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Judiciary part 3- High Court, Tribunals and Subordinate Courts | POLITY

Introduction | Judiciary part 3- High Court, Tribunals and Subordinate Courts

  • The highest judicial court in a state is the High Court. It is termed as the second-highest in the country after Supreme Court of India. Currently, India has 25 High Courts established in different states of the country.

Indian High court act, 1861

  • High courts established at Calcutta, Bombay & Madras. Constitution states that there shall be HC in every state, but, parliament has the power to establish a common HC for 2 or more states (At present 25 HCs in India).
  • Strength of HC is flexible (Unlike SC – which can be increased by parliament)
  • President may from time to time appoint judges of HC, keeping in view amount of work before HC

Appointment of Judges | Judiciary part 3- High Court, Tribunals and Subordinate Courts

  • The judges of a high court are appointed by the President. The chief justice is appointed by the President after consultation with the chief justice of India and the governor of the state concerned. For appointment of other judges, the chief justice of the concerned high court is also consulted. In case of a common high court for two or more states, the governors of all the states concerned are consulted by the president.

Eligibility Criteria for High Court Judge

  • There are certain eligibility criteria that need to be fulfilled to be appointed as a judge in any High court in India.
  • Given below are the set of eligibility criteria mandatory for the appointment of High Court judges:
  • Any of the given qualifications must be fulfilled:
    • The person should have been a Barrister for more than five years
    • Has been a civil servant for over 10 years along with serving the Zila court for at least 3 years
    • A person who has been a pleader for over 10 years in any High Court.
  • No judge should be of more than 62 years of age
  • The law states that every state must have a separate High Court, however, there still are certain states that do not have an individual High Court. For example – both Punjab and Haryana come under the jurisdiction of Punjab High Court sitting at Chandigarh. Besides, there is a common High Court for seven states – Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram.

High Court Jurisdiction |Judiciary part 3- High Court, Tribunals and Subordinate Courts

  • Original Jurisdiction – In such kind of cases the applicant can directly go to the High Court and does not require to raise an appeal. It is mostly applicable for cases related to the State Legislative Assembly, marriages, enforcement of fundamental rights and transfer cases from other courts.
  • Power of Superintendence – It a special power enjoyed only by High Court and no other subordinate court has this power of superintendence. Under this, the High Court holds the right to order its subordinate offices and courts the way of maintaining records, prescribe rules for holding proceedings in the court and also settle the fees paid to sheriff clerks, officers and legal practitioners.
  • Court of Record – It involves recording the judgments, proceedings and acts of high courts for perpetual memory. These records cannot be further questioned in any court. It has the power to punish for contempt of itself.
  • Appellate Jurisdiction – This is for cases where people have risen a complaint about a review of the judgement given by the district level or subordinate court of that territory. This power is further divided into two categories:
    • Civil Jurisdiction – this includes orders and judgements of the district court, civil district court and subordinate court
    • Criminal Jurisdiction – this includes judgements and orders of the sessions court and additional sessions court.

Tenure of Judges

The Constitution has not fixed the tenure of a judge of a high court. However, it makes the following four provisions in this regard:

  • He holds office until he attains the age of 62 years5. Any questions regarding his age is to be decided by the president after consultation with the chief justice of India and the decision of the president is final.
  • He can resign his office by writing to the president.
  • He can be removed from his office by the President on the recommendation of the Parliament.
  • He vacates his office when he is appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court or when he is transferred to another high court.

Procedure for removal of Judges | Judiciary part 3- High Court, Tribunals and Subordinate Courts

  • The judge’s enquiry act governs the removal or impeachment of judges of High Court. Hence the grounds for removal are
    • Proved misbehaviour
    • Incapacity
  • He is removed by the President as per the removal order passed by each house of the parliament by a special majority i.e. a majority of the total membership of the house and a majority of not less than two thirds of members present and voting.
  • A detailed procedure followed is as follows:
    • The initial removal motion to be signed by 100 members in Lok Sabha or by 50 members of Rajya Sabha and be presented to the speaker/ chairman of the house.
    • The speaker has the option of either accepting or rejecting the motion
    • If it is accepted a committee would be constituted to investigate the matter
    • The committee so constituted consists of chief justice or judge of Supreme Court, chief justice of high court and a distinguished jurist.
    • If the committee ascertains the guilty of the judge then the houses take up the issue.
    • If the motion is passed in each house of the parliament by a special majority then the it is later presented to the President for his assent.
    • The President then passes order for removal of judge. The judge is considered removed from that day. (In fact no judge has been removed till now)

Acting Chief Justice

  • The President can appoint a judge of a high court as an acting chief justice of the high court when:
    • The office of chief justice of the high court is vacant; or
    • The chief justice of the high court is temporarily absent; or
    • The chief justice of the high court is unable to perform the duties of his office.

Tribunals | Judiciary part 3- High Court, Tribunals and Subordinate Courts

  • Article 323 A empowers the Parliament to provide for the establishment of administrative tribunals for the adjudication of disputes relating to recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to public services of the Centre, the states, local bodies, public corporations and other public authorities.
  • In other words, Article 323 A enables the Parliament to take out the adjudication of disputes relating to service matters from the civil courts and the high courts and place it before the administrative tribunals.
  • In pursuance of Article 323 A, the Parliament has passed the Administrative Tribunals Act in 1985. The act authorises the Central government to establish one Central administrative tribunal and the state administrative tribunals. This act opened a new chapter in the sphere of providing speedy and inexpensive justice to the aggrieved public servants.

State Administrative Tribunals

  • The Administrative Tribunals Act of 1985 empowers the Central government to establish the State Administrative Tribunals (SATs) on specific request of the concerned state governments. So far (2019), the SATs have been set up in the nine states of Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Kerala.
  • However, the Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh Tribunals have since been abolished.
  • But subsequently, the Himachal Pradesh reestablished the SAT and the state of Tamil Nadu has also requested now to reestablish the same. Further, the state government of Haryana has requested to establish the SAT for their state. On the other hand, the state government of Odisha has submitted a proposal for abolition of Odisha Administrative Tribunal.
  • Like the CAT, the SATs exercise original jurisdiction in relation to recruitment and all service matters of state government employees.
  • The chairman and members of the SATs are appointed by the president after consultation with the governor of the state concerned.
  • The act also makes a provision for setting up of joint administrative tribunal (JAT) for two or more states. A JAT exercises all the jurisdiction and powers exercisable by the administrative tribunals for such states.
  • The chairman and members of a JAT are appointed by the president after consultation with the governors of the concerned states.

Subordinate courts

  • The state judiciary consists of a high court and a hierarchy of subordinate courts, also known as lower courts. The subordinate courts are so called because of their subordination to the state high court. They function below and under the high court at district and lower levels.

Appointment of District Judges

  • The appointment, posting and promotion of district judges in a state are made by the governor of the state in consultation with the high court.
  • A person to be appointed as district judge should have the following qualifications:
    • He should not already be in the service of the Central or the state government.
    • He should have been an advocate or a pleader for seven years.
    • He should be recommended by the high court for appointment.

Jurisdiction Of Subordinate Courts

  • The district judge is the highest judicial authority in the district. He possesses original and appellate jurisdiction in both civil as well as criminal matters. In other words, the district judge is also the sessions judge. When he deals with civil cases, he is known as the district judge and when he hears the criminal cases, he is called as the sessions judge. 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 judgements 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.
  • Below the District and Sessions Court stands the Court of Subordinate Judge on the civil side and the 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.

 

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