In the Indian integrated judicial system, the Supreme Court is at the top , followed by the High Courts of the states and then the subordinate courts.

In this article, we will discuss the Subordinate Courts in a simple and easy way and understand all the important aspects related to it, So to understand this article well, definitely read till the end as well as read other related articles.

Subordinate Courts
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Subordinate Courts Background

As we know, the judicial system of India is integrated, that is, the Supreme Court is at the top, the High Courts of the states and the High Courts come below it, the Subordinate Courts. In fact, it is called a subordinate court because it works under the direction of the High Court.

In other words, the High Courts control the District Courts and other Courts. Whether it is the matter of posting, promotion or other such matters all come under the jurisdiction of the High Court. It is mentioned in Article 235 .

Overall, talking about its constitutionality, it has been discussed from Articles 233 to 237 of Part 6 of the Constitution . Out of which Article 233 is related to the appointment of District Judges and we will start with this –

District Judge Appointment

Under Article 233, the appointment, posting and promotion of District Judges are made by the Governor but the Governor can do so only after consultation with the High Court of the State.

Qualifications – A person appointed to the post of District Judge under Article 233 (a) should have the following qualifications.

(1) He should not be employed in any Government service in the Central or State Government,
(2) He should have at least seven years’ experience of Advocate and
(3) He should have been recommended for appointment by the High Court.

Appointment of other judges

Under Article 234 , the Governor can also appoint a person other than the District Judge to the judicial service , but such person can be appointed only after consultation with the State Public Service Commission and the High Court 

Judicial service here means a service which is officially composed of persons who fill the post of District Judge and other civil judicial posts within the rank of District Judge. It is mentioned in Article 236(b) .

Remember one thing here that District Judge is not a single term, but many other judges also come under it such as

City Civil Judge,
Additional District Judge,
Joint District Judge
Assistant district judge,
Chief Justice of Small Court,
Chief Presidency magistrate,
Additional Chief Presidency Magistrate,
Sessions judge ,
Additional Sessions Judge and
Assistant Sessions Judge.

All these things are written in Article 236 , which is related to the interpretation of the District Judge.

Above provisions not to apply to certain Judges –

Under Article 237 , if the Governor is of the opinion that any of the provisions of Articles 233 to Article 236 do not apply to any judge or class of judges elected by judicial service , he may give such direction. Here the judicial service is the same as mentioned in Article 236(b).

Compoundable and Non-Compoundable OffencesHindiEnglish
Cognizable and Non- Cognizable OffencesHindiEnglish
Bailable and Non-Bailable OffencesHindiEnglish

Composition and Jurisdiction of Subordinate Court

The responsibility of determining the composition and jurisdiction of the subordinate court rests with the state, so many elements of the organizational structure differ from one state to another. However, in general, there are three levels of civil and criminal courts below the High Court. These are shown below:

High court
District CourtSession Court
Court of the Subordinate Judge Chief Judicial Magistrate
Munsif AdalatJudicial Magistrate’s Court

Here there is a term District and Sessions Court, let us first understand it. Actually there are two separate courts in the district for criminal and civil cases.

The place where the civil cases are heard is called the District Courts and the criminal cases where the trial takes place is called the Sessions Court.

The highest judicial officer at the district level is the District Judge. It has the right to hear in both the district and sessions courts.

When he hears civil cases he is called District Judge and when he hears criminal cases he is called Sessions Judge.

Since it is the largest court at the district level, it also has the power to supervise all other subordinate courts in the district. It is headed by the District Judge though his decision can be appealed to the High Court.

The District Judge has the power to punish a criminal from life imprisonment to death. But the death sentence given by him can be implemented only when the High Court of that state approves it.

Murder, dacoity, rape, or any other act which has been declared as an offense by any law is called a criminal case. Similarly disputes related to marriage, divorce, adoption, land, etc., which can be settled by mutual conciliation or agreement, are called civil cases.

| Beneath the District Court is the “Court of Subordinate Judge” for civil matters. (As shown in the above figure) This Court has very wide powers in respect of civil suits.

| Even below that, there is a Munsif Adalat for the trial of civil cases. The Munsif Judge had a limited jurisdiction and adjudicated on petty civil matters.

Similarly, below the Court of Session, there is a “Court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate” for trial of criminal cases. The Chief Judicial Magistrate can award imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years.

? And below that there is a “Judicial Magistrate’s Court” for the trial of criminal cases. It deals with criminal cases punishable with imprisonment of up to three years.

In some metropolitan cities, there is a city civil court (Chief Justice) for civil cases and a metropolitan judge’s court for criminal cases.

Separate courts have been established for petty cases in some states and presidency towns. These courts hear petty civil cases. His decision is final. But the High Court can review their decisions.

In some states, Panchayat courts also hear petty civil and criminal cases. They are known by many names, such as – Nyaya Panchayat, Village Court, Adalat Panchayat, Panchayat Adalat etc.

Overall this is the basics of Subordinate Courts. Next to this you can read the Lok Adalat . The links of other important articles are given below.


⚫ Other Important Articles ⚫

English ArticlesHindi Articles
The Supreme Court: Role, Formation,
independence of supreme court
judicial review in india
Jurisdiction of Supreme Court
Supreme Court Advocate
Judicial Activism: Meaning, Benefits,
PIL – Public Interest Litigation
judicial review of the Ninth Schedule?
High Court: Constitution & Independence
High Court Jurisdiction
D/w between District & Sessions Court
Lok Adalat: Functions, Features etc.
Gram Nyayalay : Brief Analysis
National Legal Services Authority: NALSA
Family Court : everything you need to know
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