The Indian Judicial System took shape when the British were in the country. Later, upon independence, the Constitution was formed to properly define the powers of the courts. The same also outlined what the hierarchy would be like in India. Here, hierarchy refers to the structure of the courts from the apex court to the grass-root level panchayats.
Let us understand what the entire judicial system in India is like.
Indian Judicial System
The Indian Judicial System is a part of the three pillars of the Indian Government. The other two pillars are Legislature and Executive. India has an independent judiciary that operates on common law. The other departments and organs of the Government cannot interfere in the working of the judiciary. The system operates on the system that was introduced by the British.
The judiciary has appointed members who are experts in the law. They help interpret the law and settle legal cases. The system is considered to be the watchdog of the constitution and ensures the country and the people are not breaking any laws. There is a hierarchy system of the judicial system and the courts. The complete hierarchy of courts in India has been elaborated on below.
Hierarchy of Courts
As mentioned above, the Indian judicial system has a hierarchy system. The court hierarchy in India was established for faster dispensing of justice and to ensure there are no delays. There are four types of courts. A description of each type is as below.
Supreme court is the apex court and the highest level of the judicial system. It mainly functions as an appellate court where that accepts appeals from the high courts. The court’s composition and its jurisdiction are stated in articles 124 to 147 of the Constitution. The Supreme court has been in operation since 28th January 1950. To date, the court has judged over 24,000 cases. The structure of the Supreme Court comprises a Chief Justice and 30 other judges. As per article number 145 of the Constitution, all proceedings of the court are done in the English language.
Decisions made by the Supreme court are binding on all other courts in the country. The Supreme Court can also transfer judges of the high court and also cases between courts or to themselves.
The second type of court, after Supreme Court, are High Court. Within the constitution, article 141, states all about high courts. High courts generally are in charge of states or a group of states or union territory. Therefore, there are a total of 27 high courts in India. The oldest high court in India is the one in Calcutta while the Allahabad one is the largest. All legal cases, criminal or civil, in the state, are handled by the high court. Like the supreme court handles appeals forwarded by the high court, the high court manages appeals by the lower or district courts. They will also issue writs to restore fundamental human rights and also manage the lower courts.
High court judges are appointed by the President of India together with the Chief Justice of India, Chief Justice of High Court and also the Governor of the state and union territory. Depending on the number of cases a particular high court handled in the previous year will dictate how many high court judges will be appointed.
District courts, as per the name, are the courts placed in each district. All cases in the region would be handled by the judges in district court. The goal of establishing each district court is to assist and lessen the workload of the state courts. These courts have several district judges, additional district judges and also additional assistant district judges. Appeals made by the lower or subordinate courts come to the district court. Serious criminal cases are also heard by the district court judges.
Currently, India has a total of 351 district courts out of which 342 are based in states and 9 are union territories. All of the district courts specifically handle cases criminal and civil in nature. The size and structure of each district are different from each other and depend on the population of the district and the number of cases each district manages.
Village Courts or Lok Adalats:
The final type of courts in the Indian judicial system are subordinate courts. They are also known as village courts or lok adalats. Subordinate courts are covered under chapter VI of part VI of the constitution. These state-level courts come under the jurisdiction of the high courts. Judges in the subordinate courts are appointed by the state Governor in consultation with the relevant high court.
Panchayats are a village-level legal system that helps tackle local civil or criminal issues. Panchayats are usually meant to serve as an alternative to approaching courts. Besides these, there are also tribunals or special benches of experienced judges to handle specific cases.
Sub Branches of Courts
As mentioned above, under district courts, there are two major types of courts, Civil and Criminal Civil Courts. Let us understand what each type of court is in the Indian judiciary system.
Criminal courts are meant for cases involving crimes. Crimes such as murder, arson, robbery or assault fall under this category. Here, a case is filed to charge a person with a particular crime. Judges in criminal courts usually charge a person with jail time if found guilty. Criminal cases are dealt with in high courts, session courts and any other courts as mentioned in the first schedule of the code of criminal procedure.
Civil courts deal with all other cases that are not criminal in nature. Judges at civil courts will usually charge fines if an individual is found guilty of any wrongdoing. Examples of civil cases are when a person is sued by another or a business. Family cases like divorce or custody cases also fall under civil courts. Civil courts also have their own hierarchy: district court, sub-judge court, additional sub-judge court and the munsif court.
The Indian judicial system is influenced by the constitution. Not only are its duties but its limitations are also mentioned in the Indian constitution. India’s judiciary system has taken shape over years and today handles lakhs of cases every day. At Lex Solutions, there is a team of experienced professionals who will help people navigate the complicated judiciary system. For any type of legal case, head to Lex Solutions for a satisfactory experience.