The Ministry of Law and Justice looks after the management of administration of justice, legislative activities and legal affairs. It is one of the oldest departments of the Indian Government since 1833.
Under the Charter Act, 1833 the legislative power vested in a single authority, i.e. ‘Governor General in Council’.
Later Government of India Act, 1919 came into force which empowered Indian legislature to exercise legislative powers. Government of India Act, 1935 superseded the previous Act.
However, as the Constitution of India came into existence the legislative powers came under the purview of the Indian Parliament.
The Ministry has 3 branches Legislative Department, Department of Legal Affairs and Department of Justice.
Department of Justice
Department of Justice is headed by a Secretary. It carries out administrative functions like appointment and removal of judges of High Courts and Supreme Court, schemes on infrastructural development of subordinate judiciary, legal aid, establishment of e-courts, creating All India Judicial Services, Extending High Court’s jurisdiction to Union Territory or excluding any Union Territory from a High Court’s jurisdiction. It also deals with the appointment of Judicial officers and Judicial Commissioners of Union Territories, stamp duties and fixes court fee in Union Territories, establishment of e-courts etc.
Department of Legal Affairs
Department of Legal Affairs advises ministers on legal matters and interpretation of Constitution. The Department of Legal Affairs is a two tier set up which includes the Main Secretariat, New Delhi and four Branch Secretariats at Bangaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, and Mumbai. It exercises its jurisdiction over the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, the Appellate Tribunal for Foreign Exchange, the Law Commission of India and National Tax Tribunal. It deals with the appointment of the Solicitor General of India, the Additional Solicitor General of India and the Attorney General of India. It regulates various statutes like, the Notaries Act, 1952, the Advocates Act, 1961, the Advocates’ Welfare Fund Act, 2001, the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 and the National Tax Tribunal Act, 2005.
Legislative Department deals with the drafting of principal legislation of Central Government and also matters concerning List III of Seventh Schedule to the Constitution. The Legislative Department deals with the drafting of all principal legislations either Ordinances promulgated by the President. It also deals with the maintenance and updation of the Central Legislations. It also deals with certain matters under Schedule VII, List III of the Constitution such as contracts, personal laws, insolvency and bankruptcy, transfer of properties etc.
We have provided the links to the three departments.