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The Indian Law History dates back to ancient times. The age of the Vedas gave birth to Niti or Law. The Smritis and Puranas have mentioned Dandaniti or the Law of Punishments. The idea of Dandaniti was to maintain order in society through the means of penalty or punishments. 

The Early traces of Indian Law History:-

Some form of legal mechanisms existed in the Indus Valley Civilization. Even the Bronze Age traces the existence of some form of law. Our Hindu texts like the Upanishads, the Vedas, and other religious texts have mention of Law. The Indian Law History dates back to one of the World’s earliest Civilizations--The Indus Valley Civilization. 

The Indus Valley Civilization:-

Being one of the first civilizations, the Indus Valley Civilization has not left many traces of the law and legal mechanisms that were in place. Nevertheless, many historians and analysts believe that the Indus Valley civilization had a centralized authority in place. The system of governance was that of a theocracy. Many believe that there was the existence of mechanisms of penalties and punishments. Most cities of Mohenjodaro had a ruling governor. Although we have no knowledge of the Indus Valley Legal mechanisms, what we know is the once existing Holy rituals and priests. The priests held an important position in the Indus Valley society. 

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad:-

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is one of the principals and oldest Upanishads. It plays a significant role in India Law History. The other name of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is the "Great Forest Book". There is still a debate as to when the Brihadaryaka Upanishad was first written. The popular philologist Max Muller ascertained that the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad got drafted between 1000-800BCE roughly. This dates almost 900 years later the Indus Valley Civilization. This Upanishad discusses many topics related to spirituality, love, law, and astrology. Nevertheless, the most noteworthy one has been the chapter on Law and Learning. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad had its earliest explanations of Law. It read Law is the power of the kingdom, nor is there aught higher than the law. Therefore even a weak man rules a stronger with the help of the law as with the help of a king. Truth, therefore, is synonymous with law. And if a man declares what is true, they say he declares the law; and if he declares the law, they say he declares what is true. Thus both are the same(Anonymous). Nevertheless, in ancient times, the procedure for providing justice was very harsh and crude. The Indian Law History has records of gruesome penalties to offenders. 

Ancient India and the Emergence of the Hindu Law:-

Indian Law History is filled with accounts of complicated ancient Hindu laws. It is important to know that the word ‘Hindu’ in Hindu law does not denote religion. In the classical period, the Persians and the Greeks used the word Hindu to determine an ethnic group that lived along the river banks of the Indus. Gradually with the advent of Islamic Law and British rule, the word received a religious connotation. Nevertheless, the Hindu Law was a law that emerged right from the Vedic times. 

The Dharmashastra:-

In the Dharmashastras, the word ‘Hindu’ was an alien word. The classical period had its law revolve around the concept of Dharma or righteousness. The word Dharma also meant duty. The modern-day concept of law emerged from the idea of Dharma. Dharma is all-encompassing. The sources of Dharma are the Vedas, Shruti, Smriti, and Achara, or customary law. The Dharmashastra is not a legal document but consists of all righteous conduct. It can be stated theoretically that the Dharmashastra is the first book of law even if it is not legal documentation technically. The Dharmashastra or the rule or code of righteousness (shastra=rule/code) covered vast topics but revolved around three primary subject matters.  Among the three primary matters of the Dharmashastra, the foremost matter is that of Dharma or law in this case; the other two being artha and kama. The Dharmashastra is the ancient textbook of rightful conduct--it was a guide to many kings and kingdoms regarding state affairs, ritual, life-cycle rites, penalties or danda, and many others.  The legal contract was the Dharmashastra, by the mid-19th century. 

The Manusmriti:-

Another important text is the Manusmriti that mentions ancient laws. Many consider the Manusmriti as the book of law for Hindus. The Manusmriti is an important part of the Dharmashastra. For many years the Manusmriti remained an authoritative lawbook of the Hindus, the second best-sacred text, the first being the Vedas. The Manusmriti has early legal treatises and Hindu Law. It exemplifies how virtuous men should be. The Manusmriti also describes the governance system, social order, caste stratification, and the penalties as per caste. According to the Manusmriti, the penalties become severe as the social status weakens. The Manusmriti also entails rights, duties, and obligations. It also describes how a responsible ruler must behave and how he should punish the offenders. It has details on taxes and ritual practices. 

Ancient Indian Law History and Legal System:-

The Vedic Era witnessed the Indo-Aryan Rule. It is believed that the British termed this era the Dark Ages of History. Indian historians regard that age as the ‘Golden period’ of India with regards to law and administration despite the fact that the period was a Dark Age. It was considered as the peak period for India as the Indo-Aryans placed a system of self-governance and transformed India into a self-sufficient sub-continent. India under the Indo-Aryans generated the highest revenue even more than that of Great Britain and Ireland combined. The Indo-Aryans were great at people management and used human resources to the optimal state. Under the administration of the Indo-Aryans, India’s GDP was the highest--almost 25% of the world GDP! 

