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Law in India - Overview
Posted by: Puhazh (IP Logged)
Date: June 6, 2006 06:24PM

Indian Law is largely derived from the British Common Law. Indian law was first introduced by the British when they ruled India. Various acts and ordinances first introduced by the British are still in effect today.

During the drafting of the Indian Constitution, laws from Ireland, USA, Britain and France were all synthesised to get a refined set of Indian laws as it currently stands. Indian laws also adhere to the United Nations guidelines on Human Rights and the environment. Certain international trade laws such as those of intellectual rights etc. are also enforced in India.

Indian Civil Law is complex with each religion having its own specific laws which they adhere to. In most states, registering of marriages and divorces is not compulsory. There are separate laws governing Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and other religions. The exception to this rule is in the state of Goa, where a Portuguese Uniform Civil Code is in place, in which all religions have a common law regarding marriages, divorces and adoption.

Jury trials were abolished by the government in 1960 on the grounds they would be susceptible to media and public influence. This decision was based on an 8:1 acquittal of Kawas Nanavati in K. M. Nanavati vs. State of Maharashtra, which was overturned by higher courts.

Each state drafts it own laws, however all the states have more or less the same laws. Laws directed by the Central government and the Supreme Court of India are binding on all citizens of each state. Each state has its own labour laws and taxation rates.

Capital Punishment is present in India and is invoked only in the ‘rarest of rare’ cases. The last execution was conducted in 2004, when Dhanonjoy Chatterjee was hanged for the rape and murder of a 14-year old girl. India’s most famous jail is the Tihar Jail.

Dual nationality is prohibited under Indian nationality law. The courts of India have taken the view that no citizen shall carry the political burden of dual citizenship with its inevitable consequence of divided loyalties. The Indian Parliament passed on 7 January 2004 a law creating a new form of very limited dual nationality called Overseas citizenship of India. Overseas citizens of India will not enjoy any form of political rights or participation in the government of India. There are no plans to issue to Overseas citizens any form of Indian passport.

After independence Indian laws have adapted to the changing world. The most recent being the Information Technology Act (2000), which recognises the validity of emails, digital ID’s and laws outlawing hacking, cracking and other malicious online works.

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