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Submitted to

Submitted by

Dr. Vandana Singh

(Associate professor)


Avinash Maurya
Roll no.-35 RMLNLU,

First of all, I would like to thank Dr. Vandana Singh for giving me this
opportunity to make the project on such an immense topic and all the support
and guidance that I have received from her, without which this project could not
have turned into a reality. I would also like to thank all my colleagues and
seniors for providing me support and material facts and figures related to this
topic. Last but not the least, I would like to thank my parents for providing me
appropriate guidance and support to prepare the project. All the abovementioned people have very whole-heartedly helped me to make this project in
the present shape.





Prior to the establishment of a proper system regarding the administration of
justice in India, there was an extremely decadent system in place whose very
existence itself was a grave injustice. People could neither access judicial
institutions easily, nor could they depend on these to give them a fair and
equitable judgement. In addition to that, there was not much proportionality
between the offence committed and punishment awarded (Retributional Justice
was gravely lacking, and was one of the many reasons for people to grow
disillusioned with the legal system in place.)
Furthermore, corruption was rampant, and the local law officers (Kazis, Muftis
and the Maulavis) were very prone to deciding cases in favour of people who
could pay for the judgements to go in their favour (which entirely defeated the
function of a courts existence, violating the principle of natural justice and
sending a highly incorrect message to the public). The Mughal Empire, when it
was at the height of its power, had employed two officers in order to conduct
administration in the provinces also known as Subhahs, namely the Nawab and
the Diwan. The Nawab handled matters of military and criminal justice and law
order; whilst the Diwan. Handled mattes with regard to revenue collection and
administration of civil justice and revenue cases or disputes1.
But even they were extremely inefficient in carrying out their judicial
responsibilities. One can fairly deduce from their modus operandi that they
were highly disinterested in the performance of these functions (their lack of
efficiency can also be attributed to, too many functions in their hands leading to
a scenario where they over worked). Each would delegate their responsibility to
their assistants (Daroga-adalat-al-alia as the assistant for the Nawab, and the
Daroga-i-adalat, for the Diwan). But they were again very corrupt due to
acceptance of bribes and money in order to adjudicate matters.
Once the East India Company attained the right of Diwani (which gave them
the powers of the Diwan-to adjudicate civil and revenue matters and collect
revenue, keeping any surplus after collection for themselves) for an annual sum
of Rs. 26 Lakhs, they brought in Lord Hastings (after the EEIC2 completely
failed in carrying out its duties under Diwani) to turn things around. They
needed him to create a uniform system, a system that would be people friendly
1 Prof. M. P. Jain, Outlines of Indian Legal & Constitutional History, (6th Edition), Ch 7, Pg 54
2 English East India Company.

and serve justice according to the natural principles of justice. Furthermore they
needed a system, which was simple, and efficient in order to serve the following
two purposes:
Collection of revenue for the EEIC
Creating a uniform and easily understandable system of justice that was people
friendly and that aided not just the British nationals, but also the natives living
within their territories.
This was the job entrusted to Warren Hastings, when he was the Governor of
Calcutta. He was asked by the Court of Directors to employ methods that would
reduce the oppression of the Zamindars and other officials who were over-using
their power for all the wrong reasons, thereby causing undue pain and harm to
the local peasants. It must be noted that the British were extremely prudent in
realising the unmistakable link between revenue and civil matters. Having this
thought in mind, helped them ensure that not only their aims in India were
reached but more importantly the interests of the people were neither neglected
nor forgotten. These were the conditions to which Warren Hastings was
introduced and given the task of devising a new legal system, which ultimately
came to be known as the Adalat System.

Warren Hastings

Warren Hastings (1732-1818) was the first governor-general of British India.

Initially he was employed (1750) as a clerk by the East India Company, but he
soon became manager of a trading post in Bengal. When Calcutta was captured
(1756) by Siraj-ud-Daula, Hastings was taken captive . But he was soon
released. After the British recaptured the city in 1757, he was made British
resident at Murshidabad. His good service and knowledge of the peoples
condition there brought appointment to the Calcutta council (1761), but he
returned to England (1764) disgusted with administrative corruption in Bengal3.
Warren Hastings came into a situation of turmoil and disarray with respect to
judicial institutions and their administering of justice. The institutions that
existed were corrupt and inefficient. Moreover, they were inaccessible by the
common masses who, were forced to incur a great expense and travel great
distances in order to attain justice. This was the situation that Warren Hastings
was given the mission of turning around. His attempts to reform the judicial
system were categorised in two plans:
Judicial Plan of 1772
Judicial Plan of 1774

