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Indian Law

The Indian legal system and institutions. There are many documented cases of both reception and grafting in India’s history of law. The Indian subcontinent has received foreign laws, such as the demand of the Hindus from Goa for Portuguese civil legislation; and the enactment in independent India of statutes such the Estate Duty Act (1953), Copyright Act ( 1957), and Merchant Shipping Act (1958), which are substantially identical to English models. Many foreign laws have been “grafted”, as seen in Anglo Muslim and Hindu law. Indians accepted foreign-government legal institutions readily, either because they were compatible to existing trends or because they addressed new needs. These processes saw an increase after the independence movement in 1947.

Indian law, therefore, draws upon a variety of sources

The Vedas and current indigenous customs (i.e. Indo-European) were the first two elements of the Hindu legal system. This was 3,000 years ago. It developed slowly through blending and comparison as well as analysis. Following the Arab invasions in the 8th century CE, Islamic Law was introduced to some regions, especially in the north. The English common legal is the remaining law in the high court of Bombay, Calcutta (now Kolkata), Madras (now Chennai), and Madras. Sometimes, with the assistance of relevant British statutes, it can also be the residual law in all other jurisdictions that represent the old East India Company’s judiciaries. In these courts, since 1781 “justice, justice and good conscience” have provided the rule for law when there was no Indian statute or personal law (e.g. Hindu) to cover the point.

The French and Portuguese used their own laws in colonies

British India had some British laws that were applied. A few of these have remained in place. All powers adjusted their laws to local conditions. The Anglo-Indian code, which was passed in India from 1860-1882, reflects the influence of both the English and Anglo-Indian models. The best available law was not only Roman or civil law but also continental theory. This period was a time when India had access to the best legal sources, although this source was quickly exhausted through codification and other influences. The constitution was interpreted according to some American principles. Welfare and industrial statutes were construed in light of other Commonwealth case laws. The treatment of personal law is also influenced by the West.

Hindu law is,

in general terms, the personal law applicable to the majority of Indians and the principal juridical product of Indian civilization. Hindu does not refer to a strict religious orthodoxy. It is more ethnically oriented than creedal. India has been working since independence to abolish personal laws and create a civil code (article 44). This would unify as much as possible the Hindu schools and customs of the different communities.

Modern Hindu law

was created by the Hindu Marriage Act (1955), and also the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Acts and Hindu Succession Acts. Hindus had the right to be exempted from the personal laws up to 1955-56, provided that a customer could prove to be sufficiently certain, consistent, and old and was not against public policy. There is very little room for custom now.

One example of these changes is the 1954 Special Marriage Act. It provided that any couple could marry, regardless of their community status, in a civil, Western-style manner. The law on divorce and succession would then automatically be invalid. The new divorce law allows them to divorce by mutual consent, provided they have lived apart for one year and have waited one additional year.

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