This recommendation has now been codified in sub-section (1) of Section 304 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.487). . the Law Commission strongly recommended that representation by a lawyer should be made available at Government expenses to accused persons in all cases tried by a Court of Sessions (Vol. Section 304 reads. he/she is denied equality in the opportunity to seek justice. (2) The High Court may. direct that. the accused is not represented by a pleader or an Advocate and when it appears to the Court that the accused has not sufficient means to engage an Advocate. the Law Commission of India in its Fourteenth Report Volume I on the subject “Reform of Judicial Administration” made certain recommendations for State legal aid and emphasized for right to assignment of counsel at government expense.“304. 34-38).“Unless some provision is made for assisting the poor man for the payment of court-fees and lawyer‟s fees and other incidental costs of litigation. It observed.
the Magistrate or the Sessions Court before whom the accused appears must be held to be under an obligation to inform the accused that if he is unable to engage the services of a lawyer on account of poverty or indigence or any other disability. State and District levels so as to provide for the effective monitoring of legal aid programmes. However. 1969 Cri LJ 860 (Cal): AIR 1969 Cal 321]. the State Government. the Act not having been brought into force (The Act was brought into force with effect from 9-11-1995. by notification. direct that the provisions of sub-section (1) will apply to any class of trials before other Courts in the State. A bare reading of the provisions under Section 304 of the Criminal Procedure Code make it crystal clear that in a criminal trial. ignorance or by any disability that he is entitled to free legal services. appointed “Committee for Implementing Legal Aid Schemes” (CILAS) with P. therefore. it is settled position of law that to provide legal aid to accused persons without means in all cases tried by a Court of Session. Also. But on a review of the working of the CILAS. 1987 (Act No. imperative for a Presiding Officer. it is further necessary that such lawyer should be of competence. he is entitled to free legal services. 1980. State and District Levels. [Raj Kishore v. by a resolution dated 26th September. who appears before him and who is not represented by a private lawyer on account of the poverty.39 of 1987) was enacted with a view to constitute Legal Services Authorities at National. Failure to this is a denial of proper representation of the accused and vitiates the trial. in charge of a trial to inform every accused. 1980. no counsel can be thrust upon the accused without ascertaining the wishes of the accused and without giving him any choice in selecting his lawyer as Article 22(1) of the Constitution guarantees that choice to be accused. felt that it would be desirable to constitute statutory legal service authorities at the national. in September.304(3). the Legal Services Authorities act. is a mandatory constitutional necessity. may. Therefore. It was. The Committee evolved a model scheme for legal aid programme. the Government of India. While. It is. therefore. with the object of providing free legal aid. almost eight years after its enactment) the 61 . Bhagwati J (as he then was) as the Chairman to monitor and implement legal aid programs on a uniform basis in all the States and union territories. certain deficiencies had come to the fore. at the cost of the State.N. State. Committee for Implementing Legal Aid Scheme (CILAS) Concerned with the programme of legal aid as it is the implementation of a constitutional mandate. [which includes organization of legal aid camps] and set up several legal aid and advice boards throughout the country. at the cost of the State. Such counsel appointed for the accused must be given the complete brief of the case and time to prepare the case.
