An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Indian Supreme Court uses Mimamsa School of legal reasoning to decide case

Ancient Hindu scriptures have 6 schools of thoughts – Samkhya, Yoga, Vaisheshika, Purva Mimamsa and Vedanta. Mimamsa means inquiry or investigation. So Purva Mimamsa is Prior inquiry. It refers to the first Karma-Kanda of the Vedas and has this area of the scriptures as its basis. The Uttara Mimamsa is the posterior inquiry, also known as Brahma Mimamsa. The Brahma-Mimamsa looks at Upanishads as its main source and is more concerned about the Jnana kand in the Vedas.

Mimamsa is a school of thought with detailed reasoning and discussion on logic governing the ritualistic and the mundane. It covers the different areas of law as well. So, it is very surprising that when the Indian lawmakers sat down in 1940s to chart out the modern Indian constitution, they looked West-wards and did not deem it their business to delve into the rich history, knowledge and tradition of Indian reasoning and logic of legalese.

Justice Markandeya Katju and Justice H K Sema were faced with a dilemma in a Supreme Court case. There were two legislations:the Electricity Act, 2003, of Gujarat, and the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996. The first is a special legislation, whereas the second is general. Governing the choice of which legislation should apply were Sections 174 and 175 of Electricity Act, 2003. Using the Gunapradhan sutra/Axiom, the bench rules in favor of the precendence of Electricity Act 2003 in the cases of dispute. Justice Katju summarized as below:

“Although the Mimamsa principles were created for religious purpose, they were so rational and logical that they subsequently began to be used in law, grammar, logic, philosophy..”

Justice Katju also suggested a book for more information: Kishori Lal Sarkar’s The Mimamsa Rules of Interpretation.

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