Constitution of Criminal Courts and Offices.

Author: Shubhangi Saxena, 3rd Year, B.COM LL.B (H), Jagran Lakecity University, School of Law, Bhopal.

The article has been written by the author while pursuing the internship programme with us.


Law plays an important role in any society. It governs the conduct of the citizens and punishes them for their misconduct. Absence of law in any society can create a commotion since the people will exercise their rights in any manner without considering the rights of others and thus one’s right will lead to infringement of the others’. Hence, in order to control the arbitrary exercise of rights by the people, the law is required and implementation of it requires certain agencies. The Indian Judicial System provides a proper hierarchy of courts that administer justice at different levels. Chapter II of the CrPC, 1973 deals with the Constitution of Criminal Courts and Offices which are discussed in the article.

Historical Background of Indian Judicial System

The legal system came into existence in the Bronze Age. Upanishads, Purans, Manusmriti are some of the important texts that have guided humans to serve justice. Later, the civil and criminal courts were established during the reign of excellent rulers like Mauryas. The Common Law System was then developed in India by the British East India Company. After independence, the Constitution was framed that gave the power to implement various codes and Acts in India. Thus in order to reduce the burden of courts, provisions were made to set up courts at different levels under CrPC 1973.

Constitution of Criminal Courts

Classes of Criminal Courts-

Section 6 of Cr.P.C. provides that: Courts of Session, Judicial Magistrates of First class and second class and in Metropolitan area, Metropolitan Magistrates and executive magistrate shall function.

Territorial Divisions

Section 7 deals with territorial divisions and states that:

  1.  There will be session division in every state that will consist of districts
  2.  The state government can limit the number of divisions in consultation with the High Court.
  3.  The High Court can also divide a district into sub-divisions and has the power to change such the limits of the divisions.
  4.  The sessions divisions & districts in a state formed before the commencement of the code will be considered to be formed under this section.

Metropolitan Areas

Metropolitan areas dealt under Section 8 provide that:

  • Areas in which the population exceeds one million, the state government shall alter the limits of such areas as it deems fit.
  •  The Presidency towns of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras shall be considered as metropolitan areas.
  • The government has power to amend the limits of a metropolitan area but no reduction shall be made to reduce the population of the area to less than one million.
  •  If an area is declared a metropolitan area and its population reduces to less than one million, such area shall cease to be a metropolitan area.
  • The areas of which limit is changed by the government, it shall not affect any trial or inquiry pending before such amendment.

Court of Sessions

  • Under Section 9, the State Government has power to set up Sessions Court for every sessions division.
  • A judge appointed by the state government shall preside over Sessions Court.
  • The High Court is also empowered to appoint Additional and Assistant Sessions Judges for the Sessions Court.
  • The Sessions Judge of one division may also act as Additional Sessions Judge of another division for disposing of the cases.
  • If the post of sessions judge is vacant, then a case may be brought before additional or assistant sessions judges for disposal.
  • The sessions court will hold its place where the High Court specifies. But it may sit at some other place also for the convenience of parties after obtaining the consent of prosecution and accused.

Subordination of Assistant Sessions Judge

  •  Section 10 states that the Assistant Sessions Judge shall function subordinate to the Sessions judge.
  •  The Sessions Judge shall distribute the business among the Assistant Sessions Judges as stated.
  •  In urgent cases, the case disposal shall be done by additional or assistant sessions judges during the absence of the concerned judge.

Court of Judicial Magistrate, Chief Judicial Magistrate and Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate

  •  The Court of Judicial Magistrate first class and second class as discussed under Section 11 shall be established at places where the government specifies by notification.
  • The high court will appoint the presiding officers of the courts.
  • The High Court may also transfer the power of Judicial Magistrate first class or second class on any member whom it deems fit.

Further Section 12 provides that:

  •  A Judicial Magistrate First Class may be appointed as Chief Judicial Magistrate by the High Court.
  • A Judicial Magistrate First Class may also be appointed as Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate by the High Court.
  • The High Court may also designate any Judicial Magistrate of first-class as Sub- Divisional Judicial Magistrate.

Court of Special Judicial Magistrate

Section 13 empowers the High Court to confer powers of Judicial Magistrate First class or second class) on a person who has been in Government post upon the request of central or state government under sub-section (1), with respect to particular cases. Sub-section (2) mentions such persons as Special Magistrates who shall hold office for not more than one year. The High Court can confer powers of the metropolitan magistrate on special judicial magistrate under sub-section (3).

Jurisdiction of Judicial Magistrate

Chief Judicial Magistrate shall define the areas of jurisdiction of magistrates appointed under Section 11 or 13 under sub-section (1). Generally, the jurisdiction extends throughout the district as stated under sub-section (2) of Section 14.

Subordination of Judicial Magistrate

The Judicial Magistrate shall be lower in rank from Chief Judicial Magistrate which shall be subordinate to the Sessions Judge as provided under sub-section (1), Section 15. Also, sub-section (2) states that the Chief Judicial Magistrate may allocate work among the Judicial Magistrates subordinate to him.

