Indian Judicial System


Judicial System in India is one of the oldest amongst all other legal systems in the world. It is believed that after 200 years of colonial rule, India inherited its Judicial System from the British.

Article 13 of the Indian Constitution deals with the Judicial Review and Indian Judicial System derives it powers from this clause. In other words, it can be said that Indian Constitution, adopted from the Constitution of United States of America, lays the framework of the Indian Judicial System.

Streams of Indian legal system

There are three major streams of Indian legal system linked to the Indian law and Judicial System –

  • Common law – IPC, CrPC, Evidence Act, etc
  • Laws springing from Religions
  • Civil

Courts of India

Both Union and State laws in India are administered by a single integrated system of courts.

Supreme Court – The apex court is the Supreme Court of India as established by Part V, Chapter IV of the Constitution of India. The Supreme Court is located in New Delhi, India. It is the highest court of appeal and is given the stature of the federal court which acts as a guardian of the Constitution.

High Courts – All High Courts of India come second in the rank and serve at the state level. High Courts are located in 21 different state capitals of India and they cater to one or more number of states.

State High Courts also supervise their respective judicial tribunals addressing different areas including Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction, Consumer Protection Forum, Customs and Excise Control Tribunal, Tax Tribunal and the list is inclusive, Company Law Board, Securities Appellate Tribunal, Monopolistic and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTP).

High Courts of India are the chief civil courts for the state jurisdiction. The judge of the High Court has the power to pronounce all kind of offences including those punishable with death. The two major responsibilities of the High Court are hearing lower court appeals and writ petitions of Article 226 of the Indian Constitution.

District Courts – The third in ranking are the subordinate courts comprising the District courts and other lower level courts. A District judge is the highest judicial authority of a district in India administering justice at a district level.

A district court is presided over by the High Court of the state under which the district falls. Other subordinate or lower courts are directed by the District Courts. All District Court jurisdictions are subject to the High Court appellate.

Tribunal Courts – The word tribunal is in fact a generic term used for any particular body acting in a judicial manner, as ordered by a court. It may also include one or more judges appointed for conducting a judicial verdict. All tribunals set for resolving disputes as per the statutory provisions are essentially called the quasi-judicial bodies.

Some important tribunals which stand as good alternatives to the courts for dispute adjudication and redressal of problems are Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT), Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT).

Common Law System and Special Powers

One of the key features of the Indian Judicial System is that it incorporates the ‘Common Law System’. The judgment of the court based on the decision and orders of the officiating judge is taken as the final verdict. The System also takes into account the statutory and regulatory laws and many times the decisions are made in reference to the similar precedents.

Since the Indian Judicial System is based on the ‘Common Law System’, its functioning pattern allows both the parties to present their arguments before a neutral judge who would then give a judgment based upon the case’s merits and facts.

It is to be noted that Indian Judiciary is a complete independent body distinguishable from the Legislative and Executive bodies of the government. The laws and rules created by the legislative and the executive are subject to the scrutiny of the judiciary. The judiciary is provided with special powers to void and nullify any such rule or law which doesn’t work in conformity or ultra vires the provisions mentioned in the Indian Constitution.

Article 13 in The Constitution Of India 1949

13. Laws inconsistent with or in derogation of the fundamental rights

(1) All laws in force in the territory of India immediately before the commencement of this Constitution, in so far as they are inconsistent with the provisions of this Part, shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, be void

(2) The State shall not make any law which takes away or abridges the rights conferred by this Part and any law made in contravention of this clause shall, to the extent of the contravention, be void

(3) In this article, unless the context otherwise requires law includes any Ordinance, order, bye law, rule, regulation, notification, custom or usages having in the territory of India the force of law; laws in force includes laws passed or made by Legislature or other competent authority in the territory of India before the commencement of this Constitution and not previously repealed, notwithstanding that any such law or any part thereof may not be then in operation either at all or in particular areas

(4) Nothing in this article shall apply to any amendment of this Constitution made under Article 368 Right of Equality

Reasonable Restrictions under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution

Article 21 guarantees Fundamental Rights (e.g. No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except as per law)