In common law legal systems original jurisdiction of a
court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accord ...
is the power to hear a case for the first time, as opposed to appellate jurisdiction, when a higher court has the power to review a lower court's decision.


India India, officially the Republic of India ( Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on th ...
, the
Supreme Court A supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of courts in most legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of last resort, apex court, and high (or final) court of appeal. Broadly speaking, the decisions o ...
has original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction. Its exclusive original jurisdiction extends to all cases between the
Government of India The Government of India ( ISO: ; often abbreviated as GoI), known as the Union Government or Central Government but often simply as the Centre, is the national government of the Republic of India, a federal democracy located in South Asia, ...
and the
States of India State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, United States * '' Our ...
or between Government of India and states on one side and one or more states on other side or cases between different states. Original jurisdiction is related to cases directly brought to the Supreme Court. Cases that require the interpretation of the constitution or cases relating to the denial of fundamental rights are heard in the Supreme Court. In case there is a dispute between two or more states or between the union and the states, the Supreme Court decides such cases. In addition, Article 131 of the
Constitution of India The Constitution of India (IAST: ) is the supreme law of India. The document lays down the framework that demarcates fundamental political code, structure, procedures, powers, and duties of government institutions and sets out fundamental ri ...
grants original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court on all cases involving the enforcement of fundamental rights of citizens. It is empowered to issue directions, orders or writs, including writs like habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari to enforce them. The appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court can be invoked by a certificate granted by the High Court concerned under Article 132(1), 133(1) or 134 of the Constitution in respect of any judgement, decree or final order of a High Court in both civil and criminal cases, involving substantial questions of law as to the interpretation of the Indian Constitution. The Supreme Court has special advisory jurisdiction in matters that may specifically be referred to by the President of India under Article 143 of the Indian Constitution.

United States

Supreme Court

In the United States, courts having original jurisdiction are referred to as
trial courts In law, a trial is a coming together of parties to a dispute, to present information (in the form of evidence) in a tribunal, a formal setting with the authority to adjudicate claims or disputes. One form of tribunal is a court. The tribunal, ...
. In certain types of cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has original jurisdiction concurrently with lower courts. The original jurisdiction of the U.S. Supreme Court is governed by Article III, Section 2 of the
United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It superseded the Articles of Confederation, the nation's first constitution, in 1789. Originally comprising seven articles, it delineates the nat ...
Title 28 of the United States Code, section 1251
Most commonly, original jurisdiction cases involve suits between states as parties, usually over territorial or water rights disputes. The United States Constitution defines Original Jurisdiction thus:

Federal and state courts

In the federal court system and those of most U.S. states, there are several types of trial courts. That is, there are several specialized courts with original jurisdiction over specific types of matters, and then a court with original jurisdiction over anything not reserved to more specialized courts.

Special courts

Not all "trial courts" exclusively exercise original jurisdiction. Indeed, in both the federal and most state court systems, the trial courts of " general jurisdiction" hear appeals from trial courts of limited original jurisdiction; many states call these courts " superior courts" for this reason. For example,
United States district court The United States district courts are the trial courts of the U.S. federal judiciary. There is one district court for each federal judicial district, which each cover one U.S. state or, in some cases, a portion of a state. Each district co ...
s hear appeals from their Bankruptcy Courts (which operate as quasi-independent units of district courts but are constitutionally separate Article I tribunals). Similarly, the Law Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey hears appeals from
Pittsburgh Pittsburgh ( ) is a city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, United States, and the county seat of Allegheny County. It is the most populous city in both Allegheny County and Western Pennsylvania, the second-most populous city in Pennsylv ...
have unique systems) and from certain agencies of local (e.g., zoning board) and state governments (e.g., Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board).

See also

* Court of first instance (disambiguation)


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Common law legal terminology Jurisdiction