hierarchy of the courts
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This article is written by Shatakshi Pathak of DME, GGSIPU. In this article, she has done a detailed study of the judicial system of India, functions of the judiciary, the jurisdiction of the courts in India and discussed the hierarchy of courts. 

What is judiciary?

According to the “Rule of law”, all individuals whether they are rich or poor, men or women, from forward or backward caste are subjected to the same law. Judiciary ensures the supremacy of law and the rule of law. The law is interpreted by the judiciary but the judiciary cannot make the law. Judiciary resolves the disputes and ensures justice by applying the laws.

Judicial Meaning

The meaning of judicial is to make judgements in a court of law. Judicial is related to the legal system.

Judiciary in India

India has a single integrated system of Judiciary in view of a single Constitution. The judiciary in India acts as the custodian of the Indian Constitution and the protector of the Fundamental Rights. The Indian Judicial System is one of the oldest legal systems of the World. The Indian legal system was majorly influenced by the local customs and the religion.The judicial system in India is integrated and pyramidal in structure with the Supreme Court at the top and the High Court and the other Subordinate Courts at the lower levels. The adversarial litigation system is followed by the Indian Judicial System in which the impartial neutral party and both the sides present arguments before the Court of law. The Common law system which is followed in England influenced the Indian Judicial System. The laws were developed by the judges through the judgements delivered by courts and these judgements were followed as precedents. The specific feature of the Indian Judicial System is “judicial review”. The judicial review is the power given to the judiciary to determine the validity of law. Article 137 of the Indian Constitution empowers the Supreme Court with the judicial review through which it can declare any law as void when it is unconstitutional or in derogation with the Fundamental Rights. The power of judicial review is given to the High Courts also through which it can overrule the decisions of the lower courts.

According to Article 13 of the Indian Constitution, the laws which are contrary to the Fundamental Rights are declared as void by the judiciary.  

Our Constitution ensures the Independence of Judiciary which means that the other organs of the Government must not restrain the functioning of the judiciary in such a way that it would not be able to do justice. Other organs of the Government should not interfere with its decision and judges must be able to perform their functions without fear or favour. The Constitution of India had granted rights to citizens to ensure equality and protects them from any partial judgement. The power to resolve disputes and to give judgements is based on the rules of law, is given to judiciary.

According to the members of the Constituent Assembly, “ This is the organization which will safeguard those fundamental rights which have been given to every citizen under the Constitution. Therefore, it must be above all obstruction by the Executive. The Supreme Court is considered as the “watchdog of democracy.”  

Indeed, the Independence of the Judiciary is entailed not to favour judges. It is crucial to maintain the pureness of justice and to acquire the trust of people in the administration of justice.

Article 50 of the Indian Constitution ensures the separation of powers of the judiciary from the executive.Our Indian Constitution has granted fundamental rights to people and to sustain these rights the judiciary is made independent by it.

Types of Judiciary 

There are so many countries and each one of them follow different types of the judicial system and follow system according to their own governance.

The United States of America follow the judicial system in which there is a two-court system. The State Court system and the Federal Court system are the two types of court in the USA. These courts are not totally independent from each other as they usually interact with each other. The main objective of every judicial system is to solve legal issues and to vindicate legal rights.

The Article III court is followed in various countries. The Supreme Court, District Courts and Circuit Courts of Appeal are the courts which are included in Article III Courts. There are other special courts like the International Courts and the Court of Claims are also included in the Article III courts.

There are second type of court system in various countries which may include the Bankruptcy Courts, Tax courts, Magistrate courts, Court of Veterans Appeals and the Court of Military. There are various types of State Court Systems and most of them are composed of the two types of trial courts, Traffic and Family courts which are included in the trial courts having limited jurisdiction. The general jurisdiction courts are also there which includes the intermediate appellate courts, the main trivial courts and the highest state courts also. In contrast to the Federal Courts, a large number of the State Court Judges are either elected or appointed not permanently but for a specific number of years. 

The Trial Courts of limited jurisdiction manage certain sorts of particular cases. Generally, these courts are located near the courthouse of the country or inside the country and usually presided over by one judge. The Municipal Court, family court and probate court are the few types of trial courts having limited jurisdiction. The Trial Courts of general jurisdiction are the principal trial courts in the state’s system. These Courts hears the cases which are beyond the jurisdiction of the trial courts of limited jurisdiction. These courts deal with both civil and criminal cases. In most of the states of the U.S., there are intermediate appellate courts in between the highest court of the State and the trial courts of general jurisdiction. There are some kinds of highest courts in all the States and these are referred to as the Supreme Courts in some States. 

