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India Legal Research Guide : Introduction

Guide to Indian primary and secondary legal resources (primarily federal) available at the UW Law Library and online.

Legal System and Political Structure

India is a federal republic. Its central government, modeled after the British parliamentary system, is composed of three branches: executive, legislative and judicial. 

The Executive branch is headed by the President, who is a ceremonial head of state. The governing power lies with the council of ministers, led by the prime minister.

At the federal level, the legislative branch is composed of a bicameral parliament: The Rajya Sabha (Council of States)  and the Lok Sabha (House of the People).

Power is distributed between the central and state governments. The central government has greater power in relation to the states than is the case in the United States. The individual states have more autonomy than do the Union territories.

India's judicial system is based on English Common Law.

For more information about the Indian legal system and sources of law, see Foreign Law Guide.

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