Courts of Metropolitan Magistrate, Chief/Additional Metropolitan magistrates, Special Metropolitan Magistrate and their subordination

● Section 16, states that

  • A Court of Metropolitan Magistrates will be established for the metropolitan areas by the state government after consultation from the High Court.
  • The High Court will appoint the presiding officers of such courts and the power of metropolitan magistrate will extend throughout the metropolitan area.

● Under Section 17:

  •  The High Court under Section 17 has the authority to appoint Chief/Additional Metropolitan Magistrate for any metropolitan area.
  •  The appointed magistrate shall exercise functions as prescribed under the Code.

● Section 18 provides that:

  •  The High Court may confer the power of Metropolitan Magistrate on a person who has been on government post for particular cases.
  • The appointed magistrate shall be called as Special Metropolitan Magistrate.

● Section 19 provides the hierarchy i.e.

  •  The Chief Metropolitan Magistrate and Additional Metropolitan Magistrate shall function below the Sessions Judge and Metropolitan Magistrate will function under the control of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate.
  •  The High Court has the authority to define the extent of subordination of the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate.
  •  The Chief Metropolitan Magistrate can make rules as to the allocation of business among the Metropolitan Magistrates.

Executive Magistrates

  •  Section 20 provides for the appointment of executive magistrates who shall be appointed by the State Governments and one of them shall be the District Magistrate.
  •  The executive magistrates can also be appointed as additional district magistrates having powers as are granted to the district magistrates under the code.
  •  If the office of district magistrate becomes vacant, the person temporarily succeeding to the office shall exercise all powers that are given under the code.
  •  The Executive Magistrate may be given the charge of sub-division who shall be called as Sub-Divisional Magistrate.

Special Executive Magistrates: Jurisdiction and Subordination

  •  The State government may appoint executive magistrates who will be called as Special Executive Magistrates under Section 21 who shall exercise all powers as are granted to the executive magistrates by the code.
  • Section 22 provides for the jurisdiction of Executive magistrates and states that their areas of jurisdiction shall be decided from time to time by the state government. Generally, the power of executive magistrates to exercise jurisdiction extends throughout the district.
  • The subordination of executive magistrates is discussed under sub-section (1) of Section 23 which states that the District Magistrates and Sub-Divisional Magistrates are superior in rank from Executive magistrates. And the District Magistrate has authority to distribute the work among executive magistrates and Additional District Magistrates under sub-section (2).

Appointment of Public Prosecutors and Assistant Public Prosecutors

  •  Under Section 24, the central or state government may appoint public prosecutors or additional public prosecutors for every district.
  •  Public Prosecutors may be appointed by the Central Government in a district or local area.
  •  The state government can appoint a public prosecutor and additional public prosecutor in a district.
  •  Also, the District Magistrate under sub-section (4) may prepare a panel of names in consultation with the session judge for the appointment of public prosecutors.
  • No person apart from the ones mentioned in the panel list shall be appointed as Public Prosecutor or Additional Public Prosecutor.
  •  In case of a regular cadre for the appointment of prosecuting officers, the government shall appoint officers only from the names stated in the cadre.
  •  A person is eligible for appointment as public prosecutor only if he has a practice as an advocate for a minimum of 7 years.
  • The government may appoint an advocate having a practice of minimum of 10 years as a Special Public Prosecutor.

Further the state government under Section 25:

  • May appoint assistant public prosecutors for every district.
  •  No police officer will be appointed as an assistant public prosecutor.
  •  The District Magistrate shall appoint any other person as Assistant Public Prosecutor in case no Assistant Public Prosecutor is available but no police officer below the rank of inspector who has been a part of the investigation in which the accused is prosecuted shall be appointed.

Directorate of Prosecution

  •  Under Section 25-A, the state government is empowered to establish a Directorate of Prosecution under Section 25-A which shall include a director of prosecution deputy directors.
  •  The eligibility criteria for appointment here is that the concerned person must have practiced as an advocate for a minimum of 10 years.
  •  The Director will be the head of the Directorate who shall work under the control of the Head of the Home Department.
  •  The Deputy Director will work under the Director of Prosecution. Every public prosecutor, additional public prosecutor, special public prosecutor and deputy director shall be subordinate to the director of prosecution.
  •  The Public Prosecutor, Special Public Prosecutor and Additional Public Prosecutor appointed to conduct the cases shall work under the direction of the Deputy Director.


Efficient maintenance of law and order in every society is very important in order to maintain a balance between the conflicting forces of society. Here, government institutions play a crucial role. The structure of all the courts and the responsibilities of the officers have been well defined in the Code of Criminal Procedure. New provisions have also been added by amendment in the code time and again to resolve the emerging issues and for the efficient disposal of cases. The Indian Constitution provides for a single integrated system of the judiciary but courts have been established at different levels and their functions have been distributed in order to reduce the burden of courts and to maintain efficiency. Also, the Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal in the country which can hear matters decided by any court or tribunal in India and High Courts under Article 227 exercise superintendence over all courts and tribunals. Hence, the aggrieved parties can raise their issues in higher courts through appeal. Thus, the judicial system of India is established in such a way that it can cater to the emerging needs of society in every possible manner.

DISCLAIMER: Views and opinions as expressed in the Research Articles are solely of the author and any member of the core team of the website shall not be liable for the same.

Editorial Credits: Yamya Pandey.

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