Government of India

From Academic Kids

The Government of the India, officially referred to as the Union Governnment, and commonly as Central Government, established by the Constitution of India, is a union federal republic of 28 states and 7 union territories. The basic laws of the India are set down in major parliamentary legislation, such as the India Code. The federal, union government consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The legal system is based on English common and statutory law, while most state and territorial law is based on English common law. India accepts compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction, with many reservations. The bracnhes of State Governments usually mirror the pattern followed at the national level.


Legislative branch

India's bicameral parliament (also known as the Sansad) consists of the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the Lok Sabha (House of the People). The Union Council of Ministers is responsible to the Lok Sabha. In India's parliamentary system, the executive is subordinate to the legislature.

Executive branch

The executive arm consists of the President, Vice-President, the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers. Any minister holding a portfolio must be a member of either house of parliament

President of India

The government exercises its broad administrative powers in the name of the President of India, the head of state, whose duties are largely ceremonial. The president and vice president are elected indirectly for 5-year terms by a special electoral college, composed of delegates from state legislatures.

Union Cabinet

Real national executive power is centered in the Council of Ministers, the Union Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister of India, the head of government. The President appoints the Prime Minister, who is the designated leader of the political party or coalition commanding parliamentary majority. All Central Government decisions are nominally taken in the name of the President.

The Ministers can be of 3 types: Cabinet Minister, Minister of State (Independent Charge) and Minister of State, in the order of seniority. Cabinet Minister and M of State (Indp Charge) usually attend Cabinet meeetings. Accordingly to policy issues at discussion, the Cabinet meets as the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, Cabinert Committee on Defence etc.

The Union Ministries

The day-to-day enforcement and administration of national laws is in the hands of the various federal Union Ministries and Departments, created by the Indian Parliament to deal with specific areas of national and international affairs. In matters delegated to the States, Ministries act in advisory and fundng capacity.

Template:Union Ministries and Departments

Independent Executive Agencies

The Constitution also provides for following independent organisations, who are answerable only to the Parliament and are not under the purview of any Ministry,

Judicial branch

India's independent judicial system began under the British, and its concepts and procedures resemble those of Anglo-Saxon countries. The Supreme Court of India consists of a chief justice and 25 other justices, all appointed by the president on the advice of the Chief Justice of India. In the 1960s India moved away from using juries for most trials, finding them to be corrupt and ineffective, instead almost all trials are conducted by judges.

Unlike its US counterpart, the Indian justice system consists of a unitary system at both state and national level. The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court India, and state level High Courts and subordinate district level District and Session Courts.

National Judiciary

The Supreme Court has original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction. Its exclusive original jurisdiction extends to any dispute between the Government of India and one or more States or between the Government of India and any State or States on one side and one or more States on the other or between two or more States, if and insofar as the dispute involves any question (whether of law or of fact) on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends.

In addition, Article 32 of the Indian Constitution gives an extensive original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court in regard to enforcement of Fundamental Rights. It is empowered to issue directions, orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari to enforce them. The Supreme Court has been conferred with power to direct transfer of any civil or criminal case from one State High Court to another State High Court or from a Court subordinate to another State High Court.

Public Interest Litigation: Although the proceedings in the Supreme Court arise out of the judgments or orders made by the Subordinate Courts, but of late the Supreme Court has started entertaining matters in which interest of the public at large is involved and the Court can be moved by any individual or group of persons either by filing a Writ Petition at the Filing Counter of the Court or by addressing a letter to Hon'ble the Chief Justice of India highlighting the question of public importance for invoking this jurisdiction.

Such concept is known as Public Interest Litigation or PIL and several matters of public importance have become landmark cases. This concept is unique to the Supreme Court of India only and perhaps no other Court in the world has been exercising this extraordinary jurisdiction.

State Judiciary

The High Court stands at the head of a State's judicial administration. There are 18 High Courts in the country, three having jurisdiction over more than one State. Among the Union Territories Delhi alone has a High Court of its own. Other six Union Territories come under the jurisdiction of different State High Courts. Each High Court comprises of a Chief Justice and such other Judges as the President may, from time to time, appoint.

Each High Court has powers of superintendence over all subordinate courts within its jurisdiction, namely the District and Sessions courts and their lower courts. It can call for returns from such Courts, make and issue general rules and prescribe forms to regulate their practice and proceedings and determine the manner and form in which book entries and accounts shall be kept.

The District and Session Courts comprise the lowest level of courts and are trial courts of original jurisdiction, applying both federal and state laws. States are divided into districts and within each, a District and Sesions Judge is head of the judiciary. A District Judge presides over civil cases, while a Sessions Judge over criminal cases. These judges are appointed by the state governor in consultation with the state's high court. There is a hierarchy of judicial officials below the district level, many selected through competitive examination by the state's public service commissions.

Civil cases at the sub district level are filed in subdistrict or munsif courts. Lesser criminal cases are entrusted to courts of magistrates functioning under the Sessions Judge. At the village level, disputes are frequently resolved by panchayats or Lok Adalats (people's courts), appealable to the District and Sessions Court.

Note: The judicial system retains substantial legitimacy in the eyes of many Indians despite its politicization since the 1970s. In fact, as illustrated by the rise of social action litigation in the 1980s and 1990s, many Indians turn to the courts to redress grievances with other social and political institutions. It is frequently observed that Indians are highly litigious, which has contributed to a growing backlog of cases.

Indeed, the Supreme Court was reported to have more than 150,000 cases pending in 1990, the high courts had some 2 million cases pending, and the lower courts had a substantially greater backlog. Research in the early 1990s show that the backlogs at levels below the Supreme Court are the result of delays in the litigation process and the large number of decisions that are appealed, and not the result of an increase in the number of new cases filed.

Jurisdiction And Seats of State High Courts
Name Year State jurisdiction Seat
Allahabad 1866Uttar PradeshAllahabad(Bench at Lucknow)
Andhra Pradesh1956Andhra PradeshHyderabad
Bombay1862Maharashtra, Goa, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu Bombay (Benches at Nagpur, Panaji and Aurangabad)
Calcutta1862West Bengal Calcutta (Circuit Bench at Port Blair)
Guwahati1948Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland,Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal PradeshGuwahati (Benches at Kohima, Aizwal & Imphal. Circuit Bench at Agartala & Shillong)
Himachal Pradesh1971Himachal PradeshShimla
Jammu & Kashmir1928Jammu & KashmirSrinagar & Jammu
Kerala 1958Kerala & LakshadweepErnakulam
Madhya Pradesh1956Madhya PradeshJabalpur (Benches at Gwalior and Indore)
Madras1862Tamil Nadu and PondicherryMadras
Patna1916BiharPatna (Bench at Ranchi)
Punjab & Haryana1975Punjab, Haryana and ChandigarhChandigarh
Rajasthan1949RajasthanJodhpur (Bench at Jaipur)


Further reading

  • Subrata K. Mitra and V.B. Singh. 1999. Democracy and Social Change in India: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the National Electorate. New Delhi: Sage Publications. ISBN 817036809X (India HB) ISBN 0761993444 (U.S. HB).

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