The common tradition law system is followed in England and this system is followed in the colonized countries of England also.

There are several countries and each country has a different organization of courts of law which includes the District Courts, the Supreme Court, the Magistrate Courts, Regional Labour Courts and National Labour Courts. The Magistrate Courts are considered as the primary trial courts. These courts have jurisdiction to deal with criminal matters. The District Courts are the courts at a middle level and these courts deal with the matters which are not under the sole jurisdiction of the other courts. The Supreme Court has the authority to hear criminal and civil appeals from the District Courts.   

Functions of Judiciary

The judiciary played an eminent role in a modern democratic state. It performs various functions, like:

  • Interpretation of law

The foremost function of the judiciary is to interpret the law and use them in a particular case by applying the principles of customs, statutes and various provisions of the Constitution. They go through the facts of the case and analyse what legal rights of parties in the case are affected and what law should be applied in this situation. When the law is lacking, judiciary applies the principle of justice, equity, and morality.

  • Guardian of the Constitution

Our Constitution gives the right to all citizens to protect themselves from inequality and the Court protect these rights. The power of judicial review is also given to the Supreme Court of India and it enjoys the power to declare a law passed by the legislature as unconstitutional if that law conflicts with the Constitution. It is not only the guardian of the Constitution but it also modifies the Constitution with the changing conditions. It has also expanded the Constitution through inference of its original provisions. The Indian Supreme Court had also pronounced some laws as “ultra vires” on the rationale of “procedure established by law”.

  • Custodian of Civil Liberties

The judiciary protects individual liberty by punishing those who intrude against it. It also safeguards people against tyrannical action of the Government. Article 32 which is known as the “heart and soul of the Indian Constitution” provides right to the people that they can directly approach the Supreme Court in the case of the infringement of the fundamental rights. A writ can also be filed in the High Court under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution to protect these rights.

  • Resolves the disputes of jurisdiction between the Centre and State Governments in Federations

  The Constitution of India establishes a federal structure to the Indian Government, so the powers are divided between the Centre and the States. There are chances that disputes may arise between the Centre and the State over the jurisdiction. Therefore, the Supreme Court is given the right to decide these disputes.

  • Advisory Function

In India, the Supreme Court acquires the right from the Constitution to advise the President on the legal issues. Article 143 of the Indian Constitution empowers the Supreme Court with the advisory jurisdiction.

  • Administrative Functions 

The Supreme Court and the High Courts have the authority to appoint their local officials and subordinate staff.

Indian Judiciary Chart 

Hierarchy of courts and their jurisdiction should be properly defined to deal with the disputes which arise every day in a big country like India. The Supreme Court of India deals with the cases at the National level, the High Court deals with cases at the State level and Subordinate courts (Civil and Criminal) deals with the cases at the District and Subordinate level. 

 

hierarchy of courts in India
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Types of Courts in India – 7 types of Courts in India

There are various types of Courts in India, each has different powers depending on the tier and jurisdiction conferred on them. They function according to the set hierarchy of the courts.

Supreme Court 

In our country, the Constitution lays down the foundation of an integrated judiciary having Supreme Court as the highest and final court of appeal. Article 124(1) of the Indian Constitution states that there shall be a Supreme Court of India constituting of a Chief Justice of India. Initially, the Supreme Court of India consists of the Chief Justice of India and seven other judges. The Parliament may, by law, increase or decrease the number of judges of the Supreme Court when it is required. Now, the Supreme Court has 31 judges including the Chief Justice of India. In our Constitution, there is a provision of appointment of judges on an ad hoc basis, whenever it is required. Article 127(1) of the Indian Constitution deals with the appointment of ad hoc judges. Ad hoc is a Latin term which means “for this”. It means for a particular purpose. When a quorum of judges is not available to continue or hold the sessions of Court then ad hoc judges were appointed. The Chief Justice of India can appoint a High court judge as an ad hoc judge of the Supreme Court after consultation with the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court.

The President of India appoints the judges of the Supreme Court and the later can consult with the Chief Justice of India and also with existing judges of the Supreme Court regarding such appointment. In case of appointment of the Chief Justice of India, the President shall consult such judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts.

