Law of India

The Constitution of India is the longest written constitution for a country, containing 450 articles, 12 schedules, 101 amendments and 117,369 words.

Laws of India refers to the system of law in modern India. India maintains a hybrid legal system with a mixture of civil, common law and customary, Islamic ethics, or religious law within the legal framework inherited from the colonial era and various legislation first introduced by the British are still in effect in modified forms today. Since the drafting of the Indian Constitution, Indian laws also adhere to the United Nations guidelines on human rights law and the environmental law. Certain international trade laws, such as those on intellectual property, are also enforced in India.

Indian personal law is fairly complex, with each religion adhering to its own specific laws. In most states, registering of marriages and divorces is not compulsory. Separate laws govern Hindus including Sikhs, Jain's and Buddhist, Muslims, Christians, and followers of other religions. The exception to this rule is in the state of Goa, where a uniform civil code is in place, in which all religions have a common law regarding marriages, divorces, and adoption. In the first major reformist judgment for the last decade, the Supreme Court of India banned the Islamic practice of "Triple Talaq" (divorce by uttering of the "Talaq" word thrice by the husband).[1] The landmark Supreme Court of India judgment was welcomed by women activists across India.[2]

As of January 2017, there were about 1,248 laws.[3] However, since there are Central laws as well as State laws, it is difficult to ascertain their exact numbers as on a given date and the best way to find the Central Laws in India is from the official website.[4]


Ancient India represented a distinct tradition of law, and had a historically independent school of legal theory and practice. The Dharmaśāstras played an important role. The Arthashastra, dating from 400 BC and the Manusmriti, from 100 AD, were influential treatises in India, texts that were considered authoritative legal guidance.[5] Manu's central philosophy was tolerance and pluralism, and was cited across Southeast Asia.[6]

Early in this period, which culminated in the creation of the Gupta Empire, relations with ancient Greece and Rome were not infrequent. The appearance of similar fundamental institutions of international law in various parts of the world show that they are inherent in international society, irrespective of culture and tradition.[7] Inter-State relations in the pre-Islamic period resulted in clear-cut rules of warfare of a high humanitarian standard, in rules of neutrality, of treaty law, of customary law embodied in religious charters, in exchange of embassies of a temporary or semi-permanent character.[8]

After the Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent, Islamic Sharia law spread with the establishment of Delhi Sultanate, Bengal Sultanate and Gujarat Sultanate.[9] The Corps of Forty also played a major role by establishing some Turkish law in India.[10]

In the 17th century, when the Mughal Empire became the world's largest economy, its sixth ruler, Aurangzeb, compiled the Fatawa-e-Alamgiri with several Arab and Iraqi Islamic scholars, which served as the main governing body in most parts of South Asia.[11][12]

With the advent of the British Raj, there was a break in tradition, and Hindu and Islamic law were abolished in favour of British common law.[13] As a result, the present judicial system of the country derives largely from the British system and has few, if any, connections to Indian legal institutions of the pre-British era.[14]