Basic Concept Of The Indian Legal System
Mr. Deepanjan Chakraborty

Basic Concept Of The Indian Legal System

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•} Introduction

•} Rule Of Law

•} Separation Of Power

•} Principles Of Natural Justice

•} Rule Of Equity

•} Salient Features Of Indian Constitution

•} Judicial System In India

•} Conclusion 


Law is a body of rules and regulations that the government imposes to ensure social fairness and wellbeing. The social, political, economic, and cultural aspects of society are reflected in India's legal system. Through India's legal history, the common law system developed its foundations. The Constitution, legislation, common law, and court rulings from higher courts are the primary sources of law in India. While laws approved by state legislatures often only apply within the borders of the states involved, laws passed by parliament may apply throughout all or part of India.


"Rule of Law" refers to the rule of law rather than that of men, as the term itself implies. The French phrase "le principe de legalite," which translates to "the principle of legality," is the source of the phrase "Rule of Law." Rule of Law, according to Black's law dictionary, can be specifically defined as supremacy of law in which decisions are made based on well-established principles or laws and no discretion is exercised in their application. Many scholars have defined the rule of law as the symbol of supreme authority that no one can overrule. As expressed by Master Denning in the event that Gouriet V. Association of mail center laborers Each individual in land, regardless of how strong or high in status he might be, regulation will continuously be above them.

The rule of law has been inserted into many of the Indian constitution's provisions. For instance, the Preamble to the Indian Constitution expresses the goal of promoting equality, liberty, and justice. Equal protection under the law and equality before the law are guaranteed by Article 14. No one should be denied equality before the law and equal protection of the law by the state, according to this clause. These passages from Article 14 make it very apparent that the rule of law is supreme and that arbitrary behaviour is not permitted because it affects everyone equally. Everyone must be treated equally and impartially by the law, as this is a fundamental requirement of the Rule of Law. In Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, the Supreme Court made the clear observation that Article 14 prevents the state from acting arbitrarily and guarantees fairness and equality of treatment. Arbitrary behavior is outlawed by the rule of law, which is a fundamental feature of the Indian Constitution. Where there is mediation there is disavowal of Law and order. Protective discrimination as a means of ensuring equality among equals was incorporated into Articles 15, 16, and 23 to further strengthen the ideal of equality.


In India the Legislative, executive, and judicial departments make up the distribution of powers; each has distinct roles and responsibilities. Preventing the abuse of power by any one of the arms of government was the main objective of the concept of separation of powers. Trias politica is the name given to this system of separation of powers. The paradigm Montesquieu used in De l'esprit des Lois, 1747 (The Spirit of Laws,1747) served as the basis for this system's concept. The separation of powers is not expressly addressed anywhere in the Indian Constitution, yet it is present in some places. The three branches' specifics are as follows:


The enactment of the law is the responsibility of the legislative body. The President, Rajya Sabha, and Lok Sabha make up this body. The other two branches of law—executive and judicial—are governed by it. The legislature is subject to limits set down in Article 211, which forbids it from bringing up the behaviour of Supreme Court or High Court judges for discussion.


Chapter I's Part V pertains to the executive organ. The executive organ is responsible for the administration of the government and the implementation of policies in alignment with the principles of natural justice. The executive branch comprises the President, as outlined in Article 53(1), the Vice President, the Prime Minister, and the council of ministers, who provide advice to the President as stated in Article 74.


The judiciary branch is in charge of applying the law and promoting justice in society. It includes the Supreme Court, the High Court, and every other lower court. The separation of the judiciary and the executive is established under Article 50 of Part IV, Directive Principles of State Policy. However, the judges must be appointed by the executive branch. Courts do not have the authority to review parliamentary proceedings or legislative processes, according to Articles 122 and 212, respectively. 


Natural justice is not precisely or scientifically defined. However, the fundamentals of natural justice are recognised and upheld. Judges, solicitors, and scholars all define it differently. Lord Esher M.R. defined it as the intuitive feeling of right and wrong in the case of Vionet v. Barrett. In a later case, Hopkins v. Smethwick Local Board of Health, he had made the decision to define natural justice as basic justice. According to Lord Parker, it is an obligation to act fairly. Mr. Justice Bhagwati interpreted it as an example of fair play. The Indian Constitution's Articles 14 and 21 have strengthened the idea of natural justice.

The application of the principle of natural justice rests on the following bases:

The principles of natural justice stem from common law in England and are rooted in two Latin maxims, derived from jus natural.