  1. For a person to be eligible as a judge of the Supreme Court, he/she must be a citizen of India, and should have been for at least five years a judge of a High Court or of two or more such Courts in succession, or
  2. should have been an experience of practicing as an advocate of High Court for the last ten years or of two or more such courts in succession or
  3. should in the opinion of the President be an eminent jurist. 

The Supreme Court of India is the highest court of appeal and is vested with various powers, it exercises original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction.

Powers of the Supreme Court

  1. The Supreme Court has the power to punish for contempt of Court under Article 129 of the Indian Constitution.
  2. The power of Judicial Review is given to the Supreme Court under Article 32 and Article 136 of the Indian Constitution. They have the power to examine the legislative enactments and executive orders whether they are consistent with the provisions of the Constitution or not.
  3. Supreme Court is a deciding authority in the election of the President and the Vice President and enquiring authority in conduct and behaviour of Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) members.
  4. Article 134 of the Indian Constitution empowers the Supreme Court to withdraw the cases from the High Court.
  5. Article 126 of the Indian Constitution states that when the office of the Chief Justice of India is vacant or when the Chief Justice is by reason of absence or otherwise unable to perform his duties of the office, then the President of India may appoint a judge of the Supreme Court to dispense the duties of the office.
  6. Article 127 of the Indian Constitution states that the Chief Justice of India can appoint a judge of High Court as an ad hoc judge in the Supreme Court with the consent of the President if at any time there is a lack of quorum of judges in the Supreme Court.
  7. Article 128 of the Indian Constitution states that the Chief Justice of India at any time with the prior consent of the President and the person to be so appointed can appoint any person who had previously held the office of a judge of the Supreme Court.
  8. The Supreme Court has the power of revisory jurisdiction under Article 137 of the Indian Constitution through which Supreme Court can review its judgements.

The Supreme Court is a court of record because its judgements are of evidentiary value and cannot be questioned in any court.

The Procedure to remove the Chief Justice of India and the judges of the Supreme Court is given under Article 124(4) of the Constitution of India. The President of India appoints the judges of the Supreme Court of India, so the power to remove them from their post is vested upon him. But, according to the Constitution of India, the judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive organs of the Government. So the judges of the Supreme Court can be removed only on the basis of proven incapacity or misbehaviour.

High Court              

Article 214 of the Indian Constitution states that there shall be a High Court for each State. The High Court consist of one Chief Justice and other judges. The President appoints the Chief Justice of the High Court in consultation with the Chief Justice of India while other judges were appointed by the President in consultation with the Governor of the state, Chief Justice of the High Court as well as the Chief Justice of India. If in the High Court the office of the Chief Justice falls vacant due to some reasons then the President can ask any of the Judge to look after the duties of the Chief Justice.

A person may be appointed as the Chief Justice of the High Court:

  1. If the person is an Indian citizen, and
  2. If he had held the judicial office in the territory of India, or
  3. At least an advocate for 10 years in the High Court or two or more High Courts in succession, and
  4. The age should be below 62 years.

A judge can remain in the office until he has attained the age of 62 years and can also resign before the retirement by giving a resignation letter to the President. He can also be removed if the Parliament passed a resolution which is supported by the majority of the total membership of the House in which the motion of removal has been passed and by a majority of not less than two-third members of the House present and voting has been presented before the President, on the grounds of proved misbehaviour or incapacity. He can also vacate the office of the Court when the President appoints him as the judge of the Supreme Court. 

Powers of the High Court

  1. Under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution, a person can directly file a petition in the High Court in case of infringement of the Fundamental Rights. 
  2. Election-related cases or marriage/divorce related cases can be directly filed in the High Court.
  3. The High Court has the power to give punishment for the contempt of the Court.
  4. The High Court has the power to review the cases of the lower Court and give its judgement accordingly.
  5. The High Court exercises original, appellate, supervisory and administrative jurisdiction.
  6. The High Court is a court of record and its judgements are of evidentiary value for the Subordinate Courts and its decision is binding on the Subordinate Courts and no Subordinate Courts can challenge them.
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Civil Courts Meaning

Civil courts deal with the cases or offences that are committed against a private individual and not against the State unlike in criminal cases where the offence is committed against the State. Civil wrongs include tort, breach of contract etc. In India, the hierarchy of Civil Courts is based on the territorial and pecuniary jurisdiction of the courts. Civil Courts can deal with the cases which have been committed within its territory and also which is within the pecuniary limits of the court. 

The Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal for entertaining civil cases and these cases can not be filed directly in the Supreme Court, the appeal can be filed against the order of the High Court but in case of infringement of the fundamental rights one can directly approach to the Supreme Court.The appeal against the order of the District Court can be filed in the High Court and the cases above the value of Rs. 20 lakhs can directly be filed in the High Court of the State. District Court deals with the cases which lie between the value of Rs. 3 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh. The cases up to Rs. 3 lakhs were entertained by the Civil Judge the junior division and the original cases were entertained by him. Small Causes Courts are the lowest Court of appeal in the hierarchy of Civil Courts and it deals with the cases of value below Rs. 3 lakh. The Civil Courts are governed by the Civil Procedure Code. The Civil Courts can award damages or compensation to the party whose legal rights have been infringed. Plaintiff and Defendant are the parties to a civil case.

District Court and Additional District Court

The State Government in India has established the District Courts in every district by considering the number of cases and population  in that district. The District Courts of India are presided by a district judge and these courts administer justice at a district level. These courts are under administrative and judicial control of the High Court of the State to which that district belongs. The District and Sessions Judge is the highest Court in each district. The Governor after consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court of that State appoints the judges of the District Court and the eligibility criteria to become a judge of District Court is at least seven years of practice as an advocate. The District Court is the highest Civil Court in a district. Civil and Criminal Courts are two types of Courts in every district. Civil Courts exercise the power of subject matter jurisdiction, territorial Jurisdiction, pecuniary jurisdiction and appellate jurisdiction.   

Powers of the District Court

  1. The District Court hears criminal cases, domestic related cases and civil cases.
  2. The District judge in case of criminal cases has the power to give any punishment including capital punishment.
  3. The Chief Judicial Magistrate can deal with the cases which are punishable with imprisonment for a term up to seven years.

When the District Court exercises its jurisdiction in criminal cases under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC), it is referred as sessions court. The Court is presided by a judge who is appointed by the High Court of that particular State. Additional Sessions Judges and Assistant Sessions Judges in this Court can also be appointed by the High Court of that State. Additional Sessions Judges can be appointed in POCSO cases, electricity cases, NDPS, FTC etc. The appeal can be filed in the High Court against the decision of the District Court.

Court of Civil Judge (Senior Division)

The Court of Civil Judge of Senior Division comes at the middle of the hierarchy on the civil side. Civil Judge or Senior Division has the authority to try civil cases of any value. There are many additional courts of Additional Civil Judge(senior division). These additional courts have the same jurisdiction as exercised by the principal court of Civil Judge or Senior Division. A Senior Division or Civil Judge exercises pecuniary jurisdiction without any limit.

Court of Civil Judge (Junior Division)

The Court of Civil Judge of Junior Division is at the lowest level in deciding civil cases. It has the power to impose any sentence in accordance with the law and it can provide capital punishment also. Civil Judge of Junior Division can extend its jurisdiction in all the original suits and proceedings. 

Eligibility to become Civil Judge of Junior Division:

  • An applicant must have done LL.B(Bachelor of Laws)/LL.M.(Master of Laws) with 55% from any university which was recognized by the State Government/Central Government.
  • Age limit is 21-35 years and relaxation in age is provided to reserved candidates. 

Court of small causes for metropolitan cities 

Under the Presidency Small Cause Courts Act, 1882, the court of small causes for metropolitan cities were established in India. This Act empowered the State Government that it can establish a Court of Small Causes anywhere within its territory. These courts have the authority to decide small value civil cases only.

Munsiff court or court of sub judge III class

Munsiff court is the lowest court of appeal for civil cases in the district. It has the authority to try the offence under certain pecuniary limits. Munsiff Magistrate/ Judicial Collector have control over these courts. 

The territorial jurisdiction of the District Munsiff Court was prescribed by the State Government. The judge and presiding officer of the District are Munsiff Magistrate who keep a charge on all the tax inspectors.

Criminal Court Meaning

Criminal wrong is a wrong against the whole society not only against the victim. Criminal Courts deal with criminal matters which are considered as a crime against the State.

The Supreme Court exercises appellate jurisdiction through which it has the power to withdraw cases from the High Court regarding criminal matters. The appeal against the order of the District Court can be filed in the High Court of the State. 