. State Boards. District Legal Aid Committees and Taluka Committees were constituted. It does not involve merely quantitative extension of traditional legal services to the poor but instead requires a qualitative and radical change in the whole emphasis. [Center of Legal Research v. For effective implementation and to achieve the desired objective of providing Free Legal Aid and Advice to the poor. It does not regard litigation as playing an important or even significant role in the life of the poor and hence refuses to consider the court as a centre of all legal activity and is concerned with the problems of the poor as a class rather than with the individual problems of the poor which may be projected in litigation in court. The strategic 62 . more dynamic and multidimensional uses of law and the legal process and seeks to provide representation to groups of social and economic protest. But it was felt that enactment of a Central Legislation to co-ordinate and promote the activities of the various States in providing Legal Aid and Advice to the poor was desirable to monitor and implement legal aid programmes on a uniform basis in all the States and union territories. adopt a more dynamic posture and take within its sweep what we may call strategic legal aid programme consisting of promotion of legal literacy. Constitution of Legal Aid Boards and Committees: Many states evolved their own programmes and even enacted State Legislation or promulgated certain schemes or Rules to provide Legal Aid to under privileged and disadvantaged sections of the society.. The strategic legal service programme aims at prevention and elimination of various kinds of injustices which the poor as a class suffer because of poverty and endeavours to launch a frontal attack on the poverty itself with the ultimate goal of its eradication from the society. 1990 or till the National Legal Service Authority was constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act. AIR 1986 SC 2195]. radical. Need for Strategic Legal Aid Programme It is now acknowledged throughout the country that the legal aid programme which is needed for the purpose of reaching social justice.. encouragement of public interest litigation and holding of lok adalats or niti melas for bringing about settlements of disputes whether pending in Courts or outside. whichever was earlier. taking into account the socioeconomic conditions prevailing in the country. organization of legal aid camps. As observed by Justice Bhagawati “. State of Kerala. It involves novel. aims and functioning of the legal service programme.term of Committee was extended again for a period of one year on and from the 14th May.what is necessary is to supplement the traditional legal service programme with strategic legal service programme. to the people cannot afford to remain confined to the traditional or litigation oriented legal aid programme but it must.
(Quoted in “Equal Justice and Forensic Process: Truth and Myth” by V. Unfortunately. a reality. the litigant. we can take and evaluate Judicial Cardiogram for necessary urgent and useful.P. inexpensive and speedy trial and justice.2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (G. for knowledge of their rights and entitlement would give to the poor strength and confidence to fight and help them to avoid needless difficulties which arise from ignorance.) which is grossly inadequate and insufficient in a democratic set up. who is the heart of judicial anatomy. a public-oriented participation performing. their rights and benefits flowing out of the various 63 .. Looking to the present situation in the country.. imperative to evolve effective and efficient strategies both preventive and protective: (1) To manage: Unmanageable. in the present system. amount spent or expenditure for administration of law and justice is reported 0. As observed by Justice Bhagwati. we are obliged to create and constitute a Neo-Jurisprudence. (2) To break: Unbreakable. self-reliant and capable of using law as a potent weapon for various purposes.D. (5) To defend: Indefensible. Legal literacy: Legal literacy is a pre-condition to maintain the “rule of law”. In our country.R. Krishna Iyer. at p. (3) To beat: Unbeatable. necessary to constitute a regular mechanism. slums or labour colonies. It is.legal service programme is thus directed towards group-oriented approach to the problem of poverty rather than individual-oriented treatment and basically it is calculated to make the poor as class conscious and powerful.” A common man has started feeling that justice itself is on trial. effective and ebullient reforms to translate Constitutional mandate and obligation propounded right from Preamble Promise in their fighting faith by its Founding Fathers. the strategic legal service consists of creating legal awareness or what may be described as promoting legal literacy. Voluntary organizations. therefore. social action groups. whereby. He is the consumer of justice and he should be respected.. The litigant-consumer of justice – and heart of our system – must receive equal.. (4) To hit: Unhitable. Legal aid camps can also be arranged as part of the strategic legal service rogramme for carrying legal services to the doorsteps of the rural poor. It is. progressive. effective. journalists and even advocates have been rendering significant service to educate the people about the laws.47). professional and pervasive programmes. The model scheme for Legal Aid evolved by the “Committee for Implementing Legal Aid Scheme (CILAS)” also included programme for promotion of legal literacy and spread of legal awareness among the weaker sections of the community by way of organizing legal Aid camps. therefore. is the most neglected segment. especially in rural areas.
