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India - Legal System

The main sources of law in India are the Constitution, statutes (legislation), customary law, and case law, and case law. The statutes are enacted by Parliament, state legislatures and union territory legislatures.

Because India is a land of diversity, local customs and conventions that are not against statue or morality or otherwise undesirable are, to a limited extent, also recognized and taken into account by the courts while they administer justice in certain spheres. Also, people of different religions and traditions are governed by different sets of personal law with respect to matters relating to family affairs.

A unique feature of the India Constitution is the judicial system. A single integrated systems of courts administers both union and state laws. The Supreme Court of India, seated in New Delhi, is the highest body in the entire judicial system. Each state or a group of states had High Court under which there is a hierarchy of subordinate courts.

The Chief Justice and the other judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President. The Supreme Court has original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction. Its original jurisdiction extends to the enforcement of fundamental rights given by the Constitution and to any dispute among states and the Government of India. The decisions of the Supreme Court are binding on all courts within the territory of India.

While the judicial process is considered fair, a large backlog of cases to be heard and frequent adjournments can result in considerable delay before a case is closed. However, matters of priority and public interest may be dealt with expeditiously, and interim relief may be allowed in other cases, where appropriate.

At the village level, people are encouraged to solve their local problems with help of "Panchayats." The Panchayat is a group of five respected people of the village whose ruling on the matter is final.

To encourage trade and industry to have recourse to arbitration rather than time-consuming court litigation, the existing arbitration law is proposed to be revised under the Arbitration and Conciliation Bill 1995.

 

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