Chapter 4 Judiciary Notes Class 8 NCERT Civics: These study notes are based on the class 8 NCERT Civics chapter “Judiciary”. These notes are well made and would help in revising the chapter. Click here for more study materials.
1. Role of the Judiciary
As an organ of government, the judiciary plays a crucial role in the functioning of India’s democracy. Courts make decisions on various issues. Examples include teacher-student interactions, sharing river waters, and punishment for crimes.
Functions of the Judiciary
- Dispute Resolution
- Judiciary resolves disputes among citizens.
- Resolves conflicts between citizens and the government.
- Settles disputes between state governments.
- Addresses conflicts between the central and state governments.
- Judicial Review
- Judiciary interprets the Constitution.
- Empowered to invalidate laws passed by Parliament if they violate the Constitution’s basic structure.
- Known as judicial review.
- Upholding the Law and Enforcing Fundamental Rights
- Any Indian citizen can approach the Supreme Court or High Court.
- Seeking redress if their Fundamental Rights are violated.
- Judiciary ensures the protection of these rights.
Significance of Judicial Role
- Safeguards citizens’ rights and ensures the rule of law.
- Balances power between the legislative and executive branches.
- Preserves the integrity of the Constitution.
Conclusion: The judiciary plays a crucial role in maintaining justice, resolving disputes, and upholding the Constitution’s principles and Fundamental Rights.
2. Independent Judiciary
As an organ of government, the judiciary plays a crucial role in the functioning of India’s democracy. It can play this role only because it is independent. What does an ‘independent judiciary’ mean?
- Definition: An independent judiciary is a system where the judiciary operates autonomously, free from external influence, and can make impartial decisions.
- Importance: Prevents misuse of power, protects citizens’ rights, and upholds the rule of law.
An Imaginary Situation of a Dependent Judiciary
- Hypothetical situation: A powerful politician encroaches on your family’s land.
- Politician’s influence: Politician appoints and dismisses judges, leading to biased decisions in their favour.
- Lack of independence: Judges cannot make impartial judgments due to political influence.
- Indian Constitution’s protection: Ensures the independence of the judiciary.
- Separation of powers: Key feature of the Constitution.
- Explained as non-interference of legislative and executive branches in the judiciary’s work.
- Courts operate independently and not on behalf of the government.
Appointment and Removal of Judges
- Limited interference: Judges in High Courts and the Supreme Court should be appointed with minimal interference from other branches of government.
- Judicial tenure: Once appointed, judges are challenging to remove.
- These measures promote an impartial and independent judiciary.
Role in Checks and Balances
- Central role: Independent judiciary prevents misuse of power by the legislature and executive.
- Protects Fundamental Rights: Citizens can approach courts if they believe their rights are violated.
Conclusion: Independence of the judiciary is vital for upholding justice, preventing abuse of power, and safeguarding citizens’ rights, making it a cornerstone of democratic governance.
3. Structure of Courts in India
- Three levels of courts in India.
- Distinction between subordinate, High, and Supreme Courts.
- Hierarchy and interconnectedness.
Subordinate or District Courts
- Lower-level courts.
- Located at district or Tehsil level and in towns.
- Handle various types of cases.
- District Judge presides over each district.
- Highest court in each state.
- There is one High Court for each state.
- Handles appeals from subordinate courts.
- Apex level court.
- Located in New Delhi.
- Presided over by the Chief Justice of India.
- Supreme Court decisions are binding on all other courts in India.
Integration of Courts
- India has an integrated judicial system.
- Decisions of higher courts are binding on lower courts.
- Appellate system allows individuals to appeal to a higher court if they believe a lower court’s judgment is unjust.
Case Study: State (Delhi Administration) vs. Laxman Kumar and Others (1985)
- Background: Sudha Goel’s death case.
- Trial Court: Conviction of Laxman, Shakuntala, and Subash Chandra, sentenced to death.
- High Court: Acquittal based on accidental fire theory.
- Women’s Protest: Women’s groups protest against the High Court’s decision regarding ‘dowry deaths’.
