Types of Indian Laws
Author: Yashika Sheth, March 8, 2019 – Posted in: Legal – Tags: , , ,


The constitution of India confers various rights to every person. Along with the benefits of such rights comes the threat of it getting infringed. As the maxim says, “ubi jus ibi remedium” which means there is no right without a remedy, throws light on various laws introduced by the legislature, with a view to enforce and protect such rights, in order to civilize the society and maintain peace and harmony among the individuals. It can also be understood as a rule of conduct which uniform and is applicable equally to all the people of the State. Law is a definite and a formulated will of the State. The state makes and implements the rule which is termed as law.

As defined by Austin – “Law is the command of the sovereign.” Each Law is a binding and authoritative rule or value or decision. Every violation of it is punished by the state. The Indian constitution is the written constitution and is the longest. It contains 450 articles, 12 schedules and 101 amendments. This is way the Indian Law system a known to be very extensive one. There were about 1248 laws as of the latest survey in 2017.

The laws in India are fairly complex because, it maintains a hybrid legal system with a mixture of civil, common law and customary or religious law within the legal framework inherited from the colonial era and various legislation, formerly introduced by the British are still in effect, in modified forms today. There is a separate law to govern the Hindus, Muslims, Christians and followers of other religions. Thus, it can be concluded that the sources of Indian Law can be traced back to customs, Religious thoughts and morality, legislation or delegated legislation, judicial decisions, scientific commentaries and also equity.

Indian Laws

Types of law in India

As discussed earlier, there are various types of law in India. To simplify its understanding, we will classify them into four major and important categories, i.e. the Common law, Criminal law, Civil law, and statutory law. Let us first take a look at these four laws:

1. Common Law

The common law can be traced back to have its origin in England. It came to India along with the infiltration of the British East India Company. The universal consent and practice of the people from time immemorial formed the basis of Common Law. Common law is also known as judicial precedent or case law. It conveys from the name only that, this source of laws are made by the decisions of the cases. This was mostly seen in UK, where if a case was brought up in the court of law and if the decision was given by the judge then that decision was taken as a precedent for the future cases.

While in statutory law, laws are made by keeping in mind the future cases, which may arise. The statutes governing civil and criminal justice like, the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and principles of law, compiled in these codes, we have today were primarily derived, from the Common Law principles. One thing can be said about these legislations is that they have stood the test of time with minimum amendments. Codification of laws made the law uniform throughout the country and cherished a kind of legal unity in fundamental laws. The Codes apply uniformly throughout the nation.

2. Criminal Law

The Indian Criminal law is basically dealt by, the Indian Penal Code, 1860; Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973; and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. Based on British criminal law, the Indian Penal code, defines basic crimes and punishments and is applicable to resident foreigners and citizens alike, and recognizes offences committed by Indian nationals in abroad. This kind of law is an offence which is considered to be an offence against the society at large i.e against everybody, and not against a particular individual.

The police of the state have an important role to play in this kind of law. Murder, assault, robbery, rape are some kinds of offences that can be included in criminal law. These offences are classified in criminal law because such wrongdoing threatens all the people around as they could have also been a victim of the same. Criminal law is dealt with by the public services and not by private lawyers or investigators.

3. Civil Law

It can be simply defined as the law which deals with actions which are not crimes. All the civil matters are heard by the civil courts. The Civil Procedure Code (C.P.C) regulates the functioning of the civil courts. This code lays down the procedure of filing of civil cases, which includes specific rules for proceedings of a case, rights of appeals, review or reference etc. With each religion having its own specific laws to follow, Indian civil law becomes complex. Indian laws are changing according to the modern world after independence, example: the most recently the domestic violence act was passed in the year 2005. Civil law can be further sub divided into Torts, Contract law, Family law and Property law.

A) Law of Tort

The law of tort was planted in the Indian Constitution back in 1980s. In other words tort is a civil wrong the appropriate remedy for which is a suit for unliquidated damages. It involves personal injury and civil wrongdoing. A tort is a civil wrong, done by one person or entity to another, which results in injury or property damage and compensation given is in monetary terms to the injured party. There are three pigeonholes of torts: negligence, intentional tort, and strict liability.

Negligence is a tort which is done unintentionally. On the other hand intentional tort a deliberate wrong act in which, the defendant acted with intent to cause harm or injury. Few illustrations of intentional torts include: assault and battery, false imprisonment, fraud, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Strict liability is based on the principle which does not require actual negligence or intent to injure. It is established on an absolute or “strict” duty to ensure something is safe. Master-servant relationship, liability of the state, liability of the directors of the company, partnership firm, etc. are instances where strict liability may arise.

B) Contract Law

The Indian Contract Act, 1872 deals with all kinds of contract. It contains all provisions with regards to the validity of a contract to its discharge and also includes the penalties for breach of the contract. It is a law that deals with agreements between two or more parties. If one party violates any of the terms and conditions of the contract, they have committed a civil wrong known as “breach of contract.” Generally speaking, contracts may be oral or written. However, there are certain types of contracts that must be reduced to writing.

C) Family Law/ Personal law

Another branch of civil law is the family law. It deals with marriage, divorce, annulment, child custody, adoption, birth, child support, and any other issues affecting families. Various religions have different laws in this regard, like that of the Hindu law, Muslim law, Christian law, Parsi law. The cases relating to this law is dealt by the family court, and its functions include dividing up property and finances after a divorce, establishing child custody, child support, and spousal support among other things. Some newer areas that fall under the umbrella of family law are; same-sex marriage, artificial conception, surrogate motherhood, in vitro fertilization, and palimony.

D) Property Law

Both personal and real properties are included in this law. Property can be tangible or intangible. Tangible property includes jewelry, animals, merchandise etc. While, intangible property includes patents, copyrights, stocks, and bonds. Land and anything built on it, that cannot be easily removed, as well as anything under the surface of the land, such as oil and minerals are included in real property.

Tort related to property can be of two kinds; trespass and conversion. Trespass to land is said to happen when a defendant enters plaintiff’s private property without consent of the plaintiff. On the other hand, conversion refers to a defendant, depriving a plaintiff of their personal property, without the plaintiff’s consent, and then using the plaintiff’s property as his own.

4. Statutory Law

It is also known as the legislative law. Statutory laws can be set down by the national, state legislature or by the local municipalities. It is the basic structure if the present legal system of India. The statute is a formal act of the Legislature in written form. It declares the will of the Legislature. The Statutory law comes into existence by codification.

The legislative enactments or the statutory laws follow the usual process of legislation. It goes as follows: A bill is proposed in the legislature and voted upon. If approved, it passes to the executive authority (either a governor at the state level or the president at the federal level). If the executive signs the bill, it becomes a statute. If the executive fails or refuses to sign the bill, veto power can be used and sent back to the legislature. If the parliament again passes the bill by a required margin it becomes a law. Statutes are also recorded, or codified, in writing and published. Statutory law generally becomes effective on a said date written into the bill. Statutes can be altered by a later parliamentary enactment or if found unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction.