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Showing posts with label Judiciary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Judiciary. Show all posts

District Courts

The District Courts of India are presided over by a judge. 

They administer justice in India at a district level.

These courts are under administrative and judicial control of the High Court of the State to which the district concerned belongs.

The highest court in each district is that of the District and Sessions Judge.

This is the principal court of civil jurisdiction. 

This is also a court of Sessions. Sessions-triable cases are tried by the Sessions Court.

It has the power to impose any sentence including capital punishment.

There are many other courts subordinate to the court of District and Sessions Judge. 

There is a three tier system of courts.

On the civil side, at the lowest level is the court of Civil Judge (Junior Division).

On criminal side the lowest court is that of the Judicial Magistrate. Civil Judge (Junior Division) decides civil cases of small pecuniary stake. Judicial Magistrates decide criminal cases which are punishable with imprisonment of up to five years.

At the middle of the hierarchy there is the Court of Civil Judge (Senior Division) on the civil side and the Court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate on the Criminal side.

Civil Judge (senior division) can decide civil cases of any valuation. There are many additional courts of Additional Civil Judge (senior division).The Jurisdiction of these addition courts is the same as that of the principal court of Civil Judge (Senior Division).

The Chief Judicial Magistrate can try cases which are punishable with imprisionment for a term up to seven years. 

Usually there are many additional courts of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrates.

At the top level there may be one or more courts of additional district and sessions judge with the same judicial power as that of the District and Sessions judge.

Judicial independence of each court is the characteristic feature of the district judiciary.

In each district there is a strong bar which ensures that courts decide cases according to law and without fear or favour.

The greatest problem of district courts is that of huge backlog of cases leading to undue delay in deciding cases.


High Courts

India's unitary judicial system is made up of the Supreme Court of India at the national level, for the entire country and the 25 High Courts at the State level. 

These courts have jurisdiction over a state, a union territory or a group of states and union territories. High Courts are a hierarchy of subordinate courts such as the civil courts, family courts, criminal courts and various other district courts. 

High Courts are instituted as constitutional courts under Part VI, Chapter V, Article 214 of the Indian Constitution.

The High Courts are the principal civil courts of original jurisdiction in the state along with District Courts which are subordinate to the High courts. 

However, High courts exercise their original civil and criminal jurisdiction only if the courts subordinate to the High court in the state are not competent (not authorized by law)to try such matters for lack of pecuniary, territorial jurisdiction. 

High courts may also enjoy original jurisdiction in certain matters if so designated specifically in a state or Federal law. e.g.: Company law cases are instituted only in a High court.

However, primarily the work of most High Courts consists of Appeals from lower courts and writ petitions in terms of Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Writ Jurisdiction is also original jurisdiction of High Court.The precise territorial jurisdiction of each High Court varies.

Each state is divided into judicial districts presided over by a 'District and Sessions Judge'. He is known as a District Judge when he presides over a civil case, and a Sessions Judge when he presides over a criminal case. He is the highest judicial authority below a High Court judge. Below him, there are courts of civil jurisdiction, known by different names in different states.

Under Article 141 of the Constitution of India all courts in India which includes High courts are bound by the judgments and orders of the Supreme Court of India by precedence.

Judges in a High Court are appointed by the President of India in consultation with the Chief Justice of India and the governor of the state. High Courts are headed by a Chief Justice. 

The Chief Justices are ranked #14 (in their state) and #17 (outside their state) in the Indian order of precedence. 

The number of judges in a court is decided by dividing the average institution of main cases during the last five years by the national average, or the average rate of disposal of main cases per judge per year in that High Court, whichever is higher.

The Calcutta High Court is the oldest High Court in the country, established on 2 July 1862. High courts which handle a large number of cases of a particular region, have permanent benches (or a branch of the court) established there.

Benches are also present in states which come under the jurisdiction of a court outside its territorial limits. Smaller states with few cases may have circuit benches established. 

Circuit benches (known as circuit courts in some parts of the world) are temporary courts which hold proceedings for a few selected months in a year. Thus cases built up during this interim period are judged when the circuit court is in session.

Courts under High Court :
  • District Courts of India
  • District Munsiff Court
  • Courts of Judicial Magistrate of First Class
  • Courts of Judicial Magistrate of Second Class

To be a judge of a High Court a person must
    1. be a citizen of India
    2. have been a judge of a civil and session court in India for atleast ten years
    3. an advocate in a High court for atleast ten years

The Chief Justice draws a salary of Rs.30,000/-per month and other judges draw a salary of Rs.26,000/- per month.

They also get pension and other retirement benefits. The pay and allowances of High Court Judges are changed on the Consolidated Fund of the State.

Powers of High Courts:

The High court is mainly a Court of Appeal. It can hear appeals in both civil and criminal cases.

A person can appeal to the High Court to protect his Fundamental Rights.

The High Court controls and supervises the working of the lower courts.

The High courts is empowered to issue to any person or the Government within its jurisdiction, orders or writs, including writs which are in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo-warranto and certorari.

The High Courts have powers of superintendence over all subordinate courts and tribunals within their jurisdiction.

The Advoate General is appointed by the Governor.

Transfer of Chief Justice:

The President after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, transfers a Chief Justice from one High Court to another High Court.

Jurisdiction and Seat of High Courts of India :

Name Year of Establishment Jurisdiction Principal seat
Allahabad 1866 Uttar Pradesh Allahabad(Bench at Lucknow)
Andhra Pradesh 2019 Andhra Pradesh Amaravati
Bombay 1862 Maharashtra, Goa, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu Mumbai(Benches at Nagpur, Panaji and Aurangabad)
Calcutta 1862 West Bengal Calcutta(Circuit Bench at Port Blair)
Chhattisgarh 2000 Chhattisgarh Bilaspur
Delhi 1966 Delhi Delhi
Gauhati 1948 Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland,Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh Guwahati(Benches at Kohima, Aizwal, Itanagar &Imphal.Circuit Bench at Agartala &Shillong)
Gujarat 1960 Gujarat Ahmedabad
Himachal Pradesh 1971 Himachal Pradesh Shimla
Jammu &Kashmir 1928 Jammu &Kashmir Srinagar &Jammu
Jharkhand 2000 Jharkhand Ranchi
Karnataka 1884 Karnataka Bangalore
Kerala 1958 Kerala &Lakshadweep Ernakulam
Madhya Pradesh 1956 Madhya Pradesh Jabalpur(Benches at Gwalior and Indore)
Madras 1862 Tamil Nadu & Pondicherry Chennai (Bench at Madurai)
Manipur 2013 Manipur Imphal
Meghalaya 2013 Meghalaya Shillong
Orissa 1948 Orissa Cuttack
Patna 1916 Bihar Patna
Punjab & Haryana 1975 Punjab,Haryana &Chandigarh Chandigarh
Rajasthan 1949 Rajastan Jodhpur(Bench at Jaipur)
Sikkim 1975 Sikkim Gangtok
Telangana 2019 Telangana Hyderabad
Tripura 2013 Tripura Agartala
Uttarakhand 2000 Uttarakhand Nainital

Last updated on: 29/10/2019


Supreme Court of India

Supreme Court of India came into existence on 26th January, 1950 and is located on Tilak Marg, New Delhi.

The Supreme Court of India functioned from the Parliament House till it moved to the present building.

It has a 27.6 metre high dome and a spacious colonnaded verandah. 

On the 28th of January, 1950, two days after India became a Sovereign Democratic Republic, the Supreme Court came into being.

The inauguration took place in the Chamber of Princes in the Parliament building which also housed India's Parliament, consisting of the Council of States and the House of the People. It was here, in this Chamber of Princes, that the Federal Court of India had sat for 12 years between 1937 and 1950. This was to be the home of the Supreme Court for years that were to follow until the Supreme Court acquired its own present premises.

