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Understanding the Indian Judicial System

Understanding the Indian Judicial System

Introduction
India is one of the most culturally rich countries in the world, this culture and diversity can be experienced through the illustrious music that is created across genres and languages. It is a country of music lovers, according to a consumer insights study conducted by IFPI in 2018, it was found that an average internet user in India spends 21.5 hours every week listening to music, while the global average of 17.8 hours.
According to the IFPI, Radio was the most used method for listening to music. Radio has for long been a cherished source of entertainment because of its affordability and bandwidth. It is popular across all age groups due to the wide range of content available across the country whether you want to catch the nail-biting commentary from a live cricket match or you want to enjoy some music while you are off on a road trip with your friends.
India has more than 381 operational private radio stations covering 106 cities and towns so it is very evident that the radio industry is not in a germination phase and has shown constant growth since its inception. According to the FICCI-EY report, the Media and Entertainment industry in India is expected to reach INR 2.23 trillion by 2023. The private radio industry contributes a fair share to this number. It grew from an INR 74 Cr. industry in 2001 to an INR 3100 Cr. industry in 2019 (read here) Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the radio industry was estimated to grow to INR 3610 Cr. by 2022 (read here).
Now that we have understood the potential of the radio industry, lets look at the licenses and royalties the radio stations need to pay to broadcast the songs they play.
What are royalties? Why are they paid?
The definition of royalties is not provided in the Copyright Act 1957(hereafter referred to as Act), but we can understand its meaning from Section 9(1)(vi) of the Income Tax Act 1961 which defines the term royalty in a fairly exhaustive way it means, inter alia, the transfer of any right or the granting of a license in respect of a patent, copyright, design or model, plan, secret formula or process, or any other like right or property. Royalties are paid to the copyright owners in exchange for the right to use, broadcast or communicate the music to the public.
For the administration of these royalties, there are many copyright societies like Indian Performance Rights Society (IPRS), Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL), Indian Singer Rights Association (ISRA), Novex; Each of these societies has different functions for instance PPL deals with songwriters and music composers for sound recordings i.e., music labels whereas, ISRA deals with performers i.e., singers. IPRS on the other hand works on rights in musical work and literary work and the stakeholders are music composers and lyricists. In this article, our focus will be on IPRS.
An artist doesn’t need to be a part of any copyright society but the process of individual administration to collect royalties is quite difficult hence most artists prefer to be part of a society. Members of IPRS comprise Lyricists and Music Composers as well as Publishers, IPRS collects Royalties on their behalf and distributes them according to the distribution rules which will be discussed later in the article.
How are IPRs authorized to grant licenses and collect royalties?
IPRS is a copyright society registered under Section 33(3) of the Act, in 2018 it was officially granted a certificate of registration by the copyright office to carry on with the copyright business. On 31 Dec 2020, The Intellectual Property Appellant Board passed a landmark judgment wherein they upheld the rights of musicians and allowed IPRS to collect royalties from FM radio stations on behalf of its members. This meant that FM stations were entitled to pay royalty to lyricists and music composers if they have used their lyrics or music in any form. The argument in favour of this judgement is that as per Section 13(4) of the Act which talks about the author being the owner of the work created. In the practical sense, it is not possible to communicate the song to the public without the communication of the underlying works too, this should mean that the authors of the underlying works should be paid royalty too.
How do radio royalties work?
IPRS has formulated a distribution scheme for the administration and collection of royalties. IPRS collects royalty from a wide range of sources and this amount differs according to the mode of broadcast as mentioned in Section 31D of the Copyright Act. The distributions are generally made four times a year in June, September, December and March for the revenues that are collected in the previous fiscal year from 1st April to 31st March.
If Radio Mirchi wants to broadcast the album from the latest movie, they would be required to report the musical and literary work that they have played on the radio, this data would then be brought into the IPRS Distribution System and matched against the worldwide repertoire of works held on the IPRS database. IPRS identifies the copyright owners of each musical and literary work and then with this information combined with the information provided by the members and affiliate societies they calculate the royalties due.
IPRS calculates the royalty on a Per Play Basis. For instance, if the total net royalty that is paid by a promoter for a wedding reception event is Rs 60,000 and the total number of songs played are 20 then the value per play would be Rs 3,000. Radio broadcasters are granted a blanket license that enables them to get permission to use all licensed repertoire without seeking prior approval. Music is licensed to radio networks on a Per Station basis. There is no differentiation made between national or regional stations apart from the fact that the license fee differs with the category of the city. The cities are divided into 5 categories depending on the population, an A+ city category would be a metro city, the license fee is higher here as compared to the fee for a D city category which would be a small town.
Distribution of payment
The table below portrays the share of musical and literary work that is allocated unless there is a specific contractual agreement between the parties that states otherwise. Self-published work means that you are the owner of the IP of the song and there is no Publisher involved while original published works involve a publisher.
Type of work
Composer
Lyricist
Publisher
Self-Published composition with lyrics
50%
50%

Self-Published composition without lyrics
100%


Non-copyright composition with copyright Lyrics

100%

Original Published Works
25%
25%
50%
Current position of radio royalty in india
On 4th January 2021, the Delhi High Court gave a judgement in the case of IPRS vs ENIL that changed the momentum of everything that was established by the Intellectual Property Appellate Boards decision on royalties. The judgement held that when a song is played on the radio, separate royalties are not payable for the underlying works as long as it is a part of the sound recording. The literary and musical work owner is not entitled to claim infringement until the song is communicated to the public via a song recording. The owner retains the right to do so in all other cases of communicating the work to the public.
For instance, if a radio station decides to conduct a show like Coke Studio where the singers would actually sing the song then irrespective of the fact that such song also exists in a sound recording the radio station will have to take a license from IPRS as the lyrics and tune of the song are exploited in a live performance.
Many countries across the globe give more or equal emphasis to publishing rights rather than the master rights of the song in terms of music royalty. India has not been the epitome in this regard. After the sudden abolition of IPAB in May 20121 and the contrary judgment by the Delhi HC, there is a lot of discrepancy on the issue of radio royalties but as far as the current industry practice goes, the radio stations pay to music labels who are part of PPL.
Conclusion
After the Copyright amendment of 2012, it took almost eight years to have a judicial interpretation related to the amendments and because of these two contrary landmark judgments discussed above, there is much ambiguity on the position of royalties payable by radios. Also, there is a need to regulate the practice of big fish in a small pond prevalent in the industry, as most music labels are members of both IPRS as well as PPL and since the rights of the authors are assigned to these music labels through assignments, the labels end up earning royalties from both the associations and the authors end up with mere amounts.
References
IPRS. (n.d.). Licenses. Retrieved from Indian Performing Rights Society:
Retrieved from IPRMENTLAW:

This article is written by Advocate Navya Prathipati and edited by Vanshika Kapoor (Senior Managing Editor, Blog iPleaders). This article will provide information about the Indian judiciary, its history, structure, hierarchy, roles and responsibilities, appointment, and life of judicial officers. You can also find all the details regarding a career in the Indian judiciary and a ton of FAQs that every judiciary aspirant must know and have in mind while preparing for the Judicial Service examinations.

Well! Are you a law student, someone who wants to pursue a law degree, a young graduate, a lawyer/advocate or someone enthusiastic about the Indian judicial system? If you fall into one of the above categories, then you definitely cannot miss this article which was curated to provide you with significant pieces of information on the Indian judicial system. The judiciary is beyond a career option that one aspires for. As it is said, Power comes with responsibility. The judiciary is a powerful authority coupled with the responsibility to do justice and serve the nation. Indeed, it is crucial to learn about such a prestigious institution, especially for aspirants in the judiciary who dream of being part of the system. 

The law lays down the foundation upon which the entire society is organised. The legal system is entrusted with the implementation of rules and regulations to attain the ultimate objective of stability and order in society. It governs society through the lens of institutions like the judiciary, which contains the major institutions such as high courts and the Supreme Court, at the state and national levels and district courts at the village/local level. The justice system acts as a bedrock for society. It mirrors the social law and order prevailing in society. However, the jurisprudence of the law evolves and is a never-ending process. As they say, Change is the only constant. The law and legal system keep updating with the evolving global system. The current judicial system in India has not been created in days or years. It is a result of decades of historical events and evolution. India is one of the oldest ancient countries, known for its cultural and traditional history. The law and justice system described in the Dharma Shastras are vastly different from those of the present system. The law and justice administration system in India follows the common law system, which can be ascribed to British legacy. 

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In this article, the author tried to provide all the information regarding the Indian judicial system, i.e., historical background, types of courts, different types of judges, and the appointment of the judges to life as a judicial officer. So, without further ado, proceed to the article. 

The judiciary is one of the three pillars of the Indian administrative system, i.e. Legislature, Executive and Judiciary. It is an independent body whose functions should not be interfered with by the other two pillars. In India, the Indian Constitution is supreme and above all. The Indian judiciary is considered a guardian of the Constitution and a watchdog of democracy. The Indian judiciary works independently to administer justice and settlement of disputes within the realms of constitutional rights and powers. Hence, the judiciary is the premier and most respected organ of an Indian state. The main responsibility of the judiciary is to apply and interpret the law/legislation framed by the Indian Republic. 

The Constitution prescribed for a unified judiciary with the Apex Court at the centre. The Indian judicial system is administered by judicial officers appointed at each stage. The structure, organization, and manner in which the current Indian judicial system works has evolved from centuries of developments, and influences from ancient, medieval, and modern (British colonial era) history, including post-independence reforms in India. Till today, there are instances where the past records and history are referred to decide any crucial issue by the courts in India. To know more about the historical evolution of the Indian justice system, read further. 

History background of Indian Judicial System 

From the ancient and medieval times, in India, religious books were followed to implement the law popularly known as Dharma according to the Hindu religion. The Vedas and Dharma Sutras formed the basis of Hindu law. One of the significant documents from 300 B.C. that threw light on practical governance was the Artha Sastra by Kautilya. Similarly, in medieval times, Islam came up with Sharia law to resolve disputes between Islamic individuals. On the basis of these books, the ruler (the King) used to act as both an emperor and judicial head. In between, various rulers brought changes and amendments to the system. For example: during the reign of the Mughals, secular courts were established. Meanwhile, the Britishers who arrived in India played a prominent role in the governance of the country in modern India. They completely ignored the legal traditions of the country and attempted to restructure the legal system, citing reasons such as vagueness in legal tradition in India, etc. Given the reasons for diversity prevalent in India and other gaps in the tradition, the British Raj introduced the Common law system to India. Initially, a mixed approach was followed by the British to manage the resistance from Indians against the imposition of British laws in India. This laid the foundation stones for the evolution of the current legal system in India. 

Reign of East Indian Company and British Raj in India 

The Charter issued to the East India Company by King George I on the 24th of September, 1726, turned over a new leaf in the evolution of judicial institutions in India. It led to the establishment of the Mayors Court in three Presidency towns, i.e., Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta. Before this Charter, the judicial administration was different in each of the towns, namely Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta. The administration was divided into three phases, and changes were made in each phase by introducing new reforms like a court of admiralty and a mayors court. The same was followed in all other presidential towns, where the company expanded its judicial functions After the Battle of Plassey, that took place in the year 1772. The Charter of 1726 brought a major change in the judicial administration, providing a uniform judicial system for every presidency. Because of its great significance in the sphere of law and justice, the charter is usually characterised as the Judicial Charter. Subsequently, several other charters were introduced in the years 1753, 1773, 1813, 1833, 1853, 1858, 1861, 1892, 1909, 1919, and 1935 to bring about the amendment/ changes in the judicial structure or functioning of the country. Each charter has some important attributes. 

In the year 1857, the first War of Independence led to a milestone in Indian judicial history where the British Crown took control of India. The mayor courts established by the company were replaced by the Supreme Courts in all three presidency towns under the Regulating Act of 1773. Later, these Supreme Courts and Sadar Adalats were abolished, and high courts were established under the Indian High Courts Act of 1862 through letters patent. The High Courts of Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta are the oldest courts established under the charters. The High Court of Calcutta was established in May 1862 under the charter of the High Court of Calcutta; similarly, under the charters of Madras and Bombay, the high courts of Bombay and Madras were established in June 1862. So, technically, the High Court of Calcutta is the first high court established in India. These high courts used to supervise the subordinate courts and enrol law practitioners. During the reign of the British, the Privy Council in England was the highest court of appeal presided over by the House of Lords. 

Initially, the Indians were restricted to practising before the Supreme Court. The Legal Practitioners Act of 1879 opened the gates and granted the right to practice the profession irrespective of religion and nationality. After this, a need to simplify the Indian legal system for purposes of uniformity arose. Under the 1833 Charter, law commissions were set up to draft laws such as the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and the Indian Contracts Act, 1872, etc., which are still implemented in India. Under the Government of India Act of 1935, a federal court was established with wider jurisdiction than that of the high courts to resolve disputes between provinces and hear appeals from the high courts. 

Indian independence, 1947 and aftermath 

After independence, the Constitution became the guiding light for India, which came into effect on 26 January 1950. The Supreme Court of India came into existence on 26 January 1950. Initially, it used to carry out its functions in the Parliament House until it shifted to the current building in Tilak Marg, New Delhi. The Constitution emphasised and promoted the concept of social welfare, diverting the prolongation of colonial objectives or interests. The judiciary is entrusted with a responsibility to uphold the provisions and principles enshrined in the Constitution. The new India aspired for form rather than the structure. Hence, the judicial structure, i.e., the Supreme Court, the High Courts, and the district courts, remained the same as the decentralisation contributed to the reach of justice at the gross root levels. Principles such as the Rule of Law, and judicial supremacy have wider implications in the functioning of the current judicial system in India. In this way, the current judicial structure/framework has evolved in India.

Independence of Judiciary 

Among the three branches of the government legislature and executive are interdependent on each other. However, the judiciary is the only independent organ and functions without interference from the other two branches. The independence of the judiciary is a universally recognized principle in the justice system. The main objective is to ensure the fair and free delivery of justice without any bias or violations. India has also adopted and incorporated the principle of independent judiciary into the Indian Constitution as per the United Nations Charter. Today, the independence of the judiciary is one of the cardinal principles of the Indian Constitution. The power has to be utilized for protecting the Rule of Law and upholding the supremacy of law. 

Therefore, the judiciary cannot misuse the independence entrusted to it and should not act arbitrarily, as the Constitution ensures the independence of the judiciary in numerous ways throughout the document. The judiciary is accountable to the Constitution of India and to the people of India. The provisions of the Constitution that secure the independence of the judiciary are the tenure of judges, salaries and allowances of judges, powers and jurisdictions of courts, judicial conduct before parliament, contempt of court, and complete independence of the judiciary under Article 50 of the Constitution. 

The Indian judicial structure consists of a three-tier system, i.e., the Supreme Court of India, the High Courts of State, and subordinate courts. The subordinate courts are further decentralised at district, municipal, and village levels. As the name suggests, the one and only Supreme Court is the highest court of appeals in India. There are 25 high courts and district courts in each state district. The main objective of such a hierarchical structure is to decentralise the justice system to the root level and also settle any kind of dispute for appropriate resolution without bias or prejudice. 

The Supreme Court of India 

The Supreme Court of India came into existence on 28 January 1950. It is the highest judicial authority in India and is also known as the Apex Court. The law declared by the Supreme Court is binding on all courts in India and is the law of the land. The Constitution of India provides authority to the Supreme Court under Articles 124-147. Among them, Articles 141 and 144 are the key provisions that enshrine the Constitutional authority and supreme jurisdiction exercised by the Supreme Court of India to uphold the law of the land. 

Constitution 

The Constitution of the Supreme Court consists of the Chief Justice of India and 33 other judges appointed by the President of India. The Chief of India is a prominent authority and heads the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court can have a total strength of 34 judges as per the Constitution. 

Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court 

The term Jurisdiction can be defined as the authority of a court to deal with disputes for the purpose of administration of justice. The Supreme Court exercises Original, Appellate and advisory jurisdiction. 

Original Jurisdiction– Insofar as the original jurisdiction is concerned, the Supreme Court deals with disputes between government and states, inter-state disputes that involve questions of law or fact, and the enforcement of fundamental rights under Article 32 of the Constitution. It can issue writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari. The power of transfer of cases among high courts and for itself is exercised within the realms of original jurisdiction. The Supreme Court also exercises original jurisdiction under special enactments such as the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, international commercial arbitration. 

Appellate Jurisdiction– An appeal can be filed in the Supreme Court against any decree, judgment or final order of a High Court in both civil and criminal cases that involves/requires interpretation through a certificate granted by the concerned high court under Articles 132, 133  or 134 of the Constitution. The conditions under which cases are appealed to the Supreme Court are: In civil cases, if the cases involve a substantial question of law or if the high court is of the opinion that it has to be dealt with by the Supreme Court, then the high court certifies the appeal. Similarly, in criminal cases, if any accused is convicted of death or life imprisonment or sentenced for not less than 10 years or the high court opines that it is a fit case, then an appeal is allowed before the Supreme Court. In criminal cases, the Supreme Court can admit any appeal as per the authority entrusted to it by Parliament. 

The scope of appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is wide in all courts and tribunals in the country. It exercises the discretion under Article 136 of the Constitution (Special Leave Petition) to admit an appeal from any order, judgment, determination, or sentence made by any court or tribunal in India. 

Advisory Jurisdiction– It exercises jurisdiction when matters are referred by the President of India on matters of crucial importance under Article 143 of the Constitution. The court exercises the power of reference or appeals under various sections of enactments, such as Article 317 of the Constitution, Section 130 of the Customs Act, 1962 and others. 

Powers and functions 

The Supreme Court is the highest court of appeals in India and receives appeals from high courts and original suits, apart from writ jurisdiction. Under Article 145 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court Rules 2013 are framed to regulate the procedure and practice of the Supreme Court. Some of the significant powers of the Supreme Court and its functions are provided in this section. 

Power of Judicial Review –  The power of judicial review that vests with the Supreme Court is a reflection of the principle of an independent judiciary. It is an instrument through which independence can be protected. Under the power of judicial review, the Supreme Court can strike down any action by legislation or executive that is contrary to the provisions of the Constitution, such as in violation of fundamental rights or in violation of the distribution of powers between states and the Union. 

Power of Transfer – The Supreme Court has two types of transfer powers. It has the power to transfer judges and the power to transfer cases. The Court has the power to transfer the judges of the high court from one court to another. It can also transfer cases from one high court to another or move any court before it. 

Article 141 and Article 144 of the Indian Constitution -These two Articles require emphasis, as the Supreme Court derives the most important powers from these provisions, i.e., supremacy by precedent. 

Article 141 is read as follows- the law declared by the Supreme Court shall be binding on all courts within the territory of India.

Article 144 of the Indian Constitution is read as follows: All authorities, civil and judicial, in the territory of India shall act in aid of the Supreme Court. This Article is conjectured with Article 141 which lays down and upholds the binding authority of the Supreme Court on all subordinate courts in India. Any violation or disobeyance of the Supreme Court orders leads to contempt of court.

Article 141 enshrines the English law principle of stare decisis, which states that a law must be definite, consistent, fixed, and known. Through this, all the judgments/orders by the Supreme Court hold binding value for all courts and tribunals in India and become a land of India. The Supreme Court’s verdicts become a source of law by themselves. It must be noted that the binding nature of an order/judgment extends only to the operative part, known as the ratio decidendi. Ratio decidendi is the reasoning upon which a decision is arrived at by the court. Only the reasoning part would have a binding effect, and all other remarks made or said, by the way, are considered Obiter dicta. Unlike ratio decidendi, the obiter dicta has only persuasive value and has no binding effect. The principle incorporated under Article 141 of the Indian Constitution ascertains the authority of precedential value in supreme court judgments.  The Supreme Court is the only body that is vested with the ultimate power to decide and authority to rely upon. All decisions of the Supreme Court are binding on subordinate courts as precedents. The precedents of English courts or privy councils are accepted when there exists no Indian case on the matter.  In many cases, precedents become a source of law in place of legislation to promote the welfare of citizens. The instances of such scenarios are given for better understanding. 

Illustration 1: The famous Vishaka Guidelines given by the Supreme Court on sexual harassment in the workplace is an important source of authority to date. It was the first time that the Court identified and addressed the serious problem in society against women. Later, based on the guidelines, the Sexual Harassment at Work Place (POSH) Act, 2013 was enacted. Here, the judgment of the Supreme Court is an important source of authority, and the enactment is an important source of law in modern times. In this case, both precedent and legislation became key sources of law.

Illustration 2: Countries like the United Kingdom, which abide by unwritten Constitutions, contain precedent as one of the important authorities for a source of law. They derive powers and rules from common law that consist of judicial precedents. On the contrary, a country like India has a written Constitution through which its powers are derived. Legislation and precedents were given recognition at various levels. In new Constitutions, especially civil law systems, legislation is the primary source of law. Precedents do not gain primacy in comparison to legislation and only give support to the legislative law.  

Illustration 3: As per fundamental rights, every individual has the right to dignity and information. The judiciary, through a series of cases, established principles upholding the same. The enactment of the Right to Education Act,2009 and the Right to Information Act, 2005 legislations became key sources of law that formed the basis for effective implementation. In issues involving the constitutionality of an enactment, precedents play a key role in upholding or withholding the law. Generally, in these scenarios, reliance is placed on precedents.

The above illustrations show how precedents as sources of law are interdependent and recognized as authorities. 

Public Interest Litigation (PIL) – Public Interest Litigation, also known as PIL, is a powerful instrument vested with the Supreme Court for the effective delivery of justice in India. PIL was adopted from the judicial system of the United States of America. The instrument can be effectively used for the betterment of disadvantaged and marginalized communities. Any citizen of India can file a PIL in case of any breach of fundamental rights. The only crucial aspect is that the party to the petition should prove his/her locus standi, i.e., connection to the case and how the wrong impacted the petitioner/victim. It is an effective tool through which a voice can be given to the voiceless and to uphold the fundamental/human rights of an individual. 

A few examples of PIL cases are Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraju & Ors. (2014), Mumbai Kamgar Sabha v. M/s. Abdulbhai Faizullabhai & Others. (1976), and others. 

Advisory Jurisdiction- In addition to the Original and Appellate jurisdictions, the Supreme Court exercises Advisory jurisdiction under Article 143 of the Indian Constitution. Under this, the President of India can request advice on any significant matters of public importance. Some of the cases that the Supreme Court dealt with under this jurisdiction are Cauvery Disputes (2019), In Re Delhi Laws Act (1951), and others.  

High Courts of India   

After the Supreme Court, the next highest court of authority in the country is the High Court. The High Court is the highest judicial court in a state. All high courts are subordinate to the Supreme Court. Every state shall have a high court of its own, as per Article 214 of the Indian Constitution. However, some high courts have jurisdiction over more than one state. For example: the High Court of Punjab and Haryana is common for the states of Punjab and Haryana, including the union territory of Chandigarh. The high courts are the supreme judicial authority within a state. Currently, there are 25 high courts all over India. 

