The law of torts in India, rooted in the English legal system, is judge-made and lacks codification. In contrast to the U.K. and U.S.A., tort litigation in India is relatively low, influenced by factors like legal awareness and cultural nuances. This non-codified nature allows flexibility but poses challenges. The development of tort law in India reflects historical influences, societal dynamics, and judicial precedents. Challenges include the need for codification and efforts to enhance legal awareness.

The Supreme Court of India, with its impactful landmark rulings, has significantly influenced the development of tort law in the country. It has been consistently noted that there is a necessity to codify tort law for enhanced usability. Additionally, the principles of torts have found application in contemporary legislations such as:-

  • Environment Protection Act, 1986
  • The Consumer Protection Act, 1986
  • The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988

However it is still observed that the branch of Torts as a whole is still growing and developing in India as compare to the development of torts in countries like U.K and U.S.A.


In India the origin of tort is related to charter of year 1726. Under charter 1726 the English Courts were established in 3 presidencies:-

  • Bombay
  • Madras
  • Calcutta

These courts were working under ’Common Law.’

In India, the application of common law was directed to the courts, emphasizing adherence to principles of equity, justice, and good conscience. The incorporation of the law of torts, considered integral to common law, was implemented with due consideration for the specific conditions, customs, and traditions prevailing in India.
In the case of Beghela vs Mussdin, the court determined that the interpretation of the principles of equity, justice, and good conscience should align with the rules of common law in England. However, it emphasized the necessity for these rules to be adapted to suit the conditions and customs specific to India.

Similarly, in the case of Nawal Kishore vs Rameshwar, it was ruled that while applying the English law of torts in India, it should be done in accordance with the prevailing Indian atmosphere, taking into consideration the corresponding traditions and customs.

The applicability of the law of torts in India traces its origins to English law, with its introduction in Indian courts dating back to 1726. However, the developmental progress of this legal framework has been sluggish, and several factors contribute to this slow evolution:

  1. Uncodified law-

The absence of a comprehensive codification of tort law in India has impeded its development. Unlike some other legal systems, the principles of tort law in India are scattered across various judicial decisions rather than being consolidated into a unified statute.  The lack of a codified tort law leads to uncertainty in legal proceedings. Courts often rely on precedents and case laws, making it challenging for individuals to predict the outcomes of legal disputes.

  1. Legal Ignorance –

A significant obstacle is the prevalent legal ignorance among the population. Many individuals, especially the illiterate and unaware, are not acquainted with their legal rights. Bridging this knowledge gap is crucial for fostering a more just and informed society.

  1. Poverty as a Barrier-

Economic constraints prevent a considerable number of people from accessing the courts. Paragraph 39 (a) of the constitution aims to address this issue by providing for legal assistance. Additionally, initiatives like Public Interest Litigation (PIL) have contributed to making the legal system more accessible to all, irrespective of financial status.

  1. Lack of Political Will-

The slow progress in the development of tort law can also be attributed to a lack of political will. The commitment of policymakers to enact comprehensive reforms is essential for the effective evolution of legal frameworks.

  1. Expensive and Delaying Judicial System –

The Indian judicial system is often criticized for its time-consuming processes and high costs. Delays in delivering judgments and the overall expensive nature of legal proceedings deter people from seeking justice. Addressing these issues is crucial for ensuring a more efficient and accessible legal system.



The development of tort law in India, rooted in the English legal system, has been influenced by historical, societal, and judicial factors. The non-codified nature of tort law allows flexibility but presents challenges, including legal ignorance and economic barriers. While the Supreme Court has played a significant role in shaping tort law through landmark rulings, the need for codification remains a persistent concern. Efforts to bridge the knowledge gap and address economic constraints, along with a commitment to political will, are crucial for the continued evolution of tort law in India.

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