but it is intended to promote and vindicate public interest which demands that violation of constitutional or legal rights of large number of people who are poor. “Moulding the remedies to suit the needs of the situation so that efficacious and comprehensive remedies may be granted. To quote Krishna Iyer. helplessness. ignorant or in a socially or economically disadvantaged position should not go unnoticed and unredressed. Public Interest Litigation Public Interest Litigation has been devised as a tool to secure benefit to a class or group of persons. and this is an obligation which flows directly from Article 39 A of the Constitution. Whenever such litigations have come to Court. The assistance of voluntary agencies and social action groups must therefore be taken by the State for the purpose of operating the legal aid programme in its widest and most comprehensive sense. The poor too have civil and political rights and the Rule of Law 64 . who constitute the low visibility area of humanity. destitution. poverty. Cases of this kind involve the rights of thousands of people at a time. disability or social or economic disadvantage. Public interest litigation is brought before the court not for the purpose of enforcing the right of one individual against another as happens in the case of ordinary litigation. That would be destructive of the Rule of Law. one making claim or resisting such relief. unlike traditional litigation.schemes and measures. regardless of pickled precedents in remedial methodology. The Rule of Law does not mean that the protection of the law must be available only to a fortunate few or that the law should be allowed to be prostituted by the vested interests for protecting and upholding the status quo under the guise of enforcement of their civil and political rights. is a totally different kind of litigation from the ordinary traditional litigation which is essentially of an adversary character where there is a dispute between two litigating parties. It is a form of litigation where jurisdiction of the Court is invoked on behalf of such persons or group of persons by a third person or a social action group or a social organization regardless of its personal injury. either victims of exploitation. or oppression or who are denied the constitutional rights but cannot come to court personally for relief by reason of ignorance.” Public interest litigation which is a strategic arm of the legal aid movement and which is intended to bring justice within the reach of the poor masses. which are basically of adversary character and concerns disputes between individuals. which forms one of the essential elements of public interest in any democratic form of government. the Courts in the country have done everything to help the poor and to break every procedural barrier to deliver justice to the poor. is part of judicial dynamics.
Public interest litigation is essentially a co-operative or collaborative effort on the part of the petitioner. This new change has to come if the judicial system is to become an effective instrument of social justice. we will not help the poor to come to the Courts for seeking justice until the staggering load of cases of people who can afford. The Legal Aid movement and public interest litigation seek to bring justice to these forgotten specimens of humanity who constitute the bulk of the citizens of India and who are really and truly the “people of India” who gave to themselves this magnificent Constitution. benefits and privileges conferred upon the vulnerable sections of the community and to reach social justice to them. for without it. though today it exists only on paper and not in reality. [People’s Union for Democratic Rights v. Gupta v. the State or public authority and the court to secure observance of the constitutional or legal rights. The realization must come to them that social justice is the signature tune of our Constitution. They must be sensitized to the need of doing justice to the large masses of people to whom justice has been denied by a cruel and heartless society for generations. It is only the moneyed who have so far had the golden key to unlock the doors of justice.meant for them also.P. It is true that there are large arrears pending in the Courts but that cannot be any reason for denying access to justice to the poor and weaker sections of the community. President of India. the ignorant and the illiterate and their cases are coming before the Courts through public interest litigation which has been made possible by the recent judgment delivered by the Supreme Court in S. The time has now come when the Courts must become the courts for the poor and struggling masses of the country. No State has a right to tell its citizens that because a large number of cases of the rich and the well to do are pending in our Courts. Union of India. is disposed of. and it is their solemn duty under the Constitution to enforce the basic human rights of the poor and vulnerable sections of the community and actively help in the realization of the constitutional goals. It is only these privileged classes which have been able to approach the courts for protecting their vested interests. It holds our great 65 . Fortunately. AIR 1982 SC 149 [Judges Appointment and Transfer case]. It is through public interest litigation that the problems of the poor are now coming to the forefront and the entire theatre of the law is changing. now for the first time the portals of the court are being thrown open to the poor and the downtrodden. But. They must shed their character as upholders of established order and the status quo. it cannot survive for long. this change is gradually taking place and public interest litigation is playing a large part in bringing about this change. So far the courts have been used only for the purpose of vindicating the rights of the wealthy and the affluent. AIR 1982 SC 1473].
In Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India [AIR 1987 SC 1086]. particularly for enforcement of their fundamental rights. In M. the Supreme Court held that when the poor come before the Court. But if we want the fundamental rights to become a living reality and the Supreme 66 . they would never be able to enforce their fundamental rights and the result would be nothing but a mockery of the Constitution. And this is clearly made permissible by the language of clause (2) of Article 32 because the Constitution-makers while enacting that clause have deliberately and advisedly not used any words restricting the power of the Court to adopt any procedure which it considers appropriate in the circumstances of a given case for enforcing the fundamental right. where a law of the past does ot fit in the present context. a constitutional Bench of the Apex Court while considering the scope of public interest litigation to grant compensation to the victims of hazardous or dangerous activities when deaths or injuries were caused to them on account of the accident during the operation of such activities. Union of India [AIR 1984 SC 802. has held that the law should keep pace with changing socio-economic norms. it is necessary to depart from the adversarial procedure and to evolve a new procedure which will make it possible for the poor and the weak to bring the necessary material before the Court for the purpose of securing enforcement of their fundamental rights. It is true that the adoption of this non-traditional approach is not likely to find easy acceptance from the generality of lawyers because their minds are conditioned by constant association with the existing system of administration of justice which has become ingrained in them as a result of long years of familiarity and experience and become part of their mental make-up and habit and they would therefore always have an unconscious predilection for the prevailing system of administration of justice. 815]. the Court should evolve new law in a public interest litigation.possibilities for the future. We therefore to abandon the laissez faire [Let things be] approach in the judicial process particularly where it involves a question of enforcement of fundamental rights and forge new tools. devise new methods and adopt new strategies for the purpose of making fundamental rights meaningful for the large masses of the people. If we blindly follow the adversarial procedure in their case. The Court has incidental and ancillary powers in exercise of which it can devise new methods and strategy in securing enforcement of fundamental rights particularly in public interest litigation or social action cases.C. Mehta v. The Supreme Court further observed: “It must be remembered that the problems of the poor which are now coming before the Court are qualitatively different from those which have hitherto occupied the attention of the Court and they need a different kind of lawyering skill and different kind of judicial approach.
. J. The process involves discussing with the parties the pros and cons of their case and explaining to them advantages and disadvantage of resolving their dispute by conciliation and compromise. the Supreme Court speaking through Bhagwati. 188].by some agency or individual has now been considerably relaxed by the Supreme Court.. The process of participatory 67 . but treat them as differences and resolve them by conciliatory and persuasive efforts. or in the alternative. The system visualized as an alternative dispute settlement mechanism. order or writ in the High Court under Article 226 and in case of breach of any fundamental rights of such person or persons. a species of peace making.Court to become a real sentinel on the qui vive.. In S. of resorting to the traditional dilatory procedure of adversarial litigation in regular Courts. helplessness. evolved as a part of the CILAS programme with the object of taking justice to the doorsteps of the poor and to give speedy and cheap justice to those who cannot afford to fight the costly legal battle. for handling disputes by conciliation and counseling.” THE INSTITUTION OF LOK ADALAT Lok Adalats or Niti Melas Lok Adalat has emerged lately as a new system of dispensation of justice and received tremendous response and wide support from different sections of the society. in this Court [Supreme Court] under Article 32 seeking judicial redress for the legal wrong or injury caused to such person or determinate class of persons.P. or disability or socially or economically disadvantaged position. President of India [AIR 1982 SC 149. Lok Adalats do not treat the issues before it as disputes under contest and decide cases. now be taken as well established that where a legal wrong or legal injury is caused to a person or to a determinate class of persons by reason of violation of any constitutional or legal right or any burden is imposed in contravention of any constitutional or legal provision or without authority of law or any such legal wrong or legal injury or illegal burden is threatened and such person or determinate class of persons is by reason of poverty. any member of the public can maintain an application for an appropriate direction. has held: “It may. we must free ourselves from the shackles of outdated and outmoded assumptions and bring to bear on the subject fresh outlook and original unconventional thinking. Gupta v.” The traditional rule of locus standi considerably relaxed by the Supreme Court The traditional rule in regard to ‘locus standi’ that judicial redress is available only to a person who has suffered a legal injury by reason of violation of his legal rights. therefore. Lok Adalat has come to be seen as an institution or an agency. unable to approach the Court for relief.
