Judiciary Class 8 Civics Chapter 5 Explanation

Judiciary Class 8 Civics Chapter 5

CBSE Class 8 Civics Chapter 5 Judiciary – Detailed explanation of the chapter ‘Judiciary’ along with question answers. Given here is the complete explanation of the lesson, along with all the exercises, Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson.

Class 8 Civics – Chapter 5



When you read a newspaper, you come across certain articles that mention the work of courts in our country. These courts are needed to uphold the ‘Rule of Law.’ Every person is equal in the eyes of law and if he/she violates the law, a particular set of fixed procedures has to be followed. To enforce these rules, India has its own Judicial System. Under this system, there is a mechanism of courts that people can approach if they come across cases of laws being violated.


Judiciary Class 8 Video Explanation

The Judiciary is an organ of the government. It has a crucial role in the smooth functioning of Indian democracy because it is independent. 

What is the Role of Judiciary?

A Court needs to make decisions regarding a number of cases. It can decide varied matters like how the water of a river will be shared between two states, what punishment should be awarded to a corrupt politician or if physical punishment needs to be banned in educational institutions or not.

Supreme Court of India

The work down by Judiciary is divided as follows:

  • Dispute Resolution: The Indian judicial system provides a mechanism to resolve any dispute that can arise between government and citizens, between citizens, between the state and the central government and between two states. 
  • Judicial Review: The Judiciary is considered as the final interpreter of the Indian Constitution. It has even got the power to strike down a law passed by the Parliament if it believes that there was a violation of the constitution in that case. This process is known as ‘Judicial Review.’ 
  • Enforcing Fundamental Rights and Upholding the Laws: If a citizen believes that his fundamental right has been violated, in that case he can approach the High Court of the respective state or the Supreme Court. 

For example, in class VII you had studied the labourer’s case who had got injured. Since several hospitals refused to admit him, his condition had worsened. He filed his case in the Supreme Court. The judges ruled that Article 21 provides every person the ‘Right to Live’ which is a Fundamental Right. It also involves the ‘Right to Health’. Further, it directed the West Bengal government to pay the compensatory amount to the labourer. It also asked the government to come up with a blueprint regarding primary health care where the patients could be directly treated during a period of emergency. [Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity vs State of West Bengal (1996)]

Madras High Court

The first high courts were set up by the British in the Presidencies of Madras, Calcutta and Bombay in 1862. The Delhi High Court was established in 1966. Currently, India has 25 HCs. While several states have their own HCs. The states of Punjab and Haryana have a common high court at Chandigarh. The North Eastern states such as Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland have a common HC located at Guwahati. Telangana (Hyderabad) and Andhra Pradesh (Amravati) have separate HCs from January 1, 2019.  For better accessibility, few HCs have their benches in different cities. For example, the Maharashtra HC has its bench in Nagpur apart from Mumbai. Similarly, the Gauhati High Court represents states such as Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram apart from the State of Assam. 

What is an Independent Judiciary?

Suppose that a powerful politician has illegally occupied a land that belongs to your family. Within that judicial system, the politician has the power to appoint or dismiss any judge. It is clear that the judge may be partial in this case, fearing dismissal. 

Since the politician has control over the judge, the latter will be unable to take an independent decision. Since there is a lack of independence while making decisions, therefore, the judge will be forced to decide in favour of the corrupt politicians. 

Although there have been cases of powerful and rich people trying to influence the Judicial Process through various means, this can be prevented. The Constitution of India clearly mentions that the Judiciary in India has to be independent. 

District Court, Pune, Source: NCERT

The subordinate court is known by different names. It includes Court of District Judge, Trial Court, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Civil Judge, etc. 

The ‘separation of powers’ is one of the aspects of this independence. It means that the two branches of the government which are, the Executive and the Legislature, are not supposed to interfere in the work and decisions of the Judiciary. The courts in India do not function on behalf of its government nor are they under its control. 

To ensure that the above separation works well, it is important that the judges of the Supreme Court as well as the High Court are appointed without any interference from any branch of the Indian government. It is difficult to remove a Judge once he has been appointed to the office. 

Since the judiciary system in India is independent, therefore, it ensures that there is no misuse of power by the Executive and the Legislature. It has an important role in protecting the Fundamental rights of a common Indian since they can approach the court at any level if they feel that their rights are being violated. 

What is the Structure of Courts in India?

In our country, there are three different levels of courts. 

  • District Level court

At the lower level, there are a number of courts. However, at apex level there is only one court. District Courts or Subordinates are the ones where most of the people interact. These courts are located at a ‘Tehsil’ or at the district level or in towns. They hear different types of cases. 

