- The Indian judiciary has a pyramidal structure. The judiciary consists of a network of Judicial bodies or law courts.
- The supreme court is at the apex of the pyramid, with the HIGH Courts below it.
- The High Courts, in turn, have subordinate district courts below them.
- Cases introduced into the Judicial system follow a predestined course in the sense that all cases from the lower courts can be taken in appeal to the High Courts and, ultimately, to the Supreme court, if accepted by it for adjudication.
- THE SUPREME COURT.
- Appointment: The present sanctioned strength of the Supreme Court of India includes the Chief justice of India and not more than 25 other Judges, all appointed by the President of India. The tenure of a Supreme Court Judge lasts till he attains 65 years of age.
- Qualification: To be appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court, a person must be a citizen of India and must have been, for at least five years, a judge of a High Court for at least 10 years or he must be, in the opinion of the President, a distinguished jurist.
- Removal of judge: A Supreme Court judge cab be removed from office only by an order of the President if he is found guilty of misuse of authority or proven misbehaviour. To remove a judge from his office, a motion containing the charges against the judge gas to be passed separately by both Houses of Parliament by two – thirds majority of the total membership of the house.
- FUNCTIONS AND POWERS OF THE SUPREME COURT.
The functions and responsibilities of the Supreme Court are defined by the Constitution. It is the highest court of appeal. It can hear appeals against the decisions of the High Courts. It can take up any dispute between:
- Citizens of the country;
- Citizens and government of the country;
- Two or more state governments; and
- Central and State governments, apart from accepting;
- Petition and Public Interest Litigations (PILs).
The Supreme Court has specific functions within the limitations imposed by the Constitution:
Original Jurisdiction: Certain petitions can be made directly in the Supreme Court. Such cases are said to originate in the Supreme Court, and the authority to resolve these cases is called original Jurisdiction. The following types of cases fall within this category:
- Disputes between two or more states,
- Disputes between the Union Government and one or more state governments.
Writ Jurisdiction: The fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution include the right to move the Supreme Court for the protection and enforcement of another such right - the Right to Constitutional Remedies.
Appellant Jurisdiction: Appellate Jurisdiction means that the Supreme Court can reconsider a case and legal issues involved in it on the following conditions:
- If a High Court certifies that the case should be tried in the Supreme Court.
- If a High Court changes the decision of a lower court in a criminal case and gives death penalty.
- If the issue involves interpretation of the Constitution.
Advisory Jurisdiction: In addition to the above functions, the Supreme Court of India possesses ‘advisory power’. This means that the President of India can refer any matter of public importance to the Supreme Court for its advice. However, the President is not bound to accept such advice.
- HIGH COURTS
- High Courts are established under Article 214 of part VI, Chapter V of the Indian Constitution.
- The Constitution provides for one High Court for every state of India.
- But Parliament has been given the power to put more than one state under a High Court, depending on the area and population which the court must serve.
Appointment: A High Court consists of one Chief Justice and as many other judges as Parliament may decide from time to time. The Chief Justice of a High Court is appointed by the President of India in consultation with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Governor of the state concerned. The other Judge of the High Court are appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice of the High Court and Governor of the state.
Qualifications: To be appointed as a Chief Justice of the High Court, a person must be a citizen of India and must have held, for at least ten years, a Judicial office in the territory of India or been an advocate in a High Court for at least 10 years, or he must be a distinguished jurist or a renowned writer in the field of law. The judges of the High Courts remain in office till the age of 62. They can resign from the post or can be removed by the President of India.
- FUNCTIONS AND POWERS OF HIGH COURT.
The High Court is the highest court of a state. The Constitution empowers the High Courts to issue directions, orders or writs for the enforcement of Fundamental Rights and for any other purpose. Like the Supreme Court of India, it also enjoys the original and Appellate Jurisdiction.
Original Jurisdiction: A High Court has original Jurisdiction in certain matters like those involving Fundamental Rights, divorce, Wills, matters relating to state revenue and its collection. High Courts also hear disputes related to state elections or election petitions.
Appellate Jurisdiction: Appeals in civil and criminal cases can be made before the High Courts against the decisions of the subordinate courts. The High Court can give fresh verdict in such cases.
Supervisory Jurisdiction: The High Court controls and supervises the working of the lower courts. It is responsible for the administration of its own affairs as well as for the affairs of its subordinate courts. It also regulates the appointments of subordinate services in the lower courts.
- DISTRICT COURTS /SUBORDINATE COURTS.
- A Civil Court is the highest court in a district and hear appeal brought from lower courts.
- It is headed by the District Judge and tries civil cases.
- The Deputy Commissioner of the district, apart from exercising administrative and revenue powers, also functions as the District Magistrate or District Judge.
- Criminal Court of the district, the highest court in the district for hearing criminal cases, is headed by a Sessions Judge. Cases of murder, dacoity and other serious crimes are heard by the Sessions Courts. The judge can go to the extent of awarding capital punishment in such cases. However, his decisions are subject to the approval of the High Court
Cases involving the assessment and collection of land revenue as well as property tax are dealt with by the revenue courts. They work directly under the High Court. These courts are divided into five categories.
- The Board of Revenue,
- The Court of the Commissioner of Revenue,
- The Court of the Collector,
- The Court of the Tehsildar, and
- The Court of Naib Tehsildar.
- The concept of Lok Adalat had been introduced which comprising retired Supreme Court judges, Lawyers and social workers, these courts have simplified the legal procedures.
- The first Lok Adalat, where about 150 cases were decided in a single day, was inaugurated in Delhi in December 1985 by Justice P.N. Bhagwati.
- DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL CASES.
- They involve conflicts related to money, property and social practices like inheritance, divorce etc., between two people or agencies/institutions.
- A civil case deals with rights and duties between individuals.
- In a civil case, the claimant brings the claim against a defendant.
- They involve offences which disrupt peace and cause harm to other members of society.
- In a criminal case, the government brings charges against the person alleged to have committed the crime.
- These cases involve enforcing public codes of behaviour as embodied in the laws. The law is concerned with establishing and maintaining social order and protecting the community.