The Indian Judicial System (MH 8)

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Independence of judiciary from the control of the executive and the legislature

Independence of the judiciary means that it is not under the control of the legislature or the executive. The judges do not act on the direction of the government or according to the wishes of the party in power. That is why all modern democracies have courts that are independent of the legislature and the executive. India has achieved this. 

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Structure of courts in India

The Indian judiciary consists of a Supreme Court for the entire nation, High Courts in the states, District Courts and the courts at local level. India has an integrated judiciary. It means the Supreme Court controls the judicial administration in the country. Its decisions are binding on all other courts of the country. 

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Accessibility of the court

In principle, all citizens of India can access the courts in this country. This implies that every citizen has a right to justice through the courts. While the courts are available for all, in reality access to courts has always been difficult for a vast majority of the poor in India. Legal procedures involve a lot of money and paperwork as well as take up a lot of time.

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Unpopular and controversial laws

Sometimes a law can be constitutionally valid and hence legal, but it can continue to be unpopular and unacceptable to people because they feel that the intention behind it is unfair and harmful. Hence, people might criticise this law. When a large number of people begin to feel that a wrong law has been passed, then there is pressure on the Parliament to change this. 
Various municipal laws on the use of space within municipal limits often make hawking and street vending illegal. No one will dispute the necessity for some rules to keep the public space open so that people can walk on the pavements easily. If the law favours one group and disregards the other it will be controversial and lead to conflict. 

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Role of the judiciary

Broadly speaking, the work that the judiciary does can be divided into the following:
i) Dispute Resolution;
ii) Judicial Review;
iii) Upholding the Law and Enforcing Fundamental Rights.

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Indian Judiciary

Under the Constitution of India, the judiciary is a single integrated system of courts for the Union and the States with the Supreme Court at the apex. Our judiciary is independent of the Legislature and Executive. The High Courts, Subordinate Courts and District Courts function under the Supreme Court. The Constitution, various Acts, conventions and precedents of cases are the basis for judicial judgements. The judgement of the Supreme Court is final.

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Need for single independent judiciary

Need for a single independent judiciary:
(i) In a representative democracy, administration of justice assumes special significance in view of the rights of individuals, which needs protection against executive or legislative interference. This protection is given by making the judiciary independent of the other two organs of the government.
(ii) An independent and supreme judiciary is also an essential requirement of a federal governance.
(iii) Such a judiciary is essential for ensuring human rights and protecting democracy.

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Different types of law

There are two kinds of laws, criminal laws and civil laws. Criminal law deals with conduct or acts that the law defines as offences. For example, theft, harassing a woman to bring more dowry, murder. If found guilty, the accused can be sent to jail and also fined. Civil law deals with any harm or injury to rights of individuals. For example, disputes relating to sale of land, purchase of d goods, rent matters, divorce cases. The court gives the specific relief asked for. For instance, in a case between a landlord and a tenant, the court can order the flat to be vacated and pending rent to be paid.

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Meaning of law

Law is a definite rule of behaviour which is backed by the sovereign power of the State. It is a general rule of human conduct in the society which is made and enforced by the government. It also means a uniform rule of conduct which is applicable equally to all people of the State. 

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Applicability of laws

All persons in independent India are equal before the law. The law cannot discriminate between persons on the basis of their religion, caste or gender. What the rule of law means is that all laws apply equally to all citizens of the country and no one can be above the law. Neither a government official, nor a wealthy person nor even the President of the country is above the law.