Indian High Courts


HIGH COURTS AND SUBORDINATE COURTS IN INDIA
By: Pan Mohamad Faiz
[1]
A. HIGH COURTS

Appointment of Acting Chief Justice
Under Article 223, if the office of the Chief Justice of any State High Courts falls vacant or if the Chief Justice is absent or for some reason is not in a position to discharge the responsibilities of the office, then the President is empower to appoint any one of the judges of that Court as ‘Acting Chief Justice’.

Appointment of Additional and Acting Judges
Under Article 224 (1) if for some temporary reason the functions of a High Court has increased temporarily and the President feels the necessity to increase the number of Judges temporarily for these functions, then he can appoint those who fulfill the requisite qualifications as ‘Additional Judges’ for a period not exceeding two years. In the like manner, under article 224 (2) during the absence of some judge, the President can appoint acting judge.

Transfer of Judges in Other State
According to article 222, the President in consultation with the Chief of Justice of a High Court, can transfer a judge from one High Court to another. The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, giving verdict on a litigation on December 30, 1981 stated that the power of government in order to transfer the state to another, is completely legal. For this act it is not necessary to decision it was clearly stated that the transfer of judges can be made only in the ‘Public Interest’ and not in order to punish them. For this purpose it is necessary to have effective consultation with the Chief Justice of the country.

Qualification
Article 217 (2) has laid down the following qualifications for the judges of the High Court.
(a) He should have remained in the office of Justice for not less than ten years.
(b) He had worked for ten years continuously as lawyer in any High Court or High Courts.
(c) He should be citizen of India.

Tenure
The Judges of High Court can remain in office till the completion of 62 years of age. Besides on the following grounds he can be relieved from this office.

  1. If he is promoted and transferred to Supreme Court,
  2. If on the basis of misbehavior or disqualification, if the Parliament in a Single Session passes a resolution by a majority of the total membership which is more than two-thirds of the members present and voting in each House of the Parliament separately,
  3. If he resign. After his retirement, he can practice in any High Court other than his own court.

Salary etc.
There is a provision for the payment of uniform salaries to the judges of all High courts in India. According to the latest Amendment the Chief Justice and other judges of the High Court are entitled to a Rs. 26,000 respectively plus other allowances and rent free official residence.

B. SUBORDINATE COURTS

1. Criminal Courts:

The highest court in the district is that of District and Sessions judge. It is empowered to hear both the civil as well as criminal cases. It should be noted that the district and the session court is one and the same court and the same person acts in both the civil and criminal capacities. When he deals with civil cases, he is known as the District Judge and when he hears criminal cases, he is called the Sessions Judge. This court tries these cases with the help of a jury or assessors and is competent to inflict any punishment sanctioned by the law.
Due to excess of work, the district and session Judges is helped by one or more additional Sessions Judges. He is appointed by the Governor of the state in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court. The appointments to this post are made in two ways. In the first place, those persons are appointed to this post who are not in government service; the persons who have worked continuously as lawyers or advocates for seven years, are appointed by the Governor in consultation with the Secondly, government servants in judicial service commission. These government employees include Munsiffs who gradually getting promotions are appointed to this post by the Governor in accordance with their capabilities. The District and Sessions Court is the highest court of the district. The District and Sessions Judges hears appeals from subordinate courts under it. He can hear appeals regarding grave crimes like dacoities and murder and is empowered to sentence the culprits to death, but such punishment must be confirmed by the High Court.
The lowest criminal court in the district is that of Third class Magistrate’s Court. This magistrate hears petty cases like those of beating and quarrels etc. He is empowered to sentence one months imprisonment and maximum fine of some petty amount. Then there is the second class Magistrates Court in which cases of comparatively grave nature are heard. The second class magistrate is empowered to sentence six month’s imprisonment or can fine Rs. 500/- as maximum. Both these Courts have only original jurisdiction. i.e., they have no appellate jurisdiction.
Above the third and second class Magistrate’s Court are the Courts of first class Magistrates who have appellate jurisdiction also besides the original jurisdiction. These courts hear cases of graver nature and also appeals form the third and second class Magistrates. The first class Magistrates is empowered to exercise original jurisdiction in cases involving a sentence of imprisonment up to two years and fines up to Rs. 1,000. An appeal lies to the District and Sessions Court against the decision of the first class Magistrates.

2. Civil Court:

The Highest Civil Court in the district is that of a District Judge. The same person hears the civil and the criminal cases. When he hears criminal cases he is called the Session Judge; but when he deals with civil cases, he is called the District Judge. There are Courts of many sub-judges under him. In Uttar Pradesh a sub-judge is called by the name of a civil Judge. Sub-judges are divided into several ranks. They are empowered to hear cases involving sum of Rs. 5,000/-. They possess original jurisdiction and also can hear appeals against the Munsiff’s Court. There are also senior civil Judges to help the District Judge who generally possess the power of a District Judge. The Munsiff is empowered to hear cases involving a sum Rs. 2,000/-.

Besides the Munsiff’s Court, there is also a provision of small Causes Court competent to hear cases involving sums up to Rs. 1.000/-. No appeal can be made against the decisions of this Court, hence only very experienced persons are appointed as judges of this Court.
The District Judge where as hears the appeals against the decision of sub judges, possesses original jurisdiction as well. He himself cases of guardianship, insolvency and divorce. Besides, he looks after the management of trust and appointment of trust and appoints guardians of minors and lunatics. He also supervises the work of the Civil Courts of the district and distributes work among them. There are Nyaya Panchayats at village level. ۩

— The Writer —

[1] Writer is a Postgraduate Student of M.C.L. (Master of Comparative Law) at Faculty of Law, University of Delhi and a Researcher at The Constitutional Court of The Republic of Indonesia.

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