Subordinate Courts – District Court – NLSA – Lok Adalat




Appointment of District Judges

  • The appointment, posting and promotion of district judges are made by the Governor in consultation with the high court.



  • He should not already be in the service of the Central or the state government.
  • He should have been an advocate or a pleader for 7 years.
  • He should be recommended by the high court for appointment.



Appointment of other Judges

  • Appointment to judicial service of a state are made by the Governor in consultation with the State Public Service Commission and high court.


Control over Subordinate Courts

  • The control over district courts and other subordinate courts including the posting, promotion and leave of persons belonging to the Judicial Service of a state.
  • Decision about post of District Judge is vested in the High Court.




Interpretation of District Court

  • The expression ‘district judgeincludes
    • Judge of a city civil court
    • Additional district judge
    • Joint district judge
    • Assistant district judge
    • Chief judge of a small cause court
    • Chief presidency magistrate
    • Additional chief presidency magistrate
    • Sessions judge
    • Additional sessions judge
    • Assistant sessions judge.


Subordinate Courts - District Court  National Legal Service Authority Lok Adalat

Structure & Jurisdiction of District Court

  • The organisational structure, jurisdiction and nomenclature of the subordinate judiciary are laid down by the states.
  • They differ slightly from state to state.
  • The district judge is the highest judicial authority in the district.
  • He possesses original and appellate jurisdiction in both civil and criminal matters.
  • When he deals with civil cases, he is known as the district judge.
  • When he hears the criminal cases, he is called as the sessions judge.
  • The district judge exercises both judicial and administrative powers.
  • Appeals against his orders and judgements lie to the High Court.
  • The sessions judge has the power to impose any sentence including life imprisonment and capital punishment
  • However, a capital punishment passed by him is subject to confirmation by the High Court, whether there is an appeal or not.
  • The chief judicial magistrate decides criminal cases which are punishable with imprisonment for a term up to 7 years.
  • The judicial magistrate tries criminal cases which are punishable with imprisonment for a term up to 3 years.
  • In some metropolitan cities, there are city civil courts (chief judges) on the civil side and the courts of metropolitan magistrates on the criminal side.
  • In some states, Panchayat Courts try petty civil and criminal cases.
  • They are variously known as Nyaya Panchayat, Gram Kutchery, Adalati Panchayat, Panchayat Adalat and so on.





National Legal Service Authority (NLSA)

  • Article 39A of the Constitution of India provides for free legal aid to the poor and weaker sections.
  • Articles 14 and 22(1) of the Constitution also make it obligatory for the State.
  • In 1987, the Legal Services Authorities Act was enacted by the Parliament.
  • It came into force in 1995.
  • NLSA provides a nationwide uniform network for providing free and competent legal services to the weaker sections.
  • Tagline of NLSA is “Access to Justice for All“.
  • It monitors and evaluate implementation of legal aid programmes and to lay down policies and principles for making legal services available
  • In every State, a State Legal Services Authority and in every High Court, a  High Court Legal Services Committee have been constituted.
  • District Legal Services Authorities, Taluk Legal Services Committees have been constituted in the Districts and most of the Taluks to conduct Lok Adalats.
  • Supreme Court Legal Services Committee has been constituted
  • Chief Justice of India is Exoffice chairman of NALSA.
  • Next senior most judge is Executive chairman of NALSA.
  • NALSA lays down policies, principles, guidelines and frames schemes for the State Legal Services Authorities.
  • State Legal Services Authorities, District Legal Services Authorities, Taluk Legal Services Committees, etc. have been asked to discharge the following main functions
    • To provide free and competent legal services
    • To organize Lok Adalats
    • To organize legal awareness camps in the rural areas.
  • The persons eligible for getting free legal services include
    • Women and children
    • Members of SC/ST
    • Industrial workmen
    • Victims of mass disaster, violence, flood, drought, earthquake, industrial disaster
    • Disabled persons
    • Persons in custody
    • Persons whose annual income does not exceed Rs. 1 lakh (in the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee the limit is Rs. 1,25,000/-).
    • Victims of trafficking in human beings or begar.




Lok Adalats

  • Lok Adalat is a forum where the cases or disputes which are  pending in a court or not yet brought before a court are compromised or settled.


