Judicial System in India
Indian Judiciary System – The Supreme Court of India:
The highest court of Justice in the country is the Supreme Court. It now consists of the Chief Justice and 25 other Judges.
The Chief Justice is appointed by the President of India in consultation with the Judges of the Supreme Court.
The President appoints the other Judges of the Supreme Court in consultation with the Chief Justice.
Qualifications of the Judges:
In order to be a judge of the Supreme Court, a person must be;
(a) a citizen of India
(b) a judge of a High Court of not less than five years’ standing or an advocate of ten years’ standing in a High Court or an eminent jurist. Term: The Judge of the Supreme Court holds office till the age of 65 years. He can be removed only on the ground of proven misbehaviour. Both the Houses of Parliament will pass a motion to that effect by a two third majority of the members present and voting. But this cannot be less than a majority of the total membership of the House. After this, the President issues an order for the removal of the judge.
Salary and Allowances: The Chief Justice draws a salary of Rs.33,000/- per month. The salary of other Judges is Rs.30,000/- per month. Every Judge is given a rent free official residence. The pay and allowances of judges are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India. A retired Judge of the Supreme Court is debarred from practising in any Court of law or before any other authority in India.
Location: The Supreme Court of India is located in New Delhi.
INDEPENDENCE OF SUPREME COURT JUDGES
The independence of the Judges of the Supreme Court is ensured by the following:
- The salaries of the Judges have been fixed under the Second Schedule and these shall not be varied to their disadvantages after their appointment.
- The administrative expenses of the Supreme Court, including pay and allowances of the Judges and their staff, are charged on the Consolidated Fund of India. These expenses are not subject to Parliamentary Vote.
- The President has to consult, among others, the Chief Justice or the Judges of the Supreme Court while appointing the Judges or the chief Justice of India, as the case may be. This ensures appointment of Judges with independent bent of mind.
- A Supreme Court Judge cannot be removed by the President except on a joint address by both Houses of Parliament on ground of proved misbehavior or incapacity of Judge in question.
- Discussion of the conduct of a Judge of the Supreme Court (or a High Court) in Parliament is forbidden except in a case when a motion has already been introduced to remove the Judge.
- After retirement, a Supreme Court Judge shall not plead or act in any Court or before any authority in the country.
There are analogous provision in the case of High Court Judges.
Related: Who elects the President of India?
The Supreme Court has three kinds of jurisdiction, namely
(i) Original; (ii) Appellate, and (iii) Advisory.
(i). The Supreme Court is empowered to decide all disputes between the Union and one or more States.
(ii). Under Article 32 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court can enforce fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution.
(iii). It is empowered to issue directions or orders of writs including those in the nature of writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quowarrant and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, to enforce the fundamental rights.
(i). The Supreme Court hears appeals from any judgement passed by a High Court and which involves a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution.
(ii). The appeals for civil and criminal cases arising from the judgements of High Courts lie with the Supreme Court. However in case of a civil suit appeal, the case must involve a substantial question of law of general importance.
(iv). It has jurisdiction over all courts and tribunals in India and can grant special leave to appeal against any judgement made by these courts and tribunals.
The President can seek the opinion of Supreme Court on important questions of law and fact. The Supreme Court shall have the power to make rules for its working, subject to the laws made by the parliament in this regard. The minimum number of Judges to decide an issue involving the interpretation of the constitution or any Presidential reference is five.
Doctrine of Judicial Review:
Judicial Review, as emphasised in the Indian Constitution, represents the competence of the Supreme Court to act as the guardian and protector of fundamental rights as also the institutions which are set up under the Constitution. The Judiciary, in other words, has been assigned the role of preventing the executive and the legislature from violating the rights and freedoms guaranteed to the citizen. It has the power to nullify an executive order or an Act passed by the Parliament or by a State legislature, by declaring in ultra vires of the Constitution or an act as not authorised by law.