Ancient India under the rule of the Indo-Aryans had one of the efficient legal systems and legal mechanisms in place--with a well-functioning justice administration. Many Indian scholars and historians opine that the term ‘Dark Age’ was rather a British distortion. 

  It is to be noted that the Law of India was always highly enriched with various renowned practitioners practicing law. However, India did not have a common law system before the arrival of the British. 

The Advent of the British and a Common Law in India:-

The British for the ease of their administration brought a system of common law in India. The East India Company gradually replaced the Mughal administration in India. Post the First War of Independence that is the Great Revolt of 1857, a power transfer occurred. The British Crown became the direct administrators of India replacing the East India Company. The Supreme Court came into existence as the apex court barring Indian practitioners. The Legal Practitioners Act of 1846, was a landmark act of that time. It opened the doors of the legal profession to all alike, irrespective of nationality or religion. 

India had not codified its laws until now. As soon as the first Law Commission came into existence, the law got codified. As a matter of fact,  India now had a proper and systematic legal document in place.  Under the Chairmanship of Thomas Babington Macaulay of the First Law Commission, the IPC (1862) and CrPC came into place. Drafts were soon made of other acts like the  Evidence Act and Contracts Act of 1872.

Indian Law History Post Independence:-

India drafted one of the largest and complex Constitutions with the help of Dr. BR Ambedkar--one of the greatest scholars in India. The Constitution of India has been all-encompassing. As noted by many scholars, our Constitution is a “living document”. It is a living and breathing document that is very old and still relevant to a vast nation like India. The Constitution is very much living as it is open to amendments. The amendments address the changing needs and demands of our society. Our Constitution is in fact, very accommodative.

Post Independence, Indian law grew by the hands of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court of India is supreme in many ways. It is the highest court in India. The Supreme Court of India is also the most powerful in comparison to its foreign counterparts. The Supreme Court has 30 judges and a threefold jurisdiction. The Supreme Court is the keeper of justice. It is the vanguard of the constitution. The Supreme Court also guardians the Fundamental Rights of the people of India. 

Therefore, we see that India had a long history of Law. The modern law in India has drawn reference from the ancient Indian law books in many instances. Right from the colonial times to this day, the Indian law and legal mechanism have been the foundation of the Indian Democracy. It also mirrors the rich and unique history of India.

The Indian Law History dates back to ancient times. The age of the Vedas gave birth to Niti or Law. The Smritis and Puranas have mentioned Dandaniti or the Law of Punishments. The idea of Dandaniti was to maintain order in society through the means of penalty or punishments. 

The Early traces of Indian Law History:-

Some form of legal mechanisms existed in the Indus Valley Civilization. Even the Bronze Age traces the existence of some form of law. Our Hindu texts like the Upanishads, the Vedas, and other religious texts have mention of Law. The Indian Law History dates back to one of the World’s earliest Civilizations--The Indus Valley Civilization. 

The Indus Valley Civilization:-

Being one of the first civilizations, the Indus Valley Civilization has not left many traces of the law and legal mechanisms that were in place. Nevertheless, many historians and analysts believe that the Indus Valley civilization had a centralized authority in place. The system of governance was that of a theocracy. Many believe that there was the existence of mechanisms of penalties and punishments. Most cities of Mohenjodaro had a ruling governor. Although we have no knowledge of the Indus Valley Legal mechanisms, what we know is the once existing Holy rituals and priests. The priests held an important position in the Indus Valley society. 

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad:-

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is one of the principals and oldest Upanishads. It plays a significant role in India Law History. The other name of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is the "Great Forest Book". There is still a debate as to when the Brihadaryaka Upanishad was first written. The popular philologist Max Muller ascertained that the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad got drafted between 1000-800BCE roughly. This dates almost 900 years later the Indus Valley Civilization. This Upanishad discusses many topics related to spirituality, love, law, and astrology. Nevertheless, the most noteworthy one has been the chapter on Law and Learning. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad had its earliest explanations of Law. It read Law is the power of the kingdom, nor is there aught higher than the law. Therefore even a weak man rules a stronger with the help of the law as with the help of a king. Truth, therefore, is synonymous with law. And if a man declares what is true, they say he declares the law; and if he declares the law, they say he declares what is true. Thus both are the same(Anonymous). Nevertheless, in ancient times, the procedure for providing justice was very harsh and crude. The Indian Law History has records of gruesome penalties to offenders. 

Ancient India and the Emergence of the Hindu Law:-

Indian Law History is filled with accounts of complicated ancient Hindu laws. It is important to know that the word ‘Hindu’ in Hindu law does not denote religion. In the classical period, the Persians and the Greeks used the word Hindu to determine an ethnic group that lived along the river banks of the Indus. Gradually with the advent of Islamic Law and British rule, the word received a religious connotation. Nevertheless, the Hindu Law was a law that emerged right from the Vedic times. 