S.No. Name of the High Court and year established  States and UT (Union Territories) covered Seat and Bench of the High Court 
1 The High Court of Bombay (1862) Maharashtra, Dadra & Nagar Haveli Daman Diu and Goa Seat: Mumbai Benches in Panaji, Aurangabad and Nagpur 
2 The High Court of Madras (1862) Tamilnadu and Pondicherry  Seat: Chennai Bench in Madurai 
3 The High Court of Kolkata (1862) West Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar Islands  Seat: Kolkata Bench: Port Blair 
4 The High Court of Allahabad (1866) Uttar Pradesh  Seat: Allahabad Bench: Lucknow 
5 The High Court of Karnataka (1884) Karnataka  Seat: Bengaluru Bench: Dharwad and Gulbarga 
6 The High Court of Patna (1916) Bihar  Seat: Patna
7 The High Court of Guwahati (1948) Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram  Seat: Guwahati Benches at Kohim, Itanagar and Aizwal
8 The High Court of Rajasthan (1949) Rajasthan  Seat: Jodhpur Bench: Jaipur 
9 The High Court of Odisha (1949) Odisha  Seat: Cuttack 
10 The High Court of Telangana (1954) Telangana Seat: Hyderabad 
11 The High Court of Madhya Pradesh (1956) Madhya Pradesh  Seat: Jabalpur Benches: Indore and Gwalior 
12 The High Court of Kerala (1958) Kerala and Lakshadweep  Seat: Ernakulam
13 The High Court of Gujarat (1960) Gujarat  Seat: Ahmedabad 
14 The High Court of Delhi (1966) Delhi Seat: Delhi 
15 The High Court of Himachal Pradesh (1971) Himachal Pradesh Seat :Shimla 
16 The High Court of Punjab & Haryana (1975) Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh  Seat : Chandigarh 
17 The High Court of Sikkim (1975) Sikkim  Seat : Gangtok 
18 The High Court of Jharkhand (2000) Jharkhand  Seat: Ranchi
19 The High Court of Uttarakhand (2000) Uttarakhand  Seat: Nainital 
20 The High Court of Chattisgarh (2000) Chattisgarh  Seat: Bilaspur 
21 The High Court of Manipur (2013) Manipur Seat: Imphal
22 The High Court of Tripura (2013) Tripura Seat: Agartala
23 The High Court of Meghalaya (2013) Meghalaya Seat: Shillong 
24 The High Court of Andhra Pradesh (2019) Andhra Pradesh Seat: Amravati 
25 The High Court of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh (2019) Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh  Seat: Jammu (winter) and Srinagar (summer)

Constitution 

Each High Court consists of a Chief Justice along with other judges appointed. The total number of high court judges varies from state to state and is appointed based on the volume and pendency of cases. The Chief Justice of a High Court administers and manages the high court. He/she is answerable on behalf of the concerned High Court to the Supreme Court or state on any issue. 

Jurisdiction of the High Court

The High Courts in the state have the following jurisdictions. They are: 

Original Jurisdiction– The disputes are directly taken by the High Court at the first instance. The High Court exercises similar jurisdiction to that of the Supreme Court in cases of the enforcement of fundamental rights. Some of the matters that fall under the original jurisdiction are: divorce, marriage, will, company law and election petitions. 

Writ Jurisdiction– High Court exercises writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution. Under its jurisdiction, it can issue the writs of Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Certiorari, Quo Warranto and Prohibition. The scope and ambit of writ jurisdiction of the High Court are wider than those of the Supreme Court. 

Appellate Jurisdiciton– Any appeal to the high court can be filed against the judgment, decree or order passed by the district courts or tribunals within the state territory. An appeal is admitted when it involves a substantial question or issue of law. The jurisdiction can be further categorized into two: Civil and Criminal jurisdictions. 

Powers and functions of the High Court 

The powers and functions of the high courts in India are as provided below. The High Court can decide the cases within its state jurisdiction on the original side, hear appeals from the subordinate courts, and issue writs for fundamental rights. 

Administrative Powers-  The high courts of a state control and supervise all the subordinate courts situated in the state. It has the power to issue rules on the functioning of the subordinate courts. It has the power to transfer any case from one court to another, decide by itself, and call for the records of the proceedings of any case. The High Court appoints the administrative staff and determines subordinate courts’ salaries and service conditions. It also enquires into the records maintained by the subordinate court whenever necessary. 

Suprevisory Jurisdiction- As per Article 227 of the Indian Constitution, the high court supervises all the courts and tribunals within its territories except the courts that deal with cases of armed forces. 

High Court as a Court of Record – Court of record means the function in which high court proceedings and judgments are recorded for purposes of perpetual memory. No one has the right or power to question these records before any court. The court can impose contempt for any consequences. 

Exercises or entrusted with multiple jurisdictions– It is said that the high court has more scope in comparison to the Supreme Court in admitting the cases. This is because of the number of jurisdictions that the court exercises. High Courts are entrusted with the Original Jurisdiction to deal with cases related to the state assembly, fundamental rights, transfer cases, admiralty law, etc., exercise Appellate jurisdiction to admit appeals from civil and criminal cases; to exercise Writ Jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution and to exercise Supervisory Jurisdiction over subordinate courts. Under writ jurisdiction, the high courts issue writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, certiorari, prohibition, and quo warranto.  

Power of Judicial Review- High Courts also exercise judicial review under Articles 13 and 226 of the Constitution. These provisions expressly entrust this power to the high courts. Under the power of judicial review, the high court examines disputes between the state or central government and the constitutionality of legislative and executive orders on any issue. 

District Courts 

District courts, also known as subordinate courts, are at the bottom of the judicial hierarchy. The state government establishes a district court in every district or group of districts, depending on the cases in the vicinity. The high courts of a state supervise and administer the district courts. All districts within a state are bound by the orders and judgments of the concerned High Court. Usually, the procedure in district courts is considered complex, and the different types of courts at the district level might cause confusion for young lawyers. District courts deal with cases that are civil and criminal in nature. In a broad category, there are different types of courts at the district level. The main purpose is to decentralize the justice system as much as possible to reach the remotest individuals living in the country. The further demarcation of courts at the district level is as follows: 

Civil Courts 

The civil courts exclusively deal with civil cases pertaining to civil wrongs committed by an individual or entity against another individual/entity. Some examples of civil cases are property and contractual disputes,etc. Civil courts are governed by the maxim Ubi jus ibi remedium, which means for every wrong there is a remedy. Civil courts are entrusted with the jurisdiction to try all civil suits unless barred by any law in force. These are governed by the Civil Procedure Code, 1908, concerning the procedure to be followed while administering civil suits under various civil statutes of law. The hierarchy in civil courts and further categorization are as follows: 

Chart No.1: The civil courts structure in the Indian district judiciary

Any civil suit has to be filed before the lowest court possible, i.e., Munsif Court. However, based on certain aspects of jurisdiction, the competent court to try the matter will be decided. You can read more about the jurisdiction below.  

As can be seen from the hierarchy, District Courts are the highest court of authority in civil matters in a district. The Sub-Judge courts are common all over India; additional sub-judge courts are established depending on the caseload in a particular district. Munsif courts deal with suits with a value of less than 1 lakh rupees. 

Criminal Courts 

Analogous to the civil courts, criminal courts exclusively deal with criminal cases pertaining to crimes committed against the body/reputation of an individual or entity against another individual/entity. Some examples of criminal cases are murder, attempt to murder, cheating, etc., and all other crimes as specified under the Indian Penal Code. All criminal cases are considered crimes committed against the public at large, apart from the real victim. Hence, criminal justice has an impact on society at large. Hence, states represent the victim in criminal cases and file cases against the accused. In criminal cases, there is a huge pendency of cases as the trial procedure is lengthy and most of the matters are resolved only through trial. The criminal courts are governed by the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPc), 1973, concerning the procedure to be followed while administering criminal cases under various criminal statutes of law. The functionaries that are involved in the dispensation of criminal justice, along with the court, are public prosecutors (representing the state/victim), defense counsel (representing the individual/entity accused of a crime), police (conducting an investigation), prison authorities and those involved in correctional services (for the dispensation of punishment). The hierarchy in criminal courts and further categorization are as follows: 

Chart No.2: The criminal courts structure in the Indian district judiciary

Sessions Court- As per Section 6 of the CrPC, every district shall contain the court of sessions, judicial magistrates of 1st and 2nd class, and executive magistrates. Sessions courts are established for every session division presided over by a sessions judge appointed by the high court. The additional and assistant sessions judges can be appointed as and when required by the high court. These judges are subordinate to the session judges and have restricted powers. For example: the additional and assistant judges do not have the power to grant bail for serious crimes. The high court orders the place at which the sessions court sits and tries the cases. In exceptional cases, with the consent of the parties involved in a case, a sessions court can shift its place to decide a particular case as per the convenience of the parties. 

