Authored by Preethi Sundararajan
BBA LLB (Hons.), National Law University, Jodhpur; Student, MA (Public Policy & Governance), Azim Premji University
Volume 1, Issue 1 | November 29, 2020
Kautilya (alternatively known as Chanakya or Vishnugupta) is a name familiar to us as a statesman, advisor and author of Arthashastra. A lot has been written about him and his work, and through this paper I analyse the instances in which Kautilya and his Arthashastra has been invoked by the Indian judiciary and law/constitution-making bodies. I trace the trajectory of the reliance placed on Kautilya and his Arthashastra by judges over the years to understand the impact of ancient texts and history in evolving legal jurisprudence in India. Other than the case-laws written over the years, I also explore invocations of Kautilya during the debates in our Constituent Assembly Debates. Through my research, we can see that the Arthashastra is often invoked in certain types of cases and to understand the practices and/or customs of ancient India. Over time, we also see that increasing reference is made to Kautilya and his Arthashastra and in ways that reflect a deeper understanding of the essence of the ancient text. This exploration is intriguing because it looks at the overlap of two distinct fields of study and how one has helped the other evolve.
Keywords: Kautilya, legal jurisprudence, ancient Indian texts, Indian history, law, Arthashastra
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