The English legal system acknowledges two fundamental principles of natural justice, as outlined below:

a. Nemo Judex in causa sua, which means "no man shall be a judge in his own cause" or "Nemo debet esse judex in propria causa," which translates to "no one ought to be a judge in his own cause" or the "Rule against bias."

b. Audi Alteram partem, also known as the "rule of fair hearing," which states that both parties must be given an opportunity to present their case and be heard.

Kinds of bias

Pecuniary Bias: When a judge or adjudicator has a financial or economic interest in the issue at hand, pecuniary prejudice ensues. The judge shouldn't have any financial or economic interests when making a decision in a case. In other words, having a financial stake in the issue at hand disqualifies someone from serving as a judge.

Personal Bias: Personal bias is brought on by others who are close to us, whether through friendship, a relationship, a job, or another association. Any person with such a connection is ineligible to serve as a judge. A.K. Kripak v. Union of India is a case that is pertinent to this discussion. Because one of the candidates who appeared before the selection committee was also a member of the selection board, the Supreme Court overturned the selections made by the board.

Subject matter bias: Any conflict of interest or bias will prevent the judge from hearing the case. When an adjudicator or judge has a general interest in the matter at hand due to his affiliation with the government or a private organisation, he will be found to be biassed and disqualified if he has a close personal connection to the issues at hand. The adjudicator must have a close and direct relationship with the disputed issues in order to be disqualified on that basis. It is now unclear if this idea may be applied to administrative adjudication as well.

Essentials of fair hearing

Notice: The deciding authority has a responsibility to notify a person before taking any action against him. The notification must be appropriate and include information about the hearing's nature, date, time, and location. A faulty or ambiguous notice would invalidate all subsequent proceedings.

Hearing: A person facing an order to their detriment should be informed of the charges against him, given the chance to respond, and given the right to know the oral and documentary evidence used to support the decision being made. They should also have the right to have the witnesses cross-examined in front of them and to present their own oral and documentary evidence in their defence. It is a code of conduct whose specifics are dependent on the events and circumstances of the case.


Equity is a body of common law. It originated in the Court of Chancery and is administered by the common law. It is governed by various principles, regulations, and options. Equity implies decency, power, justice The law of equity was established by a large body of principles. As indicated by the importance of value, 'the standards created to alleviate the seriousness of customary regulation.' The standard of direct should be trailed by individuals. The term "equity" means fair or just in its broadest sense, but in law, it refers to the rules created to fulfill the gravity of common law. "Equity is a fresh body of law by the side of the original law founded on distinct principles, also supersede the civil law by virtue of its superiority in principles," according to Sir Henry Maine. Osborne asserts that equity is primarily natural justice or fairness.


 the Indian Constitution opens up with the preamble. The Preamble sets forth the purposes, objectives, and essential principles of the Constitution. These objectives, which flow from the Preamble, have had a direct and indirect impact on the fundamental provisions of the Constitution.

Our constitution has taken the best features from most of the important worldwide constitutions and incorporated them in accordance with the needs of the country. India's constitution differs from other countries' constitutions in a number of significant ways, despite including components from almost every other constitution in the world.

•} Lengthiest Written Constitution: Constitutions can be written (like the American Constitution) or unwritten (like the British Constitution). The Indian Constitution, which was adopted in 1950, is now the longest and most detailed constitution in the world. Consequently, the Indian Constitution is the longest written constitution in the entire world. It's a document that's incredibly detailed, comprehensive, and lengthy..

•} Establishment Democratic Republic: The Preamble of the Indian Constitution establishes India as a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic, and republican nation. Additionally, the Preamble includes several other terms that guarantee equality and safeguard individuals, including justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity.

•} Fundamental rights: The  Part III of the Indian Constitution consists of Articles 12 to 35, guarantees the fundamental rights. These include the rights to equality, to freedom, to practise one's religion freely, to protection from exploitation, to an education and a culture, and to constitutional remedies. These are fundamental rights, and as such, no law, regulation, decree, or amendment may infringe upon or limit them; otherwise, they will be deemed unconstitutional. wherein the public may also appeal to the court of laws for its enforcement if their rights are violated.

•} Federal constitution: In light of India's federal constitutional framework, a dual polity is established, consisting of a two-tiered government. The distribution of government powers, functions, and responsibilities is divided between the central and state levels without undue encroachment on each other's operational spheres. Specifically, Schedule 7 and Article 246 of the constitution delineate three lists, namely the Union List, State List, and Concurrent List, which detail the respective domains for the formulation of laws. India's federal system embodies a distinctive interplay of simplicity and complexity, with the unification of the concept of single citizenship and its incorporation into the basic structure of the constitution.