The Dharmashastra:-

In the Dharmashastras, the word ‘Hindu’ was an alien word. The classical period had its law revolve around the concept of Dharma or righteousness. The word Dharma also meant duty. The modern-day concept of law emerged from the idea of Dharma. Dharma is all-encompassing. The sources of Dharma are the Vedas, Shruti, Smriti, and Achara, or customary law. The Dharmashastra is not a legal document but consists of all righteous conduct. It can be stated theoretically that the Dharmashastra is the first book of law even if it is not legal documentation technically. The Dharmashastra or the rule or code of righteousness (shastra=rule/code) covered vast topics but revolved around three primary subject matters.  Among the three primary matters of the Dharmashastra, the foremost matter is that of Dharma or law in this case; the other two being artha and kama. The Dharmashastra is the ancient textbook of rightful conduct--it was a guide to many kings and kingdoms regarding state affairs, ritual, life-cycle rites, penalties or danda, and many others.  The legal contract was the Dharmashastra, by the mid-19th century. 

The Manusmriti:-

Another important text is the Manusmriti that mentions ancient laws. Many consider the Manusmriti as the book of law for Hindus. The Manusmriti is an important part of the Dharmashastra. For many years the Manusmriti remained an authoritative lawbook of the Hindus, the second best-sacred text, the first being the Vedas. The Manusmriti has early legal treatises and Hindu Law. It exemplifies how virtuous men should be. The Manusmriti also describes the governance system, social order, caste stratification, and the penalties as per caste. According to the Manusmriti, the penalties become severe as the social status weakens. The Manusmriti also entails rights, duties, and obligations. It also describes how a responsible ruler must behave and how he should punish the offenders. It has details on taxes and ritual practices. 

Ancient Indian Law History and Legal System:-

The Vedic Era witnessed the Indo-Aryan Rule. It is believed that the British termed this era the Dark Ages of History. Indian historians regard that age as the ‘Golden period’ of India with regards to law and administration despite the fact that the period was a Dark Age. It was considered as the peak period for India as the Indo-Aryans placed a system of self-governance and transformed India into a self-sufficient sub-continent. India under the Indo-Aryans generated the highest revenue even more than that of Great Britain and Ireland combined. The Indo-Aryans were great at people management and used human resources to the optimal state. Under the administration of the Indo-Aryans, India’s GDP was the highest--almost 25% of the world GDP! 

Ancient India under the rule of the Indo-Aryans had one of the efficient legal systems and legal mechanisms in place--with a well-functioning justice administration. Many Indian scholars and historians opine that the term ‘Dark Age’ was rather a British distortion. 

  It is to be noted that the Law of India was always highly enriched with various renowned practitioners practicing law. However, India did not have a common law system before the arrival of the British. 

The Advent of the British and a Common Law in India:-

The British for the ease of their administration brought a system of common law in India. The East India Company gradually replaced the Mughal administration in India. Post the First War of Independence that is the Great Revolt of 1857, a power transfer occurred. The British Crown became the direct administrators of India replacing the East India Company. The Supreme Court came into existence as the apex court barring Indian practitioners. The Legal Practitioners Act of 1846, was a landmark act of that time. It opened the doors of the legal profession to all alike, irrespective of nationality or religion. 

India had not codified its laws until now. As soon as the first Law Commission came into existence, the law got codified. As a matter of fact,  India now had a proper and systematic legal document in place.  Under the Chairmanship of Thomas Babington Macaulay of the First Law Commission, the IPC (1862) and CrPC came into place. Drafts were soon made of other acts like the  Evidence Act and Contracts Act of 1872.

Indian Law History Post Independence:-

India drafted one of the largest and complex Constitutions with the help of Dr. BR Ambedkar--one of the greatest scholars in India. The Constitution of India has been all-encompassing. As noted by many scholars, our Constitution is a “living document”. It is a living and breathing document that is very old and still relevant to a vast nation like India. The Constitution is very much living as it is open to amendments. The amendments address the changing needs and demands of our society. Our Constitution is in fact, very accommodative.

Post Independence, Indian law grew by the hands of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court of India is supreme in many ways. It is the highest court in India. The Supreme Court of India is also the most powerful in comparison to its foreign counterparts. The Supreme Court has 30 judges and a threefold jurisdiction. The Supreme Court is the keeper of justice. It is the vanguard of the constitution. The Supreme Court also guardians the Fundamental Rights of the people of India. 

Therefore, we see that India had a long history of Law. The modern law in India has drawn reference from the ancient Indian law books in many instances. Right from the colonial times to this day, the Indian law and legal mechanism have been the foundation of the Indian Democracy. It also mirrors the rich and unique history of India.

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