Judicial Plan of 1772

His administrative reforms included re-structuring the area, Districts being the
smallest unit. Now the areas of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa were all divided into
districts with an English Company servant in each district behaving as the
Collector of that district for the collection of revenues. The judicial scheme was
integrated with this revenue collection method.
There was a basic Small Cause Adalat, set up in order deal with petty cases or
disputes that came up, and this was up to the value of Rs. 10. Within each
district or Pergunnah, the head farmer (the eldest farmer of the district) was
given the duty of adjudicating and delivering justice for these small disputes. It
must be noted here that, in such a system where the person administering justice
was chosen from within a small community, there was an in-built system of
checks-and-balances. That is, there was less likelihood of the head farmer to act
arbitrarily as he had to live amongst the people he is administering justice to.
Hence any act or omission on his part was closely observed and he could be
brought to task.
Above this Small causes Adalat a court known as the Mofussil Diwani Adalat
was established in each of the above districts. It was presided over by the
Collector. The decisions of the court up to the monetary value of Rs. 500 were
final. This court was given the responsibility of handling all civil cases. It
handled matters such as property, marriage disputes, inheritance related
disputes, debts, contracts, settling accounts. However, this court did not handle
case of succession to Zamindari and talukdari property. This specific function
was dealt with by the Governor General and Council, only; no one else was
allowed this function4
With regards to what law would be followed, Hastings decided that Muslim law
would be followed for the Muslims, Hindu law for the Hindus. More
specifically he stated that the Koran would be followed for Muslims and the
Shastras would followed for the Hindus. Now in order to assist the Englishmen
who acted as the collectors in administering the respective laws (as they were
unaware of the local laws being Englishmen who were barely acquainted with
English law itself as they were traders by profession and not lawyers), there
were the local law officers instituted to aid them. These law officers were the
Kazis for the Muslims, and the Pundits for the Hindus.
At the same level the Mofussil Fozdari Adalat or Mofussil Nizamat Adalat was
set up. This court was to deal with the administration of Criminal Justice. The
Collector was expected to undertake a sort of general supervision of the Adalat,
seeing that equitable justice was administered, sessions of the court were held
regularly and that the judgements rendered were impartial and not unfair. But
4 M. P. Jain, Outlines of Indian Legal and Constitutional History, (6th Edition) Pg 57.

over and above this, the Muslim law officers, the Kazis, Muftis, and Maulavis
were to interpret and apply Mohammedan Law to the cases at hand. They were
to pronounce the futwa5 and give the judgement.
An important point to note regarding this separation of courts handling criminal
and civil cases is that it certainly maximized the efficiency of the court and
aided speedy rendering of justice. Furthermore it checked too much power
being vested in one judicial institution itself.
Above these three courts were Sadar Diwani Adalat and Sadar Nizamat Adalat.
The Sadar Diwani Adalat heard appeals from the Mofussil Diwani Adalat of
cases valuing over Rs. 500. It was presided over by the Governor and the
members of the council. The court fees charged was about 5% of the value of
the case for appeal, and the appeal had to be made within two months of the
decision being given by the Moffusil Diwani Adalat
The Sadar Nizamat Adalats main function was to:
Approve the death sentences and property forfeiture,
Re-look and if need be revise decisions of the Moffusil Nizamat Adalat and,
For a death sentence, the warrant for such a sentence was prepared here and
given to the Nizam, who was the head of the court, for his signature.
The East India Company had only the rights of Diwani and therefore their role
in criminal judicature was minimal. It was restricted to the extent of the
Governor and Council exercising supervisory control over the courts
functioning. In truth, the British had no right to administer criminal justice as
that still came under the purview of the Nizam and his assistant.
There was no need for the company to even worry about it. But due to the
abhorrent nature of the crimes committed and the lack of interest in addressing
these grave injustices, the British took this responsibility as well. The Nawab at
the time was a minor, and he was more than happy to hand over this function to
the British. All the above courts were to be open courts to promote free and fair
justice. They were to maintain proper records and registers, which were to be
given to the Sadar Adalats. Also special consideration was given to tackling the
problem of dacoity. Any dacoit found could be executed in their villages,
which shall be fined and their families made slaves to the state 6 Though this
was harsh Hastings believed this would be the best way to tackle the problem.
The most striking feature of this plan was that of the allowance of separate laws
for the Hindus and Muslims. There was also an Office of the Remembrancer;
who had to compile data of all cases at all levels in the given area where he sat (
each district). He was under the direct supervision of the Governor-General, and
5 Futwa is the Urdu word denoting the law applicable to the circumstances of the case. It was to be according
to Mohammedan law.