of a large number of cases expeditiously and with lessor costs. As part of CILAS programme. Cases were analyzed. advocates. These forums based on the concept of dispute settlement mechanism by way of counseling persuasion and conciliation. Such of those cases where there was reasonable possibility of conciliation were identified and listed. Presiding Officers of various Courts were requested to look into the cases pending in their respective Courts and to see whether there was possibility of conciliation in these cases. there is no winner and no loser in a mediated resolution of dispute by Lok Adalats. The intention being to help warring parties to work things out. and become friends (or not enemies again). being in the nature of compromises. in a summary way and through the process of arbitration and settlement between the parties. and are intended to work informally with simplified procedure. fixed the date and place of the holding of Lok Adalats about a month in advance. The team involved in the mediation or Lok Adalat justice process. therefore. Then. Once parties had made a compromise or arrived at a 68 . for the disposal. the mediation process or justice process through Lok Adalat was initiated by way of thorough discussion with the parties as to the details of the case and desirability of conciliation and compromise and the scope of a settlement mutually acceptable to the parties was assessed. This process was continued and resumed at the campsite of the Lok Adalat. function as peacemaker. shake hands. to supplement the existing justice delivery system. pre-Lok Adalat conferences were held and parties to the dispute were approached and motivated by the legal aid teams. Before the case was taken up by the Lok Adalat. which included. social workers and volunteers to resolve their disputes through Lok Adalats. in which parties and panel members of the Lok Adalat participate. law students. Dispute in the Lok Adalats is resolved by discussion in an informal atmosphere. classified under various heads according to the nature of dispute and substance recorded. is more likely to bring or keep people together and. The organizers of the Lok Adalats. resolution of disputes in Lok Adalat.justice is a unique feature of this institution. more conducive to harmonies. Unlike in litigations concluded in our regular Courts. There has been in the last few years a growing interest in the institution and it has emerged as a forum for alternative dispute resolution. consisted of the members of local Legal Aid Committee. lok adalats (Peoples‟ Court) were constituted and niti melas were organized at various places in the country. and settlement is reached with the mutual and free consent of the parties. spirited public men or elders of the locality or social activists and called conciliators. Information about the holding of Lok Adalat was widely publicized through press and other means of publicity. under the supervision of State Legal Aid and Advice Boards.
rules of equity and other legal principles than with expatiating upon procedural complexities and their strict application. carefully chosen by the Local Aid Committees on the basis of their record of public services. it is less expensive. A. one of them could be a retired judge or a senior retired civil servant or an advocate. It aims at promoting larger interest. honesty and respectability among local population. Importance of the institution of Lok Adalat in the present context: The revolutionary evolution of resolution of dispute by one or other means. Alternate Dispute Redressal (A. does not permit dilatory tactics of parties to prolong litigation. More and more people are choosing this forum to help settlement of dispute through negotiation. supposed to be good conciliators. and satisfy itself that compromise had been arrived at by free and mutual consent of the parties. and others. has been. conciliation. successfully.. social workers and eminent persons of the locality. When the compromise so arrived at was presented before the Court concerned. settlement and compromise than to go for a verdict through court. counseling. a law teacher. more than 90 percent of cases involving legal disputes are settled before they go for trial.S. Looking to the present situation in the country the role of Lok Adalat assumes higher degree of importance. less time consuming. in India. signatures of the parties were obtained and countersigned by the members of the panel and passed on to the Court concerned for final decree or order. were set up. comity and policy and jurisprudential cohesion and environment. It is based on jurisprudence of peace and provides a rendezvous for social amity and affinity and social justice. 69 . 91 percent of cases instituted in the Courts go for trial and only 9 percent of cases are settled without judicial agitation. translated in various countries. Multiple panels. While. roughly.D. The institution of Lok Adalat has been acknowledged as an effective Alternate Dispute Redressal agency and gaining wide acceptability. After this process of due verification of the compromise made or settlement arrived at by the parties. concerned with the cause of social justice and sympathetic to people‟s problem. examine the fairness and legality of the settlement or compromise.settlement. it was reduced into writing by members of the panel of the Lok Adalat. in U.) mechanism. harmony. It saves parties from intricacies of procedure and is concerned more with narrowing the differences and finding settlement in accordance with natural justice. It provides a quicker remedy. the Court was expected to look into the question whether all the parties to the suit were entering into settlement or compromise. These panels or members of Lok Adalat consisted of two or three persons. according to the need of the Lok Adalat. decree or orders were passed in terms of the settlement or compromise.R.