- Supreme Court: Appeal against the High Court’s decision.
- Supreme Court’s Decision: Laxman and his mother found guilty, Subash Chandra acquitted, sentenced to life imprisonment.
Conclusion: The Indian court system comprises subordinate courts, High Courts, and the Supreme Court, all interconnected, ensuring justice is served at various levels, with the Supreme Court being the highest authority in the land.
4. Different Branches of the Legal System
- Legal system encompasses different branches, including criminal and civil law.
- Each branch serves distinct purposes and addresses various types of cases.
- Focus: Deals with conduct defined as offenses in the law.
- Examples: Theft, dowry harassment, murder.
- Initiating a Case: Begins with lodging a First Information Report (FIR) with the police.
- Investigation: Police investigate the crime, and a case is filed in court.
- Consequences: If found guilty, the accused can be imprisoned and fined.
- Focus: Addresses harm or injury to individuals’ rights.
- Examples: Disputes related to land sale, goods purchase, rent matters, divorce cases.
- Initiating a Case: Requires a petition to be filed before the relevant court by the affected party.
- Parties Involved: In rent matters, either the landlord or tenant can file a case.
- Court’s Role: The court provides specific relief requested by the affected party.
- For example, in a landlord-tenant dispute, the court can order eviction and pending rent payment.
Comparison between Criminal & Civil law
- Criminal Law:
- Deals with offenses against society.
- Begins with an FIR, investigated by the police.
- Penalties include imprisonment and fines.
- Civil Law:
- Deals with harm to individual rights.
- Initiated through a petition by the affected party.
- Court provides specific relief as requested.
- Criminal law focuses on maintaining public order and punishing wrongdoing.
- Civil law addresses disputes between individuals, aiming to provide resolution and compensation.
- Both branches are crucial for maintaining justice and order in society.
Conclusion: The legal system encompasses different branches, each serving specific functions to ensure fairness, justice, and resolution in various types of cases.
5. Access to the Courts in India
- In principle, all Indian citizens have access to the courts.
- Courts play a crucial role in protecting Fundamental Rights.
Challenges in Accessing Courts
- Reality: Access to courts has been challenging, especially for the poor.
- Barriers: Legal procedures are expensive, involve extensive paperwork, and are time-consuming.
- Impact on the Poor: For impoverished individuals who can’t read and depend on daily wages, seeking justice seems distant.
Public Interest Litigation (PIL)
- Initiative: Supreme Court introduced PIL in the early 1980s.
- Purpose: To increase access to justice for those whose rights are violated.
- Simplified Process: PIL simplified legal processes, allowing anyone to file, even through letters or telegrams.
- Examples: PILs have been instrumental in various cases, including rescuing bonded laborers and ensuring mid-day meals for children.
Role of Courts in Protecting Rights
- Fundamental Rights: Courts protect citizens’ Fundamental Rights.
- Example: The Supreme Court interpreted Article 21 (Right to Life) to include the Right to Food, leading to the mid-day meal scheme.
- Right to Livelihood: Courts, like in the Olga Tellis vs. Bombay Municipal Corporation case, linked the Right to Life to the Right to Livelihood.
- Evictions were seen as a threat to livelihood.
Delays in the Legal System
- Challenge: Lengthy court proceedings and delayed justice.
- Impact: The phrase “justice delayed is justice denied” characterizes this issue.
Judiciary’s Role in Democracy
- Crucial Role: Judiciary acts as a check on the executive and legislature.
- Protects Fundamental Rights: Upholds the rights of citizens.
- Envisioned in the Constitution: Independent judiciary was a key feature envisioned by the Constituent Assembly.
- Access to courts in India is a fundamental right, but practical challenges exist, such as financial barriers and delays. Public Interest Litigation has helped increase access to justice, and the judiciary remains a vital pillar of Indian democracy, safeguarding citizens’ rights and ensuring checks and balances.
- While access to courts has been challenging, especially for the poor, the judiciary, through initiatives like PILs, plays a vital role in protecting citizens’ rights and ensuring justice in India’s democratic system.