CODIFICATION OF COMMON LAW
Between 1860 and 1882, a succession of law commissions proposed elaborate draft codes of law which were later enacted, embodying the essential features of the English common law on subjects like criminal law, criminal and civil procedures, and statutes on subjects like contracts, evidence, negotiable instruments, succession, trusts and property law. Lord Macaulay, the chairman of the first Law Commission said: "I believe that no country ever stood so much in need of a code of law as India, and I believe also that there never was a country in which the want might be so easily supplied. The principle is simply this - uniformity when you can have it; diversity when you must have it; but, in all cases, certainty."
This process of codification has been continued in modern times in the field of Hindu personal law with the enactment by the Indian Parliament of statutes which include the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956, the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956. But, notwithstanding the brave words of Chief Justice Chandrachud of the Supreme Court of India, in the Shahbano Case, AIR 1985 S.C. 945, (para. 945), and notwithstanding the directive principle of state policy stated in article 44 of the Constitution, no effort has been made to evolve a common civil code of personal law applicable to all communities.
Some of the statutes enacted by Parliament in England relating to business relationships and regulation were re-enacted by the Indian legislature with a few adaptations. These laws included the Indian Companies Act, 1913, (since repealed and re-enacted as the Companies Act, 1956), the Indian Contract Act, 1872, the Sale of Goods Act, 1930, and the Indian Partnership Act, 1932. The similarity between Indian and English law on most commercial matters is important because it helps foreign investors and other foreigners who have business relations with India to have a better understanding of, and confidence in, the Indian legal system.
Before the attainment of Indian independence in 1947, these and other laws relating to commercial matters were administered by a court system in the finest tradition of equal and impartial British justice. The impact of the British judicial system on India is one of the most durable of the western institutions implanted on Indian soil. After independence, the courts in India have continued and improved upon the traditions inherited from the past. Indeed, the Indian judiciary has been rightly acclaimed to be one of the most exemplary and efficient divisions of the Indian polity.