Indian Judicial System: Meaning & Structure

The legislative, executive, and judicial are the three branches of the Indian government that work independently but keep eyes on each other. Among these three, judiciary is an independent body that redresses the peoples’ complaint as well as government’s complaint.

What is meaning of Judicial System?

The Indian judicial system is a separate pillar from the first two, which are dependent on one another. When the judiciary in India is referred to as a separate pillar, it means that it operates independently from the other two branches of the government. In the Republic of India, a system of courts is responsible for interpreting and enforcing the law. The British East India Company established common law in India, and it has since been influenced by other colonial powers, Indian princely states, customs from the ancient and mediaeval periods, as well as other legal systems.

Structure of the Indian Judicial System

The Judiciary in India is a single integrated judicial system. It is a pyramid−like structure with the Supreme Court of India right at the top. After that, the High Courts and then, the District courts and its Subordinate Courts. Each lower court functions under the direct superintendence of the courts above them.

The structure of the Indian Judicial System is as follows −

Supreme Court of India

It was formed under Part V, chapter IV, and Article 124 of the Indian Constitution and is the highest court in the country’s legal system. All lower courts are required to follow the Supreme Court’s rulings. Additionally, it has the ability to change High Court judges. Cases can be transferred from lower courts to Supreme Courts. As a final option, it can move a case from one High Court to another.

High Courts of India

After the Supermen Court, High Courts are the second highest courts in the Indian judicial system. It is established under Article 214 of the Indian Constitution. According to Article 214, every state has a High Court. The High Court has the authority to hear appeals from lower courts and to enact fundamental rights. The High Court can also handle cases that fall under the purview of the state. High Courts have the authority to supervise and manage the courts below them.

District Courts

In India’s legal system, the District Courts are the third highest courts, established in every district of the country. These courts adjudicate disputes that occur in the respective District. District courts review appeals of rulings from subordinate courts. Furthermore, District Courts are divided into two classes − first one is District (Civil) Courts that adjudicate only civil matters (civil disputes). And, second one is Sessions Courts adjudicate criminal matters only.

In addition to this, in the bigger cities or technically in metropolitan cities, the district court is known as Metropolitan Court. Like district courts, it is classified into two branches − civil court that adjudicates only civil matters and criminal court that adjudicates criminal matters.

Subordinate Courts

In every district, there are subordinate courts that work under the supervision of district court. The jurisdiction of each such court is precisely defined. The subordinate courts further classified into civil subordinate courts (technically known as munsif court) and criminal subordinate courts (technically known as judicial magistrate court of first class and judicial magistrate court of second class).

Function of the Indian Judicial System

The Judiciary in India has the following functions −

  • The judiciary’s main function is to interpret the law and apply it to particular situations when a dispute needs to be resolved. Any issue that is brought before the courts has the purpose of establishing the facts using the evidence that the parties involved have presented.

  • Establishing case law

  • To suggest the government, whenever asked.

  • To protect the Constitution.

  • To resolve the dispute, that arouse between the central government and the state governments.

  • Making sure that individuals’ rights are not violated by the state or anybody else.


The Indian Judiciary System is the backbone of the government because it is the only institution that has the power to intervene and render a decision in cases of conflict between the centre and the state and between the government and its inhabitants, or between the states, or between the individuals.

All parties, including the government and the populace, must abide by the judiciary’s decisions. The judiciary is responsible for upholding the constitution, promoting peace, and defending human rights in India. It serves to balance the government’s legislative and executive powers. It’s challenging to discuss the question of whether political influence has no bearing on Indian judges. We all know that the Indian Supreme Court and high courts are completely in charge of defending the citizens of India’s fundamental rights.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is Public Interest Litigation?

Legal action for the purpose of protecting or re−storing the human rights, equality, or bringing up problems of general public concern is known as public interest litigation. It advances the interests of underrepresented or marginalised individuals or groups whose rights are being violated. Cases involving the public interest might result from both public and private law issues.

Q. What do you mean by Independence of the Judiciary?

It signifies that the judiciary is an independent body and no other body can interfere whether it is the executive or legislative branches of government. The judiciary’s decision is accepted by other institutions, and cannot be challenged. It also suggests that judges will take impartial decision. The independence of the judiciary does not entail that it acts arbitrarily or impermissibly.

Q. Who did establish the India’s legal system?

In India, Warren Hastings is considered as the founder of judicial reform. He created the judicial plan of 1772, which was his first attempt at a legal reformation scheme.

Q. Who is the head of the judiciary?

The Chief Justice of India, who is also the President of the Supreme Court, serves as the institution’s head.

Q. How many types of jurisdiction a Civil court has?

Civil courts have four types of jurisdictions −

  • Subject Matter Jurisdiction − It has the authority to hear cases involving a certain type of matter.

  • Territorial Jurisdiction − It has the authority to hear matters only inside the geo−political boundaries of its jurisdiction.

  • Pecuniary Jurisdiction − Cases involving money and lawsuits with a monetary value.

  • Appellate Jurisdiction − A court’s ability to hear appeals or revisit a case that has previously been determined by a lower court is known as appellate jurisdiction. The Supreme Court and the High Courts have the authority to review cases that a lower court has already decided