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‘Judiciary’ ensures justice for all citizens. The Indian judiciary helps in preserving the fundamental rights of its citizens. ‘Justice’ being the soul of a democratic state, should be delivered without fear or favor. Integrity, impartiality, and intelligence are the important qualities of an independent judiciary.   

Role of judiciary

Let’s take a look at the role of judiciary in India:

Dispute resolution

The judicial system acts as a mechanism for courts for resolving disputes between citizens, governments (state/centre) etc.

Judicial review

The courts have the power to examine the actions of the legislative, executive and administrative arms of the government. They make sure that the actions of these branches are consistent with the constitution.

Upholding the law/enforcing fundamental rights

Indian citizens have the right to appeal to the supreme court/high court, in case they feel that their fundamental rights are being violated. 

Independent judiciary

The term denotes the independence which courts and judges ought to have. In an independent judiciary, courts and judges will be able to carry out their duties freely, without being influenced/controlled by other actors (government or private).

We all know that the judiciary is the protector of the constitution/defender of people’s fundamental rights. Hence it must be independent in the true sense! The independent judiciary of our country helps courts ensure that the legislature and executive do not abuse their power.

Structure of Courts in India

The system of law followed by the Indian judiciary is acquired from the British colonial heritage. The Indian court system comprises the Supreme Court of India, the High Courts, the District, Municipal, and Village courts. The Indian judiciary is a mixture of independent and integrated judiciary.

Supreme Court

The apex court was established on 28 January 1950. Being the highest court of appeal, it receives both the original suits and the appeals of the high court judgements. The supreme court consists of the Chief Justice of India, several other judges (determined by the parliament). Articles 124-147 of the Indian constitution lays down the jurisdiction of the supreme court.

High Court

Being the highest judicial authority at the state level, Article 214 clearly lays down the authority of the high courts. There are 25 high courts in India. 

In instances where the subordinate courts of the state are not qualified to try the matter, the high court exercises civil/criminal jurisdiction. They can also take appeals from the lower courts. The President of India consults with the Chief Justice of India, the Chief Justice of the High Court, and the Governor of the State before appointing the judges of the High Court.

District Court

District courts are set up by state governments for every district/group of districts on the basis of caseload and population density. They are directly administered by the high courts and bound by its judgements. Civil and criminal are the two types of courts which are usually found in every district. While the district courts are headed by district judges, additional district judges and assistant district judges are appointed on the basis of caseload. The high court hears the appeals against the judgments of the district court.

In an integrated judicial system, the decisions taken by higher courts are enforceable on the lower courts. The appellate system which exists in India allows an individual to appeal to a higher court if he/she thinks that the judgment passed by the lower court is not fair.

Branches of the legal system

Civil cases

  • Civil courts solve civil crimes committed by individuals.
  • Civil cases include property disputes, contract infringements, divorce cases etc.
  • They adhere to the principle ‘Ubi jus ibi remedium’ (for every wrong, the law provides a remedy). 
  • They have the authority to decide civil suits unless expressly/implicitly prohibited by laws in force. 

Criminal cases

  • Wrongdoing against the public, society, or state comes under the broad spectrum of criminal cases.
  •  The powers of the criminal courts are mentioned in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). 
  • As per the section 26 of the CrPC, offenses which  are mentioned in the Indian Criminal Code may be judged by high courts/courts of session/other courts mentioned in the First Schedule of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Access to courts

Indian citizens have the right to access the courts. Every individual has the right to fair trails through courts. However, in reality, access to justice has always been difficult for the underprivileged! Legal procedures require a lot of expenses/paperwork. In the 1980s, the supreme court introduced the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) mechanism for improving access to justice. An individual can put forth a PIL before the high court/supreme court. 

‘Justice delayed is justice denied’

Despite its shortcomings, it cannot be denied that the judiciary has played a crucial role in democratic India. While protecting the fundamental rights of the citizens, the judiciary has acted as a check on the power and authority of the executive and the legislature. 

In short,

  • Judiciary is an important part of our government.
  • Issues between the centre and the state are mostly handled by the judiciary.
  • It is the body which handles disputes/passes final judgements. 
  • The Judiciary is the guardian of our constitution!

In this blog, we have talked about the judiciary of India.

Check Your Knowledge

The Indian court system comprises the Supreme Court of India, the High Courts, the District, Municipal, and Village courts. 

 For every wrong, the law provides a remedy.   

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