India Information >> Polity >> Judiciary

India has an independent and highly active judiciary. The Indian justice system consists of a unitary system at both state and federal level. The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court of India, High Courts at the state level, and District and Session Courts at the district level. Below District and Session Courts, there are courts of civil jurisdiction, known in different states as munsifs, sub-judges,civil judges and the like. Similarly, criminal judiciary comprises of chief judicial magistrate and judicial magistrates of first and second class.

The Supreme Court has original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction. Its exclusive original jurisdiction extends to all disputes between the Union and one or more states or between two or more states. The Constitution gives an extensive original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court to enforce Fundamental Rights. Appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court can be invoked by a certificate of the High Court concerned or by special leave granted by the Supreme Court in respect of any judgement, decree or final order of a High Court in cases both civil and criminal,involving substantial questions of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution. The President may consult the Supreme Court on any question of fact or law of public importance.

Although the proceedings in the Supreme Court arise out of the judgments or orders made by the Subordinate Courts, of late the Supreme Court has started entertaining matters in which interest of the public at large is involved, and the Court may be moved by any individual or group of persons either by filing a Writ Petition at the Filing Counter of the Court, or by addressing a letter to Hon'ble The Chief Justice of India highlighting the question of public importance for invoking this jurisdiction. Such a concept is known as Public Interest Litigation,or PIL and several matters of public importance have become landmark cases.

The Supreme Court of India comprises the Chief Justice and not more than 25 other Judges appointed by the President. Judges hold office till 65 years of age.

Additional details of the Supreme Court of India can be viewed at 

There are 18 High Courts in the country, three having jurisdiction over more than one state. Among the Union Territories, Delhi alone has a High Court of its own. The other six Union Territories come under jurisdiction of different state High Courts. The Chief Justice of a High Court is appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice of India and the Governor of the state. Each High Court has powers of superintendence over all courts within its jurisdiction. High Court judges retire at the age of 62. The jurisdiction as well as the laws administered by a High Court can be altered both by the Union and State Legislatures. Certain High Courts, like those at Bombay, Calcutta and Madras, have original and appellate jurisdictions. Most High Courts have only appellate jurisdiction.

Lok Adalats are voluntary agencies for resolution of disputes through conciliatory method.

Additional details about High Courts and other courts in India are available at