Judicial Architecture and Capacity
The Oxford Handbook of Indian Constitutional Law (Sujit Choudhry, Madhav Khosla & Pratap Mehta eds., 2016, Forthcoming)
19 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2014 Last revised: 13 Nov 2017
Date Written: October 4, 2014
This chapter (forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook on the Indian Constitution) is an introduction to the Indian court system and is written to be of interest to both those learning about the Indian judicial system for the first time as well as experts seeking a more nuanced overview. It describes the architecture of the Indian judiciary – in other words, the different types of courts and judges in the Indian judicial system and the hierarchies and relations between them. In particular, it focuses on how the Indian judiciary coordinates its behavior through both a system of stare decisis (i.e. judicial precedent) and internal administrative control.
This chapter argues that the Indian judiciary is unusually top-heavy, with more cases, more judges, and more administrative power located in the upper judiciary, and especially the Supreme Court, than in most other systems. This top-heaviness has a range of implications that the chapter explores – including leading to a more polyvocal jurisprudence and a unique set of inter-judge relations – that while empowering the upper judiciary may also weaken the court system's overall ability to perform core parts of its institutional mandate.
Keywords: Indian judicial system, Indian court system, stare decisis, precedent, judicial administration, judicial process, India, polyvocal, Indian legal system, comparative courts
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