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    BlogLegal BlogsKnow Here: Hierarchy of Criminal Courts in India (With there Powers)

    Know Here: Hierarchy of Criminal Courts in India (With there Powers)

    The Indian judiciary is the guardian of the Constitution of India, and custodian of the Fundamental Rights of the citizens. The system of judiciary is established in such a way in India that it caters the needs of each and every person of the country. The judicial system in India is in a form of pyramid, where the Supreme Court is at the top. The Indian criminal courts justice system believes in reforming the offenders by punishing them in various manners.

    Hierarchy of Criminal Courts:-

    (1) SUPREME COURT : 

    It is also known as the Apex Court in India and has the highest authority over all the other courts of India. The Supreme Court is the ultimate court, at the top of the judicial system. It is the highest constitutional court.

    The Apex Court has the following wide power

    A. Writ Jurisdiction (Article 32) : 

    This Article gives the right to individuals to move to the Supreme Court to seek justice when they feel that their right has been ‘unduly deprived’.

    B. Court of Appeal : 

    The Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal in India. It can hear the appeals from High Court’s and other Subordinate Court’s under the purview of Article 132, 133, 134, and 136.

    C. Federal Court : 

    The Supreme Court has the power of original jurisdiction under Article 131, it can resolve the disputes that arise between the Centre and the State or between the two States.

    D. Custodian of the Constitution: 

    Only the Apex Court has the power to hear and decide the issues related to the Constitution, it is only the Supreme Court which can interpret the Constitution in case a question arises.

    E. Power of Judicial Review :

    Article 137 gives the power to the Supreme Court to review any legislation that is passed by the parliament or judgments passed by lower courts in India.

    F. Advisory Jurisdiction : 

    Article 143 of the Indian Constitution confers upon the Supreme Court advisory jurisdiction. The President may seek the opinion of the Court on any question of law or fact that is of public importance, on which the President thinks to obtain an opinion.

    (2) HIGH COURT : 

    Each High Court has jurisdiction over a State, a Union Territory or a group of States or Union Territories. In the Indian Constitutional scheme, the High Court is responsible for the entire administration of justice in the State.

    Powers of the High Court:

    A. Original Jurisdiction : 

    In some issues, a person can directly file its case in the High Court . 

    For Example – In matters related to fundamental rights, marriage and divorce cases. It also has the power to punish for contempt under Article 215 of the Constitution.

    B. Appellate Jurisdiction : 

    The High Court jurisdiction extends to all the civil and criminal cases decided by the Subordinate Court’s in the State.

    C. Revisional Jurisdiction : 

    The High Court has revisional Jurisdiction conferred under the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 and Criminal Procedure Code,1973. 

    D. Supervisory Jurisdiction : 

    Under Article 227, any judgement or order passed by the High Court shall bind all the subordinate courts, tribunals and authorities within the territory of state. It is only when there is a direct judgement by the Supreme Court that is contrary to the provisions laid by the High Court, there will be a scope of interpretation by the Subordinate Courts or tribunals or authorities. It should also be noted that the subordinate courts within the state cannot ignore the decision of the High Court even if there is a contrary decision of another High Court. 


    There are various District Courts under different State Governments in India for different districts either individually or for one or more districts collectively, according to the number of cases, population of the district.

    Article 236(a) of the Indian Constitution provides :

    The expression district judge includes judge of a city civil court, additional district judge, joint district judge, assistant district judge, chief judge of a small cause court, chief presidency magistrate, additional chief presidency magistrate, sessions judge, additional sessions judge and assistant sessions judge;

    The State Government establishes the Sessions Court which has to be presided by a judge appointed by the High Court. The High Court appoints Additional as well as Assistant Sessions Judges. The district court’s administer justice at District level. The district judge or the additional district judge exercises jurisdiction on both the original and appellate side of criminal and civil matters. In criminal matters the jurisdiction is exclusively derived from the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. As per this code, the maximum sentence a Sessions Judge may award is capital punishment.


    Judicial magistrates are appointed and controlled by the High Court , and they discharge their judicial functions. Any person who is below the age of 16 years, is exempted from death penalty or imprisonment for life. The chief judicial magistrate is conferred with the power under Children Act, 1960 for treatment, training and rehabilitation of these juvenile offenders.


    These judicial Magistrates are also appointed by the High  Court and they discharge their judicial functions.


    In India, these magistrates are appointed and controlled by the State  Government and perform executive functions by maintaining law and order within the state. The jurisdiction and the power of the Executive Magistrate extend throughout the district and metropolitan area as mentioned under Section 22 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

    The Constitution of India has absolute power and authority in India. Therefore, it is necessary to safeguard the judicial system, courts have been vested with various powers to keep a check and to ensure that no authority misuses its power and encroaches upon others’ domain. The hierarchy of the court helps the citizens to appeal in a higher court, in case they feel that justice has not been administered. The judiciary system must have an easier process, so that justice is administered to every citizen.

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