1. Social Customs.

There are many sources of laws among the primitive people. Social custom is the most important source. As a matter of fact, it will not be an exaggeration to say that laws in a primitive society have their origin in social customs.Man has been carrying on a struggle against nature for his very existence and also for the satisfaction of his needs.

In this struggle, some of the human behaviours are found to be harmful, while others are found to be useful. He has been giving up the harmful behaviours gradually and has been adopting useful ones. In this way, the people who have adopted useful behaviours in social life are regarded as good people, while those who behave in an opposite manner are considered to be bad people.

This helps people to adopt those behaviours which later on take the shape of social customs. These social customs are handed over from one generation to another, and the traditions thus go on forming. These social customs are handed over from one generation to another, and the traditions thus go on forming.


These social customs are regarded as compulsory because the person, who disobeys them, is neglected in society. The system of punishing a breach of custom is gradually evolved. The breach of custom is generally regarded a sin. When a social custom is approved and its breach is considered punishable by a tribal orgnization, the custom becomes a social law. In this way, most of the laws in primitive societies have their source in custom.

2. Orders of Chieftain.

Generally, there is a social organization in every primitive society. In most of the social organizations, the chieftain or the leader holds the highest position and keeps a control over the society members. Sufficient powers are given to this chieftain, although he is not allowed to do anything against the interest of the tribe as a whole. In most of the cases, the order of the chieftain is law and every man and woman has to obey it.

3. Public opinion.


Public opinion in a primitive society is very efficacious. An individual can even be punished in doing something against the public opinion. In this way, it is this public opinion which controls the actions of men and women in the form of law.

4. Religion.

Religion is also part of life in primitive societies. The compliance of the rules and regulations connected with the names of deities is as compulsory as that of law and generally none dares to disobey them.

5. Panchayats.


Some tribes have social panchayats which keep control over the individuals of a society and settle their mutual disputes. The decision of the panchayat is regarded as law and an accused is punished for disobeying it. This punishment is mostly in the shape of a feast to be given to an entire village, and so long as the accused does not give the feast, he is neglected by the people of his clan.

In this way, social customs, .orders of the chieftain, religious rules and the divisons of a panchayat, etc. are the sources of law in primitive societies.