What is Judiciary?
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets, defends, and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary can also be thought of as the mechanism for the resolution of disputes. Under the doctrine of the separation of powers, the judiciary generally does not make statutory law (which is the responsibility of the legislature) or enforce law (which is the responsibility of the executive), but rather interprets, defends, and applies the law to the facts of each case. However, in some countries the judiciary does make common law.
The role of the judiciary is to adjudicate disputes according to law. Adjudication involves three functions: – fact determination (done mostly by the trial court), law application and law determination.
Judicial function is to decide upon the legality of claims and conduct, to determine what the law is and what the rights of parties are with respect to transactions already had. Legislative function is making the law to govern new controversies; it prescribes what the law shall be in future cases arising under it.
The Supreme Court of India, also known as the Apex Court, is the top court and the last appellate court in India, and the Chief Justice of India is its top authority. High Courts are the top judicial bodies in the states controlled and managed by Chief Justices of States. Below the High Court are District Courts, also known as subordinate courts, controlled and managed by the District & Sessions Judges. The subordinate court system is further classified into two: the civil court of which a Sub-Judge is the head followed by the munsif court at the lower level, and the criminal court headed by Chief Judicial/Metropolitan Magistrate at top and followed by ACJM /ACMM & JM/MM at the lower level.
Indian politics is divided into three sections namely Legislature, Executive and Judiciary. The legislature and the executive go hand in hand but the judiciary is independent in itself. The oldest judicial systems in the world is the Indian Judicial System. The Indian judiciary plays an important role in protecting the interests of the people and providing them a platform for speedy justice. The Supreme Court is the highest court of the Indian judicial system.
Salient Features of Indian Judiciary
- Single and Integrated Judicial System: – The Constitution establishes a single unified judicial system for the whole of India. The Supreme Court of India is the highest court of the country and below it are all the High Courts at the state level. Other courts (subordinate courts) operate under the High Courts. The Supreme Court controls and runs the judicial administration of India. All courts of India make a single judicial system.
- Independence of the judiciary: – The Constitution of India makes the judiciary truly independent. It provides for: –
- Appointment of judges by the President,
- High qualification for appointment as judges,
- Removal of judges by a difficult method of impeachment,
- High salary, pension and other service benefits for judges
- Independent establishment for the judiciary, and
- Adequate powers and functional autonomy for the judiciary.
- All these features together make the Indian judiciary an independent judiciary.
- Judiciary as interpreter of the constitution: – The Constitution of India is a written and enacted constitution. The Supreme Court is empowered to interpret and clarify the Constitution. The final interpreter of the provisions of the Constitution of India is the Judiciary system.
- Judicial review: – The constitution of India is the supreme law of the land. The Supreme Court acts as an interpreter and protector of the Constitution. It is the protector of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people. To play this role, it exercises the power of judicial review. The power to determine the constitutional validity of all laws is with the Supreme Court. It can reject any such law which is considered unconstitutional. High courts also exercise this power.
- A provision for High Courts and Joint High Courts for each of the states: – The constitution states that there should be a High Court for each state. However, two or more states can make a joint High Court with mutual consent.
- Supreme Court as arbitrator of legal disputes between the Union and the States: – The Constitution gives jurisdiction to the Supreme Court in all cases of disputes: –
- Between the Government of India and one or more states,
- Between the Government of India and a State or States on one side and one or more States on the other, and
- Between two or more states.
- Guardians of Fundamental Rights: – The Indian judiciary acts as a protector of fundamental rights and freedom of the people. People have the right to constitutional remedies under which they can seek the protection of the courts to prevent violations or to meet any threat to their rights. The Supreme Court and the High Courts have the power to issue writ for this purpose.
- Separation of judiciary from executive: – The Constitution of India provides for separation between the judiciary and the other two organs of government. The judiciary is neither a branch of the executive nor it is in any way subordinate to it. In India, judicial administration is abandoned and carried out in accordance with the rules and orders of the Supreme Court.
- Open trial: – Courts in India are independent. They conduct open trial. The accused is always given full opportunity to defend themselves. The state provides free legal aid to the poor and the needy.
- Judicial activism: – The Indian judicial system is becoming more and more active. The Supreme Court is coming up with judicial decisions and directives aimed at the active protection of the public interest and human rights. The judiciary is instructing public officials to ensure a better protection for the rights of the public. Public interest litigation system is taking up.
- Public Interest Litigation System: – Under this, any citizen or a group or a voluntary organization, or even a court by itself, can call for action to protect and satisfy the public interest, taking into account any matter. It provides an easy, simple, quick and inexpensive system to provide judicial relief to the aggrieved public. With all these characteristics, the Indian judicial system is an independent, impartial, independent, powerful and efficient judicial system.