The hierarchy of the Criminal Courts in India is given in Section 6 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 which is given as follows:

  1. Session Court
  2. Judicial Magistrate of the first class
  3. Judicial Magistrate of the second class
  4. Executive Magistrate

Session Court

The lowest court of appeal in the hierarchy of Criminal Court is the Court of sessions where the sessions judge conducted the trial. Section 9 of CrPC empowers the State Government to establish a Session Court for every sessions division. The High Court appoints the judge of Session Court. Additional Session Judges and Assistant Session Judges can also be appointed by the High Court to exercise jurisdiction in a Session Court. 

This Court deals with cases related to theft, murders, dacoity etc. Session Court is empowered to provide a sentence of death and can impose fines for a criminal offence.

The High Court can appoint the Sessions Judge of one division to be an Additional Sessions Judge of another division. When the office of the Sessions Judge left vacant due to some reasons then the High Court has the power to do arrangements for the disposal of any urgent case. If any case is pending before the Session Court then Additional or Assistant Sessions Judge shall have jurisdiction to deal with such a case and in a situation where there is no Additional or Assistant Session Judge then Chief Judicial Magistrate in the sessions division can deal with such application.

Subordinate Judge Class I

Section 11 of the CrPC provided that the State Government can establish the Court of Judicial Magistrate of the first class in the district and any number by consulting with the High Court of the respective State.

It is given in Section 15 of the CrPC that a Judicial Magistrate is subordinate to the Chief Judicial Magistrate and it is subject to the control of the Sessions Judge.

Section 29 of the CrPC empowered the Judicial Magistrate of First Class that he may impose a fine not more than ten thousand rupees or may pass a sentence of imprisonment for not more than three years.

Subordinate Judge Class II

Section 11 of the CrPC empowered the State Government that it can establish the Court of Judicial Magistrate of the second class in the district and in any number by consulting with the High Court of the respective State.

Section 29(3) of the CrPC empowered the Judicial Magistrate of Second Class that he may impose a fine of not more than five thousand rupees or may pass a sentence of imprisonment for not more than one year or both. 

It is incorporated in Schedule I and Schedule II of the Cr.P.C. that the offences which are triable by either “Any Magistrate” or “Judicial Magistrate of the Second Class” such offences can be tried by a Judicial Magistrate.

Executive Magistrate

Section 20 of CrPC empowered the State Government to appoint Executive Magistrates in every metropolitan area and in every district. It has the authority to appoint one of the Executive Magistrate as the District Magistrate and it can appoint any Executive Magistrate as the Additional District Magistrate and such magistrate has the same power as enjoyed by the District Magistrate under CrPC.

If the office of a District Magistrate left vacant then any officer who is succeeding temporarily to the executive administration of the district shall exercise the same power as enjoyed by the District Magistrate under CrPC. The State Government is empowered to give charge of a sub-division to the Executive Magistrate. The Executive Magistrate who got the charge of a sub-division shall be called as Sub-divisional Magistrate.  

Jurisdiction of Courts in India 

Civil Courts

  1. Subject matter jurisdiction

Under this Court, the Civil Court has the authority to deal with the cases of a particular type and concerning a particular subject matter. For example- cases related to family matters can only be dealt with by the Family Courts and not by NCLT that specifically deals with company matters only.

Territorial Jurisdiction

When a court exercises its powers within its territory then it is called the territorial jurisdiction. This Court can decide within a geographical limit of the jurisdiction of the court and it can not exercise its powers outside the geographical limit. For example, Madhya Pradesh will have jurisdiction to decide matters arising within Madhya Pradesh only and not outside. 

Pecuniary Jurisdiction

Under this jurisdiction, the Court has the authority to hear and decide the cases on the basis of the monetary value or the amount of the case or the suit in question.

Appellate Jurisdiction

Courts with higher authority have the power to exercise appellate jurisdiction. Under this jurisdiction, the court with higher authority can review the case that has already been decided by a lower court. In our country, cases are brought in the form of appeal in the Supreme Court and the High Court, both these courts have the power of appellate jurisdiction. They have the power to overrule the decisions of the lower court.

Criminal Courts

The procedure to conduct the trial in the criminal courts is provided in the Criminal Procedure Code. 

