Judiciary

Introduction of the Judiciary

You may come across different incidents in your social surroundings where people approach the Local courts, High court or the Supreme Court. The rule of law governs the country of India. The judiciary is an important part of our government and plays a critical role in the way our democracy works.

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Role of Judiciary

The Supreme Court of India is the highest authority of the judiciary. But, first of all, we need to understand the role of the judiciary system. Courts in India are responsible for handling and passing decisions on multiple issues- how a school should treat the students, or if two states can share each other’s resources etc.

The Courts also have the right to punish people for the crimes they commit. Almost every social situation which needs a rule is managed by the judiciary, like-

  • Dispute Resolution: Whenever there is a dispute, the courts intervene in providing solutions. Whether it’s a dispute between citizens, citizens, and government, or between two state governments or even the central and state governments, the court is responsible for dispute resolution.
  • Judicial Review: The judiciary has the final hold on the Constitution of India. As such, if there is any violation of the fundamentals of the constitution, the court can even overwrite laws passed by the Parliament. This process is called Judicial Review.
  • Upholding the Law and Enforcing Fundamental Rights: Almost all Fundamental Rights of Indian citizens are defined in our constitution. In case, any citizen feels that any of such rights are violated, they can approach their local high courts or the Supreme Court.

Independence of Judiciary led by Supreme Court

Supreme Court

The Indian Constitution protects the citizens from any partial judgment. And, this gives the power to the judiciary to make decisions based on the rules of the law, in case of any dispute. Due to such authority, the judiciary of the country is an independent body. The courts of India are not controlled by the government and do not represent any political authority. Such independence allows the judiciary to ensure that there is no misuse of power by any section of the government.

The independence of judiciary calls for ‘separation of powers’. This basically means that both the legislature and the executive branches of the government, cannot interfere with the functions and decisions of the judiciary. So, in order to successfully execute their independent authority, the judges of both high courts and the Supreme Court must be appointed without any influence or interference from other branches of the government. Also, it is very difficult to remove a judge from his/her office, once appointed by the judiciary.

Structure of Courts in India

As per the judiciary system, there are three levels of courts in India

  • District Courts: This is where most citizens go to for any dispute in their city or region. Each state comprises many districts and has its own district or subordinate courts. And, the entire district is presided over by the District Judge
  • High Courts: Each state has its own High Court, which is most certainly the highest judicial authority of the state.
  • Supreme Court: This is at the top of all state and district courts, presided by the Chief Justice of India. Because it is the highest authority of justice for the country, the decisions made by the Supreme Court stands above all other courts. The Supreme Court of India is located in Mandi House, New Delhi.

Due to the integrated judicial system of the country, you can find a strong connection between all the courts. This means that the decisions of the higher courts are binding on the lower courts. The ‘appellate system’ establishes such connection. Due to the appellate system, if anyone is not satisfied by the judgment of a lower court (district or high court), he/she/they can appeal to the higher court for a fair decision.

Branches of the Legal System

The Indian legal system has two main sections: Civil Law and Criminal Law. And the rules for each of these laws vary from each other. As the highest judiciary authority, the Supreme Court takes care of both civil and criminal issues.

  • Criminal Law takes care of misconduct of citizens, which are defined as an offence or crime by the law. A criminal case starts with filing a report with the local police, who then starts an investigation of the matter. The court finally decides on the matter.
  • Civil Law, in contrast, takes care of disputes in the event of violation of a citizen’s Fundamental Rights. The involved parties then file a petition to the relevant court. Finally, the court provides a solution and a decision thereafter, to the dispute presented.

Access to the courts

As per the Constitution of India, it is the Fundamental Right of every citizen to have access to justice. Hence, every person, common or otherwise, has access to the courts. However, in reality, legal procedures are an expensive affair, most certainly for the poor section of the society.

To solve this problem, the Supreme Court introduced the system of Public Interest Litigation (PIL), which allowed every person to approach the court first with their issue. This could be done through a simple communication as a written letter stating the case.

The courts of India play a crucial role in sustaining the Fundamental Rights as basic as food. Some years ago, a PIL enabled the Supreme Court to include the ‘Right to Food’ for all citizens, as a part of ‘Right to life, under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Solved Questions for You

Q1. What are the main roles of the judiciary of India?

Ans. The judiciary of India plays a role in the following situations:

  • In case of dispute resolution
  • For Judicial Review
  • For upholding the laws and the fundamental rights of citizens

Q2 What the different levels of courts in India?

Ans. There are three levels of Courts in India-

  • District or subordinate courts- located in every district/Tehsil and presided by the District Judge
  • High court- the highest judicial authority of every state
  • Supreme court- the ultimate authority of the judicial system of the country.
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