An International Guide to
Patent Case Management for Judges

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6.3.1 Court system in India Hierarchy of courts

There is a common court structure across India, with the Supreme Court of India at its apex. The Supreme Court of India is a court established under the Constitution of India. It is located in New Delhi and is the final appellate authority in the Indian judicial system. The Supreme Court has appellate, constitutional, review and special jurisdictions. It also has limited original jurisdiction for constitutional matters, though not for IP matters.

Below the Supreme Court of India are the various High Courts of India. The Supreme Court exercises appellate jurisdiction over High Court decisions. However, all High Courts and the Supreme Court of India occupy equal constitutional status. While, typically, each federal Indian state has a designated High Court, some states share a High Court. There are 24 High Courts in India.

All High Courts have appellate, constitutional and review jurisdiction. A few High Courts also have “original” jurisdiction – civil cases, including IP suits, can be directly filed in these High Courts, subject to a certain minimum pecuniary value that may vary from one state to another. Such High Courts are those of Delhi, Bombay (Mumbai), Madras (Chennai), Calcutta (Kolkata) and Himachal Pradesh (Shimla). All appeals from a High Court lie to the Supreme Court, though some High Courts also possess an intracourt appeal system from a single judge of the High Court to a bench comprising two judges (i.e., division bench).94

Each federal Indian state is typically divided into several districts. Below the High Courts of each state are the district and sessions courts for each such district. The district court is for civil matters, and the sessions court is for criminal matters. Below these courts are the courts of sub-judges for civil matters and the magistrates’ courts for criminal matters. Commercial courts

The Commercial Courts Act, 2015, was enacted to provide fast-track courts for the resolution of certain commercial disputes, which includes IP rights disputes. All commercial disputes beyond a certain minimum specified value must be filed under the fast-track system of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015. Each district now has designated commercial courts for such disputes. Each High Court having original jurisdiction also has a Commercial division to hear such fast-tracked commercial disputes. Further, every High Court has a Commercial Appellate division to hear appeals for fast-tracked commercial disputes. Appointment and tenure of judges

Judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court of India are selected by a committee (called “the Collegium”) consisting of the three or five seniormost judges of the Supreme Court and headed by the Chief Justice. The executive can give its views on specific candidates, though the Collegium has the final say. A High Court judge could be from the district judiciary95 (or a practicing advocate with a minimum of 10 years’ practice).

Appointments to the subordinate judiciary (i.e., lower than the district court: the Provincial Civil Service–Judicial) are made by either the state public service commissions or the High Court concerned. The selection process involves written tests and an interview. Selected candidates are appointed as judges in the subordinate judiciary as sub-judges. High Courts also conduct the selection process for the Higher Judicial Service’s appointment of district judges. Candidates for the Higher Judicial Service are sub-judges and advocates with a minimum of seven years’ practice.