  • According to Section 177 of the CrPC, the Court has the authority of the trial of the case only if the offence has been committed under the jurisdiction of that court.
  • Section 178 of the Crpc, deals with the following matters:
  1. When the offence has been committed in several places and the place of the offence is doubtful.
  2. When the offence is partly at one place and the rest at another place.
  3. When the offence is committed at different places and comprises of several acts.

If any of the above situations are fulfilled, then such offence may be tried in a court having jurisdiction over any of such local areas. 

  • Under the provisions of Section 179 of the CrPC, it is postulated that any act which becomes offence due to any emanating consequences it is valid for trial in the court of proficient jurisdiction.
  • According to the provisions of Section 180 of the CrPC, when the act committed is an offence because it is related to another offence then the place of trial of the court is according to the offence which has been committed first has to be inquired into or tried by either of the courts under whose jurisdiction the act has been committed.
  • According to the provisions of Section 181(1) of the CrPC, the trial not only commenced in where the offence was committed, but it can also be commenced where the accused is found. It also deals with the cases when the offence is not committed in a single place.  It deals with the following situations:
  1. The trial of the court is commenced where the accused is found or the offence is committed while performing the act of dacoity, dacoity with murder, thug etc. the thug, or murder has committed.
  2. In the case of abduction or kidnapping of a person, the trial is commenced where the person has abducted/kidnapped or where the person was conveyed or concealed or detained.
  3. In case of robbery, extortion or theft, the trial of the court is commenced where the stolen property is possessed, delivered or received or the court where the offence has been committed. 
  4. In the case of criminal breach of trust or criminal misappropriation, the trial has been committed where any part of the property which is the subject matter of the offence has been received or retained, required to be returned or accounted for, by the accused or where the offence has been committed.
  • Section 182 of the CrPC has provided the provisions for the offences which are committed by letters etc. If the victim has been deceived by telecommunication messages or by means of letters or if any offence committed includes cheating then the trial of the court has been commenced where the messages or letters have been sent or received and under the local jurisdiction of the court where the property has been received by the accused person or where the property has been delivered by the person deceived.
  • Section 183 of the CrPC has provided provisions for the offences which have been committed during voyage or journey. During the journey, when a person commits an offence against a traveller or the thing in respect of which the offence has been committed is in due course of its voyage or journey, the trial of the court has been commenced under the local jurisdiction where the person or thing has been passed.
  • Section 185 of the CrPC empowered the State Government to direct any cases or class of cases can be tried in a Sessions Court for which the trial has been committed in any district.
  • Section 186 of the CrPC empowered the High Court to resolve the confusion when the cognizance of a particular offence has been taken by more than one court and confusion arises that which of the Courts shall inquire into or try that offence.
  • Section 187 of the CrPC empowers the Magistrate to issue warrant or summons for offences which do not come under the local jurisdiction of it. In this condition, the Magistrate has the power to order such a person to be produced before him and then send him to the Magistrate of proficient jurisdiction.      
  • Section 188 of the CrPC has provided provisions for the offences which are committed outside the territory of India. According to the provisions of this section, if an offence is committed outside the territory of India:
  1. By an Indian citizen, whether on the high seas or elsewhere.
  2. By a person, not being a citizen of India, on any ship or aircraft registered in India.

This offence is considered as such offence which had been committed at any place within the territory of India and at a place where such person may be found.

  • Section 189 of the CrPC provides the authority to the Central Government that it can take the receipt of evidence for the offences which are committed outside the territory of India.  
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Jurisdiction of Supreme Court in India

Original Jurisdiction

Under this jurisdiction, the Court refers to a matter for which that particular court is approached first. Article 131 of the Indian Constitution gives power to the Supreme Court to resolve the dispute which arises between the States of India or between the State Government and the Union Government.

Article 32 of the Indian Constitution empowered the Supreme Court to exercise original jurisdiction in case of infringement of the Fundamental Rights.

Appellate Jurisdiction

The power to exercise appellate jurisdiction lies with the Higher Courts. Through this jurisdiction, courts have the power to review, amend and overrule the decisions of the lower courts. Article 132, Article 133 and Article 134 of the Indian Constitution deals with the Appellate Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in appeals from the high courts in these cases:

  1. If the High Court certifies that the substantial question of law is raised in the case and it needs interpretation of the Constitution in Constitutional matters.
  2. If the High Court certifies that the substantial question of law of general importance involved in the case in civil matters.
  3. If in criminal matters, the High Court has withdrawn the case from the Subordinate Court and on appeal reversed the order of acquittal of an accused and sentenced him to death.
  4. If the High Court certifies that the case is a worth appeal to the Supreme Court.