Attorney General of India:
The Constitution provides for the appointment by the President of a person who is qualified to be appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court to be Attorney-General for India. The Attorney-General holds office during the pleasure of the President. He gives expert legal advice to the Government of India and performs such duties of legal character as are assigned to him. He has right of audience in all courts in India and can take part in the proceedings of either House of Parliament but he is not entitled to vote.
A High Court is the highest court of justice in the state. A High Court consists of the chief Justice and some other judges. The Chief Justice of a High Court is appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice of India and the Governor of the State concerned. The other Judges are appointed by the President of India in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, the Chief Justice of the High court and the Governor of the State concerned. The Judges can serve upto the age of 62 years, unless they resign or are removed by the President of India on a representation by both the Houses of Parliament in the prescribed constitutional manner. It is the same as the case of a judge of Supreme Court.
Qualifications for High Courts:
To be a judge of a High Court a person must:
- be a citizen of India.
- have been a judge of a civil and session court in India for at least ten years.
- an advocate in a High court for atleast ten years.
The Chief Justice draws a salary of Rs.30,000/-per month and other judges draw a salary of Rs.26,000/- per month. They also get pension and other retirement benefits. The pay and allowances of High Court Judges are changed on the Consolidated Fund of the State.
Powers of High Courts:
The High court is mainly a Court of Appeal. It can hear appeals in both civil and criminal cases. A person can appeal to the High Court to protect his Fundamental Rights. The High Court controls and supervises the working of the lower courts. The High court is empowered to issue to any person or the Government within its jurisdiction, orders or writs, including writs which are in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo-warrant to and certiorari. The High Courts have powers of superintendence over all subordinate courts and tribunals within their jurisdiction. The Advocate General is appointed by the Governor.
Transfer of Chief Justice:
The President after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, transfers a Chief Justice from one High Court to another High Court.
Appointment of officers and staff:
Officers and servants of the High court are to be appointed by the Chief Justice. The expenses of High court will be charged on the Consolidated Fund of the state.
Subject to minor local variations, the structure and functions of the subordinate courts are more or less uniform throughout the country. Each State is divided into a number of districts, each under the jurisdiction of the principal civil court provided over by a district judge. Subordinate to him is a hierarchy of different grades of civil judicial authorities. The court of the District Judge is the highest Civil Court in a district. When a Judge decides a civil cases, he is called the District Judge and when he deals with criminal cases he is called the Sessions Judge, appointed by the Governor in consultation with the Chief Justice of the state. Besides the district court there are Courts of Sub-Judges, Munisif Courts and Courts of Small Causes. For criminal cases, District Magistrate and Sub Magistrates in the districts and taluk centres respectively. In cities they are called Metropolitan Magistrates.
HIGH COURTS AND THEIR JURISDICTION
Name of High Court and their Territorial Jurisdiction:
- Allahabad High Court (established in 1866): State of Uttar Pradesh
- Hyderabad High Court (1954): State of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
- Bilaspur High Court (2000): State of Chhattisgarh
- Chennai High Court (1862): State of Tamil Nadu and Union Territory of Pondicherry
- Delhi High Court (1966): State of Delhi
- Ernakulam High Court (1958): State of Kerala and Union Territory of Lakshadweep
- Gujarat High Court (1960): State of Gujarat
- Gawahati High Court (1948): States of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland.
- Himachal Pradesh High Court (1948): State of Himanchal Pradesh
- Jammu & Kashmir High Court (1928): State of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh
- Bangalore High Court (1884): State of Karnataka
- Kolkata High Court (1862):
- Mumbai High Court (1862):
- Madhya Pradesh High Court (1956):
- Madras High Court (1862):
- Meghalaya High Court (2013): State of Meghalaya
- Manipur High Court (2013): State of Manipur
- Nainital High Court (2000): State of Uttaranchal
- Orissa High Court (2000): State of Orissa
- Patna High Court (1916): State of Bihar
- Punjab & Haryana High Court (1975): States of Punjab and Haryana & Union Territory of Chandigarh
- Ranchi High Court (2000):
- Rajasthan High Court (1949):
- Gangtok High Court (1975): Sikkim
- Tripura High Court (2013)