6 M. P. Jain, Outlines of Indian Legal and Constitutional History, (6th Edition) Pg 59.

he possessed records of all cases at all levels, including the lowest of levels. If
the Remembrancer found any court not functioning properly or a case not being
decided fairly, he sent a report to the Governor-General who then scrutinized
the report and the case/court. If any discrepancy was found he could ask the
Nawab Naib Nazim to ask the court to function properly, or tell the court to rejudge the case correctly
But one of the pitfalls of the plan was that there was far too much power vested
in the hands of the Collector, and this was a bad thing as the collector could
misuse his powers, which would in turn defeat the purpose of justice. In order
to tackle the problem of corruption amongst the native law officers, Warren
Hastings ensured that officers were given a proper regular salary. This was to
ensure a good level of objectivity in delivering judgements that are fair and
unbiased. Which is what justice should be.
Furthermore there was a pre-set court fee amount, which was set by the
government and not the judge himself so as to ensure easily accessible justice
and to prevent corruption even amongst the judges. Also it was to ensure that
the judges charge reasonable amounts and not exorbitant rates. Another problem
regarding this plan was that of the scarcity of adalats, making justice difficult to
access for the people who needed it. Taking these issues in mind, Warren
Hastings sought to improve this plan further and did so with his next set of
judicial reform.

Judicial Plan of 1774

First, Warren Hastings sought to tackle the problem of paucity of the adalats to
which the people could approach. He did so by dividing the districts of
Calcutta, Orissa and Bihar into six divisions. The Division Headquarters of each
division included: Calcutta, Burdwan, Murshidabad, Dinajpore, Dacca and
Patna. Each of these divisions thus consisted of several districts. From these
districts the collector was removed and a new post called the Diwan or Amil
was created. This Amil was given the functions of:
Collecting revenue, and
Presiding over the Moffusil Diwani Adalat
Now in each division, a Provincial Council was instituted to hear appeals from
the MDA and also to supervise collection of revenue. This provincial council
comprised of four or five company servants. If there was a case valued above
Rs 1000, the case could be appealed from the Provincial Council to the Sadar
Diwani Adalat. This provincial council also exercised the original jurisdiction to
hear cases that arise within the limits of the town where it was seated. So not
only was it a link between the MDA and SDA by exercising appellate
jurisdiction, but it also had the power to be a court of first instance.

Another change made in this plan was that any case in the MDA presided over
by the Amil could be appealed to the Provincial Council; there was no more the
pecuniary limit of the case being above Rs. 500 to move from the MDA to the
Sadar Diwani Adalat.
Another major reform of this plan was that of the signing of the death warrants.
Earlier the Nizam had to sign the warrant (according to the plan of 1772). Due
to the time taken to get this warrant signed and the fact that the Nizam rarely
attended his work, Warren Hastings managed to convince the Nizam to delegate
this function of signing the warrant to his Deputy, the Daroga-Adalat-Al-Alia,
and to further allow the governor, to supervise the functioning of the Daroga.
This judicial plan however, was not without its flaws. Hastings himself foretold
the corruption and the internal destruction that would be created due to the
existence of the Provincial Council. He reasoned that the collector according to
the plan of 1772 was a petty officer, who if he committed any such fraudulent
practices could be checked by his seniors. But the provincial council was made
up of fairly senior officers of the EIC, and little could be said or done to stop
them from misusing their powers7.

Lord Cornwallis

Lord Cornwallis was the first Governor-General under the new Regulating Act
of 1773 (which also allowed the creation of the Supreme Court in Calcutta).
During his tenure he was able to balance the interests of the EEIC as well as the
interests of the people. He didnt just focus on the EEICs goals, or the
repayment of the loan, which the EEIC had taken from the crown. He was able
to defy the mercenary interests of the East India Company when they conflicted
with state policy8 His tenure extended from 1786-1793, and this period was
exceptionally productive in terms of the number of reforms brought out to
better the judicial system.
Lord Cornwallis, introduced reforms in all spheres possible, in civil and
criminal judicature, in re-organising the districts and introducing for the first
time the principle of administration according to the law 9. His contributions to
the existing judicial system can broadly be classified under the following three
judicial plans:
Judicial Plan of 1787
7 M. P. Jain, Outlines of Indian Legal and Constitutional History, (6th Edition) Pg 61.
9 M. P. Jain, Outlines of Indian Legal and Constitutional History, (6th edition), Pg 119.

