Judicial system in India


Out of the three organs which run our country, judiciary is the one which interprets and implements laws. Given the size of the country location of courts are planned according to the needs of the citizens of the nations so as to serve them. There are courts at various levels to serve the people of the nation. A hierarchical judicial system prevails in India which comprises of Supreme court, High courts and district courts or other subordinate courts.

Normally the dispute is first taken up in the lower district and then it climbs the ladder to the higher courts. The Indian judicial system is an independent one and it does not get inferred upon by the other two organs that is the executive and the legislative in its working. The hierarchical system allows the judiciary to maintain a strong hold on the jurisdiction and implementation of laws in the country.


Supreme court of India is the apex court in India. It is the topmost court in the hierarchy of Indian judicial system. It is the court of the land or nation which have been established by part V, chapter IV of the constitution. It is a federal court which looks after the constitution of India. Th supreme court is primarily an appellate court which is reached out because of the appeals against the judgements given in lower courts or more particularly the High court.

Though since the concept of writs came up people directly can reach to the supreme court under article 32 without going through the lower courts. First sitting of the court took place on 26th January 1950. The proceedings of the supreme court take place in English only. Proper operations of the court began soon after on 28 January 1950. The law declared by the Supreme court is binding on all the lower courts.

This court consists of chief justice of India along with around 30 judges and it follows the supreme court rules, 2013 and it has been ensured under article 145 of the Indian constitution. The judges in this court are appointed or hired by the president of India along with the collegium of the judges selected by the chief justice of India. For one to be the judge in this court he should be an Indian citizen, judge of a high court for minimum of five years or an advocate in the high court for minimum ten years or should be a distinctive judge as per the president.

The chief justice of India is appointed by the president.  The office can be held by the judge up-to sixty-five years of age. Supreme courts jurisdiction is divided into original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction. The judges of the court can only be removed by impeachment process.

In original jurisdiction the supreme court has the original jurisdiction to hear to the cases related to writ petitions directly filed there though it is not exclusive as high court can also be approached in cases of writ petitions, also if a dispute arises between central government and state government supreme court hears it.

Appellate jurisdiction, here appeals against judgement of the high court are taken into account though there must an evidence that the case had been previously heard in high court.

And supreme court can intervene in the cases where high court deems it necessary for it to interfere regarding a query of law and the supreme court can decide upon that query in a civil suit. Supreme court can transfer cases from the high court or withdraw them as per section 139A and it can review any of the verdicts given. If a criminal dispute arises the supreme court can hear it without any evidence that high court has given verdict regarding the same if high courts wants the supreme court to which also might mean in reversal of original judgement.

Supreme court can exercise the extra-ordinary jurisdiction on the cases of any court or tribunal which they have decided with judgement through special leave petition though cases like armed forces are an exception.

Advisory jurisdiction- under article 143 of the constitution advisory jurisdiction of supreme court is talked about. The president may ask for the opinions of the supreme court in certain matters of public importance or law. The president may or may not follow the opinion given by the court.


There are as many as 25 high courts in India and all of them are bound by the supreme court’s judgements and order by precedence as per article 141 of the constitution. These courts are declared as constitutional courts under part VI, Chapter V of the constitution. The Kolkata high court is the oldest and Allahabad high court is the largest high court in the country. They have jurisdiction only over a state or union territory or group.

For one to be a judge of high court one must be and Indian citizen and should have at-least ten years of practise at any high court or should hold a judicial office for minimum ten years. They are chosen by the president of India along with governor of the state, CJI of the country and the CJI of the high court. The number of judges in high court are decided by calculating the dividing average of the main cases during past five years by national average or the average rate of disposal of main cases by each judge every year in a high court.

The high courts have the facility of benches to deal with the cases. There is to be one high court in each state. The high court can declare the punishments for contempt of court and are treated as court of records. The judges can serve in the high court till sixty-two years of age.

Jurisdiction of high courts includes matters related to writ petition which can be directly filed in the high courts under article 226 of the constitution. The main work of high court is to listen to appeals from lower courts along with writ jurisdiction. Writ jurisdiction is original jurisdiction of high court. The high courts have the power to look over the jurisdiction of lower courts in family, criminal and civil matters along with other district courts. High courts are courts of original jurisdiction along with district courts which are the subordinate of high courts.

Though is jurisdiction of high court is only used when the lower courts prove themselves to be incapable of trying such matters.  But some specific areas like federal law are only under the jurisdiction of high court meaning they can be heard only by high court. Only high courts of Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai has the power to issue privileged writs and they have the power to practise superintendence over all the tribunal given they are in their regional jurisdiction.


District courts- they are formed by the government of the state for every district. They are made on the factors number of cases, population in the district. These courts exercise their power at the district level and are to be reviewed to the appellate jurisdiction of high court of that particular state to which the district belonged. It has one district judge which the governor along with the consultation of the high court appoints. There are additional district judges as well as assistant district judges depending on the workload.

Subordinate courts dealing with civil cases are-Junior Civil Judge Court, Principal Junior Civil Judge Court, Senior Civil Judge Court and their criminal counterparts are-first class judicial magistrate court, second class judicial magistrate court and chief judicial magistrate court. Matrimonial disputes are dealt in family courts and these cases of family courts are dealt by principal judge along with mahila court.

The district has appellate jurisdiction upon all subordinate courts. 351 district courts are there. The provision of district courts is made in part VI, chapter of constitution VI. To be the judge of the district court one has to be an advocate for at-least seven years with the recommendation from concerning high court. These districts are also called zilla.

Executive and revenue courts- executive courts deal with petty offences under the CrPC. The state government appoints the executive magistrate. And revenue courts deal with the matters related to land revenue

Village courts/panchayats- they can be called Nyaya panchayat or Lok Adalat as well. These courts are required to solve disputes at village level. They were originated from Madras Village court act, 1888. It was the recommendation of law commission that Nyaya panchayat be formed with people of educational attainment.

An observation about 5000 mobile courts have been witnessed and sponsored through Gram Nyaylayas, Act and they will judge petty cases of civil and criminal nature which may lead to imprisonment of up-to two years. The provisions of sub ordinate courts are made in part IV of the constitution. Simple system of informal application is adopted to solve the issues.


It is clear in India we follow a hierarchical form of judicial system which places the supreme court on the top of the ladder. The system is thorough and is organised. Three-layer judicial system provides a strong base as it makes sure the citizens can get justice. If one not satisfied with the judgement of lower court can definitely to the higher courts and also this system ensures that one court does not need to take all the burden and in a country like ours a judicial system like ours is a very effective decision.

Author: Lavanya Goel,
Symbiosis Law School, Noida

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