20 Laws That Only Exist In India

By Jack Clark 11 months ago

You Have To Be 25 To Drink

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In America, the legal drinking age is 21 (I bet we all tried it before 21 though, right?), and a lot of the western world consider this to be quite late on, with most of Europe having set their legal drinking age at 18. It seems weird that, a senior who has just graduated high school, can cast their vote in the presidential election but can't go to the store to buy liquor...to be fair, this is probably a good thing. However, in some states in India, it is illegal to buy and consume alcohol until you reach the grand old age of 25!

You Can't Attempt Suicide

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One of the more serious laws existing in India is that it is illegal to attempt to take your own life, and those guilty of attempted suicide can expect to be punished with a fine, or in some cases, they will be sent to jail. What is weird about this law, compassion and morality aside, is that it isn't illegal to successfully take your own life - it is only punishable should one fail in their attempt. Whilst this probably makes sense in that there isn't anyone to punish if the suicide has happened, but it seems an odd line to draw.

No 'Unnatural' Sex

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According to law in India, certain types of sexual intercourse are illegal. Those certain types, which apparently include carnal intercourse (sex outside of marriage) and even oral sex, can unfortunately be  punished with jail time. Until very recently, gay sex was actually considered illegal, until it was overturned in 2018. What we don't understand is, how the authorities might find out that someone has partaken in 'unnatural' but consensual sex? It's not like either party are heading to the local police station afterwards to confess!

Kite Pilot

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Flying a kite isn't exactly the activity of choice for today's youth, what with TikTok dances to post and video games to complete, but, nonetheless, it was still fun to do when we were kids and our Mom and Dad would take us to the local park and attempt to get the colored piece of plastic airborne. Now, growing up in India would be very different; in order to fly a kite, you must first be granted permission by the authorities as they view it as a flying object that needs a license to be piloted.

Say Cheese!

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Having good teeth is one of life's biggest flexes, and is the cause of a serious amount of envy and jealousy among the crooked-toothed population. We all know that good teeth alignment is pretty much down to genetics - or veneers, dependent on your monthly income. In India, they take this pretty seriously, specifically if you want to become a motor vehicle inspector in the state of Andhra Pradesh. It is required that one must have "good and strong" teeth, among other things, to secure this vehicular career.

'X' Marks The Spot

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We've all gone on some sort of treasure hunt before, whether it be as kid when our parents would plant chocolate round the house at Easter and we had to go looking for it, or pretending we were pirates sailing the seven seas searching for gold. In India, there is a law that states if one is to "find something on the road and its value exceeds 10 rupees", they must hand it over to the police, and if they don't, they could be punished with jail time. For context, 10 rupees is worth around 10 cents.

Attack Of The Locusts

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Just like in most countries, different laws fall under different acts depending on the year and what industry the law would fall under. According to the "East Punjabs Agriculture Pests Act", the people of Delhi are required by law to warn authorities of an imminent locust attack. This sounds simple, but you can't simply call the police about the locusts - the legally-required emergency warning is that they must use drums, and beat them in unison with one another to alert the authorities.

"A Motherf****** P.I.M.P"

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What a tune this song is, it's giving us early aughts vibes and we're here for it. This song probably wouldn't go down too well with the authorities in India however, as pimping is 100% illegal. What is weird though, is that prostitution in India isn't actually illegal. There are some rules around it, like having to do it privately and not being able to advertise the service publicly, but generally it isn't unlawful to practice prostitution. Although, brothels and prostitution rings are definitely against the law here.

A Feminist-Friendly Adultery Rule?

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Okay, not really feminist-friendly, but probably the most interesting thing about this law is that the punishment falls completely with the man and the woman has no legal action taken against her. According to section 497 in India, a man cannot sleep with a married woman without permission from the woman's husband. Without said permission, a guilty adulterer can expect to face up to five years in prison, or at the very least will receive a fine.

What Chewing Gum?

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In the state of Maharashtra, authorities were getting fed up with its' citizens dropping chewing gum on the floor and sticking it onto different surfaces like under a chair or public bench. Because of this, public areas were becoming more dirty, and the local government decided to take action; they passed a law that meant the possession or the sale of chewing gum was completely illegal. Since the law has been implemented, the Maharashtra government have seen a marked improvement of public cleanliness.

