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Structure of Courts in India Notes | Study Social Studies (SST) Class 8 - Class 8

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Structure of Courts in India

There are three different levels of courts in our country. There are several courts at the lower level while there is only one at the apex level. The courts that most people interact with are what are called subordinate or district courts. These are usually at the district or Tehsil level or in towns and they hear many kinds of cases. Each state is divided into districts that are presided over by a District Judge. Each state has a High Court which is the highest court of that state. At the top is the Supreme Court that is located in New Delhi and is presided over by the Chief Justice of India. The decisions made by the Supreme Court are binding on all other courts in India.

Different Branches of the Legal System

In addition to criminal law, the legal system also deals with civil law cases.

Following table signifies the differences between criminal and civil law.

NO

Criminal Law

Civil Law

1

Deals with conduct or acts that the law defines as offences. For example.theft; harassing a woman to bring more dowry; murder,

Deals with any harm or injury to rights of individuals, For example; disputes relatinq to sale of land purchase of  goods;  rent matters; divorce cases.

2

It usually begins with the lodging of        a First  Information Report (FIR) with the police who investigate the crime after which a case is filed in the court.

A petition has to be filed before the relevant court by the affected party only, In a rent matter; either the landlord or tenant can file a case.

3.

If found guilty; the accused can be sent to jail and also fined 

The court gives the specific relief asked for, For instance; in a case between a landlord and a tenant; the court can order the flat to be vacated and pending rent to be paid.

 

Access to the Courts

In principle, all citizens of India can access the courts in this country. This implies that every citizen has a right to justice through the courts. The courts play a very significant role in protecting our Fundamental Rights. If any citizen believes that their rights are being violated, then they can approach the court for justice to be done. While the courts are available for all, in reality access to courts has always been difficult for a vast majority of the poor in India. Legal procedures involve a lot of money and paperwork as well as take up a lot of time. For a poor person who cannot read and whose family depends on a daily wage, the idea of going to court to get justice often seems remote.

For the common person, access to courts is access to justice. The courts exercise a crucial role in interpreting the Fundamental Rights of citizens.

However, there are also court judgments that people believe work against the best interests of the common person. 

For example, activists who work on issues concerning the right to shelter and housing for the poor believe that the recent judgments on evictions are a far cry from earlier judgments. While recent judgments tend to view the slum dweller as an encroacher in the city, earlier judgments (like the 1985 Olga Tellis vs. Bombay Municipal Corporation) had tried to protect the livelihoods of slum dwellers.

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