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Indian Polity / Judiciary

Single Integrated Judicial System in India

We have a single integrated judicial system in India. Single by we mean, there is no division of judiciary. That is, there are no separate set of courts for Central and State laws. Integrated means all the lower courts in India work under the control and supervision of Supreme Court. Single integrated judiciary is said to be anti-federal feature.

Single Integrated Judiciary

Since India does not have separate Constitutions at Central and state levels and similarly the civil and criminal procedure codes are also same throughout the country, there are no separate set of courts in India unlike the case of US, where there exists separate set of courts called Federal court system and State court system.

The Indian integrated judicial system consists of hierarchy of courts namely, the Supreme Court, the High Courts and the district Subordinate courts. The operation of all the lower courts is controlled by the Supreme court.

Except in few cases, one has to follow the hierarchy of courts in order to appeal in the judicial system. That is, one has to go from the Subordinate court to the High Court and then to the Supreme Court.

History of Supreme Court of India

  • Supreme court was established in 1935 with the name of Federal Court. Supreme Court of India settles all federal disputes. Federal Court became Supreme Court of India on 26th January, 1950 onwards.

    In 1774, a Supreme Court was established at Kolkata only for Bengal. Though the name matches with the current Apex Court, it was not the highest court for the country.

  • The independence, impartiality, supremacy element of Supreme Court and the removal of judge of Supreme Court are taken from USA.

  • Genesis, composition and structure of Supreme Court is taken from the Act of 1935.

  • Articles 124 to 147 deal with the structure, composition, powers and functions of Supreme Court.

  • Article 124 says Supreme Court shall contain a Chief Justice and such number of other judges as fixed by the Parliament of India from time to time through an Ordinary Legislation with simple majority that does not amount to Amendment of Constitution.

  • At present there are 1 + 33 judges in the Supreme Court. However, when the Supreme Court came into force in 1950, there were 1 + 7 judges.

    In 1956, it was increased to 1 + 10 judges.
    In 1960, it was increased to 1 + 13 judges.
    In 1978, it was increased to 1 + 17 judges.
    In 1985, it was increased to 1 + 25 judges.
    In 2008, it was increased to 1 + 30 judges.
    In 2019, it was increased to 1 + 33 judges.

If we consider the Executive, most of the time, the Central government and the state governments act independently. Similarly, the Legislatures at the Central and the state level are independent of each other. But in case of Judiciary, we have single integrated judicial system in India. That is why, single integrated judiciary is considered as anti-federal.