The Judiciary in India


Indian Law Information Centre

Supreme Court of India

Constitution of India

Address of The Bar Association of India

91,Lawyers Chambers, Supreme Court,
 New Delhi - 110 001, India





A Synopsis by IndiaOneStop.Com

  • Foreigners in India, or with interests in India, can sue even the government of India, or of any Indian state, if they feel any decision by the government violates any provision of any legal agreement to which the foreigner is a signatory.

  • The best examples of the above are provided by the actions of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and Enron Corporation. A KFC outlet was ordered close by a state government for a flimsy reason. KFC went to court and had the order repugned. Enron Corporation too was all set to challenge an order by another state government, but an outside-the-court settlement was reached and the matter didn't go to the judiciary.

  • As the above indicates, the judiciary in India is independent of the government. The independence is real, not only on paper. The judiciary has unseated a prime minister in the past, issues orders to the government, and hears and rules over public interest petitions which can be filed by anybody.

  • Lately, 'judicial activism' has been seen in India. This means that the Supreme Court and the High Courts in various states are free to ask the government to look into and rectify a certain matter even though nobody has brought before   them a case or a petition related to that matter. Even a report in the media can be used by the judiciary to issue an order to the government.

  • Judicial activism as explained above has caused some friction between the Courts and the Parliament. In the event of a showdown (which has not happened in a serious manner), it is the Parliament that will prevail.

  • A national hierarchy of courts administers justice in India. The apex court is the Supreme Court followed by High Courts in all the states and district courts.

  • Case law is allowed: i.e. a ruling by a higher court on a specific case is binding on all lower courts if faced with an identical case.

  • Higher courts have appellate power over lower courts. The Supreme Court has the widest appellate power over any final judgement of any High Court involving interpretation of the Constitution of India and other substantive questions of law.

  • Litigation is a much slower process in India than in most other countries because of a huge backlog of cases and a considerable number of frivolous cases.

  • Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is therefore expected to grow at least for resolving commercial disputes.

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