• The judiciary is a relatively independent and the legal system based on the English common law. 
  • The concept and procedures resembles those of Anglo-Saxon countries as India's independent judicial system began under the British. 
  • The Supreme Court consists of a chief justice and twenty-five other justices, all of whom are appointed by the president on the advices of the prime minister. 
  • The Supreme Court is the apex court in the country. 
  • The high court stands at the head of the states judicial administration. 
  • Sessions judge is the highest judicial authority in a district and each state is divided into judicial district presided over by a district judge. 
  • District judge controls the courts of civil jurisdiction, known in different states as munsifs, sub-judges, civil judges, and the like. 
  • Criminal judiciary comprises chief judicial magistrate of first and second class. 

Supreme Court of India 

  • The Indian judicial system has the Supreme Court of India at its apex, and is presided by the Chief Justice of India.
  • The Supreme Court has original, appellate, and advisory jurisdiction. Its exclusive original jurisdiction extends to all disputes between the union and one or more states or between two or more states. 
  • The Constitution gives an extensive original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court to enforce the fundamental rights. 
  • Appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court can be invoked by a certificate of the high court concerned or by special leave granted by the Supreme Court in respect of any judgment, decree or final order of a high court in cases both civil and criminal, involving substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the constitution. 
  • The Supreme Court of India comprises of the chief justice and not more than 31 other judge hold office till sixty-five years of age. 
  • The Supreme Court of India has many benches for the litigation, and this apex court is not only the final court of permissible appeal, but also deals with interstate matters, and matters comprising of mare than one state, and the matters between the union government and any one or more states, as the matters on its original side. 
  • The President of India can always seek consultation and guidance including the opinion of the apex court and its judges. This court also has powers to punish anybody for its own contempt. 
  • The largest bench of the Supreme Court of India is called the construction bench and comprises of five or seven judges, depending on the importance attached of the matters before it, as well as the work load of the court. 
  • The apex court comprises only of various benches comprising of the divisional bench of two and three judges, and the full bench of three to five judges. 
  • The appeal to this court are allowed from the high court, only after the matter is deemed to be important enough on the point of law or on the subject of the Constitution of the nation and is certified as such by the relevant high court.
  • In the absence of any certificate from the high court a person may with leave of the apex court appeal to this court by filling a special leave petition before the court. > A person or body may also file a Writ against the violation of fundamental rights granted under the Constitution of India with the permission of the apex court. 
  • Certain writs are allowed to be instituted in the apex court directly against the orders of the courts, of the court material, and the central admission tribunals. 

Original Jurisdiction (Article 131) 

It has exclusive original jurisdiction over any dispute between the Government of India and one or more states or between the Government of India and any state or state on one side and one or more states on the other or between two or more states if and insofar as the dispute involves any question (whether of law or of fact) on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends.

Appellate Jurisdiction (Article 136) 

The Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal from all courts in India. It deals with the hearing of the cases regarding. 

  • Interpretation of the Constitution: civil, criminal, or otherwise 
  • It deals with the hearing of the cases involving the civil cases irrespective of all constitutional issue (Article 133) and 
  • It deals with the criminal matters irrespective of all constitutional issues (Article 134) 
  • In addition to all these the Supreme Court is empowered to grant special leave to appeal in certain cases (Article 136). 
  • Regarding the constitutional matters an appeal can be made if the high court certifies that the case involves a substantial question of law regarding the interpretation of the Constitution. 
  • Even if the high court does not grant any certificate the Supreme Court can grant special leave if it is satisfied with the substantial law regarding the interpretation of the Constitution. 
  • The Supreme Court is empowered to entertain appeal by special leave in any cause or matter determined by any court or tribunal (except a military tribunal) unlimitedly. 
  • This power is totally discretionary to the Supreme Court. But this power is enjoyed only under exceptional circumstances where substantial question of law or general public interest is involved where grave in justice is involved or where a tribunal exceeds its jurisdiction or operates counter to natural justice.

