Rule of Law in Colonialism

  • Shashank Shekhar Kunwar
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  • Shashank Shekhar Kunwar

    Student at Symbiosis Law School, Nagpur, India

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Rule of law is the supreme manifestation of human civilization and culture and is a new ‘lingua franca’ of Global moral thought. The phrase ‘Rule of law’ has been derived from the French ‘la principle de legalite’ which implies the principle of legality. It implies that ‘a government should always be based on the known principles of law and not on the will of men.’ In other words, the concept of ‘la principle de legalite’ is opposed to arbitrary powers. It is a legal principle, of general application, which is sanctioned by the recognition of authorities and by whom it is sanctioned is also subject to that ordinary law of the land. The evolution of rule of law in Indian tradition can be traced back to Upanishad, in classical India there were two major sources of law Smirtis I.e. Manu Smirti and Custom, in which the Smirtis were the sources of codified laws and Custom was the source of non codified laws. As indigenous laws were not codified and its interpretation varied according to ruler to ruler and judge to judge. In contrast with the west yet there was no codification but still there was fixed body of laws emphasized on the unique interpretation. Hence, Zygmunt Bauman regards law as characteristics of modernity and interpretation was the characteristic of post-modernity. Though the Muslim rule in India couldn’t altered its basic structure But, the Indian traditional rule of law in India was deeply affected by the British colonialism. Initially, they came in India by the permission of the then ruler Jahangir for the purpose of trade and commerce and this was also the period of constant supervision and familiar with the Indian culture and the indigenous laws of the country and later on they felt Indian rules were too chaotic and a country based on non codified laws, thought incomprehensible in the good governance of any country still they didn’t want to introduce the English laws too early at the place of indigenous laws rather they prefer to introduce the modern law based on Indian ethos. Hence, this research project starts with the introduction of Rule of law, and the various definition given by the many thinkers and we will see the development, that how they developed their laws in Indian society at the same time see the encounter of indigenous laws and for the deeper understanding of colonial rule of law, we will see the two major cases one is the habeas corpus case and another one is the case of the crown v Summad and at this paper ends with the conclusion.


Research Paper


International Journal of Law Management and Humanities, Volume 4, Issue 3, Page 3907 - 3918


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