What do you mean by Jurisdiction of Court?

Jurisdiction of court

The Jurisdiction of court means the powers that are entrusted to the courts of India. There is a 3-tier judicial mechanism in India that is District Court, which is established in every district of state so that the general public can easily seek justice from it. The High Court is established in every state to take appeals from the district court if anyone is not satisfied by the judgment of the district court. The Apex Court in India is the Supreme Court which is established in the Capital of India which can reverse the order or punishment of any subordinate court.

History of the establishment of the District Court in India

In the British era, the district court was known as Mofussil Adalats which was known as the territory surrounding the presidency town under the control of the East India Company. In 1772 Warren Hastings was appointed as the Governor-General of Bengal. He introduced separate courts for civil matters like divorce, marriage, contract, etc. and criminal matters like murder, dacoit, robbery, etc.

The Mofussil Diwani Adalat was established for addressing civil matters and the appeals were to be addressed by Sadar Diwani Adalat. For criminal matters, the Mofussil Fauzidaar Adalat was established and the appeals from these courts were to be addressed by Sadar Nizamat Adalat. These courts were established in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. The sitting of Moffusil was twice a week. Sir Elijah Impey was the first judge of Sadar Diwani Adalat.

However, with the appointment of Lord Cornwallis who introduced three phases of Judicial Plan:

Judicial Plan of 1787

Lord Cornwallis for handling the revenue cases, he established the Mal Adalat which was presided by the collector who was the English servant. The appeals were to be addressed by the Board of Revenue at Calcutta. The collector was also responsible for handling civil cases and the appeals from the Moffusil Diwani Adalat were to be addressed by the Sadar Diwani Adalat.

Judicial Plan of 1790:

The Moffusil Fauzdari Adalat was abolished and three other courts were established.They are:

  • The Court of District Magistrate; where cases related to petty matters where maximum imprisonment was for 15 days. It was to be addressed by the collector.
  • The court of Circuit; the serious offenses where to be addressed by this court. The two English Judges presided in each division. The four divisions were Patna, Dacca, Murshidabad and Calcutta.
  • Sardar Nizzamat Adalat was the highest Court of appeal in Calcutta where the capital punishments and life imprisonment was awarded to the criminal.

Judicial Plan of 1793:

Various developments were done by Lord Cornwallis in this judicial plan. They were:

  • The Mal Adalat was abolished and now the civil and revenue matters were to be addressed by the Moffusil Diwani Adalat.
  • The civil servants were appointed as judges of the Moffusil Diwani Adalat instead of the collector.
  • Appeals from this Adalat were to be addressed by Sadar Diwani Adalat if the case exceeds rupees 1000 and if the case exceeds rupees 5000 then the appeal had to be addressed by King-in-Council.
  • The power of the magistrate in criminal matters was transferred to Moffusil Diwani Adalat.
  • The circuit court and the court of Appeal were merged into a single court. 

What is the jurisdiction of the district court in India?

The District Courts of India exercise jurisdiction over both original and appellate matters that arose in the district related to a civil and criminal matter. In civil matters, the territorial and pecuniary jurisdiction is concerned with the subjects that are related to the enactment of the state. On the other side, the jurisdiction of the criminal matter is related to the Criminal Procedure Code. However, the sessions court can award maximum punishment of capital punishment as per the Criminal Procedure Code.

The district court has subordinate courts for civil and criminal matters[i]. In civil justice, the appellate court is formed and the subordinate courts are:

  • Junior Civil Judge Court
  • Principal Junior Civil Judge Court
  • Senior Civil Judge Court

In criminal justice, the criminal proceedings are done in the Session Court and the subordinate courts in criminal matters are:

  • First Class Judicial Magistrate Court
  • Chief Judicial Magistrate Court

The district court has original jurisdiction because there are certain civil and criminal matters that have to be addressed by the district court. The appeals and revisions of orders from the district court go to the High court of the concerned state[ii].

History of Establishment of the High Court in India

The High Court in India was established with the Indian High Court Act, 1861. The bill was introduced by Sir Charles Wood in the House of Common. With the amendment of the act, the court was established in Bombay, Madras and Calcutta. This Act abolished the Supreme court, Sadar Diwani Adalat and Sadar Nizamat Adalat in all the presidencies. The Act has provisions for qualification and tenure of judges.

This court had original and appellate jurisdiction. This court has jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters appealed from the Lower Court for revision of order related to law or regulation could be given by this court. With the establishment of this court revenue jurisdiction, admiralty jurisdiction and testamentary and miscellaneous jurisdiction were given to the High Court. 

What is the Jurisdiction of the High Court in India?

As per Article 214 of the constitution of India, there shall be High court for every state within the territory of India. As per Article 231 of the Constitution of India two or more states can have one common High Court. For instance, Bombay High Court has jurisdiction over Goa, Dadar and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. The jurisdiction of the High court in India are:

  • Original and Appellate Jurisdiction: the High Courts in India have original and appellate jurisdiction in matters related to matrimony, fundamental rights, and cases that were transferred from a lower court. In matters related to civil and criminal cases, the High Court has the power to take appeals from subordinate courts.
  • Writ Jurisdiction: as per article 226 of the Constitution of India, a person whose Fundamental rights are violated can seek a remedy through writs. The writs which are available for enforcement of Fundamental Rights are quo warranto, prohibition, mandamus, hebeas corpus, and certiorari.
  • Superintendence: as per article 227 of the Constitution of India the High Court have jurisdiction over all courts and territories. They can issue general rules and can also prescribe the way the courts in India should proceed. Any court which is related to Army forces, the High Court cannot superintend such courts as per subsection 4 of the article.

Supreme Court of India history

With the Independence of India in 1947, the Supreme Court of India was established in 1950 by abolishing Federal Court which was established from the Government Act of India. It had advisory, appellate and advisory jurisdiction.

What is the Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India?

In India, the highest and last court of appeal is the Supreme Court. The jurisdiction of this court are:

  • Original Jurisdiction: as per article 131 of the Constitution of India the Supreme Court can address disputes between two states, and between the government and two or more states.
  • Writ Jurisdiction: as per article 32 of the constitution of India any person who is the citizen of India can enforce his fundamental rights through writs. The writs that are available for various violations are mandamus, hebeas corpus, quo warranto, prohibition and certiorari.
  • Appellate Jurisdiction: as per article 134A of the Constitution of India any order, decree or judgment of the High Court in civil and criminal matters as per article 132(1), 133 and 134 can be referred to the Supreme Court if the case involves a substantial question of law. As per article 134, the Supreme Court can reverse the punishment in criminal matters
  • Supervisory Jurisdiction: as per article 143 of the Constitution of India the President can seek advice from the Supreme Court in matters related to law.

The Supreme Court also has the power to review its own judgment or pronouncement as per article 137 of the Constitution and the laws that are declared by the SC are binding on all courts within the territory of India as per section 141.


The citizen of India can seek remedy from all the three courts that are the district court, the High Court and the Supreme Court in matters related to civil and criminal cases. And thus, can get justice and satisfaction from the court.

Edited by Pushpamrita Roy

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje 




Samridhi Srivastava
I samridhi srivastava is pursuing B.A.LL.b from Lloyd Law college. My inclination is towards writing legal articles and doing legal research work and is also looking forward to have a career in legal journalism. I am also interested in writing shayari; reading novels of great personality like Swami Vivekanand, my experience with truth, APJ Abdul Kamal's sir autobiography etc.; reading news and listening music in my free time.