Unlike the civil courts, the jurisdiction of the criminal courts is decided based on the level of punishment that a court empowers as per law. According to Section 29 of the CrPC, a session court can pass any sentence as provided by law except the death penalty. It cannot sentence a person to life imprisonment for more than seven years. It is the highest court of appeal in a district judiciary for criminal cases. 

Magistrates – The place and number of judicial magistrates (1st and 2nd class) in a particular district are decided by the high court in consultation with the state government. However, these courts are not set up in metropolitan areas. In every district, the High Court appoints any judicial magistrate of the 1st class who is senior in the service as the Chief Judicial Magistrate. He is superior to all other judicial magistrates and supervises, subject to the superintendence of the district judge. The high court can also appoint Additional Chief Judicial Magistrates as required and designate any judicial magistrate 1st class as a sub-divisional judicial magistrate with prescribed responsibilities. The sub-divisional judicial magistrate supervises all other judicial magistrates in the sub-division except the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate. 

A judicial magistrate of 1st class can punish a culprit for an imprisonment period of up to three years and a fine of 10,000 (maximum); on the other side, a judicial magistrate of 2nd class can pass a sentence of up to one year with a fine of a maximum of 5,000 rupees. 

The courts of metropolitan magistrates are established in every metropolitan area of a state, as notified by the state government under Section 16 of the CrPC. These courts can be seen in metropolitan cities like Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, etc. The jurisdiction of metropolitan magistrates extends throughout the metropolitan region. One metropolitan magistrate is appointed Chief Metropolitan Magistrate by the High Court. The hierarchy or structure of metropolitan magistrate courts is similar to that of district magistrate courts; the difference is only the jurisdiction/ region of the courts. 

Revenue Courts

Revenue courts have original jurisdiction to deal with cases concerning revenue, rent, or profits arising from agricultural land in the state. The issues related to land boundaries, partition, and tenancy are also dealt with by this Court. Even the civil courts with original jurisdiction do not deal with revenue matters. In states like Uttar Pradesh, the scope of the disputes to be dealt with by revenue courts is extended to land transfers, holdings, encroachment cases, declaratory suits, trespasser evictions, and similar evictions. It differs from state to state. The Board of Revenue is the highest court in the district and receives appeals from the lower revenue courts. The authorities involved in the hierarchy of revenue matters are: Courts of Commissioners, Collectors, Tehsildars, and Assistant Tehsildars. 

Chart No.3: The hierarchy and Structure of revenue courts in India 

Special Courts 

The concept of Special courts is not new and has been in existence since the time of the British Rule. Special courts are set up for restricted purposes under specific laws, unlike civil/criminal courts, which deal with various statutes. For example, Special courts are set up to deal with cases under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008, Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1956, narcotics cases; corruption cases; and others. 

Tribunal System 

Tribunals are special bodies established to perform the quasi-judicial duties. The main purpose of establishment of tribunals is to reduce the case load on the judiciary and to resolve technical matters which require expertise. As per the Supreme court verdict, the tribunals should be granted independence similar to that of the judiciary. It helps in faster adjudication of cases in comparison to the traditional courts. By 42nd Amendment of the Constitution, Article 323-A and Article 323-B that empowers Parliament and state legislators to establish the Tribunals. The Tribunals can be categorized into two categories: Administrative Tribunals and Central Administrative Tribunals. Some of examples of Tribunals are: Income Tax Tribunal, National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), National Green Tribunal (NGT) and others. Each tribunal deals with certain specialised and expertise field/subjects of law. 

Constitution 

Each District court is headed by the District Judges. In addition to that,  additional and assistant district judges are appointed depending on the workload in a particular district. There are magistrates and junior and senior judges presiding in civil and criminal courts that form part of the district judiciary. The Principal District and Sessions Judge supervises and heads the respective district court. 

Jurisdiction of District Court 

The District Court exercises both Original and Appellate jurisdictions from both civil and criminal cases. The District and Session Courts also known as District Court admit the cases at first instance in matters that fall exclusively with the jurisdiction of district court and cannot be dealt by the subordinate courts. In other cases, district courts has power to hear appeal against the order/judgment given courts such as senior civil judge or magistrate courts. The District court also exercises the power of revision in criminal cases against the orders of the lower courts. 

Powers and functions of a District Court 

A District Court exercises both administrative and judicial functions. It supervises and administers all the civil and criminal courts in the district zone. District courts are vested with the power to try both civil and criminal cases. Hence, they are designed as District and Sessions Court/District and Sessions Judges. A District Court has jurisdiction to deal with serious criminal offences and hears appeals from its lower courts. 

The Criminal courts, which are subordinate to the district court, initially try the cases and punish the culprit as per the criminal statute under which the case was instituted. The aggrieved party can file an appeal with the District Court. Similarly, appeals arise from civil courts. The district decides appeals arising from these courts. 

Recording of Evidence- This is the significant function of a district court, also known as a trial court. Because only at the trial stage is the evidence recorded upon which ones case is built. Hence, a trial court judge must ensure that the evidence is properly submitted. 

Jurisdiction of Indian courts and their types 

In simple terms, jurisdiction means the power of the court to decide a matter/case that was instituted by a party and pass a judgment or verdict. Owing to the hierarchical structure present in the judicial system, courts at each level are imposed with certain limitations and restrictions in the name of Jurisdiction. A court that has jurisdiction as per law/rules is only competent to decide a matter. A judgment passed by a court that is incompetent or lacks jurisdiction is a nullity. The jurisdiction can be broadly categorised into four types. They are: 

Territorial jurisdiction of courts

Before instituting a case, a common question that arises in the mind of a litigant/lawyer is in which place the court would admit or hear the dispute. This is nothing but deciding the territory of the court. This is known as Territorial Jurisdiction of courts, which means to what extent of place or territory a court exercises its jurisdiction. It can be defined as the power of the court to deal with or inquire into the matter and proceed with trial. All civil, criminal, and constitutional statutes prescribe or demarcate the jurisdiction of each court. IIustrations of territorial jurisdiction are as follows: 

In civil suits related to a mortgage/partition or sale, or any claim/ right on immovable property, a court where the property of the suit is situated has territorial jurisdiction to deal with the matter. Similarly, in criminal cases, the courts within whose limits the offence has been committed are entrusted with jurisdiction. 

Pecuniary jurisdiction of courts

Once the territorial jurisdiction has been ascertained, the next one to be seen is the pecuniary jurisdiction. As explained above, within the civil courts, there are sub-divisions. In civil cases,  pecuniary jurisdiction plays a key role. Depending on the value of the suit, a court has to be decided. Suits with a value of Rs. 3 lakhs are instituted with the primary court of the Junior Civil Judge, similarly with other courts as per hierarchy. The high courts do not have any pecuniary jurisdiction and can hear any appeals from the subordinate courts.

Subject-matter jurisdiction of courts

Subject-matter is the type and kind of law involved in a case or matter between the parties. It can be civil or criminal. Within civil cases, the subject matter is divided into contracts, succession, rent or lease, and several others. There are courts established under special statutes to deal with particular matters, like those of commercial courts exclusively for commercial disputes that fall under enactment. This is known as Subject Matter Jurisdiction. The courts should only entertain cases for which they are established. 

For example: a civil court cannot decide a criminal case as civil courts are entrusted with jurisdiction to deal with civil matters only under the law, i.e., Section 9 of the CPC. Similarly, a district court cannot deal with commercial cases like the Section 34 petition under the Arbitration Act, as there are commercial courts established to deal with those kinds of cases. 

