India is a federal State with single and unified judicial system with three tier structure – Supreme Court (at top), High Courts (at state/s level) and Subordinate Courts (at district level).
- Part VI (State) spanning from 233 to 237 of the Indian Constitution.
- State judiciary system consists of a HC and a hierarchy of subordinate courts below it, also known as lower courts. They function below and under the HC at district and lower levels.
|APPOINTMENT OF DISTRICT JUDGE|
- The appointment, posting and promotion of district judges in a state are made by the Governor of the state in consultation with the HC.
- He should not already be in the service of the Central or the state
- He should have been an advocate for seven years.
- He should be recommended by the HC for appointment.
|APPOINTMENT OF OTHER JUDGES (OTHER THAN DISTRICT JUDGES)|
- Made by the Governor of the state after consultation with the State Public Service Commission and the HC of concerned state.
|CONTROL OVER SUBORDINATE COURTS|
- The control over district courts and other subordinate courts including the posting, promotion and leave of persons belonging to the judicial service of a state and holding any post inferior to the post of district judge is vested in the High Court.
|APPLICATION OF THE ABOVE PROVISIONS TO CERTAIN MAGISTRATES|
- The Governor may direct that the above mentioned provisions relating to persons in the state judicial service would apply to any class or classes of magistrates in the state.
|STRUCTURE AND JURISDICTION|
- The organisational structure, jurisdiction and nomenclature of the subordinate judiciary are laid down by the states. Hence, they differ slightly from state to state.
- Broadly, there are three tiers of civil and criminal courts below the HC of state.
- Schematic- Hierarchical structure of Sub-ordinate court
- The district judge is the highest judicial authority in the district.
- He possesses original and appellate jurisdiction in both civil and criminal
- Criminal matters – District judge is known as the Sessions judge.
- Civil matters – District judge known as the District
- The district judge exercises both judicial and administrative
- He also has supervisory powers over all the subordinate courts in the district.
- Appeals against his orders and judgements lie to the HC.
- The sessions judge has the power to impose any sentence including life imprisonment and capital punishment (death sentence).
NOTE – Capital punishment passed by him is subject to confirmation by the HC, 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.
|FINDINGS OF ECONOMIC SURVEY 2018-2019|
- Indian judiciary system has over 53 crore pending cases (subordinate courts comprises about 87.54%)
- Case Clearance Rate (CCR) for Subordinate courts – 89 %
- Due to CCR below 100%, cases getting accumulating – Resulting pendency.
- Additional judges required in year – 2279
- To clear all the backlog in the next five years – 8,152 judges are needed.
- Subordinate courts are working at 79% their sanctioned strength.
- Pendency hampers dispute resolution, contract enforcement, discourage investments, stall projects, hamper tax collection and escalate legal costs which leads to Increasing cost of doing business – Reduced EoDB rank.
|ISSUES WITH DISTRICT AND SUB-ORDINATE COURTS|
CONTEXT – Recently SC expresses concern over the high level of vacancy in subordinate courts.
- Subordinate courts is close to factors that affect the life of the common man:-conducting trials, settling civil disputes.
- But, high level of vacancy for the posts of judges and pendency of cases are major issues which impedes efficient and effective justice delivery to citizens.
|OTHER ISSUES FACED BY SUBORDINATE COURTS|
- Issues in recruitment – Sluggishness and procrastination in the process of calling for applications, holding recruitment examinations and declaring the results. Subordinate courts are working at 79% their sanctioned strength
- Pendency of cases- District and Subordinate courts account for 54 percent of pending cases.
- Lack of uniformity in frequency of hearings among the subordinate courts in the country.
- Inordinate delays in evidence collection and examination of witnesses which impacts the overall process of the court.
|IMPACTS OF JUDICIAL PENDENCY ARE –|
- Delayed justice, denied justice- Speedy trial is a part of right to life and liberty ( 21).
- Erosion social and ethical infrastructure- Negative effect on social development, higher crime rates and erodes credibility of institution.
- Overcrowding of the prisons – Beyond 150% of the capacity, results in “violation of human rights”.
- Affects the economy of the country- to estimate, judicial delays cost India around 1.5% of its GDP annually.
- Pendency hampers dispute resolution, contract enforcement, discourage investments, stall projects, hamper tax collection and escalate legal costs which leads to Increasing cost of doing business.
- A smooth and time-bound process of making appointments requires close coordination between the HC and the State Public Service Commissions.
- The induction and capacity building of both manpower and resources.
- Strengthening of court infrastructure and leveraging ICT- g LIMBS, e-Courts
- Proportionate recruitment of legal and paralegal staff too has to be addressed.
- Survey (2018) highlights the need for more judges specialised in criminal cases as these form major portion of pending cases along with lower CCR.
- Create an All-India Judicial Service (AIJS) to attract the best talent in India’s legal profession.
- Increase in number of working days- Average annual working days for subordinate courts is 244– could improve productivity and efficiency