Who knows even after a successful decision or order in favour of a party. Duty? Pending workload of cases in Indian Courts has rapidly crossed the 30 millions as per latest survey. Dineshbhai Dhemenrai v.18. it gets the poor litigants justice without having to meet huge costs and help them to settle their disputes amicable. By bringing justice at their doorstep. It creates not only peace but also a culture of compromise. Most of the rural people in India who reside in more than 5.000 and odd number of Advocates in India. It is not a Pity v. who are otherwise.000 villages are either. The ratio of Judges per million in India is almost 9. it is more than 115 in U. As a result of which. State of Gujarat. In case of ratio of Advocate available in India. etc. which has populace of 1 billion. and many more are under inquiry or investigation stage. The success of these Lok Adalats in taking justice to the doorsteps of poor and the needy and making justice quicker and less expensive raised a new ray of hope for those who could not otherwise afford to fight the protracted costly legal battle for assertion and protection of their rights under the law.It is reported that 34 percent of the total world‟s poor populace is in India. is far less than developed countries.50. The life span of a civil case or a lawsuit in civil side is ranging average. whether he would be able to see light at the end of tunnel after having passed through the long legal and procedural conduit pipes? Even after a decree awarded or order passed on judicial side in favour of a party. proved to be very popular in providing for a speedier system of administration of justice at lessor costs. There are about only 4. The urbanized populace lack awareness about their legal rights.A. successful party has to again undergo the second round of litigation at the stage of execution. More than majority persons live below poverty line. cumbersome and complex process of Court. In view of these circumstances. In view of the failure to provide easy. Our present traditional system of justice is suffering from maladies like huge and heavy expenses. [Cf. after number of years. Even in case of urban populace most of them are ignorant about their legal rights. Legal status for Lok Adalat: The Lok Adalat. between 8 to 12 years. the institution of Lok Adalat is being looked upon as an effective Alternate Dispute Redressal Forum. cheap and expeditious accessibility. a specie of conciliatory agency. a common man has started looking at it. indigent or ignorant of their rights. literate. The institution received wide support from concerned citizens and spread to disputes of diverse and varied nature and resolved cases pertaining to compoundable criminal 70 . illiterate. whereas. unexpected and unpredictable delay in disposal and.S. It provides a rendezvous for social amity and affinity and social justice. mental barrier is developed amongst many persons to suffer injustice. which has proved to be dialectical and speedy. 2001 (1) GLR 603]. as foe rather than a friend.
