Democratic Politics

Chapter : 2. Working Of Institutions

The Judiciary

In a federal state like India, U.S.A., etc. many a time conflicts can arise between the Central and the State Government or between two or more states. As for example, there are certain conflicts between Haryana and the Punjab over the question of the distribution of river waters or certain Part of Hindi speaking or Punjabi speaking areas. In such a case who shall settle or decide the different disputes arising between the Central and state Government or between two or more states. So the Supreme Court or Judiciary is a must for the smooth running of every federation.
How does the Judicial set up function ? At head of the Judicial system there is the Supreme Court followed by the High Courts.
The Supreme Court is the highest judicial tribunal of India and as such it wields very extensive powers. It enjoys vartous Original, Appellate and Advisory Powers.
1. Its Original jurisdiction extends to disputes arising between the Union Government and the states, between one state and the other and the citizen and the State. the Supreme Court is the guardian of the Fundamental Rights of the citizens.
2. The Appellate Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court extends to both the criminal and the civil cases. It can hear appeals both in criminal and civil cases against the decision of the High Courts of different States.
3. The Supreme Court also acts as the Guardian of the Indian Constitution. It can declare the laws passed by the Parliament and State Legislatures ultra vires (or voids) if such laws infringe any Article of the Constitution.
4. In its Advisory, capacity the Supreme Court can guide the President on matters which he refers to it from time to time.
5. The Supreme Court, as head of all the Courts of the country, also supervises and controls their working.
Then the High Courts, like the Supreme Court, also interpret the Constitution of the country and can declare any law of the state legislature as invalid if they find such a law of action against the Constitution. They can determine the constitutional validity of any legislation or the execution of the state, when it is challenged before them. This power is knows as the judicial review. Sometimes, this action of the High Courts striking down the laws of the executive led to the tension between the State Legislative Assemblies on the one hand and the State judiciary on the other.
The High Court also acts as the Guardian of the fundamental rights of the citizens. Moreover, High Courts have been given powers to give judgements and directives to protect public interest and human rights. If public interest of any citizen of affected by the action of the government, he can approach the courts. This is called the public interest litigation. They also check malpractices like corruption and bribery on the part of any public officer. They interfere to prevent misuse of government powers.
Appeals against the District Courts and other Subordinate Courts can also be heard by the High Courts.
At the lowest level of judiciary come the District courts and other Subordinate Courts. They decide both the criminal and the civil cases in their own areas. Appeals against their decisions are heard by the High Courts of their respective states.
Of all the political institutions in the country, legislature executive, judiciary etc., the judiciary enjoys high confidence of the people.

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