Apex Court s views on Indianisation of the legal system

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Recently Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana had called for the “Indianisation” of the legal system to provide greater access to justice to the poor as the “need of the hour”. “When I say ‘Indianisation’, I mean the need to adapt to the practical realities of our society and localise our justice delivery systems… For example, parties from a rural place fighting a family dispute are usually made to feel out of place in the court,” the CJI had clarified.

Justice Nazeer, speaking on the ‘Decolonisation of the Indian Legal System’ at the National Council meeting of the Akhil Bharatiya Adhivakta Parishad in Hyderabad, wondered what the “future model of our legal system ought to be”.

Justice S Abdul Nazeer has made a call to "Indianize" the legal system by drawing inspiration from the ancient Indian legal philosophies and by getting rid of the "colonial psyche". He suggested that every Indian University must include Indian jurisprudence as a compulsory subject in Law degree courses.

"Great lawyers and judges are not born but are made by proper education and great legal traditions as per Manu, Kautilya, Katyayana, Brihaspati, Narada, Yagyavalkya and other legal giants of ancient India. The continued neglect of their great knowledge and adherence to colonial legal system is detrimental to the goals of our Constitution and against our national interest", Justice Abdul Nazeer said.

However, Supreme Court judgments themselves show that the Indian legal system had made an early start at consciously getting rid of the “crutches” of colonial influence. The evolution of laws in India has been through legislation and the binding precedents of the Supreme Court under Article 141 of the Constitution. The public interest litigation mechanism is truly Indian.

“We cannot allow our judicial thinking to be constricted by reference to the law as it prevails in England or for that matter in any other foreign country. We no longer need the crutches of a foreign legal order. We are certainly prepared to receive light from whatever source it comes from, but we have to build up our own jurisprudence,” the Supreme Court, speaking through then Chief Justice of India P.N. Bhagwati, had said with confidence in the M.C. Mehta case way back in 1986.

Again, the highest judiciary has far from indulged in a “continued neglect” of the legal greats of ancient India. Several judgments since the 1980s refer to the works of Manu and Kautilya.

Justice Nazeer finally urged "There can be no doubt that this colonial legal system is not suitable for the Indian population. The need of the hour is the Indianisation of the legal system. The eradication of such a colonial mindset may take time but I hope that my words will evoke some of you to think deeply about this issue and the steps that need to be taken to de- colonise the Indian legal system. Even though it may be an enormous and time-consuming effort, I firmly believe that it will would be the endeavour which could revitalise the Indian legal system and align it with the cultural, social and heritage aspects of a great nation and ensure much more robust delivery of justice".