Original and appellate jurisdiction of courts

Under the original jurisdiction, a court can hear the dispute at first instance, which means it is the first court that deals with the matter. Whereas in appellate jurisdiction, a case is referred to the higher court from the first court that dealt with the matter. The court with appellate jurisdiction has the power to reverse or reject the order. In India, all Civil, Criminal and Constitutional cases can be filed on both original and appellate sides. 

It is an undeniable fact that the judiciary plays a key role in society. Some of the roles that the judiciary is entrusted with are as follows: 

  • Acts as a Guardian of the Constitution and protector of fundamental rights – In India, the Constitution is the supreme. The judiciary should act in line with the Constitution and enforce rights embedded in the document. Fundamental rights are enforced by the Supreme Court through writs. It is also responsible for the resolution of disputes among states or between centre and state and violation of the fundamental rights of citizens. Any law in violation of the Constitution can be declared null and void by the Supreme Court. 
  • Administration of Justice – This is one of the primary roles of the Indian judiciary. In case of any dispute, the court, with the support of the evidence submitted and applicable law, resolves the matter as per the procedure of law. A Judge decides the law applicable to a particular case and imposes a penalty on the culprit or guilty person. 
  • Owing to the increase in workload due to the significant number of pendency cases, due to which there is a massive workload on the judges. It is expected that a judge diligently conducts his duty/responsibility to effectively dispose of the cases. 

Ethics and ethos of a Judicial Officer 

The main responsibility of a judicial officer is to resolve disputes between parties with the support of evidence and as per the legal statute. Knowingly or unknowingly, the conduct of judges influences the institution of the judiciary, ultimately reflecting on society. There will be situations where judges speak about what is right and wrong, ethics, and morals in relation to public affairs/relations. Hence, when holding such a position of authority, judicial officers are bound to conduct themselves within the realm of certain ethics and principles. 

All the judicial ethics, values, and principles are propounded to uphold impartiality, independence, and impropriety. A judicial officer should act without any fear or bias. He/she should maintain integrity, equality, competence, and diligence while performing the duties of a judicial officer. In India, judicial ethics are yet to be codified. The documents which act as a guide to the judges on the ethics and conduct of judicial officers are 

  • Oath of a Judge (In the Third Schedule of the Constitution) 
  • A charter adopted by the Supreme Court in 1997 in Chief Justices Conference of India- Restatement of Values of Judicial Life, ratified in 1999 
  • Banglore Principles of Judicial Conduct, 2022 

In addition to the interpretation of the law, judges are expected to maintain high standards of ethics in their conduct. A judge must be knowledgeable on social and moral science along with the changes in law.  

The Constitution of India contains provisions and procedures for the appointment of Judicial Officers. In this section, the appointment, qualification, and eligibility of judicial officers are given. 

Appointment of Supreme Court Judges 

The President of India appoints the Supreme Court judges. Article 124 of the Constitution describes the appointment of the Chief Justice and other judges of the Supreme Court. As per the document, the strength of the Supreme Court judges can be increased as and when needed, depending on the caseload and circumstances. 

Qualifications and eligibility 

The qualifications required to be eligible for appointment to the Supreme Court are as follows: 

  • He/she should be a citizen of India  
  • He/she should not be above the age of 65 years. 
  • He/she must have been a judge of the high court or two or more high courts in succession for at least 5 years or 
  • He/she should be an advocate with a minimum of 10 years of practice in one or more high courts or 
  • He must be a Distinguished Jurist in the opinion of the President of India 

Tenure/ Removal 

The age of retirement for Supreme Court judges is 65 years. Within the age of retirement, a Supreme Court judge can be removed only by the order of the president. A motion is passed before both houses of parliament with a majority of two-thirds of members present, and voting should be achieved before the presentation to the president. In the same session, if the majority of votes are attained, a Supreme Court judge can be removed on grounds of incapacity and misbehaviour as proved. Such an individual is barred from practising law before any courts in India. 

Appointment of High Court Judges 

The President of India is the appointing authority for the High Court Judges. The president, after consultations with the Chief Justice of India and the governor of the state concerned, appoints the Chief Justice of a High Court. To appoint other judges of the high court, in addition to the Chief Justice of India, the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court and the Governor of the State are consulted. 

In the case of high courts, which are common to two or more states, the governors of each state are consulted. 

Qualifications and eligibility 

The qualifications required to be eligible for appointment as a high court judge are as follows: 

  • He/she should be a citizen of India  
  • He/she should have held the position as a judicial officer within the territory of India for at least ten years or 
  • He/she should be an advocate with a minimum of 10 years of practice in one or more high courts 

Tenure 

The age of retirement for High court judges is 62 years. Only the President of India can remove a high court judge from the post before retirement. 

Appointment of District /subordinate Courts 

Article 233 of the Constitution mentions the appointment of District Judges. As per the Article, the governor of a state appoints all the judges of a district court with the recommendation of a high court. 

Qualifications and eligibility 

For Junior Civil Judge-cum-Magistrate 

  • A candidate or applicant should be a citizen of India in accordance with Articles 5 and 6 of the Constitution. 
  • Every applicant should hold a degree in law from a recognised university or any institution affiliated with any university recognised by the state or central government established by Law in India. No other special qualification or professional experience is required except a law degree.
  • A candidate should be an advocate as per the Advocates Act, 1961, and enrolled with any Bar Council of a state or Union Territory as of the date of notification. 
  • A candidate should possess good moral character to be eligible for appointment as a judicial officer. 
  • A candidate should be medically fit, as certified by the state health department, to discharge the duties of the post for which he is appointed.
  • Few states require a minimum of three years of experience to appear for the magistrate exams. 
  • For general candidates (unreserved category): the candidate should not be above the age of  35 years as of the date of release of the notification. 
  • For Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes (SCs and STs), an age relaxation of 3 years is granted. Hence, a candidate under this category should not be above the age of 38 years as of the notification’s release date. 

Age is a crucial eligibility criterion for which the verification process can be stringent. For proof of age, a birth certificate, 10th certificate, or any other equivalent exam is generally shown or accepted. In some cases, government identity cards will be verified to determine eligibility. 

For District Judges through Direct Recruitment 

  • In cases of selection for posts of District Judge, an advocate must possess at least seven years of law practice as an advocate or pleader and should be recommended by the High Court. 
  • He/she should not be in the service of any Union or state 
  • He/she should be above the age of 35 years with a minimum of seven years of practice in addition to merit in the exam. These are the recruitments at different levels of the judiciary. 

Tenure 

The concerned state government determines the age of retirement for district judges. Usually, it is 60 years in the majority of states. Even after retirement, the district judges are appointed to special courts. 

As seen above, in India, the judicial services are structured in a hierarchy. At all levels, they share the common function of administering justice. However, as the level increases, the complexity of cases and the level of responsibility also increases. The selection procedure differs for each post. As per legal theory, the High Courts of states and the Supreme Court are superior in India, and all other courts are considered subordinate. However, when it comes to the selection/appointment procedure, the equivalence of the terms slightly varies.

For purposes of selection, the higher judiciary includes posts of Supreme Court Judges, High Court Judges, Registrars of High Court and Supreme Court and District Court judges. Under the lower judiciary, the Junior civil judge cum Magistrate posts are filled. The selection procedure for the judicial posts is explained in this section. 

Higher Judiciary – Bar to Bench/elevation 

Within the higher judiciary, the selection for the posts of high court and supreme court judges is similar. Experience is the key factor considered in the selection of these posts. There are two methods of selection: by elevation (promotion of district judges to the high court and high court judges to the supreme court) and selection of experienced practising advocates from the Bar to Bench. Either way, the judges of the High Court and Supreme Court are appointed through the collegium system and hence excluded from the competitive exam zone. No examinations are conducted for the selection of high court and supreme court judges; experience and expertise are the sole basis. In the appointment of high court judges, the Constitution did not provide for any quota between the Bar and the Bench. Therefore, the selection of these posts is quite ambiguous and often controversial. 

