Insights into Civil Law and Criminal Law

November 16, 2023

As a person having legal knowledge or a law student or anybody related to the legal field, we might know about every branch of the law system of our country. But if we take the view of a layman of our country then he/she only have the basic knowledge of the law. In law there are two types of law that everyone in the country is aware of i.e.

Civil law and Criminal Law. In simple words Civil and Criminal are two such laws that everyone is familiar with it. And these two laws cover the majority of our legal system as well. India being a populated country, has a wide range of segregations. Every other day, we find some or the other whether Civil or Criminal, crimes being committed in the country. Such kind of acts are increasing day by day and due to the increase in such acts, our country’s legal system needed

There is a lot of difference between civil law and criminal law but the purpose of these two laws are to maintain peace, safety and a protected system. In this blog, we have also provided recommendations for books on criminal law and civil law to further enhance your understanding of the topic.

Civil Law

Civil law is a branch of our legal system that deals with disputes between parties and also conflicts between the parties (private) such as individuals, organization and businesses. This Civil law is also known as non-criminal law or private law. Civil law also helps the citizens of the country in their personal life affairs like property matters, ownership, marriage, insurance claims, custody of the children and Copyrights. This legal section only deals with clearing out the problem or disputes that have arisen between the two or more individuals and the organisation as well. Civil law usually deals by providing the fine or compensation to the court or to the party.

Parties involved

In civil cases the plaintiff and the defendant are the primary parties. To represent the parties, an attorney is also needed, who will be representing their interests and along with them- witnesses, third parties and judges are important.

  • Plaintiff: the plaintiff is the individual or the organization that file a case or a civil lawsuit (petition) against the another party (defendant) in the appropriate court. The plaintiff claims that they have suffered harm, injury or violation of their rights due to the action of another party and they seek for a legal remedy from the court.
  • Defendant: the defendant is an individual or organization against whom the plaintiff have filled the lawsuit. The defendant is accused of causing injury, harm or violating the rights of the plaintiff. The defendant must have to give respond to the plaintiff’s allegation and defend their rights and position.
  • Attorneys: In any cases the attorneys roles are the most important character because they take the responsibility of their clients. In civil cases each party is represented by an attorney or a legal counsel, who supports their client’s interest and present their case before the honourable judge in court room.
  • Third Parties: sometimes in civil cases, the third party may become involved as witness. They can be either individuals or impleaded parties.
  • Witnesses: Witnesses are the individuals who plays the role of fact witnesses. They may have relevant the facts or information or evidence that related to the case.
  • Judge: The judge ensures that the legal procedures are followed in the case and he gives the judgement on the matter of law. The judge is responsible for maintaining the decorum of the courtroom, proceedings, objections and representation the decision on motion and finally the case outcome if it goes to the trial.

Features of Civil Law:

  • Civil law deals with disputes between the private individuals and organization.
  • Civil law protects the rights of the parties and solve the disputes in a timely and efficient manner, based on the principle of justice, fairness and the rule of law.
  • Cases are usually the verdicts by a judge or panel of judges.
  • Burden of proof is lower in civil cases as compare to criminal cases. In Civil law cases the remedies typically include monetary compensation rather than fines or imprisonment.

Criminal Law

Criminal law relates to crime and punishment and is referred to as penal law. This is a branch of the legal system that deals with criminal acts and also involves offences that are against the society. In criminal law the accused is given punishment if they do any kind of crime which is against the state or any evil nature of the crime that causes harm to the society. There must be sufficient awareness in the country about criminal law and civil law both. Criminal law mainly focuses on punishment rather than dispute as compare to civil law. In Criminal cases the accused faces a set of procedural laws like arrest, charging and trial of criminal defendants. These procedures are designed to protect the rights of defendants and it ensure that they receive a fair trial.

Related Read: New Criminal Laws in India

Parties involved

In Criminal Law there are Prosecution, defendant, witnesses, victims who plays the main character in the criminal case. While Judge ensure that the criminal process is fair and a proper legal process. All the parties work within the framework of law to ensure everything going according to the legal process and in a fair way.

  • The Prosecution: The Prosecution represents the state or the government basically the prosecution is led by the government attorney. The prosecution primary role is to bring charges against the defendant who is also known as accused, and present the evidence to prove accuser’s guilt.
  • The Defendant: The defendant is the individual against whom the committing crime has been accused. The defendant has the right to legal representation either through a private retained attorney or court appointed attorney (if the defendant cannot afford an attorney then court appointed someone as the defendant attorney). The defendant can plead in front of judge that he/she is guilty or not guilty to the charge brought against them.
  • The Judge: The judge supervises the whole criminal case and ensure that everything is going according to the law and the proceeding are conducted in fairly way. The judge makes rulings on legal issues. In some cases, the judge may determine the sentence if the accused or the defendant found guilty or pleads guilty.
  • Witnesses: witnesses are individuals who may have the information or evidences which is relevant to the case. Witnesses can be called by both the parties.
  • Victims: in some criminal cases, there may be a victim of the situation who has suffered in an incident and as a result of the alleged crime. The victim has the opportunity to provide impact statement during the court proceeding.

