What is structure and jurisdiction of Subordinate Courts?
Q. Which of the following are correct regarding Subordinate Courts?
1) The organizational structure and jurisdiction of the subordinate judiciary is laid down by the Constitution.
2) The sessions judge is the highest judicial authority in the district.
3) Small causes courts were established in Presidency towns.- Published on 09 Mar 17
a. 1, 2
b. 2, 3
c. 1, 3
d. All of the above
ANSWER: 2, 3
Structure and Jurisdiction -
- The organizational structure, jurisdiction and nomenclature of the subordinate judiciary are laid down by the states and hence they differ slightly.
- Broadly there are three tiers of civil and criminal courts below the High Court.
1st tier -
- The district judge is the highest judicial authority in the district.
- He has original and appellate jurisdiction in both civil as well as criminal matters.
- In other words, the district judge (civil) is also the sessions judge (criminal).
- The district judge exercises both judicial and administrative powers.
- He also has supervisory powers over all the subordinate courts in the district.
- Appeals against his orders and judgments lie to the High Court.
- The sessions judge has the power to impose any sentence including life imprisonment and capital punishment (death sentence).
- However, a capital punishment passed by him is subject to confirmation by the High Court, whether there is an appeal or not.
2nd Tier -
- Below the District and Sessions Court is the Court of Subordinate Judge on the civil side.
- There is Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate on the criminal side.
- The subordinate judge exercises unlimited pecuniary jurisdiction over civil suits.
- The chief judicial magistrate decides criminal cases which are punishable with imprisonment for a term up to seven years.
- A subordinate judge is also known as civil judge (senior division), civil judge (class I) etc.
- He may also be given the powers of an assistant sessions judge.
- In such scenario, he gets both civil as well as criminal powers like that of a District Judge.
3rd tier -
- At the lowest level, on the civil side, is the Court of Munsiff.
- On the criminal side, is the Court of Judicial Magistrate.
- The munsiff possesses limited jurisdiction and decides civil cases of small pecuniary stake.
- The judicial magistrate tries criminal cases which are punishable with imprisonment for a term up to three years.
- A munsiff is also known as civil judge (junior division), civil judge (class-II) etc.
Other scenarios -
- In some metropolitan cities, there are city civil courts (chief judges) on the civil side and the courts of metropolitan magistrates on the criminal side.
- Some of the States and Presidency towns have established small causes courts.
- These courts decide the civil cases of small value in a summary manner.
- Their decisions are final, but the High Court possesses a power of revision.
- Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta and Madras were formerly called presidency towns.
- In some states, Panchayat Courts try petty civil and criminal cases.
- They are variously known as Nyaya Panchayat, Gram Kutchery, Adalati Panchayat, Panchayat Adalat etc.