Blasphemy!

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Laws about blasphemy have always been a hot topic of debate, and have historically been a part of English laws and its' colonies. In the US, blasphemy laws no longer exist under the first amendment, and one cannot be punished for showing irreverence towards religion. However, India has very different laws around blasphemy. Every religion found in India is protected under the Indian Penal Code and carries prison sentences of up to three years!

No More PDA Please

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We've all seen those brand-new honeymoon-phase couples walking around the mall, staring into each others eyes and holding hands like its the last time they'll see each other. Gross. Public displays of affection can get pretty awkward and you might even feel like calling the police. Well, in India,  you can! According to the India Penal Code, section 294 to be precise, a citizen can face up to 3 months in jail for "annoying the public through obscene acts".

Get Off My Land

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Another weird law in India is one that allows the government to acquire private land and make it public, whether that be for industry, infrastructure advancement or "the urbanization of private land". Whilst the owners of the land are compensated and at times relocated, the private citizen doesn't seem to have a choice in the matter; they just have to accept the situation and move on. The dark side of this is that a lot of the land acquired is apparently sometimes used for private gain.

Where Is The Restroom?

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We've all been in a less-than-dignifying situation whereby we desperately need to get to a toilet but there doesn't seem to be one in sight. It seems rude to drop into a local restaurant or hotel just to use their restroom without sitting down for a meal or being a guest. However, if you find yourself in a pinch in India, they have a law that allows any member of the public to use the restroom of a hotel, guest or not, for free! You can also get some drinking water free of charge.

Censorship

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Regardless of where you stand on the cancel culture aisle, censorship is a hot topic and it contradicts and restricts the idea of free speech and expression, which is where both sides of the aisle come to a fiery, argumentative and often irresolvable head. Internet censorship happens all the time in India and is spearheaded by the state and central governments; they even removed and banned any inflammatory content on social media in 2013.

Women Can't Work Night Shifts

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To be honest, we're not really sure why anyone would WANT to work a night shift if they didn't have to, but we still think someone should have the right to choose their working hours regardless of sex or gender. For a long time in India, it has been illegal for women to work night time hours, specifically between 9pm and 7am and specifically in factories. However, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, a new law was passed that a woman may legally work during these hours, so long as the employer receives written permission from the employee.

Did Anyone Order A Bottle Of Wine?

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In Delhi, you can order wine and beer from a supermarket and request that it be delivered to your doorstep. How convenient! What is weird about this, is that you can only order wine and beer - no other form of alcohol can be delivered to you. So, if you're running low on Jack Daniels you'll have to pop over to the local liquor store in Delhi, whilst your pals can stay in the comfort of their own home and order as many cases of beer and wine that they so desire.

Foreigners Are Welcome...Kind Of

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In 1939, 'The Registration Of Foreigners Act' act was passed, which meant that any non-Indian citizen who planned to remain in the country for longer than 180 days, is legally required to report their entry, movements and departures to Indian authorities. Its' original purpose was to help the British identify and track potential Indian revolutionaries from foreign countries, but in 2023 it seems to stall Indian tourism and unfortunately acts as a repellent.

The Armed Forces Can Take Power Into Their Own Hands

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This law came into play after the Indian partition, and the government started doing "counter-insurgency operations". This act isn't in every state, the but states in which it is enforced allows certain armed personnel to take matters into their own hands via arrests, detention and mortal use of weaponry. Another bad thing about this is that they don't have to show their reasoning for enacting their power, or prove that their arrestees have done anything to warrant the detention.

You Can't Get Divorced...At Least Not For A Year

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In 1955, India passed a law called the "Hindu Marriage Act", which states that a couple cannot file for a divorce until they have been married for at least a year. That is, only if one of the two are wanting to get a divorce. However, if both people in the marriage no longer want to continue their relationship, by mutual consent under the family law, they can legally file for divorce. Marriage is considered sacred in the Hindu religion, so it's no surprise an act like this was passed into law.

