ISSN (O) : 2584-1378


AUTHOR’S NAME : Isha Kothari
INSTITUTION - SP law college, Chandrapur


Legal System is the binding code of conduct & manner through which various laws comes into enforceability. Every country has unique legal system. There is no wide acceptability of uniform legal system across the globe, each country follows its own legal system. Legal system outlines the manner in which rules and regulations needs to be followed and enforced, violating the legal system may lead to consequences and action might be taken. Legal systems are the backbone of any society, shaping the way justice is delivered and disputes are resolved. The United States and India, both possessing rich legal traditions, exhibit distinct characteristics in their legal systems. In this blog post, we will explore the differences between the US legal system and the Indian legal system, shedding light on notable case laws that highlight these distinctions.


In US, every states makes their own laws and bring them into enforceability. Every court has there own supreme court. State has its own trial, appellate and supreme court. For enforcing federal law, the system has to go through US district, appellate and US supreme court. Powers are shared between federal government and state government. State courts mostly deals with the matter including breach of contracts, family disputes, robbery/theft, etc. whereas federal courts entertain the cases govern by the US constitution, cases which affects the individual rights of citizens. At both the state and federal level there are three levels of courts- trial court, appellate court and US supreme court. US supreme court is the highest decision whose decision binds across the whole country. If there is a conflict between state and federal who will prevail. The one who ensures more rights to its citizens will prevail. Federal has set the benchmark for the minimum rights to be assured, if the state provides more rights to citizens, decision of state will prevail.

For Eg: Federal has restricted same sex marriage while state(California) has given the rights for same sex marriage, the one which is providing more rights i.e state will prevail.


Indian legal system has its pillars- common law, religious law and civil law. India follow federal system rather than dual system which means the decision is taken by state and central. In Indian legal system the aggrieved party first appears before session/district court if the aggrieved party is not satisfied then it appears before high court, if aggrieved party is not satisfied by the decision of high court also then the aggrieved party may appear before the Supreme Court.


Common law system is generally uncodified and its largely based on precedents which is also called judgement law. Common law system is basically the roots of writs of courts and equity. Common law follows adversarial system which means that the judges are there near spectators and they cannot participate in the entire procedures, they can participate in some procedure but they generally bound themselves up to the evidence. In common law system judges are mere umpires. Common law system was convened in Britain and brought to America through the British colonies in north America. Common law is an unwritten body of laws based on the judicial precedents, it is used in the matters where decision cant be taken by referring to the current laws or regulation, in such circumstances common law acts as a guide.


There are hundreds of religion in the world, each religion has its own faith and belief. Each religion contemplate how to act, how to behave and codifies rules and regulations for its community. In Jainism, a person should not kill anyone and should not hurt the feelings of any other living beings. In Muslim law, a man can marry four times without giving divorce to other wives whereas in Hindu law a man cannot marry another women if its first wife is living and there marriage is not terminated as per Hindu Marriage Act.


Majority countries are divided among common law system and civil law system. Civil law system is generally codified and properly drafted. They went into the concept of legislation in which codification and making of laws are included. Civil law system is based on comprehensive and continuously updated legal codes. They went for codification, proper enactments, proper amendments as per the requirement. As the social morality gets increased, it is necessary that the law gets cope up. Civil law system codified law under various branches as substantive law and procedural law. They are into codification as far as the procedures are concerned. Civil law system follows inquisitorial system which means judges can enquire and participate into the entire process as it is not only the role of umpire as they can actively participate. Civil law system convened, practiced and propagated in Europe.


One fundamental difference lies in the approach to legal proceedings. The United States follows an adversarial system, where two opposing parties present their cases before an impartial judge and/or jury. This system encourages active participation by the parties and relies on the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.” In contrast, India follows an inquisitorial system, wherein the judge plays a more active role in investigating and determining the facts of the case. The judge takes on the responsibility of examining witnesses and gathering evidence, with the goal of establishing the truth.



The adversarial nature of the US legal system is exemplified in the landmark case of Miranda v. Arizona. This case established the famous Miranda rights, ensuring that individuals have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney during police interrogations. The decision aimed to protect defendants from self-incrimination, emphasizing the importance of due process and the adversarial process in criminal proceedings.


In India, the inquisitorial aspect of the legal system can be seen in the case of Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India. This case dealt with the right to travel abroad, and the Supreme Court of India emphasized the significance of procedural due process. The court asserted that any law restricting personal liberty must adhere to the principles of fairness and reasonableness, emphasizing the court’s role in safeguarding individual rights.


Another significant difference lies in the legal traditions that the two countries follow. The United States operates under the common law system, where legal principles are derived from judicial decisions and precedents. Courts play a crucial role in interpreting and evolving the law over time. India, on the other hand, follows a mixed legal system with a strong influence of the British colonial era. It combines elements of common law and civil law traditions. While judicial decisions and precedents hold persuasive value, statutory law enacted by the legislature also plays a vital role in shaping the legal landscape.


Brown v. Board of Education is a landmark case in the United States that significantly impacted the common law tradition. The Supreme Court held that state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students were unconstitutional. This decision marked a departure from previous precedent and underscored the judiciary’s power to reinterpret the law in the pursuit of justice.


In India, KesavanandaBharati v. State of Kerala is a pivotal case that addressed the power of Parliament to amend the Constitution. The Supreme Court of India, through the basic structure doctrine, established that while Parliament has the authority to amend the Constitution, it cannot alter its basic structure. This case highlighted the role of the judiciary in safeguarding the foundational principles of the legal system.


It is concluded that US system follows federal system whereas India follows Dual system. In US every state has its own supreme court whereas in India there is only one supreme court.Understanding the differences between the US and Indian legal systems provides insights into the unique challenges and strengths each system brings to the table. While both systems strive to uphold justice and protect individual rights, the varied approaches reflect the diverse legal philosophies and historical influences that have shaped these legal traditions over time. As legal systems continue to evolve, these comparisons offer valuable perspectives for ongoing discussions on legal reform and the pursuit of a more just society.

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