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Indian Judicial System: Type Of Courts In India

Indian Judicial System

Understanding the Indian judicial system is complex, but, it is very important to know the types of courts. Let’s understand the various types of courts in India.


The Indian judicial system is widely regarded as one of the finest globally. It instills a strong sense of pride among Indians, owing to its foundation on principles of equity and impartiality. This system is structured with key tiers: the Supreme Court, High Courts, and subordinate courts functioning at municipal, village, and district tiers. Let’s delve into the categories of courts within India.

Hierarchy of Courts in India

The judiciary of India is divided into not one but several levels to decentralise matters at all levels. The fundamental structure of the Indian judicial system is as follows:

Supreme Court of India

Supreme Court of India is the highest level of court of Indian juridical system which was established as per Part V, Chapter IV of the Constitution of India which endorses the concept of Supreme Court as the Federal Court to play the role of the guardian of the esteemed constitution of India with the status of the highest level of court in the status of appeal cases.

  • Constitution Regulation

As conferred by Articles 124 to 147 of Indian Constituency, the jurisdiction and composition of the Supreme Court is being fixed. This court is primarily of the status of appellate court. This court is accepting the appeals of cases which are being heard in the High courts situated in different states and union territories with dissatisfaction of related parties. This court also accepts writ petitions with the suspected occurrence of activities which may infer about violation of human rights and subsequent petitions are accepted to hear and judge the consequences of such happenings.

These types of petitions are accepted under Article 32 of Indian constitution. This article confers the right to ensure remedies through constitution. This court also hears about such serious issues which need to be attended with immediate attention.

  • History

This court has started its operation since 28th January 1950 with the inaugural sitting, the day since when the constitution of independent India had been effectively applicable. The court had already taken care of more than 24,000 judgments as per report of the Supreme Court.

  • Structure and Application

This court is comprised of the Chief Justice along with 30 other judges to carry on the operation of the court. The proceeding of the Supreme Court is being heard only in the language of English.  The Supreme Court is governed by the Supreme Court Rules which was published in the year 1966.

The same had been fixed under the Article number 145 of the Constitution of India to ensure the regulation of procedures and practices of the Supreme Court.  This article is passing through the process of upgrading with the presently enforced Article as per the Supreme Court Rules, 2013.

High Court of India

  • Constitution

High Courts are second Courts of Importance of the democracy of India. They are run by Article 141 of the Constitution of India. They are governed by the bindings conferred by the Supreme Court of India so far judgments and orders are concerned. The Supreme Court of India is the highest level of courts and is responsible for fixing the guidance to the High Courts set by precedence.

High courts are the types of courts which are instituted as the courts powered by constitution with the effect of Article 214 Part IV Chapter V of the Indian Constitution. There are 24 high courts in India taking care of the regional juridical system of India out of which Kolkata High Court is the oldest.

  • Jurisdiction

These courts are mainly confined to the jurisdiction of state, group of states or Union Territory. They are being empowered to govern the jurisdiction of lower courts like family, civil and criminal courts with other different courts of the districts.  These courts are of the statute of principal civil courts so far originality of jurisdiction is concerned in the related domain of the states and the other district courts.

These courts are treated as subordinate to High Courts by status. But High Courts are mainly exercising their jurisdiction related to civil or criminal domain if the lower courts are proved incapable of exercising their power as per authorization extended by law.  These situations may be generated through the inability of financial or territorial jurisdiction. There are specific areas in which only High Courts can exercise the right for hearing like cases related to Company Law as it is designated specially in a state or federal law.

But normally the high courts are involved in the appeals raised in the cases of lower courts with the writ petitions as conferred in Article 226 of the Constitution of India. The area of writ petitions is also the sole jurisdiction of high courts. The jurisdiction of High Court is varying so far territorial jurisdiction is considered.

  • Official structure and application

The appointment of the judges of High Courts are being executed by the President of India with the consultation of the Chief Justice of India, the Chief Justice of High Court and the Governor of the state or union territory.

Decision on the number of judges in High Court is mainly dictated considering the higher number of either the average of organization of main cases for the last years as per the average nationally calculated or the average rate of main cases disposed per judge per year in the respective high court.

The high courts with handling of most of the cases of a particular area are provided with the facility of permanent benches or branches of the court situated there only. To serve the complainants of remote regions the establishment of circuit benches had been made to facilitate the service with the schedule of operation as per the occurrence of visit of the judge.

Lower Courts of India

District Courts

  • Constitution

The basis of structuring of district courts in India is mainly depending upon the discretion of the state governments or the union territories. The structure of those courts are mainly made considering several factors like the number of cases, distribution of population, etc. Depending upon those factors the state government takes the decision of numbers of District Courts to be in operation for single district or clubbing together different adjacent districts.

Normally these types of courts exercise their power of juridical service in district level. These courts are covered by the administrative power of the High Courts under which the district courts are covered. The judgments of the district courts are subject to review to the appellate jurisdiction of the respective high court.

  • Structure and Jurisdiction

The district courts are mainly run by the state government appointed district judges. There are additional district judges and assistant district judges who are there to share the additional load of the proceedings of District Courts. These additional district judges have equal power like the district judges for the jurisdiction area of any city which has got the status of metropolitan area as conferred by the state government. These district courts have the additional jurisdictional authority of appeal handling over the subordinate courts which are there in the same district specifically in the domain of civil and criminal affairs.

The subordinate courts covering the civil cases, in this aspect are considered as Junior Civil Judge Court, Principal Junior and Senior Civil Judge Court, which are also known as Sub Courts, Subordinate Courts. All these courts are treated with ascending orders. The subordinate courts covering the criminal cases are Second Class Judicial Magistrate Court, First Class Judicial Magistrate Court, and Chief Judicial Magistrate Court along with family courts which are founded to deal with the issues related to disputes of matrimonial issues only. The status of Principal Judge of family court is at par with the District Judge.

There are in total 351 district courts in operation out of which 342 are of states while 9 are of union territories.

Village Courts

  • Constitution Structures and Features

The village courts are named as Lok Adalat or Nyaya Panchyat which means the service of justice extended to the villagers of India. This is the system for resolving disputes in micro level. The need of these courts is justified though the Madras Village Court Act of 1888. This act is followed by the development post 1935 in different provinces, which are re-termed as different states after the independence of 1947.

This conceptual model had been started to be sued from the state of Gujarat consisting of a judge and two assessors since 1970s. The Law Commission had recommended in 1984 to form the Nyaya Panchayats in the rural areas with the people of educational attainment.  The latest development had been observed in 2008 through initiation of Gram Nyaylayas Act which had sponsored the concept of installation of 5000 mobile courts throughout the country. These courts are assigned to judge the petty cases related to civil and criminal offence which can generate the penalty of up to 2 years imprisonment.

So far the available statistics of 2012 there are only 151 Gram Nyaylayas which are functional in this big country which is far below the targeted figures of 5000 mobile courts.  While trying to find the basic reasons for this non achievement, it was found as financial constraints followed by shown reluctance by the lawyers, respective government officials and police.

Read Also: DK Basu v State of West Bengal

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