THE HIERARCHY AND POWER OF CRIMINAL COURTS IN INDIA- A BRIEF OVERVIEW

THE HEIRARCHY AND POWER OF CRIMINAL COURTS IN INDIA – A BRIEF OVERVIEW

 

Indian Judicial System is set up in such a manner that no arbitrariness and impediment in safeguarding the rights of individuals or in the dispensation of justice arises. For this purpose, codification of laws was inclined to dealing in detail with the constitution, classification and powers of different criminal courts. It places a hierarchical system where the Supreme Court is the apex of the pyramid granted with constitutional powers and jurisdictions defined under Article 124-147. Below it is twenty-four High Courts which further regulates the functioning of Court of Sessions judiciously by virtue of Article 227. Under Chapter II of CrPC, Section 6 to 35 deals with the constitution of Criminal Courts and their powers although section 6 of Code of Criminal Procedure deals with the classification of criminal courts. According to section 6, there are four kinds of Criminal Courts i.e. Court of Session, Court of judicial Magistrate, Court of Metropolitan Magistrate and Executive Magistrate.

The Supreme Court, being the apex judicial authority, exercises original jurisdiction over state disputes, acts as an interpretator of constitution, exercises immense power of judicial review besides being the highest court of appeal over all constitutional, civil, criminal matters and in special leave petition. The high court also has original jurisdiction in certain matters. It enjoys appellate jurisdiction from all subordinate courts and performs the task of supervision over all the subordinate courts. Being constitutional courts, there is no restrictions on the power of Supreme Court and High Court and even the powers of High Court mention in section 28(1) of Code of Criminal Procedure. According to section 28(1), High Court may pass any sentence authorized by law.

All the Court of Sessions are established by State government in such place or places as ordered by the High Court. It is presided over by judge appointed by the High Court. Constitution however requires that all district judges shall be appointed by Governor in consultation with High Court. Session Judge or Additional Session Judge may pass any sentence authorized by law and if they pass sentence of death then such sentence shall be subject to confirmation of High Court. Assistant Session Judge may pass any sentence authorized by law except the sentence of death, life imprisonment or imprisonment more than ten years.

Section 11, CrPC requires that Court of Judicial Magistrate is established by state government. Any Judicial Magistrate first class is appointed as Chief Judicial Magistrate by High Court. Section 29(1) provides that Chief Judicial Magistrate may pass any sentence authorized by law except death sentence, life imprisonment and imprisonment for more than seven years. Judicial Magistrate first class may pass any sentence authorized by law except the sentence of death, life imprisonment and imprisonment more than three years and he may also impose fine upto 10,000 Rs and in Maharashtra and Rajasthan they may impose fine upto Rs.50,000/-. Section 29(3) states that Judicial Magistrate II class may pass any sentence authorized by law except the sentence of death, life imprisonment and imprisonment more than one year and he may also impose fine upto 5,000 Rs and in Maharashtra he may impose fine upto Rs.10,000/-.

In Court of Metropolitan Magistrate, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate and Metropolitan Magistrate shall possess the same power of Chief Judicial Magistrate and Judicial Magistrate First Class i.e., Chief Metropolitan Magistrate may pass sentence of imprisonment upto seven years and Metropolitan magistrate may pass sentence of imprisonment upto three years and fine upto 10,000 Rs and in Maharashtra and Rajasthan Rs.50,000/- by virtue of Section 29(4). In every district and in every Metropolitan area State Government may appoint the executive Magistrate and shall appoint one of them to be District Magistrate. Executive Magistrate’s functions are expressly listed under section 129,130,131 and 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

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