District Courts: Meaning & Classification

Everyone must have heard the word "trial," and as far as law students are concerned, everyone would be interested in learning the art of trial. District Court is where all trials begin. With the exception of a small number of instances, every case begins with the district court before moving on to the session or district courts, which is why this category of inferior courts is so important in providing people with justice.

What is District Court?

Every district has a district court, though occasionally more than one district will share a district court depending on the volume of cases handled or the demographics of the district in question. A district judge presides over each court at the district level. The local administration of justice is their primary goal. The High Courts (at state level) and the Supreme Court (the apex court), has judicial and administrative authority over these subordinate courts (or district courts). There are currently 672 district courts in India. Additionally, the District Court's decision falls under the High Court's appellate jurisdiction.

Classification of District Court

Primarily, every district court is classified as −

  • Civil District Court (for civil matters) and

  • Sessions Court (for criminal court).

However, for the metropolitan cities, there is a little change i.e. instead of district court, it is known as metropolitan court and like district court, it is also classified as city civil court and metropolitan sessions court.

Hierarchy of the Courts at District Level

The court of the District and Sessions Judge is below several other kinds of courts. Below the district court, there is a three-tiered system of courts. The Court of Civil Judges is the lowest level when discussing the civil side (Junior Division). On the other hand, the lowest court for criminal cases is known as the Judicial Magistrate. Small-stakes civil cases were handled and decided by the Civil Judge (Junior Division). On the other hand, judicial magistrates make decisions in matters that are criminal in nature and carry a five-year prison sentence.

The highest and lowest order courts at the district level were discussed in the previous paragraph, but when it comes to the middle of the hierarchy, there are two courts: the Court of Civil Judge (Senior Division) for civil matters specifically and the Court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate on the other side, i.e., the criminal side, for specifically criminal matters. Any civil action involving specific types of valuation may be decided by a civil judge (senior division). There are numerous additional courts, each with an Additional Civil Judge (senior division).

And there are no such distinctions between the Senior Division of the Additional Civil Judge Courts and the Main Court of the Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division). The Chief Judicial Magistrate has the authority to hear cases involving criminal offense, which entails sentences that may include up to seven years in jail. There are numerous extra courts presided over by Additional Chief Judicial Magistrates. At the highest level, there may be one or more courts with additional district and session judges, each of whom has the same judicial authority as a district judge (for civil cases) and a session judge (for criminal cases).

Composition of District Court

In addition to the state's highest court, the High Court, which derives its authority and jurisdiction (for civil cases specifically) from the Code of Civil Procedure, the district court is regarded as the primary court of original civil jurisdiction (C.P.C.). And on the other hand, when the district court exercises its jurisdiction over criminal cases and derives its authority from the Code of Criminal Procedure, it is also referred to as the court of sessions (Cr.P.C.).

The District Court's membership is as follows 

  • District judges are chosen by the state governor with the High Court chief justice's advice (both for criminal and civil cases).

  • Judges for the district in addition.

  • District judges who are assistants (They are numerous, and their appointments were made after assessing the district's workload, so such positions are variable)

Jurisdiction of District Court

Jurisdiction of a district court is limited to the boundary of respective district. However, it can be understood through the following points 

  • It combined what had previously been a collection of district courts into a single body with divisions for general, family court, youth court, and the Disputes Tribunal.

  • With the exception of murder, manslaughter, and other offenses relating to treason, practically all criminal matters are still heard by the District Court.

  • Some of the district courts have limited pecuniary jurisdiction, but now most of the district courts have the power to register the case of any amount (no upper amount is fixed).

  • The District Court manages over 200,000 criminals, family, juvenile, and civil cases annually.

Role of District Court

District courts have very important role, as most of the cases first registered here and then escalate to High Court or Supreme Court 

  • The District Court handles the majority of cases in the first instance, making it not only the largest court in the nation but also busiest.

  • Even if the High Court will finally consider the case, every accused of a crime must first appear here. Therefore, whether a defendant enters a plea of guilty or not guilty, they will often go through the entire legal procedure in the District Court, right up until sentencing (if they are found guilty).

  • A defendant or plaintiff may file an appeal with a higher court to have the case's outcome reconsidered only after the district court’s final decision (if they disagree with it).

  • The District Court handles civil cases in a manner similar to this in the first instance, but it also hears appeals against various tribunals' rulings.


As we previously discussed, the district court, which has exclusive jurisdiction over all other courts, has three different sorts of judges that make up an important group. A district court's judges are recognized as district judges, and it is always a session court (for criminal cases). When a district judge presides over a court in a city that the state has designated as a "metropolitan city," they may also be referred to as "metropolitan session judges" or "metropolitan judges."

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Who is the highest judge in district court?

Ans: The District and Sessions Judge is the highest judge in each district.

Q2. How many district court are there in India?

Ans: In India, there are currently 672 district courts. The apex judicial body of the state is the High Court, has judicial and administrative authority over these subordinate courts.

Q3. Who was the first India district magistrate in India?

Ans: Anandaram Baruah, the first Assamese and sixth Indian to serve in the ICS, was chosen as a district magistrate. Following India's independence in 1947, the district remained the administrative division.

Updated on: 16-Jan-2023


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