Yes, you read it right. There used to be a law that flying a kite without permission from aviation authority can push you in jail. But fortunately, it has been scrapped now!

The then Independent India, just after being released from British rule needed a proper mechanism for governance that could be acceptable and sensitive to the needs and the customs of the large diversity of castes, classes, religious and linguistic communities at the same time.

The legal system put out by the British seemed like the best formula that would do the same. Ten years into Independence, no longer tied with the United Kingdom, the Law Commission suggested that India could have a new set of legal code and the British statute could be replaced by an Indian statute, having necessary provisions from the British law.

Even though a lot of laws were scrapped back then, there are still some laws that we follow, that were originally laws stated by the British.

First, Criminalization of homosexuality. The criminalization of homosexuality or what is popularly referred to as Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) dates back to 1860 when the British introduced it to sexual activities against the “order of nature.”

Second, Sedition law. Essentially Section 124A of IPC. It was recently used by the youth of JNU which resulted in the arrest of the two for voicing their thoughts in favour of Afzal Guru.

Third, Blasphemy law. Section 295A of IPC. Under it, whoever injures or defiles place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class shall be punished with imprisonment of either 2 years, a fine or both.

Fourth, Personal laws. Warren Hastings nurtured the personal laws of Hindus and Muslims.

Hastings Rule specifically demarcating the personal laws of Hindus and Muslims was rephrased in Cornwallis Code of 1793 and it is by this rule that personal laws found a firm ground in the 17th century and continues to be what it is today.

Fifth, The Dramatic Performance Act. In the 18th century, India used theatre as a weapon to exhibit rebellion against the colonial rule. Threatened by revolutionary impulses, the British government introduced the Dramatic Performance Act in 1876, which prohibited dramatic performances of “scandalous” and “defamatory” nature.

Ironically, the British do not follow several of these, but our legal system still does.

 

 

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