Jurisdiction of Supreme Court
Jurisdiction is defined as the power given to the court to pass judgment or order in the instant cases passed by the court. This means, each court is empowered with some official ability to take and maintain cases in its own forum. The jurisdiction is given in the Supreme Court are of three different types: –
- Original Jurisdiction
- Appellate Jurisdiction
- Advisory Jurisdiction
They are defined as follows
- Original Jurisdiction: – Article 131 provides the court with the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. This means that no court other than the Scheduled Castes can address cases being bought between the Government of India and its states; Or between two or more states.
- Appellate Jurisdiction: –
- Article 132 provides the Supreme Court with appellate jurisdiction. This means that the SC can reverse or maintain any judgement, order or decision both civil and criminal in nature brought before the court. In other words, an appeal lies in the Supreme Court in relation to any decision passed by a High Court within the territory of India. However, it is a discretionary power.
- Article 136 confers upon the Supreme Court of India, the apex court of the country, the special power to grant special leave to any decision, judgement or decree passed by any court or tribunal in the territory of India.
- Article 137 provides that the Supreme Court has the power to review any law and rules made by legislature as for the functioning of the SC, including the appeals, bails and procedural laws of the Supreme Court constituted under Article 145.
- Article 141 provides the final stage of appeal to the Supreme Court, whose decisions will be binding on all other courts within the territory of the nation.
- Advisory Jurisdiction (Power of President to consult Supreme Court): – The President may seek the opinion of the Supreme Court on any question of law or public importance, on which he considers obtaining such a vote expedient. On such a reference to the President, the Supreme Court gave it as a hearing as it is appropriate, to give its opinion to the President. Opinion is only advice, as it is on president discretion to follow it or not.
Appointment of Supreme Court Judges
To be a judge of the Supreme Court, a person must have: –
- A citizen of India, and
- A judge in a High Court, or for a minimum tenure of five consecutive years in two High Courts, or
- An advocate in a High Court, or in two courts consecutively, for a minimum period of ten years, or
- The President should consider him an eminent jurist.
Jurisdiction of High Court
Jurisdiction is defined as the power to pass judgment or order in instant cases granted for adjudication in court. There are multiple jurisdiction provided to every high court of India, some of them are mentioned below: –
- Original Jurisdiction
- Civil Jurisdiction: – High courts have jurisdiction to hear cases which are civil in nature, and hold worth upto Rs. 2,00,000.
- Criminal jurisdiction: – High courts can try all criminal offenses in the state, including capital punishment.
- Writ Jurisdiction: – The High Court has the power to issue writ if it appears that there has been a gross miscarriage of human justice.
- Election Jurisdiction: – High courts can accept cases related to elections (or) to be held in the respective state(s).
- Appellate Jurisdiction
- Civil cases: – The High Court holds an appellate jurisdiction against the decision of a district court.
- Criminal Cases: – The High Court has appellate jurisdiction over decisions, orders or decrees passed by the District Courts, Sessions Courts (if the judgment confers the appellant with a term of 7 years or more), and even additional Court of Session (if death penalty is given). If the session judge has sentenced the imprisonment of 7 years or more.
- Constitutional Jurisdiction: – In case of any question arising out of the interpretation of the Constitution, the High Court shall have the final say, the appeal of which shall be with the Supreme Court.
Facts of the case: – A.K. Gopalan was a communist leader who was imprisoned by the state of Madras in 1947 under the guilt of general criminal law, although those convictions were set aside. While he was imprisoned, he was served under the Preventive Detention Act, IV of 1950 with another order of detention. A.k. Gopalan challenged the constitutionality of the Act and filed a petition through Article 32 (1) which found violation of his rights under Articles 19, 21 and 22 of the Constitution.
Judgement of the case: – It was held by the majority judges that punitive and preventive detention were beyond the scope of Article 19 of the Constitution of India and therefore the Prevention of Prevention Act, 1950 did not violate it.
Facts of the case: – Kesavananda Bharti was the head of the Edneer Mutt which is a religious sect in the Kasaragod district of Kerala. Kesavananda Bharati had some lands in the sect which were named after him. The State Government of Kerala introduced the Land Reform Amendment Act, 1969. According to the Act, the government was entitled to acquire some land of the sect of which Keshavanand Bharti was the head.
On 21 March 1908, Keshavanand Bharti went to the Supreme Court for the enforcement of his rights under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, which guarantees under Article 25 (the right to practice and propagate religion), Article 24 (Right to manage religious matters), Article 14 (right to equality), Article 19 (1) (f) (Freedom to acquire property), Article 31 (Compulsory acquisition of property). When the petition was under consideration by the court, the Kerala government had another act i.e., the Kerala Land Reforms (Amendment) Act, 1971.
Judgement of the case: – A constitutional bench led by Chief Justice SM Sikri ruled 7:6 that Parliament can amend every article of the constitution, but the ‘basic structure’ of the constitution cannot be amended.
The court did not define the basic structure, and listed only a few principles i.e., federalism, secularism, democracy as its part. Since then, the court has been adding new features to this basic structure concept.