In any of the cases, whether it is of criminal, civil or any other proceeding, if the case involves the interpretation of the Constitution then the Supreme Court has the final authority to elaborate the meaning and the intent of the Constitution. 

Advisory Jurisdiction

Under this jurisdiction, the President of India can plea the advice of the Supreme Court to give its opinion on any issue of law or act. Article 143 of the Indian Constitution empowers the President of India to seek the opinion of the Supreme Court on any issue of public importance. But the Supreme Court can only advise on that issue, that opinion is not binding on the President.

Special leave petition

Article 136 of the Indian Constitution empowered the Supreme Court to grant special leave against the judgement or the order passed by any court within the territory of India. Article 262 of the Indian Constitution prohibits the Supreme Court from hearing the issues related to inter-state riparian disputes and power of special leave petition granted to the Supreme Court has been frequently used to prevent this bar.

Court of record

In India, the Supreme Court is considered as a “Court of Record”. The judgements or acts passed by the Supreme Court of India are apprehended as legal references and legal precedents. The Supreme Court is a court of record because its judgements are of evidentiary value and cannot be questioned in any court.

Jurisdiction of High Court in India

Original Jurisdiction

In several cases, people can directly approach to the High Court of India without appeal and this is known as original jurisdiction. The High Court enjoys the power of the original jurisdiction in the following cases: 

  1. If there is a dispute between the Legislative Assembly and the Members of the Parliament.
  2. In matters related to contempt of court, marriage etc.
  3. In case of the infringement of the Fundamental Rights.
  4. If the case involves the question of law which the court itself transferred from the other court.

Writ Jurisdiction

Article 226 of the Indian Constitution grants powers to the High Court to issue directions, writs or orders in the name of Certiorari, Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Prohibition or Quo Warranto. The High Court can issue writs in the matter of the Fundamental Rights and other matters also which lie within its territorial jurisdiction. 

Appellate Jurisdiction

The High Court is considered as the primary court of appeal because it is empowered to hear appeals against the judgement given by the Subordinate Courts within its territorial jurisdiction. It can exercise appellate jurisdiction in the matters of criminal jurisdiction and civil jurisdiction. The judgements related to Sessions Court and Additional Sessions Court comes under the criminal jurisdiction and the cases involving confirmation of death sentence, imprisonment for seven years awarded by session court before execution. The orders and the judgements of the District Courts, Additional District Courts and other Subordinate Courts come under the civil jurisdiction.  

Supervisory Jurisdiction

Article 227 of the Indian Constitution empowered the High Court with the power of superintendence over all the courts which come under its territorial jurisdiction except tribunals or military courts which deals with armed forces. The High Court covers both judicial and administrative superintendence. It is not necessary that the appeal came before the High Court on the application of a party only, it can be “suo moto” which means “on its own motion”.

Jurisdiction of District Court and Additional District Court

The District Court or Additional District Court empowered with both original jurisdictions as well as appellate jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases which lies within that district. Civil Courts are governed by the procedure of the Civil Procedure Code and Criminal Courts are governed by the Criminal Procedure Code. In some cases, District Courts have the power of original jurisdiction in both civil and criminal matters, these cases cannot be tried by a lesser court than the District Court.

Civil Courts exercise the power of Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Territorial Jurisdiction, Pecuniary Jurisdiction and Appellate Jurisdiction. As per the Criminal Procedure Code, a sessions judge of District Court can reward a maximum sentence to the convict is capital punishment.

The District Court exercises the power of appellate jurisdiction over the Subordinate Courts in both the criminal as well as civil cases. Senior Civil Judge Court, Principal Junior Civil Judge Court and Junior Civil Judge Court are the Subordinate Courts in civil cases. Chief Judicial Magistrate, First Class Judicial Magistrate Court and Second Class Judicial Magistrate Court are the Subordinate Courts in criminal cases. The appeal against the order of the Supreme Court can be filed in the High Court of the concerned state.  

Jurisdiction of Subordinate Court

The Code of Criminal Procedure provided provisions for the jurisdiction in criminal matters.

