Tribal Law and Justice: A Report on the Santal
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About the Book :
While posted in the Santal Parganas in Bihar in the mid-1940s, W.G. Archer completed a three volume report on Santal Laws and Justice at the instance of the Government of Bihar, which has remained unpublished since. The first volume on the Civil Law in Santal Society describes Santal Civil Law, its various facets relating to inheritance, marriage, rights of women and children, divorce, etc. The second volume on Criminal Law deals with the unique Santal institution of the bitlaha of which Archer has handed down probably the most impressive account. The third volume on Civil Justice in Tribal India with special reference to the Santal Parganas looks into the structure of the judicial and administrative systems in tribal areas and underlines the need for the understanding of the tribal laws, their codification and their recognition as the “aboriginal school” of Hindu Law. The report highlights the unique features of Santal laws and shows that the tribal system of law and justice in many aspects is more human, takes a more humane view of human feelings, is more flexible and less cumbersome. Codification of tribal laws and their understanding is intrinsic to tribal welfare. Archer’s report, in spite of various limitations, remains a definitive account of the Santal Laws in the 1940s, a notable piece of social research, a model for the codification of tribal laws and a pioneering work in the area of anthropology of law which is emerging as a major sub-discipline of anthropology. The report is being published under the authority of the Bihar Government thirty-seven years later.
About Author :
W.G. Archer (1907-78) carried his passion for poetry and interest in art into his administrative career spread over sixteen years in the Indian Civil Service in Bihar. His interest in folk art in the remote jungles of West Bihar was reflected in the publication of The Vertical Man : A Study of Primitive Indian Sculpture (1947). He also published two volumes on Oraon poetry, The Blue Grove (1940) and The Dove and the Leopard (1948), translated with a poet sensitivity. In December 1942 he was appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Santal Parganas where he continued as Special Officer to record and codify Santal Law. He produced a three volume report on Santal Laws and Justice in June 1946 which has so far remained unpublished. Before he finally left India on premature retirement, he worked as Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mokokchung in Nagaland from November 1946 to February 1948. After 1949, Archer emerged as an eminent specialist on Indian painting, culture and poetry, becoming Keeper of the Indian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
K.S. Singh (b.1935) has spent many yers sercing and studying backward communtites in middle India. He was fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla (1970) and Jawaharlal Nehru Fellow (1970-72). As Director of the Anthropological Survey of Inganised many all-India surveys to generate the profiles of tribal society. He has written about 200 papers and reports and three books: Birsa Munda and His Movement in Chotanagpur, (1983) The Indian Famine (1967) : A study in Crisis and Change (1975), and Tribal Society of Indian (1985). He edited Tribal Situation in India (1976) for the Indian Institute of Advanced Study and two volumes on Tribal Movements and Economies of the TRibes and thier Transformation. He has also introduced W.G. Acher's Santal Laws and Justice (Concept 1983). Currently, he is Director-General of the Anthropological Survey of Indian.