Difference between courts, special courts and tribunals

 · 3 mins read

Millions of people across the world knock the doors of justice every year in the hope that the unlawful act will be punished and the right will be upheld. Judiciary is the sanctuary or fountain for delivery of justice. Judiciary upholds the dignity and rights of people. It maintains peace and harmony. It seeks to improve the injustices and acts as an independent authority. Even today when there is any dispute the expression popularly used by the common men is “see you at court”. However, the ground reality as we all know is the number of pending cases in the courts. As on 1st October 2021, the number of pending cases in Supreme Court is 69, 992. According to the National Judicial Grid there are 3.9 cases pending before district and subordinate courts. Around 58.5 lakh cases in various High Courts across the country. All these shows the glaring burden on the regular courts. It is to ease the burden on regular courts various special courts and tribunals are established. Now, let’s understand the meaning and differences of these courts.

Regular courts-
A regular court is established under the main wing of judiciary. The main duties and objectives of court is as we all know to give a conclusion on any disputes or to convict the offender. At the lowest level, there are district courts, then a high court for each state and a Supreme Court at the apex. Their functions and jurisdictions are quite different from each other. The district courts can be further classified on the basis of criminal or civil type. In criminal procedure there is the judicial magistrate second class at the lowest, the judicial magistrate of first class, the Chief Judicial magistrate and courts in that hierarchy. Whereas for civil cases there are munsiff courts at the lowest. These courts are bound to follow the code of civil procedure or criminal procedure as the case maybe. And also Indian Evidence Act applies.


A tribunal is different from that of courts. As dealing with all the matters becomes difficult for regular courts, tribunals are established to deal with certain specific matters. Basically, it is a quasi- judicial body to resolve disputes. The following are some of the types of tribunals:
Central Administrative Tribunal- These tribunals deals with the recruitment matters, service conditions and other disputes relating to public authorities at union or certain local authority matters.
Income Tax appellate Tribunal- It is formed to deal with appeal cases of direct tax. It’s decision is final, but if the question is as to the determination of any law, then appeal lies to the concerned high court.
Industrial Tribunals/ Labor courts- It is formed for dealing with labor related issues and all kinds of industrial disputes.
Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal- This kind of tribunal is formed for resolving claims relating to motor Accidents.

Now, it is interesting to note that these tribunals are formed under a statute. For example, the motor accident tribunal is established by virtue of Motor Accidents Act, 1988 and so on. Furthermore it is not bound by any code of procedures as in normal courts. The main purpose for which the tribunal is created is to resolve the disputes expeditiously as possible.

Special Courts-
The third type of court is the special court, which is similar to regular courts but deals with only specific matters. A special court is created as similar as that of tribunals. But special courts come under the guidance and control of high courts. Whereas the tribunals are created by statutes. Conclusion
To ease the burden on regular courts, tribunals and special courts were set up. However, the tribunals are quasi- judicial body which is established to deal with specific matters. A special court is similar to it but it is essentially a court only where all procedures are applied. All these courts are created to resolve the cases and deliver justice.

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