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Report No. 77

3.2. Popular feeling.-

The popular feeling that institutions like panchayats, councils of elders, assemblies of brotherhood or of respectables of the locality in fact represent the indigenous system of this country reveals insufficient appreciation of the important fact that the sphere of activity of such institutions was confined to settling petty disputes, mostly by the method of conciliation and compromise. With the growth of society, the function of administration of justice was transferred to the king, who came to be known as the fountain-head of justice.

The king administered justice either himself or through his officers. A regular hierarchy of courts was set up which gradually developed into the sophisticated system. The panchayats and the assemblies of the brotherhood or of local respectables, however, did not cease functioning altogether because of their useful role of settling minor disputes in rural areas through compromise and that is why the British retained them through necessary legislation.

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