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Criminal Justice in Ancient India

Haripada Chakraborti (Author)
Synopsis The richness of Indian culture has left its stamp in all institutions designed by the mind of ancient India, and the judicial system formulated by ancient India is no exception to this general rule. Ancient India employs the term ‘Dharma’ to signify the concept of law, and this law is comprehensive in character in as much as, it brings under its orbit not only the laws of physical science, but also social laws, which the experience, wisdom and intution of highly developed personalities could discover as unalternable. Though the body of laws or ‘Dharma’ was traditional in character and from that point of view could not be altered by direct changes introduced by the State, yet law was continuously being made by the judges through interpretation. The institution of justice depended much on the part played by the jury and the jury was appointed from members of the society having proven character and command over haw. All cares were taken to keep the judiciary free from the influence of the monarch and other powers of vested interest. The procedure of criminal law was equally significant. No one was exempted from punishment and it was also prescribed that if persons of a responsible position and social status and officers in the administration commit an offence they were required to undergo punishment more severe than that meted out to an ordinary citizen committing the same offence. Though ancient India had stated much about criminal justice and judiciary system, no author has as yet made an attempt to collect all the available materials from administration of criminal justice as prevalent in ancient India. Starting from an analysis of the evolution of law and kingship, as recorded in ancient Indian smrti texts, the epics and the puranas, Dr. Chakraborty has proceeded to expound the theory that was floated by ancient India, the theory that the king was considered to be the fountain head of justice. A detailed treatment of different stages of trial, such as judges and different types of courts, laying down of a full procedure for trial, and the pronouncement of judgement has found place in this work enhancing its value as a source book. Different types of evidence such as document, witness and conduct have been analysed. The learned author has shown how ancient India did formulate a clear cut definition of 'Crime' beginning from defamation and ending with criminal assault and murder and prescribed appropriate punishments for those crimes.
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About the author

Haripada Chakraborti

Dr. H.P. Chakraborti is the retired Adhyapaka and Head of the Department of Ancient Indian History and Culture, Visvabharati University, Santiniketan. Earlier he worked as a senior lecturer of the subject in a number of colleges and for some time became the Principal of the B.C. College, Rishra, West Bengal. He contributed a large number of research papers and articles in various journals. Among his published monographs mention may be made of: Trade and Commerce of Ancient India (200 B.C. to 650 A.D.); A Critical Study of Asceticism in ancient India; India as reflected in the Inscriptions of the Gupta period; Political and Legal Institutions in Vedic Literature; Socio-Economic Life of India in the Vedic Period; Criminal Justice in Ancient India and Hindu Inter-caste Marriages in India (Ancient and Modern).

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Bibliographic information

Title Criminal Justice in Ancient India
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.1996
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 8185616213
length xviii+270p., Appendix; Reference; Bibliography; Index; 23cm.