Section 14 of the CrPC deals with the local jurisdiction of Judicial Magistrates. This section empowers the Chief Judicial Magistrate, who is subjected to the control of the High Court that he can define the local limits of the areas from time to time, within which the Magistrates exercise all or any of the powers with which they are invested under this code:

  1. It is provided that the Special Judicial Magistrate Court may hold its sitting at any place within its local jurisdiction.
  2. If the exception is provided by such definition then the powers of the Magistrate and its local jurisdiction shall extend throughout the district.
  3. Where the local jurisdiction of a Magistrate has been extended beyond the district of its jurisdiction or the metropolitan area, as the case may be in which he generally holds court, any reference in this code to the Court of Session, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate or the Chief Judicial Magistrate, in relation to such magistrate, throughout the area which comes under his local jurisdiction, be interpreted, unless the circumstances otherwise requires, as a reference to the Court of Session, Chief Judicial Magistrate, or Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, as the case may be exercising jurisdiction in relation to that district or metropolitan area. 

Section 22  of the CrPC deals with the local jurisdiction of Executive Magistrates. This section empowered the District Court, which is subjected to the control of the State Government, that it can draw the local limits of the areas under which the Executive Magistrates may use all or any of the powers with which they may be endowed under this code but there are exceptions when the powers and jurisdiction of such Magistrate shall extend throughout the district.

Section 27 of the CrPC deals with the jurisdiction in the case of juveniles. If the accused is under the age of sixteen years then the case is tried by the Court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate or by any court which is tried under the Children Act, 1960.

Section 177 to Section 189 of the CrPC deals with the provisions related to inquiries and trials of the jurisdiction of the Criminal Courts.

Section 177 of the CrPC provides that the court which comes under the local jurisdiction where the offence has been committed then that offence must be inquired and tried by that court.

Section 178 of the CrPC deals with the provisions related to the place where trial or enquiry of offence should be commenced when there is uncertainty regarding the place of commencement of offence.

Section 179 of the CrPC provides that the trial of the offence is commenced at the place of the act where it is done or the place where the consequence ensues.

Section 180 of the CrPC provided the provisions for a place of trial in a situation where an act becomes offence due to another offence.

In case of certain offences, Section 181 of the CrPC provides provisions for the place of trial for such offences.

Section 182 of the CrPC deals with the offences which are committed by telecommunication messages or by letters etc. 

Section 183 of the CrPC deals with the offences which are committed during journey or voyage.

Section 184 of the CrPC deals with the offences which are triable together and provide provisions for such offences.

Section 185 of the CrPC empowered the State Government to direct any cases or class of cases can be tried in a Sessions Court for which the trial has been committed in any district.

Section 186 of the CrPC empowered the High Court to decide the district where the trial or inquiry of offence should be commenced in cases where there is confusion regarding the place of trial.

Section 187 of the CrPC empowers the Magistrate to issue warrant or summons for the offence which is committed beyond the local jurisdiction. 

Section 188 of the CrPC describes the offences which are committed outside the territory of India.

Section 189 of the CrPC provides the authority to the Central Government that it can take the receipt of evidence for the offences which are committed outside the territory of India.

The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, provided provisions for the jurisdiction in case of civil matters.

Section 15 of the CPC provides that the suit for the offence firstly have to be instituted in the Court of the lowest grade competent for the trial.

Section 16 of the CPC provided that where suits have to be instituted, should be based on the subject matter which is subject to the pecuniary or other limitations prescribed by the law.

Section 17 of the CPC provided that the suits for the immovable property have to be filed within the local limits of whose jurisdiction where any part of the property is situated.

Section 18 of the CPC provided provisions for the place of institution of the suit where local limits of the jurisdiction of Courts are uncertain.

Section 20 of the CPC provided provisions for the place of institution of other suits. It states that suits for the offence have to be instituted where the cause of action arises or at the place where the defendants reside.

Conclusion

It is evident from this article that the Constitution of India played a crucial role in the rules and laws which are enforced from time to time to strengthen the judicial system of the country. The three-layer judicial system is necessary for the proper functioning of the judiciary in a big country like India to ensure proper justice to the citizens of a country. Every day a lot of disputes were raised, so proper hierarchy of courts and their jurisdiction should be properly defined to deal with such disputes.  

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1 COMMENT

  1. Usually I never comment on blogs but this article is so convincing that I was not able to stop myself to say something about it. Very well written article and clearly explained.

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