Judicial Plan of 1790

Judicial Plan of 1793

Judicial Plan of 1787

The main area that was emphasized during this period was economy. This was
because the East India Company was in the process of repaying a loan to the
crown. So any money that could be used for this was eagerly sought and a lot of
cost cutting measures were taken. The plan of 1787 was introduced through two
8th June 1787, which dealt with revenue administration,
27th June 1787, which dealt with the administration of justice.
Lord Cornwallis wanted to achieve fair justice. The only way in his opinion to
do this was to increase the salaries of the collectors by further reducing the
number of districts from 36 to 23. Another stipulation was that each of these
districts would have a collector. This Collector would be in charge of collecting
revenue and administering justice. He would be a servant of the East India
Company. There was a separate tribunal created to handle any revenue related
disputes called the Mal Adalat and the Collector presided over this court.
Furthermore he would also preside over the Mofussil Diwani Adalat, for all the
civil matters that arose.
With regard to criminal judicature, he would function as the Magistrate (the
person who took cognisance of the criminal affairs), in order to issue warrants
for peoples arrest in order to be able to send them to the Mofussil Nizamat
Adalat. But despite this, the collector could not sit for all the cases all the time.
The collector was given the allowance of meting out punishments of up to 15
days imprisonment or 15 strokes or both.
With regard to the Sadar Diwani Adalat, the Governor-General and council
presided over it. The Chief Kazi, Chief Mufti and 2 Maulavis for cases, where
Muslim law was to be applied, aided them. And where cases where Hindu law
was to be applied, the Governor-General and Council were to be aided by
A new office of the Registrar was created for petty civil cases for cases less than
Rs. 200. But the registrars judgement was given only on the approval of the
Collector. The Supreme Court of Calcutta dealt with British nationals directly,
but if there was a criminal case against the Britisher, a complaint could be
lodged with the magistrate. The magistrate would then issue a warrant for his
arrest, after which he would verify the existence of a valid claim against the
If the claim was valid, the person and the injured party along with all the
evidence were sent to the Supreme Court at Calcutta. But if no such case was
there against the Britisher, the case was dismissed then and there. Other
Europeans were equated with the Indian natives, and were therefore denied
direct access to the Supreme Court in Calcutta. They had to go through the
normal court system or hierarchy followed by the Indians.
This plan was highly inefficient as it was set up in such a manner that it was

bound to fail. The collector was vested with too much power, so much so that
he was over-worked. Secondly the chances of him misusing his power were
very high. Another problem was that of the overlapping criminal and civil

Judicial Plan of 1790

This plan aimed at changing the system of courts followed and the laws
implemented in the criminal justice system. Also a new hierarchy of courts was
established. It was a Three-Limbs type of arrangement. At the lowest level was
the Magistrate in the districts. Above this was the Court of Circuit and then
finally the Sadar Nizamat Adalat. The Governor-General and Council presided
over the SDA aided by Muslim law officers (Kazis and Muftis). It was to meet
once a week. The trials referred to the Sadar Adalat were to be reviewed by the
Muslim law officers who would provide the fatwa, which was then presented to
the Sadar Nizamat Adalat for the final sentence.
Regarding the Court of Circuit, it was composed of two company servants, and
was established in every division. The court was not a stationary court but a
court that moved from district to district, bringing justice to the people. There
were two-goal deliveries annually-from the 1st March and 1st October. The
court was to visit each district twice a year to dispose of criminal cases. The
Muslim law officers could now be removed only by the Governor General and
council due to misconduct (in order to give security of tenure for them to ensure
their loyalty and efficiency).
The collector in each district still acted as magistrate, but now he was to arrest
the accused person and then hold an inquiry into the circumstances of the case.
Should any discrepancy be there, and the accused person was really guilty, the
collector could keep this person in his custody, pending the arrival of the Court
of Circuit. (or release him on bail) The collector had to keep all the information
and evidence ready for the court of circuit to give the judgement. The office of
the Remembrancer was abolished.
Judicial Plan of 1793
This plan entailed a complete restructuring of the judicial system. It brought in
more accountability into the system. Also it marked a great reduction in the
number of courts. Let us take a close look at the points stipulated under this
Re-organisation of the Mofussil Diwani Adalat- the collector was no longer
involved in the administration of justice. A civil servant of the English East
India Company took his place for this function and his job was restricted to
solely revenue collection. The administration of Revenue disputes was given to
the Mofussil Diwani Adalat. The Mal Adalat was abolished.