Meaning  by Supreme Court

  • The ‘Lok Adalat’ is an old form of adjudicating system prevailed in ancient India.
  • ‘Lok Adalat’ means ‘People’s Court’.
  • This system is based on Gandhian principles.
  • It is one of the components of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) system.
  • Indian courts are overburdened with the backlog of cases
  • The regular court process are lengthy, expensive
  • Lok Adalat, therefore, provides alternative resolution or devise for expedious and inexpensive justice.
  • In Lok Adalat proceedings, there are no victors and vanquished and, thus, no rancour.
  • It is viable, economic, efficient and informal one.



Statutory Status

  • The first Lok Adalat camp was organized in Gujarat in 1982
  • Lok Adalat has been given statutory status under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
  • Lok Adalats can be organized by
    • State Legal Services Authority
    • District Legal Services Authority
    • Supreme Court Legal Services Committee
    • High Court Legal Services Committee
    • Taluk Legal Services Committee
  • Any pending case can referred to the Lok Adalat if
    • The parties agree to settle the dispute in the Lok Adalat
    • One of the parties makes an application to the court, for referring the case to the Lok Adalat
    • The court is satisfied that the matter is an appropriate to be solved by the Lok Adalat.
  • The Lok Adalat have powers of Civil Court under the Code of Civil Procedure (1908)
  • Lok Adalat have power of Criminal Court under Indian Penal Code (1860)
  • Every award made by a Lok Adalat shall be final and binding on all the parties.
  • No appeal shall lie to any court against the award of the Lok Adalat.



  • There is no court fee and if court fee is already paid the amount will be refunded
  • The basic features of Lok Adalat are the procedural flexibility and speedy trial
  • There is no strict application of Civil Procedure Code and the Evidence Act
  • The parties to the dispute can directly interact with the judge


Permanent Lok Adalats

  • The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 was amended in 2002.
  • It provides the establishment of the Permanent Lok Adalats.
  • Lok Adalat is presided over by a sitting or retired judicial officer as the chairman.
  • 2 other members, usually a lawyer and a social worker.




Family Courts

  • The Family Courts Act, 1984 was enacted to provide for the establishment of Family Courts
  • It settles disputes relating to marriage and family affairs.



  • The Law Commission in its 59th report (1974) told that, the dealing with disputes in family need to adopt a different approach from the ordinary civil proceedings
  • The Code of Civil Procedure was amended in 1976 to provide for a special procedure relating to matters concerning the family
  • It create a Specialized Court which will exclusively deal with family matters
  • To have flexibility and an informal atmosphere in the conduct of proceedings.




  • It provides for the establishment of Family Courts by the State Governments in consultation with the High Courts.
  • It makes it obligatory to set up a Family Court in every city or town with a population exceeding one million.
  • It enables the State Governments to set up Family Courts in other areas also
  • During this stage, the proceedings will be informal and rigid rules of procedure shall not apply
  • Court may, in the interest of justice, seek assistance of a legal expert
  • It provides for only one right of appeal which shall lie to the High Court.




Gram Nyayalayas

  • It established by the Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008.
  • Gram Nyayalayas provides access to justice to the citizens at their doorsteps
  • Under the Act State Governments need to establish Gram Nyayalayas in consultation with the respective High Courts.



  • Article 39A directs the State to secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice, on a basis of equal opportunity and shall provide free legal aid
  • Government has taken various measures to strengthen judicial system, inter alia, by simplifying the procedural laws
  • Law Commission of India in its 114th Report suggested establishment of Gram Nyayalayas
  • Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008 is broadly based on the  recommendations



  • The Gram Nyayalaya shall be court of Judicial Magistrate of the first class.
  • It’s presiding officer (Nyayadhikari) shall be appointed by the State Government in consultation with the High Court.
  • It can be established for every Panchayat at intermediate level or a group of contiguous Panchayats at intermediate level in a district
  • Seat of Gram Nayalaya will be located at headquarter of intermediate Panchayat
  • The Nyayadhikaris are strictly judicial officers
  • Salary and powers same as First Class Magistrates working under High Courts
  • Gram Nyayalaya shall be a mobile court
  • It shall exercise the powers of both Criminal and Civil Courts.
  • It shall be guided by the principles of natural justice and subject to any rule made by the High Court.
  • Appeal in criminal cases shall lie to the Court of Session, which shall be heard and disposed of within a period of 6 months



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