Advisory Jurisdiction (Article 143)

  • The Supreme Court gives advice on any question of law or fact of public importance to it for the consideration by the President of India. But the Supreme Court opinion is not considered as judgment it does not have any litigation. 
  • The President is bound by the advice of the Supreme Court. It only ensures the government to get an authoritative opinion as to the legal validity of a matter before action is taken upon it. 
  • However the court is bound to give its opinion on matters regarding the disputes arising out of a treaty or agreement entered into before the commencement of the constitution. 

Writ Jurisdiction (Article 143) 

In addition Article 32 of the Constitution grant an extensive original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court in regards to enforcement of fundamental rights. It holds the power to issue directions orders or writs including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warrant, and certiorari to enforce them.

Habeas corpus ('You (shall) have the body') 

This is a legal action or writ through which a person can seek relief from the unlawful detention of him or herself or of another person. It protects the individual from harming himself or herself or habeas corpus has historically been an important instrument for the safeguarding of individual freedom against arbitrary state action. 

Mandamus ('we command') 

This is the name of one of the prerogative writs in the common law and is issued by a superior court compel a lower court or a government officer to perform mandatory or purely ministerial duties correctly. 


Generally limited to appellate court, the use of it is to prevent lower courts from exceeding their jurisdiction. A writ of prohibition is used to prevent an inferior court from exceeding its jurisdiction to the rules of natural justice. It is issued by superior court to inferior court preventing inferior court from usurping a jurisdiction with which it was not legally vested (or to compel inferior court to keep within the limits of its jurisdiction). The writ of prohibition cannot be used to undo any previous acts, but only to prohibit acts which are not completed. 

Quo Warranto ('by what authority') 

This writ is one of the prerogative writ that requires the person to whom it is directed to some what authority he has for exercising some right or power (or 'franchise') he claim to hold.

High Court 

  • There are eighteen high courts in the country, three having jurisdiction over more than one state.  
  • Bombay High Court has the jurisdiction over Maharashtra, Goa, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu. 
  • Guwahati High Court which was earlirr known as Assam High Court has the jurisdiction over Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram, and Arunachal Pradesh. 
  • Punjab and Haryana High Court has the jurisdiction over Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh. 
  • Among the union territories, Delhi alone has had a high court of its own. 
  • The other six union territories come under jurisdiction of different state high courts. 
  • 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.
  • All the high courts have the power of superintendence over all courts within its jurisdiction.
  • A judge in the high court retires at the age of sixty-two.
  • The jurisdiction as well as the laws administered by a high court can be altered both by the union and state legislature.
  • The high courts like those at Bombay, Calcutta and Madras have Original and appellate jurisdictions. Under the original jurisdiction suits where the subject matter is valued at Rs. 25,000 or more can be filed directly in the high court.
  • Most high courts have only appellate jurisdiction.
  • Working under the guidance of the Supreme Court, the high courts are generally the last court of regular appeal.
  • The high courts of Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, and Delhi enjoy original jurisdiction beyond a certain financial limit (For instance Rs. 20 lakh and above in case of Delhi) .

Jurisdiction and Seat of The High Court

  • Originally known as the Assam High Court, later renamed as Guwahati High Court in 1971.
  • Originally known as the Mysore High Court renamed as Karnataka High Court in 1973.
  • Originally known as Punjab High Court renamed as Punjab and Haryana High Court in 1966.
  • Established at Agra. Shifted to Allahabad in 1875.
  • Lahore High Court established in 21 March 1919. The jurisdiction covered undivided Punjab and Delhi. On 11 August 1947 a separate high court of Punjab was created having its seat at Simla under the Indian Independence Act 1947 which had jurisdiction over Haryana. In 1966 after the reorganization of the Punjab High Court was designated as the High Court of Punjab and Haryana. The Delhi High Court was established on 31 October 1966 with its seat at Simla.
  • Originally known as the High Court of Assam and Nagaland, renamed as Guwahati High Court in 1971 by the North East Areas (Reorganization) Act, 1971.