Each state in India is divided into different districts. The courts located in these districts are presided by the District Judges. 

  • High Court

Every state has a High Court. It is the highest court of that particular state. 

  • Supreme Court

The  Supreme Court is India’s topmost court at apex level and is located at New Delhi. The Chief Justice of India presides over this court. The decision made by the Supreme court is binding on all other courts located across the country. 

The different levels of courts in India are connected to each other. The Judiciary system is integrated in our country. It means that the decisions made by the Higher Courts bind the lower courts as well. Another way to understand this feature is via the appellate system that still persists in our country. It means that a citizen has the right to appeal to a higher court if they feel that the judgment passed by the lower court is not justified. 

Let us try to understand this by considering a case ‘State (Delhi Administration) vs Laxman Kumar and Others (1985)’  by tracking it from the lower to the higher court. Laxman Kumar had married Sudha Goel in February 1980. In December 1980 Sudha died due to burns. Her family filed a case in the lower court alleging that her husband and in-laws were responsible for her death. 

As this case was being heard in the trial court, four neighbors were called as witnesses. They stated that they had heard Sudha screaming the night before her death and had forced themselves into her house. They spotted Sudha in flames. They immediately wrapped her in a blanket and gunny bag and extinguished the fire. Sudha told them that her mother-in-law had poured kerosene on her and the husband was one who had lit the fire. 

While the trial was going on, these witnesses told the court that Sudha was subject to different types of torture from her husband and in-laws. They were demanding dowry such as cash and a scooter from her family on the birth of the first child. On the other hand, Laxman and his mother in their defence, had stated that Sudha’s sari had caught fire accidentally as she was heating the milk. On the basis of evidence, the Trial court convicted Laxman, his mother and his brother-in-law Subhash Chandra and awarded them the death sentence. 

In November 1983, the three accused appealed against their sentences in the High Court (against the verdict of the trial Court). After hearing the arguments of the lawyers from both sides, the  High Court concluded that Sudha died due to accidental fire which had taken place because of the kerosene stove. Hence, all three accused were acquitted. 

In 1985, Sudha’s family appealed against the decision of the High Court in the Supreme Court against the acquittal of all three accused. The apex court heard the arguments from both sides and reached a conclusion which was different from that of the High Court. Laxman and his mother were declared guilty according to evidence. However, his brother-in-law was acquitted since there was a lack of evidence against him. The accused were sent to prison for a lifetime by the Supreme Court.

What are the Different Branches of the Legal System?

The above mentioned case is a case of Dowry death. It is a violation of Criminal Law and is considered as a ‘Crime Against Society.’ Apart from Criminal Law, the Courts also have to deal with cases under Civil Law. In the last chapter, you had read about a new civil law being passed to protect the rights of women against Domestic Violence. 

Difference between Civil Law and Criminal Law

S. No.
Civil Law
Criminal Law
Deals with any injury or harm to the rights of individuals. Example- divorce cases, land related matters, purchase of goods, etc.
Deals with acts or conducts that are identified as offences. E.g. Murder, harassing a lady for dowry, theft, etc.
Only the affected party can file a petition before the relevant court. If the matter is related to rent, either tenant or landlord can file a case. 
Firstly, a First Information Report (FIR) has to be filed before the Police officials who will investigate the matter. After that, a case is filed in the court.
The court provides special relief that has been asked for. For example, if a case is between landlord and tenant, the court can either order to pay the remaining dues or to vacate the flat.
If the accused is proven guilty, then he is sent to jail.

Does Everyone Have Access to Courts?

According to the principle, every citizen of India has the right to access the court. It simply means that every person has the right to get justice with the help of the courts. It has already been explained how the courts play an important role in protecting the fundamental rights of citizens. If a person finds out that her right is being violated in any form, then she can approach the Courts at any level in order to get justice. 

While the Constitution states that everyone has access to courts, in reality the poor people have always found it difficult to access them. Legal procedures require lots of time, patience and money. For a poor person who is not even capable of reading and is a daily wage labourer, the idea to visit courts in order to get justice seems remote.

Keeping such situations in mind, the Supreme Court in the 1980s devised a mechanism called PIL or Public Interest Litigation so that a poor person’s chance to get justice be increased. It allows any organization or individual to file a PIL in the Supreme Court or High Court on behalf of the people whose rights have been violated in the past. Due to this step, the legal system got simplified. Even a telegram or letter addressed to the HC or SC could be treated as PIL. 

In its earlier years, activists took the help of PIL to secure justice in several issues. Few of these were for matters related to securing the release of those prisoners who were kept in jail even after their punishment term was over and the release of bonded laborers who were working in inhuman conditions. 

