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India’s legal and judicial history is as old the civilisation. Ancient India focused on punishment and retributive justice, but also emphasised on compensating victims. With time and political changes, the legal system in India has undergone several developments. The system in place is in line with the adversarial system that was put in place during the British reign, and was devoid of the restorative justice approach. Post-independence, the judiciary and the legislature has adopted several measures to infuse restorative justice into the system.
Through this paper, the author traces the development of restorative justice in India, in particular, the emergence of compensatory jurisprudence into Indian laws. The author traces the advent of the Panchayat System as a supposed center for restorative justice at the level of the smallest unit of governance, i.e., the villages. The dangers due to the operation of regressive khap panchayats would be critically deliberated. Further, the contribution discusses the incorporation of restorative justice policies into certain critical legislation. The author will go on to study the emergence of plea bargaining and Lok Adalat. Finally, the author examines the need to include restorative justice in sexual assaults cases, and also explore the way forward.

Keywords: Law, India, Panchayat, Plea Bargaining, Sexual Assault

Restorative Justice and the Indian Legal System: Developments and Challenges

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