The legislative, executive, and judicial departments of government make up India's three pillars of power. The Indian Constitution calls for a system of checks and balances as well as a division of powers. The judiciary is essential in ensuring that the legislative and the executive stay within their constitutional bounds and refrains from using their authority arbitrarily. The independence of the judiciary from the legislative and executive departments is guaranteed under the Indian Constitution. 

Hierarchy of courts in India

1. Supreme Court: The supreme court was established on January 28, 1950, and is now the supreme court of the nation. As the top appeals court, it hears both original lawsuits and appeals to High Court rulings. The Chief Justice of India sits at the Supreme Court together with 25 other judges. The Supreme Court's powers are outlined in Articles 124 through 147 of the Indian Constitution.

2. High Courts: The highest judicial entity at the state level is the High Court. The authority of High Courts is outlined in Article 214. In India, there are 25 High Courts. High Courts only have civil or criminal jurisdiction if the State's lower courts are unable to handle the case. Even appeals from lesser courts may be heard by high courts. On advice from the Chief Justice of India, the Chief Justice of the High Court, and the Governor of the State, the President of India appoints judges to the High Court.

3. District Courts: The State Governments of India created District Courts for each district or group of districts based on the volume of cases and population density. District Courts, which directly report to the High Court, are bound by its rulings. Each district normally has two different kinds of courts:

a. Civil Courts b. Criminal Courts

District Judges are in charge of District Courts. Additional district judges and assistant district judges may be appointed, depending on the number of cases. District Court decisions are appealed to the High Court for consideration.

4. Lok Adalats/Village Courts: These village-level subsidiary courts offer a method for alternative conflict resolution in villages.

5. Tribunals: The Constitution gives the government the authority to establish specialised Tribunals to handle particular problems, such as tax disputes, real estate disputes, consumer disputes, etc.

Appellate jurisdiction is the ability of a court to rehear or review a case decided by a lower court. The Supreme Court and High Courts of India both have appellate authority. They have the power to either reverse or sustain lower court rulings.


Supreme Court - The Supreme Court of India has the authority to exercise original, appellate, and advisory jurisdiction, as follows:

Original Jurisdiction: The original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is conferred by Article 131. The court's original jurisdiction extends to disputes between the Union and the States and disputes between two or more States.

Appellate Jurisdiction: The Supreme Court's appellate jurisdiction is quite extensive, and appeals may be filed with the Apex Court where the matter involves a substantial question of law. These matters may be referred either by the sanction of the high court or under a Special Leave Petition, as outlined in Article 136(1).

Advisory Jurisdiction: In accordance with Article 143(1), the Supreme Court is also permitted to offer its advisory opinion on any case that the President refers to it. Any legal issue, one of public interest, or one involving a pre-constitutional treaty or agreement may warrant the President's request for an advisory opinion.

High Court - The high court has jurisdiction over the state's territory borders.

Original jurisdiction:In cases involving the upholding of fundamental rights, specific income issues, and elections to the State Legislature, the high court has original jurisdiction. According to Article 215, the high court has the authority to impose sanctions for contempt.

Appellate jurisdiction: The high courts have appellate authority over both civil and criminal cases. The high court can hear an appeal in cases when the sessions court sentences the defendant to at least seven years in jail or the death penalty. Furthermore, appeals to the high courts are permitted in cases containing important legal issues.

Writ jurisdiction: The high courts have the authority to issue writs to enact individual rights under Article 226 of the Constitution. It is important to remember that the high court has the authority to issue writs to enforce both legal and basic rights. 

Supervisory jurisdiction: The high courts have supervisory jurisdiction under Article 227 of the Constitution. All such courts and tribunals that are established within the high court's territorial authority are overseen by it. 

Review jurisdiction: The high courts are granted review authority by Article 226 and given the authority to examine their own decisions and decrees. When there has been a gross procedural error or when there has been a material error leading to a miscarriage of justice, the high courts will consider a review petition. 


In conclusion, India's judicial system has undergone significant transformations throughout history, with the Indian Constitution serving as the supreme foundation and nucleus of the entire justice system in India. As the country continues to rapidly evolve, there is a growing need for substantial reforms in the judicial system. The Indian government is actively working to address obstacles and alleviate backlog. Nevertheless, much more work remains to be done to ensure the effective functioning of India's justice system.


About the author

By Deepanjan Chakraborty 

currently persuing BBA LLB 6th semester

From Vivekananda institute of Professional Studies

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