Role of Collegium System in the selection of High Court/Supreme Court Judges 

The collegium system is the buzzword in current legal news. Time and again, debates and discussions take place on the collegium system. Today, the collegium system is the main basis on which the judges of high courts and supreme courts are appointed. Nonetheless, the Constitution did not make any mention of a collegium system in the appointment of judges. The procedure prescribed under the Constitution for the appointment of judges was already explained above. The procedure to appoint the judges of high courts and the Supreme Court is a result of the Supreme Court opinions in the years 1982, 1993 and 1998, famously known as the Three Judges Cases. So what exactly is the collegium system? Read further. 

Till the year 1993, the appointment of judges in the higher judiciary (i.e., the high courts and the Supreme Court) was made in consultation with the Chief Justice of the court along with two other senior judges of the concerned court. After the Supreme Court cases/judgments in the years 1981, 1993 and 1998, a collegium was formed to appoint the judges. 

Supreme Court Collegium- A collegium consists of the Chief Justice of India and 4 senior colleagues/judges of the Supreme Court. The Collegium recommends the persons for appointment and transfer of the High Court and Supreme Court Judges, giving the President nominal authority for appointment. The Collegium recommends the individuals both for elevation (where high court judges are appointed to the Supreme Court) and direct appointment (appointment of senior lawyers from the Bar to become a judge). For the appointment of high court judges, the Supreme Court collegium consists of the Chief Justice of India and two senior judges. The difference is in the number of members constituted in the collegium, while for the Supreme Court, it is five; in the case of high courts, the number is reduced to three, including the Chief Justice of India. It is a mandatory requirement that the next upcoming chief justice in the line be part of the collegium. Currently, there are six members in the collegium as the senior judges not going to become the next Chief Justice of India. 

High Court Collegium- Similar to the Supreme Court collegium, there exists a High Court collegium in each high court. The High Court collegium is formed by the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court and two senior judges as members. The Chief Justice of the High Court prior to the vacancy needs to take initiation for a proposal to appoint a judge to fill the vacancy. With reference to the appointment of high court judges, first, the High Court Collegium sends its recommendations to the Supreme Court Collegium. However, it is not a direct process. The procedure involved in the appointment of high court judges as per the memorandum is as follows: 

Step 1: Either for elevations or direct appointment to the high courts, the high court collegium prepares a list of recommended individuals and sends it to the State government. 

Step 2: The State government after perusal and adding its own opinions/comments sends it to the Centre. 

Step 3: The Intelligence Bureau (IB) conducts background checks as per the list submitted by the Centre. The IB sends the reports to the Supreme Court collegium. 

Step 4: The Supreme Court Collegium after going through the reports, gives the names to the Centre. 

Step 5: At this stage, the central government has two options, either accept the appointment or return the list of names for reconsideration by the collegium. 

Step 6: If the Supreme Court collegium reiterates the given names, then the centre has no option except acceptance of the suggested names. 

Step 7: Finally, the selected names will be appointed as the Judges of the high court, officially by the President of India. 

A similar procedure is followed for the appointment of Supreme Court judges. Except that the first list of recommended names is directly given by the Supreme Court Collegium to the Central government. This way, the procedure is followed. It is a collaborative, integrated and continuous process, as consultations with various authorities have to be taken and no prescribed time limit has been fixed for the appointments. The government is responsible for the time-bound filling of vacancies. 

Selection of Posts of District Judges and Registrars of High Courts 

For the remaining posts of the higher judiciary, i.e., the posts of district judges and registrars of the high court, the mode of selection is different. There is no collegium system involved in the recruitment of these posts. Selections are made in two modes: direct recruitment through merit and by promotion. 

For direct recruitment, the candidates are selected on a merit basis by competitive exams, whereas, by promotion, the judicial staff personnel or senior judicial officers already working in the system are promoted based on experience and performance. As per the All India Judges’ association case, the ratio of vacancies for recruitment by direct recruitment and promotion decided was 25% and 75%, respectively. In promotions, seniority is the key factor. But 10% of seats are allotted to meritorious individuals in the senior civil judge cadre with 5 years of experience. This is the selection procedure for District Judges. 

Lower Judiciary competitive examinations 

The junior civil judge-cum-magistrate exams are conducted for the posts of civil judge (junior division) cum magistrate in every state to fill the vacancies. Any fresh law graduate or a practising advocate before the prescribed age limit in the notifications (who is below 35-38 years of age for the majority of states, depending on the candidates category) can apply for a lower judiciary or magistrate examination.

Owing to the relaxation in age and practice experience, the magistrate exams, also known as junior civil judge exams, provide great opportunities to law graduates and young lawyers. A candidate can attempt to take the magistrate exams immediately after graduation except in the states, where there is a mandatory requirement of three years of practice to appear for the exam. Every state conducts its own junior civil judge/magistrate exams to fill the available vacancies. The respective high courts of the state or state public service commissions are responsible for conducting the state judicial examinations. Though every state conducts its own judicial exams, it does not restrict a candidate from applying to two or more states. The exam pattern is similar among all states, with variations in eligibility criteria, reservations, language paper, and difficulty levels. Candidates who want to appear for judicial exams in one or more states have to be accustomed to the local language of the state in addition to fulfilling the eligibility criteria. The exam procedure is common in almost all states, with slight variations. The exam is conducted in three stages. 

Preliminary examination– This is the first stage of the examination conducted in a qualifying manner. The question format is in Multiple choice-based questions. Negative marking depends on the state. Some states do not have any negative markings, whereas others do have negative markings for preliminary examination. As it is qualifying in nature, the marks obtained are not added to the final list. 

Mains (Written) Examination– All candidates that qualify for prelims enter the next stage of prelims. It is a written examination where questions are descriptive in nature. Usually, every state has law papers, English papers and one language paper. The language paper is qualifying in nature. The marks obtained in the Mains examination contribute significantly to making the name on the list. This is the crucial stage of the examination. 

Interview/viva voce– This is the final stage of the examination. A candidate’s abilities, knowledge and skills are tested at this stage. 

The merit list is prepared based on the marks obtained by a candidate in the mains and interview. Accordingly, the qualified candidates are appointed as magistrates after training and departmental examinations. An aspirant of the judiciary should refer to the official notification of the examination to learn about the application process, syllabus, dates and other details on the official websites of the high courts of the states. 

Joining the Indian judiciary as a judge/magistrate has been one of the conventional career paths in the legal field. It not only gives a chance to serve the nation but also provides numerous benefits. It gives authority and respect to society. If you are a true enthusiast of serving society, then the position gives you a sense of satisfaction when delivering justice through the realms of law. Notwithstanding the type of post, i.e., a judge of the higher judiciary or the lower judiciary, all judges are provided with government residence, assistance, security, a car, electricity and other conveyances. There are several other benefits, such as allowances, etc., to living a decent life. Some of the important aspects with respect to the life of a judicial officer are provided below.

Training – Learning is a continuous process, and judges are no exception to it. Training is a formal and compulsory part of the life of a judicial officer. The junior judges/magistrates are trained rigorously for a year before posting. Departmental examinations are also conducted. During the training, the practical aspects of the field are taught. The training period for the District judges lasts for around 2 to 3 months. Even the high court and supreme court judges are called for training sessions for discussions on the latest updates in law. 

Timings– The Official timings of judges are 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. During this time, they check the cases and sit on the bench for adjudication of disputes. However, judicial duty does not end here. They do homework and write judgments in chambers or in the house chambers. The High Court and District Court judges who are in charge of the administration of the court need to deal with the records and affairs of the court in addition to their judicial functions. Magistrates/Junior Civil judges need to prepare daily to gear up for future promotions. 

Payscale– There are three aspects Pay, allowances, and pension The judges are provided with all three perks. The salaries of the judges as per the pay commission are as follows: 

S.No. Posts  Salary 
1. Chief Justice of India Rs.2,80,000/- per month
2. Supreme Court Judges and Chief Justice of High Court  Rs.2,50,000/- per month
3. Judges of High Courts Rs.2,25,000/- per month
4. District Judge Rs.51550 to Rs.76540/- per month
5. Senior Civil Judge  Rs.39530 to Rs 63010/- per month
6. Junior Civil Judge/First Class Magistrate  Rs.27700 to Rs.54010/- per scale 

Note: The pay scale might change if proposals from the 2nd National Judicial Pay Commission are allowed. In addition to the salary, an allowance and pension are also provided to the judges. 

