Before answering “what is the judiciary system in India,” you must know that the judicial system in India is a very old one and mainly inherited from the British judicial system. The fountain-head of Indian judicial system is its constitution, but it carries the legacy of the 200 years of Colonial rule over the country. This complex judicial system starts with the Supreme Court situated in the capital of the country and percolates down to states and then to district level law courts. It is a well-integrated system that will be described in this article.
It has to be understood that the constitution of India is the supreme law of the country and it clearly defines the role and the scope of the legal system in India. Indian judicial system derives its powers from this constitution and the framework of the judicial system has been laid down in this constitution. In addition, the constitution also deals with the powers, scope, and duties of the various courts in India functioning at the central as well as state levels.
Indian judicial system
At the tops of the Indian judicial system is the Supreme Court that is followed by High Courts of all the states. These are followed by District Courts presided by District Judges. Finally, there are Civil Judges and Magistrates of second class functioning at the bottom of this hierarchy of the courts. Indian judicial system takes care of the maintenance of law and order in the country in addition to hearing cases of civil and criminal offences. It is in the power of the law courts to announce their verdicts in all cases and they can sentence a criminal to a jail term of varying durations. The quasi federal structure of the judicial system in India provides for High Courts in all 29 states of the country. There are in all 601 administrative districts with every district having its own court of law. All these courts remain unified with the Supreme Court of India working as the apex court.
Every state in India has the power to constitute courts beneath these district courts. There are judicial tribunals set in most of the states pertaining to company laws, monopolistic and restrictive trade practices, consumer protection, Industrial and financial reconstruction, tax tribunals, customs and excise control tribunals and so on. All these tribunals come under the respective state of High Courts.
The Supreme Court is the apex law court in India. It has a Chief Justice and 25 other justices. The President of India does the appointment of judges in Supreme Court. It is not only the highest court of appeal but also has the responsibility to uphold the constitution of the country. Supreme Court deals with the disputes between states and also between the Union of India and the states. Even the President of India looks up to Supreme Court for advice on legal matters. Supreme Court deals with cases only if the matter is deemed to be important enough for the consideration of the court and after certification from a High Court. It is possible to file a case in Supreme Court without certificate form a High Court by filing a special leave petition before it.
The High Courts
There are 21 High Courts in India with a few looking after the requirements of 2 or more states. These law courts are the highest law courts at the state level. These courts look after civil as well as criminal cases. Most of these cases are forwarded from district courts or other lower courts. High Courts are called courts of equity. These courts frame their own rules and make arrangements for the implementation of the same. The judges to High Courts are appointed by the President of India in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.
These courts work at the district level and are subordinate to High Courts. There are many other courts subordinate to these courts. At the bottom of the hierarchy is the Lok Adalats that have been constituted by the High Courts to decide petty disputes at the village level.
Image of the Supreme Court of India By: (CC BY-SA 3.0)