For a common citizen, access to court means access to justice. Courts plays a critical role in protecting the fundamental rights of the citizens. 

During 2001, several Indian states such as Odisha and Rajasthan had to face severe drought. Due to this, there was an acute shortage of food for millions of people. Although the government’s godowns were full of grains, they were being eaten by rats. In such a situation, an organization named People’s Union of Civil Liberties filed a PIL in the SC. It stated that Article 21 that guarantees ‘Right to Life’ also includes ‘Right to food.’ The excuse of states that there was not enough food was wrong as its godowns were overflowing with grains.

The Supreme Court ruled that it is the duty of State government to provide food to each person. Hence, the government was directed to provide grains at cheap prices at the government ration shops, generate employment and provide mid-day meals to school-going kids. The SC also appointed two Food Commissioners who had to report about the implementation of these schemes. 

Although the courts act to protect the rights of common people, there also have been cases due to which one can believe that these judgements are against the interests of the common people.  For example, those who work for issues regarding ‘right to shelter’ for poor people believe that current judgements related to evictions are wrong. 

Another issue that is a barrier in a common person’s pursuit of justice is that the Indian courts takes a number of years while hearing a case. The extended time that courts take to deliver judgment is characterized via ‘Justice Delayed is Justice Denied.’ 

The following table depicts the number of judges in India at present:

Name of the Court
Sanctioned Strength
Working Strength
Supreme Court
High Court
District and Subordinate courts

Despite certain shortcomings, the Indian Judiciary has played a key role in Democratic India. It has acted as a check on those in Legislative and Executive powers since it is independent. 

Question and Answers

Q1. You read that one of the main functions of the judiciary is ‘upholding the law and Enforcing Fundamental Rights’. Why do you think an independent judiciary is necessary to carry out this important function?

Answer. Since the judiciary is independent, it is able to play a central role in upholding the law and enforcing fundamental rights. The court ensures that the Executive and Judiciary do not misuse their powers. Every citizen has the right to approach the judiciary if he feels that his fundamental rights have been violated in some manner. Any socially powerful person such as a politician can’t use his power or position to change the judgement of the court.  

Q2. Re-read the list of Fundamental Rights provided in Chapter 1. How do you think the Right to Constitutional Remedies connects to the idea of judicial review?

Answer. The Right to Constitutional remedies states that a citizen can go to a court in order to obtain justice if she feels that her fundamental right has been violated in some form. Hence, it empowers the judiciary to check the working of the executive and the legislature in case they are found infringing upon thje fundamental rights of a citizen.

Q3. In the following illustration, fill in each tier with the judgments given by the various courts in the Sudha Goel case. Check your responses with others in class.


  • Lower court – Sudha’s husband, mother-in-law and brother-in-law were convicted by the Lower Court for her killing. The three were sentenced to death. 
  • High court – As the accused filed their plea in the High Court, it ruled that all three accused were innocent and Sudha had died due to accidental burning. Hence, they were acquitted.
  • Sup[reme Court- Sudha’s parents appealed against the acquittal of her husband and in-laws in the Supreme Court. The apex court found husband and mother-in-law guilty and awarded them with life sentences. The brother-in-law was acquitted due to lack of evidence.

Q4. Keeping the Sudha Goel case in mind, tick the sentences that are true and correct the ones that are false.

(a) The accused took the case to the High Court because they were unhappy with the decision of the Trial Court.

(b) They went to the High Court after the Supreme Court had given its decision.

(c) If they do not like the Supreme Court verdict, the accused can go back again to the Trial Court. 


(a) True

(b) False. They went to the Supreme Court after the High Court gave its decision.

(c)  False. The judgement of Supreme Court is final. 

Q5. Why do you think the introduction of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the 1980s is a significant step in ensuring access to justice for all?

Answer. A vast majority of the poor citizens in India found it difficult to get access to the courts. The poor who are financially weak as well as are illiterate find it difficult to go to the court in case their fundamental rights have been violated in some manner. It was during the 1980s when the Supreme Court introduced the mechanism of PIL or Public Interest Litigation, that the poor and illiterate people could get justice. Any person or organization can file a PIL in the High Court or Supreme Court on behalf of such people who want to access the court. It is not important for the person to have direct access to the court in case of PIL.

Q6. Re-read excerpts from the judgment on the Olga Tellis vs Bombay Municipal Corporation case. Now write in your own words what the judges meant when they said that the Right to Livelihood was part of the Right to Life.

Answer. ‘Olga Tellis vs Bombay Municipal Corporation’ case depicts the plight of lakhs of people who live in the pavements and slums of Bombay city. They constitute almost half of the population of Bombay. These women and men visited the Court in the hope of a judgement that the government could not evict them from their homes without offering them an alternative shelter. They relied on their rights under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution which guarantees that no person should be deprived of his right except according to the procedure established by the law. 

