India became an independent democratic republic in 1947 and its constitution became enforceable on 26th November 1949, is the supreme law of the land. India follows a common law legal system whose infrastructure holds the influence of the British colonial rule. The constitution of India has been heavily borrowed from the Government of India Act 1935 which was passed by British Parliament. The Indian constitution lays down a federal Union of 29 States, 6 union territories and 1 national capital region. The Union and States have separate executive and legislative branches; on the other hand, the territories are governed by the national government of the nation. Law generated by the Union supersedes to that of the States.

The nominal head of the Union executive is the president which is elected, but the Prime Minister, leader of the majority party and head of the Union Council of Ministers, holds more authority and power as compared to the president. India has a bicameral Parliament system whose upper house is known as Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and whose lower house is the Lok Sabha (House of People). The State executive is authorised by a Governor, and while most have a unicameral legislative body known as the Legislative Assembly, some are bicameral with a Legislative Council as well.

Apart from English influence, personal laws are also based on Hindu and Islamic law. While, the Hindu Law has been codified; on the other hand, Islamic law is based on authoritative commentaries and precedents. Indian personal laws are fairly complex, with each religion following its own specific laws. In many states, registration of marriages and divorces is not mandatory. Separate Personal laws govern Hindus including Sikhs, Jain’s and Buddhist, Muslims, Christians, and followers of other religions as well. Goa is an exception to this rule, where a uniform civil code (as mentioned under article 44) is enforceable, in which all religions follow a uniform set of law in relation marriages, divorces, and adoption.

The Indian judiciary is independent rather than federal in its operation. The highest appellate court of the judiciary is the Supreme Court of India located in the national capital of Delhi, which often decides the legislative powers as laid down by the Constitution for Union and States. Before independence in 1947, the highest appellate court was the Privy Council located in London and its judgments were binding unless overturned by the Supreme Court. According to the law, High Courts are to be situated in each State, with subordinate criminal courts and civil courts.


Report By:

Amol Verma
Intern, INBA

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