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Law, Courts And The Constitution

India has one of the oldest legal systems in the world. Its law and jurisprudence stretches back into the centuries, forming a living tradition that has grown and evolved with the lives of its diverse people. India's commitment to law is created in the Constitution itself, thus guaranteeing Fundamental Rights to all.

Sources Of Law

The Constitution gives due recognition to statutes, case laws and customary laws consistent with its dispensations.

  • Statutes are enacted by Parliament, State Legislatures and Union Territory Legislatures.
  • There is also a vast body of laws known as subordinate legislation in the form of rules, regulations as well as by-laws made by Central and State Governments and local authorities like Municipal Corporations, Municipalities, Gram Panchayats and other local bodies. This subordinate legislation is made under the authority conferred or delegated either by Parliament or State or Union Territory Legislature concerned.
  • The decisions of the Supreme Court are binding on all Courts in India. However, in some cases cultural differences and local customs are also taken into account while passing judgment.

Who makes the laws?

  1. The Indian Parliament makes laws on matters listed in the Union List.
  2. State Legislatures make laws relevant to the State or that which is listed in the State list.
  3. Laws made by Parliament prevail over law made by State Legislatures.

The System of Justice

The unique aspect of the Indian Judicial System is that it has a single integrated system of Courts to administer both Union and State laws. The Supreme Court of India heads the system and the High Courts in each State or group of States follow. Below the High Courts lies a hierarchy of Subordinate Courts. Panchayat Courts also function in some States under various names like Nyaya Panchayat, Panchayat Adalat, Gram Kachheri, etc. to decide civil and criminal disputes of petty and local nature.

Different State laws provide for different kinds of jurisdiction of courts.
  • Each State is divided into judicial districts presided over by a District and Sessions Judge who can try all offences including those punishable with death.
  • The Sessions Judge is the highest judicial authority in a district.
  • The Courts of civil jurisdiction, known in different States as Munsifs, Sub-Judges, Civil Judges etc follow. Similarly, the criminal judiciary comprises the Chief Judicial Magistrates and Judicial Magistrates of First and Second Class

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