These laws do not contend that these people have the right to live on pavements. They are content with the fact that they have a right to live. It is a right which can’t be exercised without the means of livelihood. As they do not get employment opportunities in their rural hometowns, they have no option but to flock to cities such as Bombay. It provides them a means of bare subsistence. They choose a slum or pavement because it is near their workplace. 

In their plea they had stated that the right to life is misleading without right to protection of means by which one can live life i.e. the means to earn a livelihood. 

Q7. Write a story around the theme, ‘Justice delayed is justice denied.’

Ans. Mr Mahajan was about to retire. So, he decided to send his tenant a notice stating that he should vacate the house within one month. However, the tenant refused to do so and illegally occupied Mr Mahajan’s apartment. Now the latter had no option but to file a plea in court. He filed a litigation against the tenant in a trial court. This court took almost seven years to give a judgement in favour of Mr Mahajan so that he could get his apartment back. Despite owning an apartment, Mr Mahajan was forced to live in a rented accommodation all these years. The court took such a long time to deliver this case which left Mr Mahajan with financial crunches. This is a case of ‘Justice Delayed is Justice Denied.’

Q9. Make sentences with each of the glossary words given on the next page.


  • Acquit: the accused was acquitted due to lack of evidence
  • To appeal: The State Government moved to the High Court to appeal against the judgement of trial court.
  • Compensation: The Government announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakhs who were killed in the accident. 
  • Eviction: The builder was issued an eviction notice after he failed to do payments.
  • Violation: the traffic police fined him for the traffic rule violation.

Q9.  The following is a poster made by the Right to Food campaign. Read this poster and list the duties of the government to uphold the Right to Food. How does the phrase “Hungry stomachs, overflowing godowns! We will not accept it!!” used in the poster relate to the photo essay on the Right to Food on page 61?

Answer. ‘To provide food for all.’ ‘“Hungry stomachs, overflowing godowns! We will not accept it!!” The above photo is similar to the one given on the Page 61. Due to droughts in Odisha and Rajasthan few years back, millions of people were deprived of food. It was revealed that the government’s godown was full of grains. An organisation named People’s Union of Civil Liberties filed a PIL in the Supreme Court. It was stated that the Article 21 which guarantees Right to Life also includes Right to Food. The state’s excuse that it did not have enough food was wrong. The Supreme Court directed the government to provide grains at cheap rates through its ration shops.

Extra Questions

Q1. With the help of your teacher, fill in the blank spaces in the table below.

Type of Dispute
Dispute between centre and the state
Dispute between two states
Dispute between two citizens
Laws that are in violation of the Constitution


Type of Dispute
Dispute between centre and the state
GST Bill is a major dispute between Centre and state. States do not want to implement it because they could lose their tax revenues by implementing new laws.
Dispute between two states
When Karnataka refused to share the water of Cauvery river with Tamilnadu.
Dispute between two citizens
If A has illegally occupied B’s land, then B could file a dispute case against A.
Laws that are in violation of the Constitution
When an MLA holds the office of profit.

Q2. Do you think that any ordinary citizen stands a chance against a politician in this kind of judicial system? Why not?

Answer. Yes, an ordinary citizen has a chance against a politician in this kind of judicial system. It’s so because India’s judiciary is independent. The Constitution of India protects its citizens against influentials personals by keeping the Judiciary as an independent. Apart from that in Indian Constitution, it has been stated that the Executive, Judiciary and Parliament function separately. Due to this, they can’t interfere in each other’s work.

Q3. List two reasons why you believe an independent judiciary is essential to democracy.

Answer. In a democracy, it is important for the Judiciary to be independent. The reasons are:

  1. As the Judiciary is independent, the Judges are able to take decisions without any fear.
  2. Foreign investors would not be able to bribe him.

Q4. Write two sentences of what you understand about the appellate system from the case of Sudha Goel. 

Answer: The Appellate System provides the opportunity to reveal the truth, as in Sudha’s case her husband and mother-in-law were punished for killing her. In this system, a person can go and appeal in the Supreme Court if he feels that justice has not prevailed.

Q5. Discuss the impact of the shortage of judges on the delivery of justice to the litigants.

Answer: It’s not easy to become a Judge in any country. Due to this, not only India but every democratic country is facing the shortage of judges. It creates problem while the court workdays are going on. Since, there is a shortage of judges, a judge may take many days to deliver a verdict. 

This process has an impact on the whole judgement system due to which the whole procedure is delayed. Sometimes, this delay benefits even the actual culprit.