” Emphasizing the importance of role that could be played by voluntary organizations and social action groups in securing people‟s participation and involvement in the legal aid programme. municipality or a corporation). however. functioning as a voluntary agency without any statutory backing for its decisions. State of Kerala. the Supreme Court held that there could be no doubt that if the legal aid programme was to succeed it must involve public participation. 39 of 1987. there was demand for providing a statutory backing support would not only reduce the burden of arrears of work in regular courts. to set up a comprehensive and effective legal aid programme in order to ensure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on the basis of equality. civil and revenue disputes. The Court observed:“The State Government undoubtedly has an obligation under Article 39A of the Constitution which embodies a directive principle of State Policy. The Government was convinced that this admirable alternate dispute settlement mechanism shall now only reduce the burden of arrears of work in regular courts.complaints. The number of cases resolved by these Lok Adalats also began to reflect on the workload of our regular Courts. but would also provide social justice and serve to achieve the constitutional mandate under Article 39 A. AIR 1986 SC 2195. the Government in exercise of its duty under Article 39 A. MACT cases. The institution of Lok Adalats was. the Act was brought into force with effect from 9-11-1995. It is absolutely essential that people should be involved in the legal aid programme because the legal aid programme is not charity or bounty but it is a social entitlement of the people and those in need of legal assistance cannot be looked upon as mere beneficiaries of the legal aid programme but they should be regarded as participants in it. drafted the Legal Services Authorities Bill 1987 and the same was enacted by the Parliament as Act No. acknowledging the institution of Lok Adalat and giving statutory status to Lok Adalats. the Supreme Court went on to observe :- 71 . and even institutional cases (cases where one of the parties is an institution. In view of its growing popularity. Public Participation in Legal Aid Programme Role of Voluntary Organizations and Social Action Groups: In Centre of Legal Research v. such as. but would also take justice to the doorsteps of the poor and the needy and make justice quicker and less expensive and felt that if the Lok Adalats were given statutory status they could function more effectively. almost eight years after its enactment. But we have no doubt that despite the sense of social commitment which animates many of our officers in the Administration. Therefore. However.
therefore.A.S. handicapped and deserving people. They have their finger on the pulse of the people and they know from their own experience as to what are the unmet legal needs of the people. Legal Aid fraternity must respond with juristic sensitivity to the voice from the silence zone (a class of litigants) and mass voice of weak. taking into account the socio-economic conditions prevailing in the country. what are the sources of exploitation and injustice to the underprivileged segments of society and what measures are necessary to be taken for the purpose of ending such exploitation and injustice and voluntary organizations and social action groups must be encouraged and supported by the State in operating the legal aid programme. has undertaken various important and effective and appreciable Legal-Aid programmes and.Os. particularly. encouragement of public interest litigation and holding of Lok Adalats or niti melas for bringing about settlements of disputes whether pending in Courts or outside. and 72 . It is now acknowledged throughout the country that the legal aid programme which is needed for the purpose of reaching social justice to the people cannot afford to remain confined to the traditional or litigation oriented legal aid programme but it must.G. To save the Nation.” Role of the Bench and the Bar: In various countries.“If we want to secure people‟s participation and involvement in the legal aid programme. in United States and other Western countries. N. really. a backbone of the legal services to compliment and complete the Constitutional obligation and obtain statutory rights of millions of indigent. the contribution of the Bar in rendering free and competent legal-aid is praiseworthy and it must be emulated. The Bar is. and this is an obligation which flows directly from Article 39A of the Constitution. meek. The assistance of voluntary agencies and social action groups must therefore be taken by the State for the purpose of operating the legal aid programme in its widest and most comprehensive sense. we think the best way of securing it is to operate through voluntary organizations and social action groups. members of Bench and Bar. N. poor.A. needy.L. suppressed and exploited women and destitute children so as to create evolving ebullient echo for the silent sector. adopt a more dynamic posture and take within its sweep what we may call strategic legal aid programme consisting of promotion of legal literacy. a catalytic role has to be played by Legal Aid in the larger interest of weaker sections. The Bar must evolve scheme to ensure that unprotected is not priced out of Market. organization of legal aid camps. These organizations are working amongst the deprived and vulnerable sections of the community at the grass-root level and they know what are the problems and difficulties encountered by these neglected sections of the Indian humanity.
State of Gujarat. 2001 (1) GLR 603]. [See Dineshbhai Dhemenrai v.Government Agencies must render voluntary helping hand in such noble and novel projects. 73 .
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