Demands of the profession– There is no doubt that reading and learning is a continuous process in the legal profession despite the pinnacle that one may reach. In the cases of judges, the expectations are higher. A judge must be well versed in the law and procedure and also the case files before adjudication. This requires a lot of reading and preparedness. The next important aspect is the intellectual. To grant the relief claimed by parties, a thorough analysis of facts, evidence and law is required. Only with the help of intellectual analysis and brainstorming this is possible. 

Protocols –  When it comes to the personal life of a judicial officer, it might not look as fancy or luxurious as one might think.  To be part of a service institution like judiciary some personal sacrifices have to be made.  A  judge delivers justice to resolve disputes between parties and has an impact on the society. He must also cope up with the duties and responsibilities with expected certainty. Impartiality and fairness are essential traits required of a judge. Hence in order to ensure the above duties, a judge is expected to live a secluded life away from society. It is also for the purpose of maintaining the decorum of the institution in the society. The High Court and Supreme Court judges are also provided with protocols wherever they visit. 

Judicial officers /Judges need to compromise on social life completely. Judges should avoid going to public places, markets or any social gatherings due to security concerns. Judges and their family members are restricted from meeting strangers because they can be parties or accused of any case. A judicial officer is transferred every three years to a new place within a state. Hence a candidate needs to be equipped with such changes and able to manage their personal lifes. Sometimes officers are posted in remote areas where basic infrastructure facilities also should be compromised and should be able to lead a normal life. transfers are very occasional for high court and Supreme court judges. Only the chief justice of high courts are transferred on a regular basis.

Apart from all the benefits, pride and respect that the judgeship gives to a person. It is equally tough and a responsible position. Despite the level of post i.e. a junior civil judge to a supreme court, a judge is associated with the reputation of an institution. Hence, a judicial must conduct cautiously both in professional and personal life. 

Who does not want to become a judge and be part of a prestigious institution like the judiciary? It is an esteemed position that comes with equal amounts of power and responsibility. Reaching such positions requires a lot of dedication and determination. Magistrate exams are wonderful opportunities for graduates and young lawyers to become part of the system. If God permits, who knows? You might end up being a judge of the high court or supreme court by the time of your retirement. Hence, law graduates should not miss this opportunity. 

Owing to the fewer vacancies in the posts in contrast to the high competition involved, cracking judicial service exams can be considered challenging. Day by day, the competition is also increasing. However, with the right guidance and preparation strategy, there is nothing that cannot be achieved. 

Lawsikhos Judiciary Preparation courses comprehensively and exhaustively cover everything required for the exam. Aspirants can take advantage of the courses from the comfort of their homes. In addition to the guidance for the preparation, you can get good mentorship throughout the preparation. To learn about Lawsikho judiciary preparation courses, click here. For any doubts or clarifications, you can contact us at +91 98186 78383. 

What are common law and civil law legal systems? 

The legal systems across the globe are categorised into two types the Common Law system and the Civil Law system. The main difference is the source of law and conduct of case proceedings in each system. The common law system relies on case law, i.e., published opinions of the court, whereas in civil law systems, importance is given to codified law, i.e., statutes. There are around 150 countries that follow civil law systems for example: China, Japan, France, etc. Countries such as the United States, England, India and 80 other countries follow common law systems. In the majority of countries, the mixed approach, a combination of civil and common law system features, is implemented. 

In civil law systems, lawyers do not play much of a central role, as judges, often called “investigators,” take the lead in the proceedings, from fact-finding, charges, examination of witnesses and legal remedies. In a common law system, lawyers make representations before judges on questions of law and fact and examine witnesses, playing a key role. There is flexibility for judges in the common law system in comparison to the civil law system. 

Initially, were women prohibited from practising law in India?

The entry of women into the legal profession has not been an easy task. Since its inception, the legal profession has been dominated by men and considered a men’s profession. The  Legal Practitioners Act 1879 contained provisions that only a person should be enrolled as a lawyer. The question that surfaced was whether a woman is included in the definition of person. During those times, courts were reluctant to include women and were prohibited from enrolling them. Later, several cases were filed, and protests were held for women’s entry into the profession. The Allahabad High Court was the first court to enroll women as advocates. This marked the entry of women into legal practice. The Legal Practitioners (Women) Act of 1923 prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex. 

Do one or two states or union territories have the same high court? 

Yes, as per Article 231 of the Indian Constitution, two or more states or a union territory can have a common high court. Some examples are The High Court of Bombay, The High Court of Punjab and Haryana, the High Court of Kolkata, etc. A total of six high courts in India have control over more than one state or Union Territory. Delhi is the only union territory that has a high court of its own. 

How is the strength of high court judges decided?

The strength of judges in a high court is decided by the President of India, depending upon the workload. It can be increased by the parliament. The strength of the total number of high court judges in India has increased from 906 (in 2014) to 1104 in the year 2022. 

Which High Court in India has the highest number of judges? 

In India, the Allahabad High Court has the largest strength of judges, with 160 judges in total currently serving. 

What is the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for the appointment of Judges? 

In accordance with the Second Judges case judgment delivered on October 6, 1993 and the opinion in the Three Judges case of 1998, a Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) was prepared in 1998 on the procedure for the appointment of high court judges. 

What are Lok Adalats? 

Lok Adalats are alternate dispute settlement forums that promote amicable settlement of disputes. In villages, lok adalats are set up to resolve disputes between the parties. The Legal Services Authorities Act of 1987 grants statutory recognition to the Lok Adalats and is conducted by the NALSA (National Legal Services Authority). The award drawn during Lok Adalat is final and binding between the parties. No appeal lies against the Lok Adalat award. 

How are tribunals different from courts? 

Though both the tribunals and courts settle disputes, the purpose, manner and functions of both are different from each other. The Tribunals are also called quasi-judicial bodies and deal with disputes concerning administrative affairs such as tax, property registration and others. Whereas courts deal with any disputes involving the question of fact and law, compensation, damages, etc. Tribunals are established for the main purpose of administrative convenience. Courts are presided over by courts, where the tribunals include expert members from the concerned field in addition to the judges. 

Why and how are Special Magistrates appointed? 

Upon the request of the Central/state government, the high court is empowered to appoint any individual who holds a post in the government or any judicial magistrate of 1st class or 2nd class as a special magistrate to decide a specific case/cases. These are known as Special Judicial Magistrates. These are appointed for a duration of not more than one year. Later, the special magistrates can be appointed as metropolitan magistrates in metropolitan areas. 

What is the difference between Judicial Magistrates and Executive Magistrates? 

The main difference is the functions performed by each magistrate. A judicial magistrate conducts an enquiry or trial in a matter by weighing the evidence to make a decision for sentence, detention, fine, or penalty. Whereas the functions of an executive magistrate are administrative in nature, for example: permission to grant a license and similar tasks of this nature. The Executive Magistrates are appointed by a state government for the purpose of performing particular functions in specific areas,mentioning the local limits and jurisdiction. If no specific jurisdiction is specified by the state government, then the jurisdiction of executive magistrates extends to the whole district. 

How is a judicial magistrate different from a Judge/Judicial Officer? 

Both a judicial magistrate and a judge perform judicial functions. The difference lies in the powers, functions, and appointments of both officers. A judge has more power than a magistrate. Some of the differences are as follows: 

Judicial Magistrate A Judge 
Judicial Magistrates are appointed by the concerned High Courts of a state  A Judge is appointed by the President of India 
Deals with minor or petty cases  Deals with major or complex cases 
Has limited jurisdiction with no power to award life imprisonment or a death sentence  Has vast jurisdiction and can award punishment depending on the seriousness of the crime