After its inauguration on January 28, 1950, the Supreme Court commenced its sittings in a part of the Parliament House. The Court moved into the present building in 1958. The building is shaped to project the image of scales of justice. The Central Wing of the building is the Centre Beam of the Scales.

In 1979, two New Wings - the East Wing and the West Wing - were added to the complex. In all there are 15 Court Rooms in the various wings of the building. The Chief Justice's Court is the largest of the Courts located in the Centre of the Central Wing.

On 20 February 1980, a black bronze sculpture of 210 cm (6 ft 11 in) height was installed in the lawn of the supreme court. It portrays Mother India in the form of the figure of a lady, sheltering the young Republic of India represented by the symbol of a child, who is upholding the laws of land symbolically shown in the form of an open book. On the book, a balance beam is shown, which represents dispensation of equal justice to all. The sculpture was made by the renowned artist Chintamoni Kar. The sculpture is just behind the statue of Mahatma Gandhi.

The original Constitution of 1950 envisaged a Supreme Court with a Chief Justice and 7 Judges - leaving it to Parliament to increase this number.
In the early years, a full bench of the supreme court sat together to hear the cases presented before them. As the work of the court increased and cases began to accumulate, parliament increased the number of judges (including CJI) from the original 8 in 1950 to 11 in 1956, 14 in 1960, 18 in 1978, 26 in 1986 and 31 in 2009, 34 in 2019 (current strength).

As the number of the judges has increased, they sit in smaller benches of two or three (referred to as a division bench) — coming together in larger benches of five or more (referred to as a constitution bench) when required to settle fundamental questions of law. A bench may refer a case before it to a larger bench, should the need arise.

Supreme Court Judges retire upon attaining the age of 65 years.

Provisions exist for the appointment of a Judge of a High Court as an Ad-hoc Judge of the Supreme Court and for retired Judges of the Supreme Court or High Courts to sit and act as Judges of that Court.

A Judge of the Supreme Court cannot be removed from office except by an order of the President passed after an address in each House of Parliament supported by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of members present and voting, and presented to the President in the same Session for such removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.

A person who has been a Judge of the Supreme Court is debarred from practising in any court of law or before any other authority in India.

The proceedings of the Supreme Court are conducted in English only. Supreme Court Rules, 1966 are framed under Article 145 of the Constitution to regulate the practice and procedure of the Supreme Court.

Qualifications of the Judges

In order to be a judge of the Supreme Court, a person must be;
(a) a citizen of India
(b) a judge of a High Court of not less than five years’ standing or an advocate of ten years’ standing in a High Court or an eminent jurist.

Term :   
The Judge of the Supreme Court holds office till the age of 65 years.

He can be removed only on the ground of proven misbehaviour.

Both the Houses of Parliament will pass a motion to that effect by a two third majority of the members present and voting.

But this cannot be less than a majority of the total membership of the House. After this, the President issues an order for the removal of the judge.


The independence of the Judges of the Supreme Court is ensured by the following:

1. The salaries of the Judges have been fixed under the Second Schedule and these shall not be varied to their disadvantages after their appointment.

2. The administrative expenses of the Supreme Court, including pay and allowances of the Judges and their staff, are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India. These expenses are not subject to Parliamentary Vote.

3. The President has to consult, among others, the Chief Justice or the Judges of the Supreme Court while appointing the Judges or the chief Justice of India, as the case may be. This ensures appointment of Judges with independent bent of mind.

4. A Supreme Court Judge cannot be removed by the President except on a joint address by both Houses of Parliament on ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity of Judge in question.

5. Discussion of the conduct of a Judge of the Supreme Court (or a High Court) in Parliament is forbidden except in a case when a motion has already been introduced to remove the Judge.

