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Constitution & Juridiction of District Courts of Uttarakhand

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The District Courts in every district and outlying courts in some of Tehsil Headquarters in the State of Uttarakhand are established by the State Government in  consultation with the High Court, taking into account the number of cases, topography of the place and population distribution in the district. There are three tier systems of courts functioning at the district level. These district courts at various levels administer justice in Uttarakhand under administrative and supervisory control of the High Court of the State.

The highest court in each district is that of the District and Sessions Judge. This is the principal court of civil jurisdiction, which derives its jurisdiction in civil matters, like other civil courts of the state, primarily from The Bengal, Agra and Assam Civil Courts Act, 1887. This is also a court of sessions and sessions cases are tried by this court. In some of the districts in Uttarakhand, there are courts of Additional District & Sessions Judges, in addition to the Court of District & Sessions Judge depending on the workload. The court of District & Sessions Judge and the court of Additional District & Sessions Judge have equivalent jurisdiction. These Courts exercise jurisdiction both on original as well as appellate side in civil and criminal matters arising in the District. On the criminal side, jurisdiction is almost exclusively derived from Code of Criminal Procedure. This code sets the maximum sentence which a Sessions court may award, which currently is capital punishment subject to be confirmed by the High Court under Section 366 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The District Judge also acts as the presiding Officer of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal dealing with the cases of Motor Accident. Beside this, certain matters on criminal or civil side cannot be tried by a court inferior in jurisdiction to a district court, if the particular enactment makes a provision to the effect. This gives the District Court original jurisdiction in such matters.

However, in every district, the District & Sessions Judge has supervisory and administrative control over all the Judges/Judicial Magistrates, including decisions on allocation of work among them. Being the highest judge at district level, the District & Sessions Judge also enjoys the power to manage the state funds allocated for the development of judiciary in the district.

The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate and the court of Judicial Magistrate Ist Class are functioning in every districts of Uttarakhand. In some of the districts, depending on the workload, the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate and Additional Judicial Magistrate are also functioning at present. One court of Railway Magistrate is also functioning at present in District Nainital. On the criminal side, jurisdiction of courts is almost exclusively derived from the code of criminal procedure and these courts can award punishment as prescribed by the Cr.P.C. itself. The Chief Judicial Magistrate is subordinate to District & Sessions Judge and every other Judicial Magistrate is subject to the general control of District & Sessions Judge is subordinate to the Chief Judicial Magistrate. The Chief Judicial Magistrate in consultation with District & Sessions Judge distributes the business among the Judicial Magistrate subordinate to him. Beside these Courts, in every districts of Uttarakhand there are many other courts subordinate to the courts of District and Sessions Judge, either at Headquarter or at outlying Tehsil in the district. These subordinate courts usually consist of the Courts of Civil Judge, (Senior Division), Civil Judge, (Junior Division) on the civil side. The court of Civil Judge (S.D.) is having unlimited pecuniary jurisdiction and the pecuniary jurisdiction of the Civil Judge (J.D.) is presently Rs. 1 Lac. As per the workload, in some of the districts there are additional courts of Additional Civil Judge (S.D.) and Courts of Additional Civil Judge (J.D.) also.

To provide the legal aid to the needy people, in every district, the District Legal Services Authority is also functioning in the chairmanship of the District Judge and establishment of State Legal Services Authority is situated in the premises of the High Court at Nainital to look after the work of legal literacy/legal aid in the State.