Adoption

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Child adoption is taken very seriously in India, and they have some important laws around it. According to the "Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act" from 1956, a single woman may adopt any child she likes, whether they be male or female. However, for single men, the same law doesn't apply; they can only legally adopt a male child, and cannot adopt a female. The only condition for the latter is that a single male can adopt a female child, so long as he is 21 years older than the child.

Mike Tyson Wouldn't Be Happy

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In every country, there are laws that were created over 100 years ago, and don't seem relevant in 2023. India definitely isn't an exception - it is illegal to have a pet lion or tiger (seems like a pretty good law) BUT, you can own a pet bear. A BEAR! It's interesting that the line was drawn between a big cat and a big bear, given that both animals are a huge danger to human life. All we can keep thinking about is that there must have been a number of lion and tiger owners in India for the authorities to enforce a law about it!

How Do You Like Your Eggs In The Morning?

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When we think of eggs, we tend to imagine a lovely, golden-yellow yolk frying away in the pan, that was taken than morning from your chicken coup. Okay, it was probably bought at the grocery store, but it's nice to dream! Apparently it's not quite the same in India - in Madhya Pradesh, one of India's many states, it is illegal to steal eggs from birds nests during mating season. Again, it seems pretty obvious that one shouldn't do this, but they still were force to pass it into law.

Come 'Ere Kitty

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Cats definitely split the nation in terms of individual endearment towards those of a feline persuasion. Some people absolutely LOVE cats and couldn't live without them, and others see them for what they are: evil. (Kidding! Kind of...). Either way, our feline friends are here to stay and apparently nearly 50 million homes in the US own one. But, don't pet or feed a random cat in Rajasthan, as it is illegal to do without express permission from the owner.

Snakes And Ladders

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Most workers who use ladders carry them atop of inside their work van, and they have very strict health and safety rules around their usage and operation, especially near the general public. It seems overkill, but falling off of a ladder can cause some serious harm to its user and the people around them so it's wise to follow this guidance. So much so that, in Bangalore, you cannot walk around the street carrying a ladder as it may cause accidents.

Don't Hit Me!

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We've all pushed someones buttons, or wound them up throughout the day so that it causes an angry reaction. Whether it be that you've annoyed your Mom by not cleaning your room or winding up one of your siblings until they complain. We've heard stories about Moms chasing their children round the house with foot attire when they've been pushed to their limit! Now, whilst assault is illegal, Odisha law states that you can hit someone with a sandal, but NOT a slipper.

I'm Bringing Sexy Back

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As we're approaching the summer months, it's starting to get hot. Like, unbearably hot. Sometimes you just want to strip down and not have to deal with the sun. Obviously, we don't walk around in public without our tops on as it would probably be inappropriate (unless you're one of those people who goes to Muscle Beach and apparently can't not take you top off). But, it looks like you're covered (literally) in Ahmedabad, as you legally have to wear a shirt in public.

You Can Dance, But Only In Appropriate Clothing

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Dancing in public sounds like our worst nightmare. Even if it is at a wedding where it's appropriate to dance, it's still a hard NO from us. Unless it's at a club and we're appropriately cut with liquor! However, in India, dancing is very traditional and super popular, given that it has a lot of cultural and religious ties. There isn't any laws against dancing in India, but there is one stipulation. In Goa, you must wear appropriate dancing attire.

Leave Your Shoes At The...Park Gate?

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Who doesn't love a good stroll in the park? The perfect activity for a summers morning, whether it is with your family (EVEN the in-laws), a walk with your dog or even just a solo walk to clear your head before you start the day. Footwear might not be at the front of your mind, but in Haryana, it probably should be. Apparently, it is illegal to go into a public park whilst still wearing your shoes! This is important to know for visitors, as they can take this seriously.

Busking

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Singing in public is probably a big fear for most people, including actual singers who ironically get stage fright. There are plenty of super talented buskers in most cities, whether they be singing guitarists, percussionists or even just solo singers. It's not so easy to sing in public in Delhi though. In fact, in order to sing a song in Delhi, you have to apply for a license that is granted by the local police. If you don't have one, it is actually illegal so sing a song in public here.