All cases had to be dealt in Open Court 10. There could be no correspondence of
any sort between the judges and any of the parties involved in the case.
The Approach to Justice- everybody had the right to approach the court either
personally or through a Vakeel11. This move simply showed the modernisation
in the seeking of justice. There were a codified set of rules for court procedure
to be followed in court, which were followed. All cases approaching the
Mofussil Diwani Adalat were barred by limitation after 12 years.
Executive under the Judicial Control- No member of the English East India
Company or member of the executive had any sort of extinguishment of
liability whatsoever. They did not have any such immunity from being tried
under the law.
The distinction between British and Indians was limited- if the case was less
than the amount of Rs.500 the British could be tried in the Mofussil Diwani
Cases valued up to Rs. 50 were be dealt by the Munsifs, who were native
landlords or other such important farmers. They were not given any formal
salary. And 1 Anna of every Rupee was given as Commission to them. The
Registrars court heard cases up to the value of Rs. 200.

Impact of Judicial Policies of the British Era on the Current

Judicial System in India
The Laws


The judicial system as we know it today, did not unexpectedly appear post
independence from the British regime12. It evolved largely due to the impetus
and working of the British administration, whose motives for laying the
foundation for our legal system were admittedly not for our own management,
but for their own ease where justice and law and order were concerned. One of
the primary concerns for the British rulers was that there were semantic and
cultural differences in this country that were far beyond their understanding.
Each religion had its own peculiar way for dealing with the same kind of
offences, ranging from very severe to very lenient. Women and children were
rarely even protected by these ways. There was also no standard per say for:
Evidence gathering/recording
Admissibility of Evidence
10 In full view of the public to increase accountability and reduce malpractices in serving justice to the people.
11 A person with full legal knowledge equivalent to a lawyer in present day terms.
12 S.D. Sharma, Administration of Justice in Ancient India, New Delhi: Harman Publishing House, 1988,


Procedures to be followed while meeting out justice

Qualifications as to who could arbitrate disputes
What parameters and laws would apply while resolving disputes
What, if any, were the exceptions to these laws and parameters
It became clear, very early on, that because of Indias religious and cultural
diversity, the British had a very complicated task where deciding which law to
apply and to whom. They had to create a system that would ensure justice,
while ensuring that there is no offence is caused to the customs and religious
sentiments of the party to the dispute, or his/her community. Lord Hastings
plans were very successful in this regard as they maintained the societal
equilibrium desired by the British; it became easier to administer Hindu law to
Hindus, and Muslim law to Muslims, and thus ensured that India could be ruled
smoothly without any major upset.
This was not enough to tackle the defects of our highly unorganised judicial
system, where justice was usually served by the King or the local village head
or in most cases, the religious leader. In the years 1780 and 1872, the doctrine
of equity, good conscience and justice was added to the Judicial systems of
Bombay, Madras and Punjab respectively. Later, via the Central Provinces
Laws Act, 1875, as under Section 6, this doctrine was made the standard for
adjudication of disputes in all provinces of the British Indian empire, whereby
Judges would use their reasoning and logic and moral conscience along with the
relevant personal law (Hindu or Muslim or the like) in deciding the dispute 13.
Where the cases in India were appealed and would reach the English Courts,
such as the Privy Council, they too were to pay heed to Indian customs and
traditions when deciding the issues14.
There was no standard in the judgments passed and the concept of precedents
(stare decisis) was highly diluted because each court gave its own decision
based on the advices of the religious advisor, in order to maintain peace. More
often than not, the judgments were unfair and some were even patently
arbitrary, being made according to the whims of the advisor. This is why the
British felt the need to create some standard. They did so by codifying existing
practices and customs into one document and then formally enacting it as a law.
These documents were prepared by a learned Law Commission, which was first
created under the Charter Act of 1833. The first Law Commission was duly
created in 1835, with its control under the Governor-General of India 15. Some of
13 See link:

14 See the cases of Khwaja Muhammad khan vs Husaini Begum, (1910) 12 BOMLR 638 and Srinath Roy vs
Dinabandhu Sen, (1914) 16 BOMLR 901.

