Subordinate courts in india

The subordinate courts are so-called because of their subordination to the state high court. In each district of India, there are various types of subordinate or lower courts.

  1. Civil courts, 
  2. Criminal courts and 
  3. Revenue courts. 

These Courts hear civil cases, criminal cases, and revenue cases, respectively. 

Structure of Subordinate Courts

Subordinate Courts

Appointment of District Judges (Article 233)
Appointment to district judge is made by the Governor; in consultation with the High Court of the concerned state.
Criteria – At Least 7 years as an advocate (recommended by HC)
Recruitment of persons other than District Judges to the Judicial Service (Article 234)
Appointment of persons other than District judges; shall be made by the Governor (Sub-judicial service)
Accordance to rules made by the governor in consultation with State Public Service Commission and High Court concerned.

Subordinate courts


Tribunals were not part of the original constitution.
It was incorporated into the Indian Constitution by the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 in accordance with the recommendations of the Swaran Singh Committee.
The Amendment introduced Part XIV-A to the Constitution. This Part is called ‘Tribunals’.
It contains two articles.

  • Article 323A – Administrative Tribunals.
  • Article 323B – Tribunals for other subjects

Article 323A – Administrative Tribunals.

Administrative tribunals are quasi-judicial institutions that resolve disputes related to the recruitment and service conditions of persons engaged in public service.
The Central Administrative Tribunal was created under this Section.
They are of statutory origin, and so must be created by a statute by Parliament/Legislatures.
They function on the principles of natural justice and are not bound by the Civil Procedure Code.
They have the power to summon witnesses, administer oaths and compel the submission of documents, etc. like other courts.
The writs of prohibition and certiorari are available against decisions of such tribunals.
They are independent bodies and are not subject to administrative interference.
In the Chandra Kumar case (1997), the Supreme Court held that appeals against the orders of a tribunal could be made in the High Court. This defeats the purpose of reducing the burden of the normal courts.

The Administrative Tribunals Act, of 1985 provides for three types of tribunals:
The Central Government establishes an administrative tribunal called the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT).
The Central Government may, upon receipt of a request on this behalf from any State Government, establish an administrative tribunal for such State employees.
Two or more States might ask for a joint tribunal, which is called the Joint Administrative Tribunal (JAT), which exercises the powers of the administrative tribunals for such States.

Article 323B – Tribunals for other subjects

Taxation, Industrial and labor, Foreign exchange, import and export, Land reforms, Food, Ceiling on urban property, Elections to Parliament, and state legislatures, Rent, and tenancy rights.

Tribunals under 323A can be established only by the Parliament. However, tribunals under 323B can be established by both the Parliament and the State Legislature.
Under 323A, there can be only one tribunal at the Centre and one for each state (or two or more states), but under 323B, there can be a hierarchy of tribunals.

National Green Tribunal

The National Green Tribunal was established in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 as a statutory body for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavor for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of the filing of the same.
Initially, the NGT is proposed to be set up at five places of sittings and will follow circuit procedure for making itself more accessible.
New Delhi is the Principal Place of Sitting of the Tribunal and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata, and Chennai shall be the other four places of sitting of the Tribunal.

National Green Tribunal

Gram Nyayalayas

Gram Nyayalayas or village courts are established under the Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008 for speedy and easy access to the justice system in the rural areas of India.
The Gram Nyayalayas are presided over by a Nyayadhikari, who will have the same power, and enjoy the same salary and benefits as a Judicial Magistrate of First Class.
Such Nyayadhikari is to be appointed by the State Government in consultation with the respective High Court.


A Gram Nyayalaya has jurisdiction over an area specified by a notification by the State Government in consultation with the respective High Court.
Can function as a mobile court at any place within the jurisdiction of such Gram Nyayalaya, after giving wide publicity in that regard.
They have both civil and criminal jurisdiction over the offenses.
The pecuniary jurisdiction of the Nyayalayas is fixed by the respective High Courts.
Gram Nyayalayas has been given the power to accept certain pieces of evidence which would otherwise not be acceptable under the Indian Evidence Act.

Procedure to be followed:

  • Follow special procedures in civil matters, in a manner it deems just and reasonable in the interest of justice.
  • Allow for conciliation of the dispute and settlement of the same in the first instance.


The appeal in criminal cases shall lie to the Court of Session, which shall be heard and disposed of within a period of six months from the date of filing of such appeal.
The appeal in civil cases shall lie to the District Court, which shall be heard and disposed of within a period of six months from the date of filing of the appeal.


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