6. After retirement, a Supreme Court Judge shall not plead or act in any Court or before any authority in the country.


The Supreme Court has three kinds of jurisdiction, namely
(i) Original;
(ii) Appellate, and
(iii) Advisory.

Original Jurisdiction
(i) The Supreme Court is empowered to decide all disputes between the Union and one or more States.

(ii) Under Article 32 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court can enforce fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution.

(iii) It is empowered to issue directions or orders of writs including those in the nature of writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quowarranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, to enforce the fundamental rights.

Appellate Jurisdiction
(i) The Supreme Court hears appeals from any judgement passed by a High Court and which involves a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution.

(ii) The appeals for civil and criminal cases arising from the judgements of High Courts lie with the Supreme Court. However in case of a civil suit appeal, the case must involve a substantial question of law of general importance.

(iii) It has jurisdiction over all courts and tribunals in India and can grant special leave to appeal against any judgement made by these courts and tribunals.

Advisory Jurisdiction
The President can seek the opinion of Supreme Court on important questions of law and fact.

The Supreme Court shall have the power to make rules for its working, subject to the laws made by the parliament in this regard.

The minimum number of Judges to decide an issue involving the interpretation of the constitution or any Presidential reference is five.

Doctrine of Judicial Review

Judicial Review, as emphasised in the Indian Constitution, reprensents the competence of the Supreme Court to act as the guardian and protector of fundamental rights as also the institutions which are set up under the Constitution.

The Judiciary, in other words, has been assigned the role of preventing the executive and the legislature from violating the rights and freedoms guaranteed to the citizen.

It has the power to nullify an executive order or an Act passed by the Parliament or by a State legislature, by declaring in ultra vires of the Constitution or an act as not authorized by law.

Attorney General of India

The Constitution provides for the appointment by the President of a person who is qualified to be appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court to be Attorney-General for India.

The Attorney-Genral holds office during the pleasure of the President.

He gives expert legal advice to the Government of India and performs such duties of legal character as are assigned to him.

He has right of audience in all courts in India and can take part in the proceedings of either House of Parliament but he is not entitled to vote.


Judiciary of India

India has one of the oldest legal systems in the world.

The Preamble defines India as a 'Sovereign Democratic Republic', containing a federal system with Parliamentary form of Government in the Union and the States, an independent judiciary, guaranteed Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy containing objectives which though not enforceable in law, are fundamental to the governance of the nation.

The fountain source of law in India is the Constitution which, in turn, gives due recognition to statutes, case law and customary law consistent with its dispensations.

One of the unique features of the Indian Constitution is that, notwithstanding the adoption of a federal system and existence of Central Acts and State Acts in their respective spheres, it has generally provided for a single integrated system of Courts to administer both Union and State laws.

At the apex of the entire judicial system, exists the Supreme Court of India below which are the High Courts in each State or group of States.

Below the High Courts lies a hierarchy of Subordinate Courts.

Panchayat Courts also function in some States under various names like Nyaya Panchayat, Panchayat Adalat, Gram Kachheri, etc. to decide civil and criminal disputes of petty and local nature.

Before the arrival of the Europeans in India, India was governed by laws based on The Arthashastra, dating from the 400 BC, and the Manusmriti from 100 AD.

In fact there existed two codes of laws one the Hindu code of laws and the other Muslim code of laws.

They were influential treatises in India, texts that were considered authoritative legal guidance. Manusmriti's central philosophy was tolerance and pluralism.

The Judiciary, the Executive, and the Legislature were the same person the King or the Ruler of the Land. But the villages had considerable independence, and had their own panchayth system to resolve disputes among its members.

Only a bigger feud merited a trans village council. This tradition in India continued beyond the Islamic conquest of India, and through to the Middle Ages.

Islamic law "The Sharia" was applied only to the Muslims of the country. But this tradition, along with Islamic law, was supplanted by the common law when India became part of the British Empire. The history of Modern Judicial System in India starts from there.


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