15 As stipulated in the Charter Act of 1833.


the contributions of the four pre-independence law commissions of India were:

First Law Commission, though largely unsuccessful, managed to begin to
codify what is the Indian Penal Code today.
Second Law Commission completed the codification of the Penal Code, and
went on to codify the Civil Procedure Code, Law of Limitation, and the
Criminal Procedure Codes, as we know them today16.
Third Law Commission started off by drafting a code for succession &
inheritance for Indians who were not Hindus or Muslims. They then moved on
to revise the Criminal Procedure Code suggested by the earlier commission. It
then drafted the Contract Law, Negotiable instruments law, Insurance Law,
Evidence Law, and Property Law that we use today17.
Fourth Law Commission made revisions to both the Civil Procedure and the
Criminal Procedure Codes, while also codifying the law on Negotiable
Instruments and Transfer of Property & Easements Laws. They also drafted a
code on Trusts Law.
The Court Structure
The Court structure that we have today, in addition to the actual laws itself are
greatly due to the efforts of the British Government. Their motives for creating
such a large system that has continued to exist well after independence may not
have been the most noble; it is however impossible to deny or discount their
presence in our legal system today. What existed prior to the modifications and
consolidations by the British hand, was a largely unorganised area which gave
decisions that were neither fair, nor could be brought to scrutiny via any
standard. The very enactments of the British legislature in India are to be
credited for the setting up of a definite court structure.
The following points summarize the exact evolution of the current hierarchy of
courts, in the form that they existed prior to Independence18
The Regulating Act, 1773: In 1773, the King promulgated the Regulating Act,
1773, which posited the setting up of a Supreme Court of Judicature at Calcutta.
The Letters Patent Appeal was issued in 1774 and this new court was made a

16 Eugen Lang, Maurice. Codification In The British Empire And America. Lawbook Exchange. pp. 78
92. ISBN 978-1-58477-620-8.

17 Char, S. V., Desika (1983). Readings in the constitutional history of India, 1757-1947. Delhi: Oxford.
ISBN 0-19-561264-7.

18 Supreme Court Summary of the Evolution of the Judiciary, (visited on October 1, 2014).

court of record with the power to hear all matters and pass orders and
judgments for the same. The Supreme Courts at Madras and Bombay were set
up in 1800 and 1823 respectively19.
The High Courts Act, 1861: With this Act, the Supreme Courts were abolished
and in their place, High Courts were established at Calcutta, Madras and
Bombay. They had the status of being the Highest Courts in the respective
The Federal Court of India: Under the Government of India Act, 1935, the High
Courts continued their existence. The only difference was that they were made
subordinate to one main Court namely the Federal Court of India. This Court
adjudicated and resolved conflicts between the High Courts of different
provinces and settled points of law that were in doubt. It was also empowered
to resolve disputes between the provinces itself.
Post Independence the Constitution of India, has a similar hierarchy, with the
Supreme Court on top (replacing the Federal Court of India) and the various
state High Courts (replacing the Provincial High Courts), with various other
courts under the High Courts.


During British rule, it can be said that India went through a great deal of
experimentation and empirical learning. Many courts were created and then
abolished and replaced with new mechanisms to resolve disputes. The British
rule in India, had some very positive impacts on our legal system, and the
manner in which we administer justice:
Rule of law along with the importance of an independent judiciary were
introduced through the British regime. The concept of separation of powers was
enunciated and enhanced in India through their laws and policies.
The federal form of governance, vis a vis the Provinces, and the Provincial
Courts with the Federal Court as the final authority, was brought into India.
The administration of justice even at district level, was a concept introduced by
the British. They increased the access to justice, permeating its reach to the
smallest parts of the country.
Through the Law Commissions India finally had a definite set of laws that
could be applied uniformly20.
The real effect was felt post-independence through our Constitution laws.
19 Id. at 23.
20 Dyanesh Kumar, Essay on the Impact of British Rule on Indian Administration, (Sep, 27, 2011),

However, this idea of a fair and impartial system where the judiciary was
independent from the other organs of state, came to India only via the British.
The legal system that existed when the British came to India, was in great need
of reform and thus the British gave our legal system the much needed change.
Through their experimentation, the Constituent Assembly was able to see what
new practices and what old Ancient practices could be could be coupled to form
our new legal system after independence.
It is therefore concluded that the contributions of the British are so important
that the very existence of our judiciary and legal system can be credited to
them. The true impact of the British efforts can thus be summarised by saying
that they revamped our legal system to make it fairer and more accessible to all

M P Jain, Outlines of Indian legal and constitutional history (6th edn,
Lexis Nexis 2008) 66.
M. P. Jain, Outlines of Indian Legal and Constitutional History, (6th
S.D. Sharma, Administration of Justice in Ancient India, New Delhi:
Harman Publishing House, 1988.