Brief Notes of the Subordinate Courts of India


In every state, besides the High Court there are number of judicial Courts to administer justice. These courts function under the complete control and supervision of the High Court. A state has got exclusive Legislative competence to determine the constituent organisation and territorial jurisdiction of all courts subordinate to the High Court. The organisation of subordinate courts throughout the country is generally uniform. There are two types of law courts in every district; civil and criminal courts.

Civil courts

The court of the district judges is the highest civil court in a district. It exercises both judicial and administrative powers. It has the power of superintendence over the courts under its control. The court of the District judge is located at the district headquarters. He combines in himself the powers of trying both civil as well as criminal cases. Thus he is designated as the District and Sessions Judge.


Below the court of the District Judge are the courts of Sub-judge, Additional Sub-Judge and Munsif Courts, which are located in the sub-divisional and district headquarters. Most of the civil cases are filed in the court of the Munsif. A case can be taken in appeal from the court of the Munsif to the court of the sub-Judge or the Additional Sub-Judge. Appeals from the courts of the sub- Judges and Additional sub-Judges shall lie in the District-Court. The Court of the District Judge has both original and appellate jurisdiction. Against the decision of the District judge an appeal-shall lie in the High Court.

Criminal Courts

In every district there are civil courts and criminal courts. Under criminal courts, there are courts of the District and Sessions Judge, Additional Sessions Judges, Assistant Sessions Judge and the courts of the first class magistrates. The District and Sessions judge may pass any legal sentence but a death sentence is subject to confirmation by the High Court. An Assistant-sessions Judge has the power to sentence a person to ten years imprisonment. A first class Magistrate may pass a sentence of imprisonment not exceeding two years or a fine not exceeding one thousand rupees. In metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata these Magistrates are called Metropolitan Magistrates. Besides this there are courts of second class and third class Magistrates also.

Revenue Courts


Land revenue is an important source of income of the Government. The Board of Revenue is at the apex of all the revenue courts. Under the Board of Revenue are the Commissioner’s Court, Court of Tahsildar and Nayab Tahsildar Each district has separate courts for its land revenue system. Every dispute related with land revenue first comes before the court of Tahsildar. An appeal against the decision lies in court of Collector or Deputy Commissioner.

Thereafter an appeal against the decision of Deputy Commissioner’s court can be made in the Court of Commissioner.

Further appeals can be made to the Board of Revenue which is the highest Court of land in revenue matters.

Lok Adalats and Public Interest Litigation system


For providing speedy and economical justice to the poor and the downtrodden some new programmes have recently been introduced in the country like Legal Aid, Lok Adalats and Public Interest Litigation. The basic idea behind the scheme of Lok Adalats is to eliminate delay in imparting justice and to speed up clearance of pending cases as soon as possible. The Lok Adalats resolve cases which have not yet gone to the courts or are pending in the courts.

The Supreme Court has also opened a new chapter on public litigation where merely on a postcard or application the complaints are registered and necessary orders passed. The grievances of weaker sections, bonded labourers, women and children have been given due importance under this scheme.

The Attorney General

The President appoints a person as the Attorney-general who is qualified to be appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court to advise the Government of India on legal matters and to perform such other duties of a legal character as may from time to time be entrusted to him. He has the right to speak and otherwise to take part in the proceedings of either house and to be a member of any Parliamentary Committee. He is not entitled to vote.


The Advocate General

Like the Attorney General in the Centre, there shall be an Advocate General is each state. The Governor of each State appoints a person who is qualified to be appointed as a judge of a High court to be the Advocate-General for the state. He gives advice to the state-Government on legal matters. He also performs such other legal duties as the Governor may assign to him from time to time.

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