Features of Criminal Law:

  • In criminal cases it’s deals with offenses against the society as whole, rather than disputes between two parties.
  • Criminal law involves the burden of punishments and penalties upon those, who are found guilty of criminal offenses.
  • In compare to civil cases the burden of proof are higher in criminal cases.
  • In criminal cases the cases are initiated and conducted by the government attorney.
  • Remedies of criminal cases including Imprisonment, fines and both.

 Related Books:

The Indian Penal Code, 1860

This premium edition book on The Indian Penal Code, 1860 by LexisNexis covers the Indian Penal Code, 1860; the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973; and the Indian Evidence Act. This pocket guide can be used by legal practitioners, courts officials, criminal investigators, policy officers or prospective police training graduates, lawyers, lecturers or any other person who may want to learn more about this subject matter. The broad principles for crime prevention and punishment are included in the Indian Penal Code 1860 and The Code of Criminal Procedure 1973.)

The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

Sohoni’s Code of Criminal Procedure remains an undisputable legal classic, which could only have been written to serve the legal profession and all those. It’s the most exhaustive and authentic commentary on criminal procedure laws in India. As the first word on this subject, it has been meticulously supplemented with all latest cases, legislative amendments along with updates of the law of criminal procedure in India.

The Indian Evidence Act, 1872

This classic work on “The Indian Evidence Act, 1872” that was authored by Supreme Court Chief Justice M. Monir is as good as it’s ever been, lasting 81 years. First edition was published in 1936 for updates of law of evidence by cases, statute and development with seventeen editions. This current edition is however a thorough revision of the author’s work and hence retains authenticity of the original.

New Criminal Law Books:

The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), 2023 


The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) , 2023


The Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BSA), 2023 


Difference between Civil Law and Criminal Law

Parameters Civil Law  Criminal Law
Meaning  relates to injuries suffered by individuals and for which compensation or financial remedy may be provided  Related with a crime that causes injury to a person which is an offence against the whole society. The person commiting crime is charged with Imprisonment.
Liability   Private liability- against person or organisation  Against the whole state
Punishment  Mostly, monetary  Imprisonment and/or Fine
Triable   Cases under Civil law are triable under Civil Court or equivalent tribunals.  Cases under Criminal law are tried under Criminal Court or Sessions Court.
Procedural Law   Code of Civil Procedure (“CPC”), 1908  Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
Gravity of offences   Less grave than criminal  More severe than civil
Filing of the case   The party aggrieved files the case  The government files the case on behalf of the victim,
Registration   Can be directly filed in the court  Cases need to be registered in the police station directly and then subsequently in the court.
Infringement   Infringement of private rights  Infringement of public rights
Branches   Corporate law, Property law, Sports law etc.  No branches as such
Examples of Acts   Invasion of privacy, negligence, Trespass etc Kidnapping, theft, rape, murder etc


Civil and Criminal both laws are the backbone of our Indian legal system. Civil law deals with disputes between two parties, such as property, contract disputes and personal injuries cases, while criminal deals only with crimes and give punishment to the person who committed any kind of crime according to the law. The burden of proof is less in the civil cases as compare to criminal cases.

If a person is involved in any kind of legal disputes, then it is important for that person to consult a good qualified lawyer to determine whether it is civil disputes or criminal. A lawyer can help you to do all the legal paper works and if needed then he is going to represent you in the court. So never hesitate to contact a lawyer if you have any quarry related to any legal work.


What are 3 differences between civil and criminal cases?

  • Civil law deals with disputes of property, contract between two parties while criminal law deals only with crimes.
  • In civil law the case is filled by the private party while in criminal law the case is filed by Government or by the state.
  • In civil law both parties can apply but in criminal law only the defendant can apply.

What is the difference between crime and civil wrong?

The main difference between crime and civil wrong is, crime is an offence against the state or the government while civil wrong is against an individual or an organization.

What are the main features of the civil law?

  • Civil law deals with disputes between the private individuals and organization.
  • Civil law protects the rights of the parties and solve the disputes in a timely and efficient manner, based on the principle of justice, fairness and the rule of law.

What is the difference between criminal and civil contempt of court?

The difference between civil and criminal contempt of court is that, civil contempt is intended to do complying with the court order, while in criminal contempt is intended to punish the offender for their disrespect towards the court.

What are examples of cases that are both civil and criminal in India?

Domestic violence, fraud, medical malpractice, defamation these are the examples of the cases that are both civil and criminal in India.


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