16 January, 2021

And Justice For None...

An outdated and unwieldy legal system cries out for urgent reform

Illustrations by Ajit Ninan
And Justice For None...

Irrelevant, archaic, often nonsensical. Draconian and harmful. A time-consuming edifice that revels in red tape. That’s the Indian legal system in a nutshell. If that sounds too harsh, consider these statistics: about two-thirds of our laws have not been used in independent India. About 10 per cent of them can be scrapped right away. And most of the 40 per cent in use currently have so many obsolete and conflicting provisions that they serve far more as instruments of harassment than effective means of justice.

With good reason. The oldest law in the country has been in operation for over a century and half. The one-sentence 1836 Bengal District Act empowers the Bengal government to create as many zillas as it wants. The Act still exists. As do a host of others like the Indian Post Office Act of 1885, the Indian Evidence Act of 1850 or the Indian Serais Act of 1887. Most of them cater to a colonial and feudal socio-economic environment. And they exist side by side, mostly in complete disharmony, with the Acts passed by independent...



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