There are 24 High Courts at the state and union territory level of India, which together with the Supreme Court of India at the national level, comprise the country’s judicial system. Each High Court has jurisdiction over a state, a union territory or a group of states and union territories.
Below the High Courts is a hierarchy of subordinate courts such as the civil courts, family courts, criminal courts and various other district courts. High Courts are instituted as constitutional courts under Part VI, Chapter V, Article 214 of the Indian Constitution.
The High Courts are the principal civil courts of original jurisdiction in each state and union territory. However, a High Court exercises its original civil and criminal jurisdiction only if the subordinate courts are not authorized by law to try such matters for lack of pecuniary, territorial jurisdiction. High courts may also enjoy original jurisdiction in certain matters if so designated specifically in a state or federal law.
However, the work of most High Courts primarily consists of appeals from lower courts and writ petitions in terms of Article 226 of the constitution. Writ jurisdiction is also original jurisdiction of High Court.
The precise territorial jurisdiction of each High Court varies. The appeal order is the following: Tehsil-Kotwali- Criminal/Civil Courts – District – High Court – Supreme Court.
Each state is divided into judicial districts presided over by a District and Sessions Judge. He is known as a District Judge when he presides over a civil case and a Sessions Judge when he presides over a criminal case. He is the highest judicial authority below a High Court judge.
Below him, there are courts of civil jurisdiction, known by different names in different states.
Under Article 141 of the Constitution, all courts in India (which includes High Courts) are bound by the judgments and orders of the Supreme Court of India by precedence.